Best of Miami 2014 has finally arrived. You can pick up our epic guide to all things Miami on Thursday, or check out the full list of winners online now if you just can't contain yourself. This year's edition is filled with over 300 of our favorite bars, bites, and places to snack.
Miami's culinary landscape is a fickle one to map. For every talented new chef joining the ranks, there's a beloved figure about to depart; for every exciting restaurant opening, another dining staple shutters. Despite the constant ups and downs -- or because of them, depending on your perspective -- Miami's food scene is a thrilling one to eat through, from Little Havana, to the Upper Eastside, to Midtown. Here's a sampling of some of our favorite restaurants that have become the toast of their neighborhoods:
See also: Best of Miami 2014
Miamians are welcoming whenever a popular stateside or international restaurant opens an outpost here. But when a talented and innovative local chef unveils his first eatery in the 305, it's an event worth celebrating. That restaurant is Eating House, an intimate Coral Gables pop-up turned permanent fixture. It's where the under-30 chef Giorgio Rapicavoli concocts raved-about fare such as nostalgia-tinged Cap'n Crunch pancakes for brunch ($13) and creamy pasta carbonara ($23) for dinner. The menu is undoubtedly eclectic and reflects Rapicavoli's Argentine and Italian heritage, as well as his upbringing in Doral. Everything is also very well priced considering the nuanced nature of the dishes. For instance, melt-in-your-mouth beef sweetbreads ($15) are coupled with pickled Florida watermelon, cucumbers, and napa cabbage and then punctuated with miso and ginger. Inside this hip space adorned with graffiti canvases, random objects, and plenty of Miami Heat memorabilia, you'll discover that rare restaurant where fun meets high-end cuisine.
For more than ten years, the River Seafood & Oyster Bar has been luring Miamians to Brickell with its impressive hand-shucked oyster selection and its superior-quality fish. Something you rarely spot on a local menu despite an abundance of seafood restaurants is wild Faroe salmon, but here you can have it grilled or pan-seared with a choice of condiments and sauces ($32). The sustainable fish is renowned for its delicate flavor, and chef-owner David Bracha coaxes it out with a sweet-and-spicy glaze. During happy hour, you'll find no shortage of sharp professionals sipping $3 draft beers or $5 wines and cocktails to go along with half-priced oysters. Patrons here seem to know one another, and there's a decidedly neighborhood vibe in the warm, unpretentious dining room. Sunday brunch is a relatively new addition and one of the best spots in town for fish-centric egg dishes such as the yummy lobster omelet stuffed with chanterelles, goat cheese, and chives ($24).
It could be the lure of Miami Beach's beautiful people and electric atmosphere. It could be that the young chef was up for a challenge. It could even be because he was sick of Chicago winters. In any event, the Windy City's loss is the Magic City's gain, because Danny Grant, who earned two Michelin stars at his former Chicago restaurant, Ria, has opened 1826 in Miami Beach. This multilevel establishment is gorgeous and masculine. Golden guns serve as lamps, and airplane wings are repurposed into chairs in the lounge. Cocktail and wine menus are presented on iPads. Everything in the room is as close to perfect as possible. And the food? It's a lovely affair. Every morsel, from the freshly baked rolls served with key lime butter to a melt-in-your-mouth short rib ($29), is so beautiful you almost don't want to eat it. Go ahead. Take a quick picture. Then dig in. Because as pretty as your dish is, it tastes even better.
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Wynwood may be the heartbeat of Miami's art scene, but you want to know what's really beautiful? The sight of R House's gorgeous Brazilian seafood mocqueta arriving at your table. Tender cobia, sweet scallops, and shrimp swim in a piquant coconut milk broth, seasoned with garlic and fragrant ginger. Served with basmati rice, it's a masterpiece of a meal ($16 half portion, $25 full portion). As you dine, your eyes are entertained by the art on the walls, which display works curated by White Porch Gallery, and your ears are thrilled to music spun by some of the best local DJs. Why simply dine when you can feed all of your senses?