Though Miamians won’t really line up for anything that doesn’t involve a Pitbull meet and greet, somehow Giorgio Rapicavoli manages to get us to do it for brunch EVERY Sunday, even in oppressive humidity. Cap’n Crunch pancakes can do that to a person, but so can the “what is he smoking” creativity that perpetually comes out of this kitchen, making Eating House a constant topic when people talk about the best restaurants in town.
It’s quite the contradiction that in a city obsessed with keeping fat off, the most popular dish not called a Cuban sandwich is Yardbird’s fried chicken. Or maybe its chicken biscuit. Either way the 50 Eggs folks have managed to do the impossible and convince a body-obsessed city that fried food is cool. Combine that with the best bourbon selection in South Florida, and you’ve got the best southern thing to hit this city since it was pronounced “Mia-muh.”
It’s gotten to the point in Miami that sushi is so ubiquitous, it's almost a staple at Italian restaurants. But there is much to be said for doing one thing, and doing it better than anyone else, and this South Beach sushery has consistently been named one of the top in the city, despite the influx of fancier competitors. And for beach denizens who want great, affordable sushi and don’t want to drive to the mainland to get it, this spot becomes a fast favorite.
We’ve not only named this place the best steakhouse in Miami, its also made the list for best tapas, best donuts, and even the best steakhouse in Ohio. But that doesn't slow down Peter Vauthy, who makes the best meat on the Beach with absolutely zero attitude or pretentiousness, and aside from his Certified Angus Beef steaks, also has a top-notch Italian menu, highlighted by literally anything with the "Red Lead" sauce.
Remember that time we said you couldn’t get a bad meal at a Mandarin Oriental? Gastón Acurio knows that, too; that’s why the hottest chef in Peru put his first American outpost here, where he’s serving up the best ceviche in Miami plus Peruvian favorites like lomo saltado and an insanely extravagant seafood brunch. And the view here may be even better than Azul’s this time of year: You can actually sit outside and listen to the water while you eat.
Well, all that traffic and all those closed-down restaurants later, and it seems South Beach is still flooding. But until we’re all underwater, best to enjoy one of the few spots that survived the Alton Road Apocalypse, mostly by serving the best Italian food in Miami. Michael Pirolo plates up thick red sauces and house-made pastas, accompanied by a rotating menu of craft cocktails in a space that feels more South Italy than South Beach, and makes this a homey standout among sometimes-snooty feeling Miami Italian joints.
Despite Miami’s restaurant explosion in the last decade, anyone who dines out regularly has said something like, “But you know what we still don’t really have? Good Indian food. Except that one place in the Grove, but it’s always so crowded.” Well, “that place in the Grove” is Bombay Darbar, and it just moved into some massive new digs on Commodore Plaza. So you can finally try the one legit Indian restaurant we have, but still complain about why we don’t have more.
You don’t go from a hole in the wall in a strip mall to having your own concession stand at the AAA in just a few years by serving mediocre, expensive food. Somehow Nedal Ahmad figured this out, while about 400 other restaurants couldn't, and now has the hottest fast-casual concept in Florida. After winning the burger bash with his Toston burger, Nedal’s expanding to Orlando and taking said burger, as well as his savory bowls and pinchos, to the rest of the state. So it’s only a matter of time until that Toston burger isn’t quite so “only in Miami.”
Don’t have a heart attack, Danny Serfer! Never mind you’ve probably given them to half the city with your potato latkes, Corben sandwich, one of the best breakfast sandwiches in America, and an entire menu of stuff our cardiologist warned us about. We still included you on the list. But kinda like we do when there’s no tables at Blue Collar on a hot summer night, we just wanted to make you sweat.
“We don’t fuck around” spicy food is harder to find in Miami than one might think. Since our idea of Asian cuisine seems to be either high priced sushi or fill-in-the-blank fusion, the authentic stuff is few and far between. So thanks to Chef Bee for opening up this spot in Sunset Harbour, where he’s plating sweat-inducing curries, rich noodle bowls, cured beef jerky, and jerky-infused whiskey cocktails. Even if you don’t love the hot stuff, the regular menu is the best Southeast Asian in the city. But if you feel like proving yourself at dinner, ask for your dinner “the way the chef eats it.”
Seafood is as much of a staple on Miami menus as kitschy takes on the Cuban sandwich and an 18% automatic gratuity. But like with so many things in life, the ones who do it simplest, do it best. Case in point: Danny Serfer’s Edgewater outpost, where the menu starts off with the best selection of fresh oysters in Miami, then graduates onto a lobster heavy-list of appetizers highlighted by the croissants with lobster butter. The “plain” entrees are the way to go here, where Serfer lets the selection of local fish speak for itself. But if you insist on venturing the fancy stuff, the swordfish with duck confit is your best bet.
If there is a restaurant that is completely emblematic of what Wynwood has become, it’s Alter. The place is hipster and casual at first glance, but actually sophisticated and upscale. The big, light, warehoused area is full of causal seats, waiters in jeans, and tropical plants. The food however, is as fine-dining as it gets. Because Brad Kilgore is constantly creating new plates, you’ll have a different experience every time you go, and probably a fairly-different menu. But each plate is exquisitely created and crafted with flavor profiles you’d never think to put together. And it might be the perfect place to take out-of-towners who think everything great in Miami lies in South Beach.
