Macchialina | Liz Clayman
Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Miami Right Now

Updated On 03/19/2018 at 05:26PM EST
Habitat

Habitat

South Beach

Jose Mendin shows his talents to visitors
Miamians are well familiar with chef Jose Mendin and his Pubbelly empire of restaurants, but despite five James Beard nominations his places hadn’t been huge destinations for tourists. But this new spot in The 1 Hotel along Collins Ave will have our temporary neighbors realizing what all the fuss is about, with Mendin’s trademark mix of Asian, Spanish, and Latin American flavors. The space is the same clean, crisp décor that was here when it was Beachcraft, but the menu is more complex, split among “land,” “sea,” and “fire” sections. Try the pine nut-crusted octopus a la planxa from the sea, jamon iberico-wrapped croquetas from land, and the pork ribs with gochujang sauce for the fire. And bring your wallet. The food here’s great, but it’s definitely priced to splurge.

Call me Gaby

SoFi

Authentic Italian best experienced outdoors
These are the glory days of outdoor dining in Miami, and the best new place to take advantage of our ideal weather is this Italian spot on a quiet corner south of Fifth. The sprawling patio is filled with comfy seats and big umbrellas, where the warm night air sits perfectly over fresh burrata and tomatoes imported from Italy. It’s the perfect preview for the stellar pizzas to come, which rise for 72 hours before getting hand-tossed and wood-fired. The pastas are no slouch either; go for the homemade gnocchi with gorgonzola cream, and the fiocchetti alle pere e tartufo -- handmade pasta filled with truffle cream, caramelized pear, Parmigiano Reggiano fondue, and balsamic vinegar.

Carillon Miami Wellness Resort

The Strand Bar and Grill

Miami Beach

Fresh Florida food in a classic mid-beach hotel
The Carillon Hotel has transformed itself into a wellness resort, and its crown culinary achievement is the big, open, warm-restaurant headed up by Beachcraft’s Stephen Ulrich. Strand’s menu is varied using Florida ingredients, with starters like a squash trio with yogurt and jalapeno culling popular produce from local farms. Main courses keep the fresh food going, with short rib, corn and piquillo pepper pizza, and polenta agnolotti with salsa verde topping the choices. The vibe inside isn’t nearly as touristy as one would expect in a hotel this far up in the beach, and you’ll find just as many locals sitting among the beach wood and big windows as you will folks from out of town.

Beach Taco

SoFi

California-style beachside tacos by a Florida beach
There’s nothing quite like spending the day in the ocean, rolling off the sand, and sitting down to a nice plate of tacos. At least that’s what anyone from south of Fresno will tell you. Get a little bit of the surfer vibe that SoFi’s had for years and stop in this narrow little taqueria, where chef Michael Castino (formerly of Estiatorio Milos and Komodo) puts creative combinations on fresh made tortillas. Of course, there are still the favorites like grilled shrimp, filet mignon, and marinated chicken. But if a day on the sand has you feeling adventurous, try Korean BBQ with gochujang sauce, kimchi, and crispy shallots.

Azabu Miami

Azabu

SoFi

Michelin-starred sushi spreads to South Beach
Who better to tell us where to eat seafood than a tire maker, right? That’s why there’s so much buzz about the Michelin-starred Azabu opening its first South Florida outpost at the Stanton Marriott in SoFi. Pass through the curtains here and it feels like you’ve saved yourself the 16 hour flight to Japan, as the dimly lit space serves Izakaya-style specialties like robata-grilled meats, udon noodles, and fresh-from-Japan sushi. For special occasions, get the omakase in The Den, an 11-seat sushi counter made from an Hinoki Cypress tree. For not-as-special occasions, grab a seat at Bar Azabu, where you’ll find Miami’s best selection of Japanese whiskey.

Marcello Cassano

Casa Tua Cocina

Brickell

Miami’s most exclusive Italian in a fast-casual setting
Not that anyone would besmirch the fine cuisine at Casa Tua, but unless you’re rolling there in a Phantom from your condo at Continuum it can be literally impossible to try. Until now, where the same fresh pastas, pizzas, and savory Italian dishes are spread throughout a massive food hall at Saks Fifth Avenue. Hop around ten different dining stations, ordering salmon crudo, fresh cacio y pepe, and wood-fired pizzas before settling down at the bar and ordering a glass of rare imported Italian wine. The communal tables and counters might not have the same you-cant-sit-with-us feel as the South Beach original. But if you’re more about being fed than being seen you’ll be here multiple times a week.

