What do an 18-pound burger, a flaming baked Alaska, and $146 duck foie gras with caviar have in common? Easy. They're among the elite of Miami's most over-the-top restaurant dishes.
By stuffing foods with cinnamon buns, wrapping them in fried plantains, and even dusting them in gold, some local restaurants have found ways to blur the line between cuisine and performance, offering items that burst with flavor.
Take, for instance, Bocas House in Doral, which garnishes milkshakes with hunks of tres leches cake, sparkling golden Nutella truffles, and ice-cream cones. In South Beach, Prime 112 serves hot dogs so long they stretch across tabletops. Then there's the Brooklyn-based pizzeria Paulie Gee's, where the Jewbano pie starts with cheese and ends with Cuban pulled pork, kosher dill pickles, and Canadian bacon.
These ten dishes are a foodie's wildest fantasies.
Mother Burger at Burger & Beer Joint. Close your eyes and imagine an 18-pound hamburger on a sesame-seed bun so colossal it could comfortably cradle a toddler. This monster includes about ten pounds of Black Angus beef and eight pounds of toppings. It boasts 20 slices of cheese and a full head of lettuce — and sells for a cool $175. But if you can finish it solo in two hours, it's free. The more realistic option is to split it among a dozen or so friends. It's delivered on a pizza peel and cut using a hacksaw. Various locations; bnbjoint.com.
Marie Antoinette's Head at Barton G. the Restaurant. At Barton G., food is art, and dinner is an experience. For nearly 20 years, the South Beach mainstay has been known for its eccentric presentations. It's the only place in Florida (and maybe the world) where diners can dive into a 48-ounce steak placed on a makeshift lawnmower with cheesy "greens, grass, and weeds." It's also the spot where customers can gorge on cotton candy and bananas Foster out of Marie Antoinette's head. The dish includes a towering cotton-candy pompadour sprinkled with candies. The head's base is filled with a succulent bananas Foster made from vanilla panna cotta, brownie, and caramelized banana cream. The result is massive, both in appearance and price ($40). 1427 West Ave., Miami Beach; 305-672-8881; bartong.com.
Milkshake at Bocas House. Few places make a milkshake like Bocas House. Take, for instance, the golden shake: A creamy Nutella base is poured inside a Mason jar and finished with a thick Nutella brownie, a golden Nutella chocolate truffle, a handful of raspberries, and a sprinkle of edible gold dust ($20). Then there's the tres leches, made with Venezuelan chicha (a rice pudding drink) and topped with ice cream, a waffle cone, and a slice of tres leche cake ($16). The Venezuelan-Peruvian concept, whose flagship is located in Doral, operates sister outposts in Coral Gables and Weston. Though a Latin restaurant offering American-style milkshakes might seem odd, Bocas House has amassed more than 280,000 Instagram followers — largely because of its stunning shakes — in the past few years. Various locations; bocashouse.com.
Tostón Burger at Pincho Factory. In 2010, Miami's Latin American fast-casual restaurant debuted one of the city's most epic sandwiches: the tostón burger. Complete with a grilled beef patty, jack cheese, caramelized onions, and a dollop of cilantro sauce, the burger is presented between two crisp fried plantains ($8.49). The American/Cuban concoction is a favorite among many patrons and has earned a permanent menu spot at all ten Pincho Factory locations, from Brickell and West Kendall to Hialeah and Pembroke Pines. Various locations; pinchofactory.com.
Foodgöd Baked Alaska Surprise at Komodo. At David Grutman's swank Asian restaurant, Komodo, an order of the Foodgöd brings a flaming bowl of cake batter, cotton candy, and Fruity Pebbles ($18). Created by Jonathan Cheban, best known for hanging with Kim Kardashian and posting food photos on Instagram (@foodgod), the dessert is a party on a plate. It begins with a few generous scoops of cake batter, strawberry ice cream, and a piece of confetti cake. Then comes a heap of merengue, cotton candy, white chocolate Rice Krispies, and Fruity Pebbles. The concoction is then lit on fire tableside, resulting in a smoky and sweet outer layer. The dessert, which places more emphasis on spectacle than flavor, is a surefire way to end a meal with a bang. 801 Brickell Ave., Miami; 305-534-2211; komodomiami.com.
Jewbano Pizza at Paulie Gee's. The crew at Paulie Gee's knows how to make a pizza. The Brooklyn-based operation, which runs a location on 80th Street and Biscayne Boulevard, is behind a Miami-only pizza called the Jewbano. Think of this mash-up as the best of Cuban and Jewish fare layered onto a piece of crisp oven-charred dough ($18). It's one of the only items in town that'll get you Cuban pulled pork, kosher dill pickles, Swiss cheese, Canadian bacon, and yellow mustard all at the same time ($18). 8001 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-558-8315; pauliegee.com/miami.
Enormous Hot Dog at Prime 112. It's hard to justify spending more than a few bucks on a hot dog. That is, unless you're at Prime 112 in South Beach. The $28 Kobe beef dog, which is served on a regular-size potato bun, measures about a foot long. It's served plain, so request condiments on the side. Easily shared between two to three customers as an appetizer, it might be one of Miami's most expensive frankfurters. But the grade of beef and slightly chargrilled finish make it worth the expense. 112 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-532-8112; mylesrestaurantgroup.com.
Foie Gras at Novikov. Want to dine as if you're in the Kremlin? Go to Novikov. The pan-Asian concept is owned by Arkadiy Novikov, a well-known restaurateur from Moscow who counts Vladimir Putin as a personal friend and has catered at the Kremlin. He offers plenty of other dishes, but the star of this show costs $146. It's a feast of crisp duck foie gras garnished with a mountain of caviar. The result is decadent, creamy, and short-lived. Each of the eight to ten slender bites is about two inches long. Think of it as the most expensive meaty duck potato chip you'll ever try. 300 S. Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-489-1000; novikovmiami.com.
Sticky Bun Doughnut at the Salty Donut. Picture a warm cinnamon roll. Now imagine it wrapped in soft and fluffy 24-hour brioche dough, drowned in a roasted-pecan-toffee-rum glaze, and topped with a few caramelized pecans. Your craziest doughnut fantasy is now reality. The Salty Donut and Knaus Berry Farm, both known for outrageously long lines, have conspired to make their most gluttonous treat. They call it a sticky-bun doughnut, where a cinnamon roll and a doughnut collide ($6). It's nearly twice the size of a regular doughnut from the shop, which basically means it's colossal. The treat is available only a few weeks of the year, typically during the winter. 50 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-925-8126; saltydonut.com.
Tree of Life at El Cielo. In the Garden of Eden, the tree of life was the source of immortality. Then, of course, Eve ate that apple and things quickly went south. At the Colombian-inspired restaurant El Cielo in Brickell, chef Juan Manuel Barrientos serves his interpretation of the tree, which includes traditional Colombian pan de yuca (cassava bread) presented on bronze wiring meant to resemble the indio desnudo, a tree found in the Costa Rican rainforest. With a look this real, it hardly appears edible. But then you'll taste the doughy bread and understand why it's a necessary part of the restaurant's three prix fixes, which include ten unique molecular gastronomy-style plates heavy on billows of smoke and activated charcoal ($89 and up). The only way to taste Barrientos' tree is by choosing one of the three menus. 31 SE Fifth St., Miami; 305-755-8840; elcielorestaurant.com.