The Ten Best Athlete-Owned Restaurants in South Florida

Ray and Shannon Allen inside Grown.
Ray and Shannon Allen inside Grown. Photo by
Another NFL season draws to a close. Although the Miami Dolphins ended their resilient season earlier than what fans desperately prayed for, there’s still plenty more NFL action to be had when the New England Patriots face the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium in Houston Sunday, February 5, for Super Bowl LI.

With less than two weeks to go until the most highly anticipated game on the sports calendar arrives, let’s take a look at the sports stars themselves — particularly those who have expanded their brand off the playing field and into the kitchen.

There’s no denying that some fame and fortune make it easier for celebrity athletes to break into the restaurant industry. A few fell short and shuttered, such as Dan Marino’s establishment in the Shops at Sunset Place and D. Wade’s Sports Grill, but others continue to flourish and prove that the food is as good as the player. Here are the ten best Miami restaurants with a celebrity sports connection.
1. Grown 
Choosing health and freshness over frills, NBA All-Star and former Miami Heat player Ray Allen and his wife Shannon offer South Miami a first-of-its-kind fast-food restaurant using local, organic, and nutrient-dense ingredients for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sit down inside or pull up to the full-service drive-thru for smoothies, cold-pressed juices, and a series of salads, soups, sandwiches, and wraps. Breakfast items include steel-cut oatmeal ($8), gluten-free blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup ($7), and breakfast salad ($9), made with hard-boiled eggs, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, mixed greens, and lemon vinaigrette.
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Photo courtesy of Shula's Steak House
2. Shula’s Steak House 
Providing Miami Lakes carnivores with upscale cuts of meat such as porterhouse, cowboy rib eye, New York sirloin, filet mignon, and Kansas City strip, Shula’s Steak House knows what locals like. Drawing inspiration from Miami Dolphins legendary head coach Don Shula’s time on the field, the restaurant features memorabilia on the walls and a menu printed on a football. Start with the pan-seared jumbo lump crabcakes; then make your way to one of Shula’s cuts, all premium Black Angus selections that pair perfectly with a glass of Shula’s legendary barrels or bubbles.
3. Pincho Factory 
Miami native and former NFL player Jonathan Vilma is the newest franchise partner to team up with Pincho Factory's Nedal Ahmad, Otto Othman, and Nizar Ahmad. Located at 1250 S. Miami Ave., the newly opened Brickell location marks Vilma’s first of his five-store expansion deal and the seventh Pincho Factory in Florida. The fast-casual hot spot had no issue taking over the region with its glorious award-winning burger and kebab creations, but now with Vilma on the roster, the local chain has made another great play.
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Pulled pork with Brother Jimmy's Carolina barbecue sauce.
Photo courtesy of Brother Jimmy's BBQ
4. Brother Jimmy’s BBQ 
Before there was Pincho Factory, there was Vilma’s first restaurant endeavor, Brother Jimmy’s, which brings traditional Southern cooking and hospitality to his backyard. With his mission of putting “some South in yo’ mouth,” he opened the original Brother Jimmy’s in Mary Brickell Village in 2012 and has expanded with several outposts throughout Miami, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Connecticut in hopes of sharing his famous slow-smoked barbecue with the rest of the nation. Try the mouthwatering Carolina pulled pork ($18.50) or Vilma's personal favorite: the marbled Black Angus brisket ($21.50), slow-smoked for up to 14 hours, with a side of baked beans and cornbread.
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Bru's Room's grilled wings smothered in hot sauce.
Photo Courtesy of Bru's Room
5. Bru’s Room Sports Grill
Bru’s Room lends a certain je ne sais quoi to your favorite sports bar. Maybe it’s the way it grills its wings, which come in a variety of flavors, including Parmesan garlic, sweet and tangy, and the extrahot “Brutonium,” or the way the racks of ribs, slathered in Southern barbecue sauce, fall off the bone. But it may very well be the owner’s all-star touch. Whether you’re close to Bird Road or Boynton Beach, former NFL player Bob “Bru” Brudzinski has created a lively atmosphere for foodies and sports enthusiasts in Florida with his regional chain that never fails at food or fun.
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Maureen Aimee Mariano is a freelance food writer for Miami New Times. She earned a bachelor of science in journalism from the University of Florida before making her way back to the 305, the city that first fueled her insatiable appetite.