AQ Chophouse by Il Mulino

Sunny Isles

A hearty steakhouse by the ocean
The stylish Acqualina resort has struggled to find a main restaurant to compliment Il Mulino, so this time they went straight to the source. The new AQ Chophouse is the creation of Il Mulino executive chef Michele Mazza, who takes the same detailed approach to steaks as he has to high-end Italian. Here you’ll feel the warm air off the Atlantic with uninterrupted ocean views from the terrazza patio, as you dine on branzino crudo and sheep’s milk ricotta, then move on to short rib ravioli with sage and butter. Though said ravioli are tempting to fill up on, limit yourself to two; the steaks at AQ are prime cuts up there with any of the South Beach stalwarts. It’s absolutely the best new steakhouse of the year and and the new go-to for an impressive meal up north.

Boulud Sud Miami

Boulud Sud

Downtown

Daniel Boulud goes a little lighter, stays just as delicious
Not that the venerable DB Bistro wasn’t a magical spot for dinner, but it felt like the kind of place you’d only go if someone else was footing the bill. So mega-chef Daniel Boulud has made his new spot in the JW Marriott Marquis a little more approachable, lightening up both the décor and the prices while keeping the food up to expectations. The menu’s big on Middle Eastern flavors, with lamb and pine nut flatbreads and carrot veloute setting the stage for chicken tagines with couscous, or arroz bomba with sepia, chorizo and saffron rice. The desserts are still works of art, and the cocktails are smooth and delicious, effectively creating a downscaled version of his old gourmet hotspot.

The Alley South Beach

The Alley

South Beach

Hand-crafted Italian food hidden behind the Betsy
You could almost call this brick oven pizzeria an Ocean Drive restaurant, though sitting in a light-draped alley half a block off the main drag almost deserves an asterisk.Though it's right near one of the most famous streets in America, it has the feel of a hidden little trattoria you might find in Bologna, with friendly service and tables set just inches apart. The fresh daily pasta specials all come from noodles made fresh that day, complementing an intriguing menu of Neapolitan-style pies. It’s as close to a cozy Italian restaurant as you’ll find in that neon jungle, and is the best of this winter’s crop to bring out-of-towners.

Les Banh Amis

Wynwood

A Vietnamese deli in Wynwood’s Asian food hall
After proving his mettle slinging Miami’s best tacos at Coyo, chef Scott Linquist has moved on to conquer yet another exotic cuisine, this time bringing Miami its first full-on gourmet banh mi shop. This one sits in the far corner at 1-800 Lucky,  the bustling Asian food hall that’s changed how we eat in Wynwood. Here you’ll find some uber-authentic stuff like homemade Vietnamese head cheese and lemongrass chicken feet. For the less adventurous, you can get a sandwich on bread from Sullivan Street Bakery filled with meatballs, pork belly, or a custom-made sausage from Miami Proper Sausages.

Courtesy of Red, the Steakhouse

Red, The Steakhouse

South Beach

Miami’s best steakhouse has more than just meat
When almost every season a new high-end steakhouse opens up and serves prime cuts with great service, it’s tough to stay on top. But despite expansion into other cities Peter Vauthy still maintains the best steakhouse in the city by offering a menu that extends far beyond his trademark filets and tomahawks. Red also has some of the best tapas and the best donuts, plus a menu of Italian offerings that would make it a standout without a single cut of meat (try anything with the “Red Lead” sauce, trust us).  Despite all that, the place has zero attitude or pretentiousness, and strikes the rare balance of fine dining and a relaxed atmosphere that’s so rarely found in South Beach.

George Apostolidis

La Mar by Gaston Acurio

Brickell

Gourmet Peruvian and sushi with Miami’s top waterfront view
The hottest chef in Peru put his first American outpost right on the water at the Mandarin Oriental, serving up the best ceviche in Miami plus Peruvian favorites like lomo saltado and an insanely extravagant seafood brunch. Daytime dining here means enjoying the breeze blowing off Biscayne Bay as you sip pisco sours and gaze out at the Rickenbacker Causeway. At night it’s a front row seat to the expanding Brickell skyline, a restaurant where both the food and the environment let you know exactly where you are. Eat here when the weather is nice and it’ll remind you why, despite all the irritations, you still live in Miami.

