Best of Miami

Miami's Ten Most Artistic Dishes

Pan de yuca
Pan de yuca billwisserphoto.com

It’s true: We eat with our eyes.

Thanks to local restaurants blurring the boundary between food and art, Miamians can enjoy an exquisite selection of gastronomic masterpieces — from vibrant seafood stunners to jaw-dropping desserts — that are as delicious as they are stunning.
1. Cobia "rosa" ceviche at Bazaar Mar. The venue’s whimsical, sea-centric interior design isn't the only work of art you’ll find at Bazaar Mar. Discover each one of José Andrés’ dishes creatively presented to match the sleek decor. Plated like a perfect rose, the cobia “rosa” ceviche ($26) is garnished with leche de tigre, nasturtium leaf, sweet potato, and corn nuts. 1300 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-615-5859; sbe.com/restaurants/locations/bazaar-mar.
2. Tree of Life at El Cielo. In a city besotted with myriad renditions of yuca, chef Juan Manuel Barrientos’ variation — along with every other meticulously plated dish on the menu at El Cielo — looks more like a centerpiece than dinner. Inspired by the traditional Colombian bread pan de yuca, the Tree of Life is shaped to resemble a bonsai tree, supported by copper wires and a rock formation, and it arrives smoking in a cloud of dry ice. Bite into the yuca bread, seasoned with touches of paprika and basil, or try it with its traditional tomato, onion, and cacao dipping sauce. 31 SE Fifth St., Miami; 305-755-8840; elcielorestaurant.com.
3. Cape Canaveral prawns at Alter. Miami’s most buzzed-about restaurant is led by chef Brad Kilgore, whose attention to detail is evident throughout Alter’s menu of culinary artworks. Case in point are the Cape Canaveral prawns ($25). A sophisticated take on shrimp 'n’ grits, this combo contains crisp, tender tajin-crusted Cape Canaveral prawns served alongside what looks like an artist’s palette — a pool of creamy corn grits topped with multicolored stripes and dabs of mole verde, lime crema, and huitlacoche. 223 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-573-5996; altermiami.com
click to enlarge Lavash with chicken liver. - PHOTO BY CANDACEWEST.COM
Lavash with chicken liver.
4. Lavash at Stubborn Seed. Chef Jeremy Ford’s Stubborn Seed offers a feast for the eyes. He leads a gastronomic experience from beginning to end, from the pommes soufflés, a puffed crisp potato topped with caviar, to the intricately layered charred beets, made with lemon-garlic yogurt, pickled chili, blackberry, goat cheese, and sorbet. Try the lavash with smooth chicken-liver mousse topped with smoked chili jam — it tastes as elegant and refined as it looks. 101 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 786-322-5211; stubbornseed.com.
click to enlarge Dulce de leche s'mores tart - COURTESY OF BARTON G.
Dulce de leche s'mores tart
Courtesy of Barton G.
5. Dolla Dolla Bills Y’all at Barton G. Wearing a welding mask and apron, a server delivers this over-the-top dessert — dubbed Dolla Dolla Bills Y’all — to the table and begins to torch the white chocolate “gold bar.” The flame exposes the rich graham-cracker-crusted ganache tart, filled with meringue, dulce de leche, and chocolate feuilletine golden-nitro ice-cream nuggets. Soon campfire scents fill the air. Like all things at Barton G., this dramatic s’mores dish is a circus for the senses. 1427 West Ave., Miami Beach; 305-672-8881; bartong.com.
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Maureen Aimee Mariano is a freelance food writer for Miami New Times. She earned a bachelor of science in journalism from the University of Florida before making her way back to the 305, the city that first fueled her insatiable appetite.