“Aspiring taco restaurateur” might have been the second-most popular occupation in Miami this past year after “runs some businesses.” But the clear cut winner has been Coyo, the grilled-meat taco emporium that has lines out the door from open until close. Their creations like cactus tacos, pollo al pastor, and carne asada served on housemade tortillas with fresh, local salsas have taken the city over, and they’ve opened three locations in just over a year. The Wynwood original even has a hidden bar in the back, and might be the odd Miami nightspot where the endless line might be actually worth braving. But only because it has tacos at the end.
Though a lot of restaurants like to use the term “Mediterranean” to describe what’s better explained as “generic restaurant food,” Mina’s brings the real deal. Here, owner Yasmine Kotb uses a combination of family recipes she learned from her grandparents in Cairo, with food she experienced over a decade-plus on tour with everyone from Beyoncé to Cher. The menu combines grilled staples like kafta kebab and fish tagine, and adds inventive pizzas with stuff like lamb sausage. Out back, Mina’s has a pleasant dining terrace that doubles as one of Miami’s best places to drink outdoors.
In an era when Miamians have been conditioned to say unconscionable things like “$22 for a pizza seems fair,” one place is bucking the trend. This family-run Italian spot on the Miami River not only serves up some of the consistently best pizza in Miami, it does so at prices that don’t make you feel violated when you leave. It’s a throwback to the Italian restaurants of your childhood, where oversized family-style pasta dishes and humongous cuts of meat are served for the price of small entrees at other places. And all of it's done in an atmosphere that feels as much like eating in your family’s living room as it does a romantic waterside bistro.
Traditionally, poolside cuisine in Miami has been relegated to $20 hamburgers with mini bottles of Grey Poupon and/or a $7 slice of watermelon. All that’s changed at the Hilton Bentley Bay, where the poolside restaurant is serving the best Greek food in Miami. Creator, owner, and executive chef Georgios Vogiatzis has crafted a fresh menu long on creative salads, flavorful meats, and humongous gyro and pita sandwiches. If you want to be indulgent, opt for the seafood platter, where every piece is grilled with a buttery, lemon glaze and tastes just like it would on an island in the Med. It’s the odd place where you can take in the Miami scene, dine on great food, and not lose half your paycheck in the process.
For the amateur critics, no space in Miami is hotter right now than José Andrés' new venture at the SLS Brickell. His first restaurant on the 305 mainland has a more seafood-centric menu than his South Beach outpost. The menu starts with “Sea Little Snacks” like codfish croquettes and a hefty menu of ceviches. Adventurous eaters should try the head-to-toe menu that serves fish in ways you never wanted to know were edible, like monkfish liver and codfish blood sausage. The Josper grill in the kitchen gives the dishes a unique flavor never before seen in Miami seafood restaurants.
When you first hear a restaurant is doing Vietnamese-Cajun fusion, you might think Ani Meinhold and Cesar Zapata got bored, threw a bunch of cuisine names in a hat, and went with the first two they picked. And while there’s no doubt this duo is skilled enough to pull that off, the menu here is actually a carefully planned combination of the former-Federal team’s culinary background. You’ll be able to get stuff like caramel pork riblets, cast-iron lemongrass chicken, or the trademark Cajun pots where you pick a spicy Asian sauce and a seafood and wait for a big metal cask to show up at your table filled with your dinner. What’s more, the restaurant also boasts the Lantern Garden out back, where you can sit in an outdoor Asian garden and sip on tropical cocktails, completely forgetting you’re about 30 yards from US-1.
The name here refers to golfer Ernie Els and has about as much to do with New Orleans as winning basketball. Instead, this anchor of Brickell City Centre is the first large restaurant to offer up takes on Els’ native South African cuisine, all with an open kitchen, fragrant fire, and extensive collection of hard-to-find wines. The star of the show here is the Piri-Piri Chicken, a hot, tangy, tomato-based dish that Big Easy does better than anyone else in town. Other unique items include the Rabbit Chow, which is obviously a giant veal shank served in a spicy tomato sauce inside of a giant bread bowl.
Miami’s dearth of great Indian food gets a little smaller with Ghee, an intimate 70-seater adorned in décor imported from India -- including the signature mango wood tables. Chef Niven Patel, who honed his craft at Michael’s Genuine, opened Ghee with his wife Shivani. The menu changes every day based on what fresh, local ingredients they come across, making it the perfect place to get out of an Indian food rut and try a dish you’ve never even heard of. And if you want them to jack up the spice and heat to uncomfortable levels, they’re more than happy to oblige in your masochism.
Miami’s riverfront has long struggled to strike the balance between stripped-down fish markets that sell their catches at sticky wood tables, and overly-pretentious “scene” spots. But Kiki does it masterfully with an elegant menu of Middle Eastern favorites like souvlaki and fresh caught seafood paired with an outstanding selection of wines and a serene view out over the Miami River. It’s a place you can enjoy in shorts and flip flops or decked out in couture, and as long as you can afford the not exactly cheap prices, it’s possibly the best direct waterfront dining in the city.
Prime steaks, when cooked correctly, are almost a commodity. So to set your steaks apart, you’ve gotta do something special. Quality Meats not only has the feel of a 1930s Chicago Chophouse with the butcher case right in the dining room, but it makes a tableside steak sauce that might be the only one worthy of the prime steaks being served. Steak purists, you can trust us on this one. And if the meat isn’t enough, this place has also pioneered the Chicken Parm Pizza -- a 12-inch circle of chicken Parm topped with marinara and fresh mozzarella that looks like a pizza, but is actually an entrée that’ll last you four meals.