Liz Clayman

Macchialina Taverna Rustica

Miami Beach

An affordable way to experience Miami’s best Italian
Debates about the best Italian food in Miami can rage on for hours, but it seems the one name both fine dining foodies and shorts-and-flip-flops pasta junkies always agree on is Macchialina. Here, Michael Pirolo plates 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. All that makes this a homey standout among sometimes snooty feeling Miami Italian joints. Much of the local love stems from the legendary Thursday night special, when the homemade pastas are all only $10 so even Miamians who recoil at menu prices can afford to eat at one of the best restaurants in the city. Or, more likely, spend all those savings on wine.

Courtesy of Blue Collar

Blue Collar Restaurant

MiMo

A meat-heavy restaurant that also boasts a fine selection of veggie options
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 like we do when there’s no tables at Blue Collar on a hot summer night, we just wanted to make you sweat.

Courtesy of NaiYaRa

NaiYaRa

South Beach

The most complete, approachable Asian experience in Miami
“We don’t mess 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 go out 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, and chef is always adding new stuff like he recently did with Sriracha garlic chili ribs and tuna tostones with hot sesame oil and guacamole. Pro tip: If you’re feeling strong ask for your dinner “the way the chef eats it.”

Mignonette

Mignonette

Edgewater/North Miami

Simple seafood that’s still the best in the city
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 seafood 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 great here too, as Serfer lets the selection of local fish speak for itself. The place has been so successful it’s launched an uptown version, this one set in an old diner car and offering the same fantastic food in a completely different atmosphere.

Courtesy of Alter

Alter

Wynwood

The ultimate Wynwood foodie experience
If there is a restaurant that is completely emblematic of what Miami’s art district has become, it’s Alter. The place is hipster and casual at first glance, but upon further examination is 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. Menus are of the five-and-seven course variety, and because Brad Kilgore is constantly creating new plates, you’ll have a different experience every time you go. This season’s selections include sake-cured duck breast grilled over pinecones, and snapper sashimi peta, cucumber and lime vinegar. But enjoy it while you can, your next experience will be significantly different. Since every time here varies, it’s ideal both for a special night or, or to take out-of-towners who think everything great in Miami lies in South Beach.

Crust

Riverside

The best restaurant value, perfect for dates or large groups
In an era when Miamians have been conditioned to say unconscionable things like “$22 for a pizza seems fair,” Crust has somehow cracked the code. By mastering the art of high volume Downtown delivery, this place is able to offer inhumanely-large portions of family-style pasta dishes, gourmet pizzas, and humongous cuts of meat, all served for the price of small entrees at other places.  This family-run Italian spot on the Miami River has a homey atmosphere that can be energetic and exciting at the big tables, then intimate and fun in smaller corners. It’s a throwback to the Italian restaurants of your childhood, where the owners always make you feel at home and you never leave disappointed.

El Cielo

Brickell

A multi-course, interactive journey through modern Colombian cuisine
The word “experience” gets thrown around the restaurant world a lot to justify charging $28 for a chicken breast. But at El Cielo, that’s the only word to describe it. The tasting menu here can be either four, ten, or 13 courses, taking you from carrot and guava soup with cardamom plantain to “chocotherapy,” where your server bathes your hands in chocolate and you lick it off. The menu varies but generally includes a fresh catch of the day and the Tree of Life, a traditional Colombian cheese-covered bread served to look like the El Indio Desnudo tree. It’s the odd meal where you’ll drop triple digits and say it was absolutely worth it, and it is without a doubt the most unique dining experience in Miami.  

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Miami's Best New Restaurants of 2017

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W ell 2017, it’s been real. As we head down the homestretch of perhaps the most surreal year any of us can remember, it’s time to forget about things like Brickell Avenue becoming the Brickell River, headlines beginning “Senate Hopeful Kid Rock,” and literally anything involving the Dolphins. Rather, let us shift our collective focus on the highlights: The Marlins finally got sold. We’ll soon have a train that gets commuters from Dade to Broward in 20 minutes. And we got a plethora of amazing new restaurants, many of which are owned by locals and charge reasonable prices (really!). While we can’t promise playoff baseball or on-time trains, we can guarantee a trip to any of the 15 best new restaurants of 2017 will be time well spent.
Big Easy Winebar & Grill

Big Easy Winebar & Grill

Brickell

South African eats and wine in a dimly lit space
Until Ernie Els opened up his namesake spot atop Brickell City Center, nary a South Floridian could tell you what South African food was. Or that it even existed. But thanks to this dark, wine bottle-lined restaurant with an open kitchen and a blazing hearth, we not only know what it is -- we want much more of it. The highlights here are easy: The piri piri chicken -- a sweet/spicy sauce draped over fire roasted poultry; pork belly popsicles; and the Durban bunny chow, a giant lamb shank served in a bread bowl with a uniquely flavored tomato sauce.

