COVID-19 hit restaurant communities particularly hard — all the more so in South Florida, whose economy is so heavily reliant upon tourism. With dining rooms closed, restaurants had to pivot or perish. They turned to takeout and delivery models, and chefs reworked their recipes to create dishes that would travel well. Even after they got the green light to reopen for in-person dining, businesses had to scramble to convert parking lots and backyards to outdoor dining areas.
There's no sugarcoating the losses, the restaurants that have yet to reopen, those whose futures remain in limbo, and those that will never again be able to welcome us back.
And yet the seismic transformation brought out the best in Miami restaurateurs. Chefs donated time and money to feed first responders and those who'd lost their jobs. A renewed sense of community emerged as we broke bread in new ways.
It is in that same spirit that we offer "Required Eating 2021: 100 Miami Restaurants We Can't Live Without," an annual guide to our favorite places to eat.
Doubtless, our concept of "dining out" has been altered — perhaps in ways that will outlast the pandemic. But whether you're diving back into (appropriately ventilated and socially distanced) indoor settings or resolved to limit your forays to outdoor patios, takeout, delivery, and the occasional Zoom pizza party, each and every one of the establishments on this list exists to do what restaurants have always done: to nourish our bellies and our souls, through good times and bad.
The list was curated during an unprecedented time. In addition to the difficult decisions that came up while reassessing last year's edition, we chose to limit our list to restaurants that are up and running in some form. True to our name, we zeroed in on Miami-Dade County while permitting ourselves to be seduced by deserving candidates from farther-flung parts. We did not consider any chains that aren't locally based, nor breweries and bars that don't put food first. (We have a different list for those!)
We did add one feature: a "New Normal" tip for each restaurant, as a nod to our current reality.
Now that we've shared our picks with you, we want your feedback. Did we expose your favorite hidden gem and spoil your secret? Overlook an obvious standout? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Required Eating 2021: 100 Miami Restaurants We Can't Live Without" is written by Laine Doss, Zachary Fagenson, Clarissa Buch, Juliana Accioly, Chelsea Olson, and Nicole Danna.