Best of Miami

The Ten Best Restaurants to Open in 2021

Niven Patel and partner Mohamed "Mo" Alkassar in the library room at Orno at the Thesis Hotel.
Niven Patel and partner Mohamed "Mo" Alkassar in the library room at Orno at the Thesis Hotel. Photo courtesy of Alpareno Restaurant Group
In December 2020, Miamians sent out a collective wish to the universe that the ensuing year would be better. With a vaccine promised, many of us thought 2021 simply had to improve and we would go from our "new normal" to just plain-old "normal."

One year later, despite new coronavirus variants, new Miami restaurants continue to open. Some arrive via New York, London, and other major cities, while others come courtesy of locals who've persevered with their dreams. The result is a diverse roster of modest, intimate establishments and high-end buzzworthy destinations. Together, they create the fabric of our restaurant scene.

Listed alphabetically below are the ten best restaurants to open in Miami in 2021.
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Find the many flavors of Tel Aviv at chef Sam Gorenstein's Abbalé.
Photo courtesy of Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen/Sam Gorenstein

Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen

864 Commerce St., Miami Beach

A partnership between chef Samuel "Sam" Gorenstein and Omer Horev, founder of Pura Vida Miami, Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen might win points (and hearts) simply for being the most charming restaurant in Miami Beach. The eatery, inside a small house complete with a porch lined with flowing plants and cozy cushions, offers a plethora of bright fare. Start with a few salatim ($6 each) such as baba ghanouj, smashed avocado, roasted beets, and the "holy grail" of black and white tahini with grated tomato and green harissa (all served with fire-baked pita) before moving on to grilled lamb chops ($45), a whole branzino ($36), or baby cauliflower ($21) — all oven-baked. Gorenstein got his inspiration from the cafés of Tel Aviv, which the chef says is similar to Miami in style and climate. Perhaps that's why the fare seems so at home in South Beach.
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Chicken-fried alligator from Barbakoa by Finka at the Doral Yard
Photo courtesy of Barbakoa by Finka

Barbakoa by Finka

8455 NW 53rd St., Doral

Eileen Andrade's newest restaurant, Barbakoa by Finka, is the Doral Yard's sit-down dining establishment. Here Andrade continues her love affair with Asian flavors melded with the Latino dishes of her youth. Andrade has the hospitality industry in her blood (her family owns the iconic Islas Las Canarias), and it shows. The restaurant, which skews to casual, shared plates, offers something for everyone, whether it be a light ceviche, alligator bites, a wood-fired pizza, or a hearty mac 'n' cheese topped with short rib. Whatever you do, don't forget to order the wok-fired okra, braised with a kimchee lime sauce — it just might turn anyone into a diehard okra fan. Wash your meal down with one of the restaurant's cocktails with punny names like "Justin Fever," "Tequili' Me Smalls," and the "Britney Libre."
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Chef Mario Carbone says his namesake restaurant's rigatoni has become a sort of social-media calling card.
Photo by World Red Eye/Seth Browarnik/Courtesy of Carbone


49 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

Yes, you've seen the rigatoni alla vodka on your Instagram feed. Yes, it can take weeks to score a reservation. And, yes — Carbone is a hype beast of a restaurant. But, for all that, it's worth a visit. Before you even order, jacketed waiters plunk down a plethora of complimentary bites: A cube of Parmesan, freshly pickled giardiniera, salumi, and a bread basket filled with crunchy garlic bread. And, if you play your cards right, you don't need to mortgage your condo to eat at Carbone. A couple can easily share the caesar salad, made tableside ($25), and the spicy rigatoni vodka ($33) and be quite satisfied. Splurge on a few glasses of wine, fill up on that bread basket, and you've got yourself a feast. Or opt for that big night out and go all-in with the prime porterhouse for two ($195) or the lobster fra diavolo. Either way, you'll have a wonderful meal — and your own Instagram memories.
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A meal at Casa Isola
Photo courtesy of Casa Isola

Casa Isola

1418 20th St., Miami Beach

When Pubbelly Noodle Bar closed in Miami Beach's Sunset Harbour neighborhood back in 2019, it left an empty space in the hearts of fans of José Mendín. Luckily, the chef kept the lease, opening a quaint Italian bistro with longtime business partner Sergio Navarro and former Lucali chef Santo Agnello. The result is a charming spot that serves up red-sauce classics like linguini with white water clams ($28) and a rigatoni alla vodka ($23) that has a pleasant bite to it. Don't miss chef Agnello’s eight-hour Sunday sauce, a hearty meal that includes a short-rib meatball, pork rib, and Italian sausage ($30).
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Cerveceria La Tropical offers food by chef Cindy Hutson at its Wynwood brewery and beer garden.
Photo courtesy of Cerveceria La Tropical