GLAM Vegan

GLAM Vegan

Midtown

The best vegan food you'll find in Miami
Is it just us, or did it seem like every third restaurant opening in Miami this year was touting its ability to make pistachio paste taste like steak? Vegan food is likely the second trendiest thing in Miami behind butt implants, and the best entrant of the cuisine this year was Todd Erickson’s new Midtown joint. Not that we’d expect anything less out of the guy who Beat Bobby Flay -- and introduced Miami to the fried chicken taco. But Erickson’s new socially-conscious GLAM is plating the best vegan options in the city.

Ghee

Dadeland

Forward thinking Indian food with a constantly changing menu
Though the suddenly undependable Metrorail has given Miamians something new to complain about in 2017, Niven Patel has given us one less. The city’s heretofore dearth of Indian food is no more, as this 70-seater with an ever changing menu, 240 imported spices, and a décor that feels like it was dropped in from Mumbai fills the void. Pro tip: If you’re heading to Dadeland for this culinary adventure, maybe don’t take the Metrorail.

FujifilmGirl

Sherwood's

Little Haiti

Hip new spot serving upscale dishes at moderate prices
Little Haiti is a neighborhood on the come up. The surefire sign of a ‘hood hipsters will claim they knew about first? Restaurants like Sherwood’s, built out of an old medical office with quirky artwork, antique ceilings, and a sprawling backyard patio where group dinners can turn into all-night affairs. But there’s more to Sherwood’s than its Austin-esque décor. The food is impossibly light and filling at the same time, like the chef’s bowl filled with sweet potato and coconut curry, or the Little River ramen served with pork belly. Sherwood’s greatest contribution to the restaurant world, however, is self-serve bread, passing the onus for bread basket refilling from waiter-to-customer in a seamless move of common sense.

Dianne Rubin/Miami Food Pug

Lutum

Sunset Harbour

Interesting fusion dishes in a relaxed atmosphere
While our city’s culinary graveyard is filled with out-of-towners who thought their high-concept stuff would fly in SoFla, locals like Michael Mayta are the ones who actually make it. In Lutum, he’s created a restaurant for locals. The menu’s made up of creative stuff like falafel filled with Scotch egg, fettuccine with sage and pumpkin seed pesto, and pappardelle with short rib Bolognese -- interesting without being unapproachable. All of it at prices that won’t make you choose between dinner and your FPL bill. He does this by serving moderately sized portions of filling food, in a simple, plant-filled space that’s relaxing and inviting. For all around value and dining experience, this is our favorite new addition of the year.

CHAT CHOW

Kiki on the River

Miami River

Pricey waterfront restaurant that's great for dates
The year’s best new date spot is this Mediterranean gem along the Miami River. Though nobody’s confusing it for a bargain restaurant, the light, fresh menu from an Estiatorio Milos alum is full of fresh seafood and lemony sauces, all served on fluffy, elegant tables next to the water. The restaurant strikes the balance of class and approachability, a spot where you’re just as welcome in flip-flops and shorts as you are in your South Beach uniform. In a city where quality food and great views is often paired with a heaping side of pretension, Kiki is a welcomed addition.

Grove Bay Hospitality Group

Stiltsville Fish Bar

Sunset Harbour

Traditional seafood in extremely nautical digs
Back when they called it “Mia-muh" this city felt more like an extension of the Keys. And that laid-back, live-to-fish vibe is captured perfectly at Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth’s latest creation, a fresh seafood spot done up with seashell chandeliers and grey-wood walls. The spoon bread is a creamy southern specialty filled with corn and dill, an absolute must try. But for the adventurous, go with the buffalo fish wings, a crispy piece of fish covered in buffalo sauce making Stiltsville the venerable Anchor Bar of seafood. There’s also a surf-and-turf burger featuring a beef patty topped with lobster. It might seem pricey at over $30 but is easily split two ways. Add that to a tropical cocktail list long on fruity stuff you’d enjoy by the sunset, and you’ve got the most authentically-Floridian new restaurant of the year.

 

BLT Steak

BLT Steak

South Beach

Miami's best steakhouse complemented by amazing people watching
To clarify: This is the same BLT Steak that used to be at the Betsy. That place is now LT Steak and Seafood, but this BLT just opened up in the Berkeley Hotel and is every bit as delicious as the Ocean Drive original. The classic steaks here are prime dry-aged heaven, served on a patio that’s perfect for South Beach people watching. Or opt to eat indoors in the historic art deco dining room and try some of the unique menu items like steak tartare tacos and foie gras empanadas. Combine that menu with the expert grilling of chef Carlos Torres, and you'll find yourself in one of Miami's best steakhouses.

