Best of Miami

The Ten Best Restaurants in the Miami Design District and Midtown

Fire-roasted lasagna with maitake bolognese, Gruyère fondue, and fresh basil. View more photos of Ember here.
Fire-roasted lasagna with maitake bolognese, Gruyère fondue, and fresh basil. View more photos of Ember here. Ruben Cabrera @rubenpictures
The Design District and Midtown Miami are shopping meccas where tourists and locals alike can purchase everything from bananas at Target to diamonds at Tiffany. The adjoining neighborhoods have become much more than places to fill your condo and empty your wallet. There's public art, a live concert series, and fitness studios. With all of those activities, you're going to work up an appetite. Here are the ten best places to sate your hunger.

Blackbrick

3451 NE First Ave., Miami
305-573-8886
midtownchinese.com

Blackbrick in Midtown serves the Chinese food you've been craving. Expect classics such as salt-and-pepper shrimp, Sichuan vegetables with hot-oil fried rice, and steamed red snapper with soy, ginger, and scallions. Chef Richard Hales, who also owns Sakaya Kitchen and Bird & Bone, is behind the menu that's inspired by his travels throughout China. The intimate space boasts a distinct rock 'n' roll vibe, and on weekends, songstress Jenny "Wife" Hales and her band might entertain you.
click to enlarge Floridian fugu - PHOTO BY JUAN FERNANDO AYORA / COURTESY OF KAIDO
Floridian fugu
Photo by Juan Fernando Ayora / Courtesy of Kaido

Ember and Kaido

151 NE 41st St., Miami
786-334-6494
embermiami.com

At Ember, Brad Kilgore returns to his Kansas City roots with a menu that's both accessible and intricate. Take, for example, the fried chicken he created with the restaurant's chef de cuisine, Nick Graves. It's brined for 24 hours and then cold-smoked, double-battered, and fried before being plated with either Kilgore's BKQ sauce or caviar butter. The same care can be seen in everything from the fire-roasted lasagna — which resembles a cheesy, savory mille-feuille — to the Yukon mashed potatoes oozing with butter. Be sure to visit Kaido, the sultry bar by Kilgore that resides upstairs.
Dishes at Ghee. - COURTESY OF GHEE INDIAN KITCHEN
Dishes at Ghee.
Courtesy of Ghee Indian Kitchen

Ghee Indian Kitchen

3620 NE Second Ave., Miami
786-636-6122
gheemiami.com

Chef Niven Patel's original restaurant in Dadeland was so successful he opened a location in the Design District. Here you'll find dishes made with vegetables grown from Patel's own farm and seafood from local fishermen. A generous vegetable menu includes baby eggplant, chana masala, and local turnips when in season. Indian classics such as chicken tikka masala ($15) and samosas are always available.
click to enlarge Watermelon salad - LE JARDINIER
Watermelon salad
Le Jardinier

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Le Jardinier

151 NE 41st St., Miami
305-402-9070
latelier-miami.com

Though master chef Joël Robuchon has passed away, his legendary cuisine remains alive at L'Atelier. Chef Christophe Bellanca — culinary director for Joël Robuchon USA — is tasked with this monumental undertaking, and he succeeds with a precise menu of classic yet unpretentious dishes, such as spaghetti with black truffles ($42). Its sister eatery, Le Jardinier, offers a vegetable-forward menu using local, seasonal produce, fresh herbs, and greens. Signature dishes include bass with fennel, tomato confit, and Meyer lemon, and watermelon salad with heirloom tomatoes, ginger, and mint.
click to enlarge Dinner table at Mandolin. - COURTESY OF MANDOLIN AEGEAN BISTRO
Dinner table at Mandolin.
Courtesy of Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

