Best of Miami

Ten Best Restaurant Openings of 2015

Every year a new batch of eateries opens in Miami. Owners hope to win favor with tourists and locals alike. Some fall below the radar, while others arrive with a splash and a celebrity chef. Below is a list of 2015 restaurant openings that have best captured our palates and are likely in it for the long haul. It has been an incredible year for the local culinary scene, and we're pumped about what's cooking for 2016.
10. Wynwood Diner
French toast for dinner? Yes, please. But Wnywood Diner has a lot more going for it than all-day breakfast. For starters, it's arguably the most glamorous diner you've ever seen, and there's a funky-speakeasy vibe happening as well. There's also a DJ several times a week and a killer bar scene thanks to cocktail creator Vanessa Hulsey, formerly of the Broken Shaker and 27. A diner concept with excellent libations is precisely what Wynwood was missing, and we'll raise our boozy shake and burger to that.

9.  Ni.Do. Caffe 
Quality neighborhood restaurants in Miami are few and far between, so it's exciting when a spot like Ni.Do. launches in an underserved part of North Miami on NE 110th Street at Biscayne Blvd. The original Ni.Do. opened on Biscayne in 2012, and this outpost shares many of the traits customers have grown to love, including the rustic, laid-back atmosphere. However, this younger sibling has an expanded selection of seafood and pastas, and chef Claudi Sandri of Torino, Italy, makes both with an abundance of love and finesse.
8. Bazi
When chef Michael Pirolo returned to the U.S. at age 25 after four years of staging in Italy, he brought back more than the recipes that helped make Scarpetta and later Macchialina successes. During his time there, he picked up a number of a tricks and lifelong lessons from the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cooks he worked alongside. They all manifest at Bazi, his seemingly unexpected Asian joint that opened in Collins Avenue's fabled Marlin Hotel. It's clear Pirolo isn't dumbing down his cooking or the robustness of Asian ingredients to capitalize on his successes.
7. Alter
The local community has embraced Alter and its talented young chef/owner, Bradley Kilgore, since day one. Indeed, New Times critic Zachary Fagenson wrote that Kilgore "cooks some of Miami's most exciting cuisine." For his first solo venture (he was previously at J&G Grill), Kilgore partnered with local food enthusiasts Javier Ramirez and Leopoldo Monterrey, and at Alter they serve gourmet fare at an ultra-cool industrial space in Wynwood. Here's a place that's adventurous yet familiar and free of culinary clichés. Pro tip: Try the soft egg starter and the local prawns.
6. Coyo Taco 
Fast, fresh, and extra-flavorful food is why folks line up outside Coyo Taco. It also doesn't hurt that you can have an entire meal for less than $20 at this quick-service taqueria in Wynwood. Here, all of the corn tortillas are hand-pressed, the ingredients are locally sourced, and vegetarian options are aplenty. A must-try are the tacos with quinoa-and-queso "falafel," cilantro yogurt, and cucumber pico. In short, Coyo taco has brought the Mexican street food experience to Miami at the right time and the right place. Bonus: Visit the funky, not-so-secret bar tucked away in the back. 

5. Vagabond Restaurant and Bar
In the kitchen at the Vagabond is Alex Chang, a 25-year-old chef who rose to semistardom after appearing in a documentary about an illegal restaurant he ran with a college roommate. Clearly, this is one toque who isn't afraid to take risks. For instance, he surprised us all by serving chapulines — spicy Mexican grasshoppers — and pan-seared beef hearts. But Chang's food is delicious above all else, and he creates sensory experiences out of seemingly simple dishes such as toast with saffron honey and stracciatella cheese, or a classic cheeseburger. What's more, the Vagabond features incredible artwork and an eclectic, Jetsons-esque vibe. So whether you come here for brunch, lunch (one of the best in town), dinner, or drinks, you're almost guaranteed to leave impressed.

4. Visa-O1
The restaurant's name, Visa-O1, says it all. An O-1 visa is reserved for "individuals with extraordinary ability," according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. So, yes, this pintsize Italian pizzeria hidden inside a South Beach office building thinks highly of its pies, and for good reason: They’re exceptional. Only the freshest ingredients and premium-quality cheeses (vegan cheese is offered at an additional charge) are allowed atop the thin-crusted, crisp pizzas served here. You can’t go wrong with the classic margherita, followed by a Nutella pizza for dessert. 

3. Cena by Michy
At Cena by Michy —- a revamped and redecorated version of chef Michelle Bernstein's popular eatery Michy's, the local toque mixes old favorites such as beef short ribs with new winners like cauliflower steak and scallop tempura. It's no surprise that Bernstein is a household name in Miami culinary circles — the James Beard Award-winning chef makes the food we crave while ensuring we're never bored. Mike Mayta is the restaurant's chef de cuisine, and along with a team of talented cooks and servers, he and Bernstein make dining at Cena a pure delight. 

2. Izzy's Fish & Oyster
Chef/owner Jamie DeRosa's wish has come true: Izzy's Fish & Oyster isn't just another oyster bar; it's a great seafood place that also happens to serve oysters. Quite frankly, there's little not to adore about this intimate eatery inspired by a New England clam shack and named for DeRosa's daughter Isabella. Standouts, however, include saltwater-flavored fried clam bellies and the smoothest, most complex clam chowder this side of Boston. Izzy's also proffers a decadent warm lobster roll featuring a whole Maine lobster poached in brown butter. It's intense but totally worth it. For good measure, end your meal with a slice of refreshing lemon meringue pie. 

1. Myumi
Here's the thing about Myumi: You will leave this sushi food truck wanting more, but you won't be able to get it. That's because there's a new seating every hour so that six new customers can experience the freshest, most mouthwatering sushi in Miami. Dinner is served omakase-style (chef's selection) to patrons parked on barstools along the truck's counter. The only choice customers have is whether they would like green tea or water (Myumi is BYOB) and if they desire eight or 12 courses of traditional sushi ($40 or $60). No miso soup or chicken teriyaki here. 

The man behind the counter is Ryo Kato of SushiSamba South Beach, a young sushi chef from Japan who trained with Kazuo Yoshida of 1 or 8 in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood. Yoshida, a legend of sorts in the sushi sphere, partnered with Jake Smith, a Late Night production assistant and writer-turned-restaurateur to open Myumi in late 2015, and the success has been so immense they're building a brick-and-mortar location. It will be near the truck's current spot in Wynwood Yard, and we just pray Myumi's impeccable quality and taste will not be sacrificed. 

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Valeria Nekhim was born in the Ukraine and raised in Montreal. She has lived in Manhattan and Miami. Her favorite part of food writing is learning the stories of chefs and restaurateurs.