Monkitail

Monkitail

Hollywood

Extravagant small plates in an even more extravagant setting
The Diplomat Resort in Hollywood has reinvented itself like a recent South Florida transplant,. And nothing has signified the sweeping changes better than Michael Shulson’s Monkitail. The interior is an elegant Asian design of light woods and dark lighting, the kind of place you’d 100% expect to see a celebrity if it were in South Beach. The sushi and sashimi can hold their own with anywhere in South Florida, with toro caviar and the inventive hot yellowtail with garlic leading the way. The robata grill has your standard wagyu, kobe, and octopus, but you might find the pastrami bao bun more intriguing. Finish off with a big bowl of shareable short rib of the miso-glazed sea bass, then wash it down with a grilled peach mojito. It’s the kind of chic-trendy spot you’ve never seen north of the county line, and might be Broward’s best new spot of the year.

Michael Pissari

Etaru

Hallandale

Robata and sushi with unobstructed ocean views
Dining with an unobstructed view of the ocean is harder to come by in South Florida than you’d think. But the best new place to do it this year is at the Hyde Resort, where Rainer Becker of Zuma fame has brought his robata-and-sushi game to the sand. With the cool breeze blowing off the ocean, enjoy an old fashioned made with Japanese whiskey and the black kampachi with truffle to start. Then pick from the long list of grilled meats, cooked on a giant robata grill that dominates the inside part of the restaurant. You can’t go wrong with filet mignon by the sea, but if you’ve got an herbivore among you the grilled corn is a surprising highlight.

Mojito Bar and Plates

mojitobar & plates

Sunrise

Modern Cuban food paired with a vast cocktail menu
This semi-touristy mojito stand in the middle of the Oasis at Sawgrass Mills is the low-key best new Cuban restaurant of the year, where local boy Douglas Rodriguez has taken his modern take on traditional stuff north of the county line. If you can get past the blaring salsa and meringue, the food here is fire, with stuff like the matalo burger -- topped with ropa vieja -- and Cuban fried chicken with orange mojo glaze joining the famous Cuban sandwich on a stick on the menu. This makes it both a perfect spot to go before a Panthers game, or really any time you find yourself in Sunrise.

Leynia Restaurant

Leynia

South Beach

Argentine brunch which may be the best new brunch in Miami
Seems like only yesterday the only brunch options we had in Miami were the put-your-house-up-for-collateral spread at the Biltmore, or Cuban toast at your neighborhood ventanilla. Now we’ve got more options than we have Sundays in the year, and the best one to land in 2017 is at the new Argentine fusion spot in the Delano. The impressive spread of fresh fruit, pastries, salads, and sushi would be enough to get it near the top. But for $70 you also get two items off the a la carte menu -- like short rib empanadas or smoked salmon Benedict -- plus an entire parrilla of grilled meats by the pool ranging from sausage to steak to chicken. Plus the requisite unlimited mimosas and Bellinis.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Halal Guys

Davie

Famed NYC street food at affordable prices
As proud residents of South Florida, we’re long trained to take any New Yorker’s superlatives with a block of salt. And unlike roughly 99.7% of the things from “the city” they claim are “the best,” Halal Guys lives up to the hype. This year we got our first taste of the Big Apple’s premier Middle Eastern food truck, and the lines have been pouring out the door ever since. It’s the year’s best new cheap eat, where eight bucks gets you a heaping plate of rice, lettuce, tomato and either beef or chicken, topped with their famous white sauce and painfully hot red stuff. Or you can throw it all in a pita if that’s more your style. For a quick meal there might be nothing better in Broward, and it’s the rare Northeastern transplant everyone here is welcoming.

La Santa

Edgewater

Outdoor taco spot from a Mexico City transplant
The best tacos are always found in a truck outside the garden center, right? Of course this being Miami, we had to take that concept a little bit upscale, and the result is this edison-bulb lined al fresco spot in the hipster-chic midtown garden center. Here chef Omar Montero has a menu full of tacos you might find regularly south of the border, but are hard to come by anywhere else. Your best bet is the Villamelon Cecnia -- a staple at Mexican bullfights filled with dried ribeye, chicharones, and Mexican sausage. Though the smoked chile relleno is perfect if you’re not into loads of meat.