Cervecería La Tropical

42 NE 25th St, Miami

Breweries have come a long way in a short time here in Miami. And while there are many places to enjoy a fresh, delicious beer, many breweries are still lacking in the food department. Sure, some have fantastic food trucks that park in their lots and others serve a mean barbecue, but only one offers a full menu of items created by one of Miami's best-loved chefs. Enter Cervecería La Tropical, where Cindy Hutson's menu features brewery favorites like a Cuban medianoche sandwich, burgers, and curry jerk chicken wings — and so much more. Look for a whole fried fish, a jerk smoked half chicken, and some of the freshest ceviche to be found in Miami. All this and fresh beer from La Tropical's in-house brewery!
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A view from the dining room at Dune
Photo by Nick Garcia Photography

Dune by Laurent Tourondel

2200 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more lovely dining spot than Dune. Located at the exclusive Auberge Residences on Fort Lauderdale Beach, Dune boasts a massive covered patio that overlooks the surf and sand. Even in the evening, the waves gently crashing along the shore serve as a tranquil ambient sound that pairs well with master chef Laurent Tourondel's exquisite cuisine. You can't go wrong with the classic surf and turf menu, but standouts include a crisp Parmesan soufflé and the lobster fra diavolo.
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La Traila Barbecue went from truck to brick-and-mortar in Miami Lakes.
Photo by Andrea Grieco

La Traila Barbecue

8030 NW 154th St., Miami Lakes

Austin native Mel Rodriguez and Buffalo Bills wide receiver (and Miami native) Isaiah McKenzie started hosting barbecues for friends and family this past year and decided to turn their passion into a business. The two pals quickly outgrew their food truck, so they opened a brick-and-mortar location in Miami Lakes where they now offer smoked brisket, pulled pork beef "dino" ribs, and more. The most Insta-worthy dish has to be the brisket sundae ($14). A take on extreme fair food, the dish starts with a mac-and-cheese base that's layered with creamed corn and baked beans, then topped with cotija cheese, smoked brisket, house sauce, and crema. Vegetarians will be sated with La Tralia's "Impossibly Smoked" burger and the "All Natural" (smoked pulled jackfruit tossed in a house sauce and topped with onions and pickles).
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Grab a super-good lager and a "Super Good" chicken sandwich at Off Site.
Photo courtesy of Off Site

Off Site

8250 NE Second Ave., Miami

When Boxelder closed, Wynwood lost one of its OG bars. More than a place for beers, it was an incubator for amazing casual food. It was here that United States Burger Service got its start, with Michael Mayta grilling his burgers out back on weekends. Taquiza's Steve Santana also served his fried chicken sandwiches at Boxelder, leading to a partnership between him and Boxelder's Adam Darnell. Together, they opened Off Site in Miami's growing Little River neighborhood. The tiny storefront restaurant serves a concise menu — one or two beers, hot dogs, fries, a wedge salad, and Santana's chicken sandwich. The thing is, even with a small menu, it's nearly impossible to decide because everything is practically nirvana. Start with the chicken sandwich, fries, and a beer. You'll be back for more.
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Orno has opened in Coral Gables.
Photo by Christian Santiago Photography


1350 S. Dixie Hwy., Coral Gables

Chef Niven Patel has returned to his fine-dining roots at Orno. The James Beard-nominated chef, who cut his teeth at 3030 Ocean and Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, opened his first restaurant, Ghee, in 2017. At Orno, dishes are fired in a wood-burning oven, many of them utilizing vegetables from Patel's own farm. The inspired dishes are served in a lush dining room filled with greenery in tones of blush and gold.
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Pork in "phrodo" at Zitz Sum in Coral Gables
Photo courtesy of Zitz Sum

Zitz Sum

396 Alhambra Cir., Coral Gables

Best known for his time at No Name Chinese, Zitz Sum chef and co-owner Pablo Zitzmann grew up exploring the many teppanyaki restaurants of Bogotá with his father. That led to a lifelong admiration for Asian cuisine. At Zitz Sum, Zitzmann offers Chinese and Japanese street food with a touch of Miami thrown into the mix. Find dumplings, small plates, and desserts from pastry chef and co-owner Natalia Restrepo at this intimate restaurant.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss

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