4312 NE Second Ave., Miami
305-749-9140
mandolinmiami.com

Romantic, friendly, and charming, Mandolin is housed in a vintage Miami cottage and spills out onto a back patio filled with greenery and twinkle lights. The result is the feeling you've entered the home of a charming host somewhere in the Mediterranean. The food is simple and real, with many herbs and vegetables grown on the premises. A whole sea bass is grilled with olive oil and lemon, and beets are roasted with tahini yogurt and mint. If you fall in love with the tableware, Mrs. Mandolin, a quaint shop selling everything from jewelry to plates, is just a block away.
click to enlarge The bar at Michael's Genuine. - COURTESY OF THE GENUINE HOSPITALITY GROUP
The bar at Michael's Genuine.
Courtesy of the Genuine Hospitality Group

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

130 NE 40th St., Miami
305-573-5550
michaelsgenuine.com

The Design District's dining OG, Michael's Genuine still impresses. Restaurateur Michael Schwartz's strategy is simply serving fresh food made with care. The menu rotates seasonally, but expect classics such as wood-oven-roasted octopus, house-made tagliolini with Calabrian chilies, and crispy pig's ears. The restaurant also hosts a lively weekday happy hour from 4:30 to 7:30, when you can score a proper Manhattan for $6.50 and a half-dozen oysters for $9.50 while you people-watch at the bar.
click to enlarge Casual dining at OTL - COURTESY OF OTL
Casual dining at OTL
Courtesy of OTL

OTL

160 NE 40th St., Miami
786-953-7620
otlmia.com

This casual café — a partnership among Miami entrepreneur David Grutman, real-estate developer Craig Robbins, and the folks behind Manhattan's popular restaurant and takeout concept the Smile — is the perfect antidote to chain coffee shops. The bright, cheery OTL (short for "Out to Lunch") offers breakfast, lunch, and brunch. Items include overnight oats, avocado toast, and a black bean burger. Choose a Zak the Baker pastry to go with your coffee, and relax for a spell.
click to enlarge Peace, love, and guacamole bowl - PHOTO BY HANNAH SENTENAC
Peace, love, and guacamole bowl
Photo by Hannah Sentenac

St. Roch Market

40 NE 39th St., Miami
786-542-8977
miami.strochmarket.com

Not sure what you're craving after shopping at Dior? You'll find something wonderful at this upscale food hall that offers 10,000 square feet of options. A hummus tower at Jaffa, fresh pasta at Dal Plin, sushi with a Peruvian twist at Itame, or a hearty báhn mì from Tran Am are just some of the options. Wash it all down with a cocktail or local draft beer at the bar that's the heart of the hall.
click to enlarge Sugarcane's sidewalk patio - COURTESY OF SUGARCANE
Sugarcane's sidewalk patio
Courtesy of Sugarcane

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill

3252 NE First Ave., Miami
786-369-0353
sugarcanerawbargrill.com

You can hear Sugarcane before you see it. The large indoor/outdoor restaurant is always lively with the sounds of people enjoying cocktails and oysters. The menu, by chef Timon Balloo, is diverse and global: small plates, meat, and vegetables from a Japanese robata grill, raw bar items, and sushi. Among the dozen or so robata items, chicken yakitori is a favorite — soft, plump pieces of breast meat interspersed with snippets of thick, almost-leek-like Tokyo scallions, all lightly charred and glazed with a slightly sweet, mirin/soy-based tare sauce.
click to enlarge Swan's rose-colored interior. - PHOTO BY MORELLI BROTHERS
Swan's rose-colored interior.
Photo by Morelli Brothers

Swan and Bar Bevy

90 NE 39th St., Miami
305-704-0994
swanbevy.com

This collaboration between nightlife and hospitality maven David Grutman and musician Pharrell Williams is new to the neighborhood, but it's already a delightful addition. Swan is decorated in hues of rose, making the dining room feel like a glowing Parisian bistro meets a Victorian parlor. The menu includes a caesar salad shaped like a tower; Pharrell's favorite dish: Corn, Corn, Corn; and a perfectly roasted chicken. The restaurant also offers a daily brunch. Upstairs, Bar Bevy oozes Mick Jagger-meets-Arabian Nights swagger with gemstone hues accented by black-and-white nudes.
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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