Best of Miami

The Best Miami Food Trends in 2015

Dining trends come and go. Only bacon seems sacred. In recent years, we've seen small plates, foams, and cupcakes all marginalized. But in their place came a succession of oyster bars and the wholesale scapegoating of gluten. Doughnuts seem to be finally making their way to Miami, even as they've enjoyed a prolonged popularity in the rest of the country — even as close as Broward County. Meanwhile, in 2015 cooks and restaurants seized on the latest trends and made them their own. Here's who did them best.

Best Toast: The Vagabond Restaurant & Bar
Toast was everywhere this year. It was in your home. It was the amuse-bouche at some restaurants. It drew huge crowds at Zak Stern's Wynwood bakery, Zak the Baker, perhaps the dish's spiritual home in Miami. But at the Vagabond, the lovable dish took on the form of crisped bread topped with velvety stracciatella cheese, a drizzling of saffron honey, and Maldon sea salt. It was impossible not to love, because this simple yet multilayered dish had it all. 

Best Cauliflower Steak: Cena by Michy
If a restaurant didn't have a cauliflower steak on the menu this year, it probably deserved the ire of vegetarians, vegans, flexetarians, and everyone in between. The brassica slabs were all the rage, and with good cause. The meaty texture and earthy flavor were satisfying, even if cauliflower didn't quite double for a dry-aged steak. At her reopened flagship restaurant, Cena by Michy, Michelle Bernstein rested one ($12) atop a smooth, piquant bed of pickled garlic aioli and beneath a smattering of Marcona almonds. It was an addictive fork-and-knife version of Spain's sopa de ajo, accented by sugary raisins and salted with capers.

Best Tiki Drinks: The Rum Line
Why are tiki drinks amazing? One: They make you feel like you're on a chintzy Polynesian vacation, even if you're drinking one inside a musty, cigarette-smoke-dampened bowling alley. Two: The copious amounts of sugar get you much drunker, much faster. Three: When drunken, you lose any fear of stealing the amazing, totem-like glassware. It's all about the memories and party favors. So when the Rum Line opened on a patio of the Loews Miami Beach, we couldn't wait to start guzzling. There were bamboo chairs, string lights, and, during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, every manner of drunken celebrity chef could be found hiding within this bar's warm bosom. They came for Robert Ferrara's creations like the Donkey Kong ($15), made with Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Banane du Bresil, orgeat, and lime. There's also the Tug Boat ($14), with Mt. Gay Black Barrel, allspice Dram, honey, ginger, and Wray & Nephew Overproof (basically the lighter fluid of the Caribbean). It also comes in a skull mug that'll look great on your home bar.

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson