Beyond Best of Miami 2011: Top Restaurant Decor

It's always a challenge to select only one winner when choosing the "Best of Miami." There are finely drawn lines between what we like, what we love, and what we scream from the rooftops.

The elegant dining room at hot spot Prime One Twelve stole our hearts in 2011 as winner of Best Décor, but there are others that we flirted with shamelessly. Here's a list of the ones that came close to taking the tiara.

5. Eos at the Viceroy (named Best Hotel Restaurant last year) might have lost celebrity chef Michael Psilakis, but it is a definite winner when is comes to décor. An upscale diner theme feels like a cross between midcentury modern and 1920s art deco. Brightly colored orange-and-yellow upholstered chairs provide a touch of whimsy, while customized black-and-white marble flooring dominates throughout. A highlight is the patio, with a very long table perfect for private dinners, and an unstoppable view of the bay and downtown landscape.

4. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian's newly opened Tudor House at the Dream Hotel refurbish the best of what was already in place (the terrazzo flooring, deco details) while updating the space to reflect the tasteful design of a "modern gastropub." Chairs and banquettes are made from a subtle stingray-textured leather, and carved wood partitions add dimension to the dining room with flair. The patio features curved teak furniture and smoky glass tabletops of the sort you expect to see at some exceedingly rich person's SoBe penthouse.

3. We have to give props to an oldie but goodie, Palme d'Or at the Biltmore

Hotel in Coral Gables. For classic French grandeur, no one does it

better in Miami. The dining room is softly lit with mirrors reflecting

the suffused brilliance of crystal chandeliers, which are tastefully applied

without an overdose of Baroque. The tables are spread far enough apart

to allow for sweet nothings to be spoken above a whisper without being overheard. Carved wood ceiling details surround hand-painted frescoes overhead. 2. Although we granted Cecconi's at Soho Beach House the title of Best Outdoor Dining, this restaurant earns a double-win in the realm of ambiance.

Technically, it is an outdoor dining room, but they have thoughtfully

enclosed the perimeter and created an enchanting garden setting that

reeks of la bella vita. Long-limbed trees sparkle with little white

lights, while long-limbed, pretty patrons hovering at the busy bar add an element of attraction for onlookers. The entire place glows with candlelight, and comfy couches keep us lingering.

1. We chose the Restaurant at the Setai as Best Hotel Restaurant, but for the utmost in environment bang for the buck, we recommend

making a reservation for the Courtyard, which offers a similar menu with

smaller portions. The space is basically an enormous wading pool

with tables built into the foundation as well as scattered around the

area. Tall palms swaying in the wind, stars twinkling overhead, and live jazz playing Thursdays all combine to make this a seriously complete package in

terms of atmosphere.

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