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Five Miami Food Neighborhoods to Watch in 2017

Atlas Meat Free Deli is slated to open in Little River this year.
Atlas Meat Free Deli is slated to open in Little River this year.
Courtesy of Atlas Meat-Free Deli
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Twenty sixteen was the year Coconut Grove cemented its place as one of Miami's premier dining destinations. Although the charming area has always had nice restaurants, newcomers such as Ariete, Glass & Vine, 33 Kitchen, and Harry's Pizzeria have propelled the Grove to the next level. With 2016 behind us, it's only logical to wonder which neighborhoods we ought to watch this year. Which one will emerge as the Coconut Grove of 2017?

Since 2012, Miami's restaurant scene has been continually heating up, and 2017 is already looking like it will be another game-changer for the 305. Read on for the five areas we'll be paying very close attention to in the next 12 months.
1. Little River
Adjacent to the rapidly gentrifying Little Haiti and just west of Miami's Upper Eastside, Little River is in the early stages of a renaissance. Miami Ironside (7610 NE Fourth Ct.) has been in the area for a couple of years and consists of a block of art and design studios, workspaces, event spaces, and one of the city's best Neapolitan-style pizza joints, Ironside Pizza. It's an idyllic and playful space that makes visitors temporarily forget where they are.

For a while, Ironside Pizza was one of the only spot in Little River to grab a good meal; however, that's quickly changing. Rail 71 Café joined the neighborhood recently, and 2017 will see the highly anticipated opening of Atlas Meat-Free Deli, Bousa Brewing Co., and Cindy Lou's artisanal cookie shop. You can add Little River's close proximity to the Design and MiMo Districts as just two more reasons this pocket of Miami is will see its stock soar this year.

Dragonfly Izakaya at the Shops at Downtown Doral.
Dragonfly Izakaya at the Shops at Downtown Doral.

2. Downtown Doral
Last November, the inaugural Doral Food & Wine Festival (DFWF) took place — a sure sign the city wants to be taken seriously for its dining scene. Also in 2016, Doral caught the attention of many Miami foodies when the owners of Dragonfly Izakaya & Fish Market chose the neighborhood for the third location of their successful Japanese concept. Dragonfly was then joined by Bulla, the hip Coral Gables gastrobar serving modern tapas, which opened its doors at the Shops at Downtown Doral. And last but not least —Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes came onto the scene this past December.

Doral's restaurant landscape is certainly growing, and 2017 will be a pivotal year that determines whether the neighborhood becomes a bona fide food destination or just another area with a few standout eateries scattered amid ordinary chains. Stay tuned.

Former Michael's Genuine Chef de Cuisine Niven Patel is opening an Indian concept in Downtown Dadeland.
Former Michael's Genuine Chef de Cuisine Niven Patel is opening an Indian concept in Downtown Dadeland.
Photo by Candacewest.com

3. Downtown Dadeland
Put it this way: The most anticipated restaurant opening of 2017 will happen in none other than Dadeland. Ghee will be an innovative take on Indian cuisine from chef Niven Patel, the former chef de cuisine at Michael Schwartz's eponymous Design District eatery. Patel has been hosting pop-up dinners and one-off events in preparation for his new eatery, and the food community is abuzz with excitement.

Kiki on the River chef Steve Rhee.
Kiki on the River chef Steve Rhee.
World Red Eye

4. Miami River
The area known as Miami River has it all: stellar views and a location just a stone's throw from downtown Miami and Brickell. Garcia's Seafood Grill & Fish Market and Casablanca Seafood Bar & Grill have anchored the slightly seedy hood for many years, and over the past couple of years, they've been joined by the ultraglamorous Seaspice and chef Klime Kovaceski's pizza place, Crust.

Last year, however, the neighborhood's gentrification reached new heights with the unveiling of the River Yacht Club, which features topnotch amenities, from a boat marina and a yacht showroom to a signature restaurant and a VanDutch rooftop lounge. On the docket for 2017 is the long-awaited opening of Kiki on the River (450 NW North River Dr.), a restaurant serving Greek fare along with gondola rides. It's a partnership among Opium Group founder Roman Jones, former Philippe Chow Miami managing partner Aris Nanos, and former BED South Beach owner Lee Lyon. As for the kitchen, it will be run by executive chef Steve Rhee, who opened Estiatorio Milos in Miami and served three years as sous-chef at Estiatorio Milos' Las Vegas outpost. Kiki sounds amazing on paper, so here's hoping the food is just as great.

Phuc Yea in the MiMo District.
Phuc Yea in the MiMo District.

5. MiMo District
In 2016, the MiMo Historic District in the city's Upper Eastside neighborhood bid a sad farewell to Michelle Bernstein's Cena by Miche after a dispute between the restaurant's owner and the building's landlord. On a positive note, the area gave a warm welcome to newcomer Phuc Yea, a funky Vietnamese spot from Aniece Meinhold and Cesar Zapata, formerly of the Federal.

In addition to Phuc Yea, the MiMo District is also home to plenty of beloved eateries such Soyka, Andiamo, Loba, Blue Collar, Ni.Do. Caffe, and Vagabond Kitchen & Bar. All the area needs now is just a few successful chef-driven concepts for it to become a major culinary hub.

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