Looking through the gratuitous selfies from LIV, full of people who look like they've had vodka and lettuce for dinner for at least a week, you'd never guess that downstairs was 2016's best new spot for calorie-rich post-drinking food. Michael Mina took his former space and transformed it into a showcase for what he can do with the simple stuff, creating one of Miami's best burgers with the MM74 -- dry-aged steak topped with double-smoked bacon, American cheese, lettuce, and secret sauce. Not to mention a menu full of family-recipe pizzas that can lay claim as the best on the beach, and a generous selection of local craft beers available by the pitcher. The best part? It's the rare great Miami restaurant that's reasonably priced, so you and your date/buddy/whatever can get in and out of there for under $60 total.
Though the term "Asian fusion" is right up there with "pan-Mediterranean" as expressions restaurants use when the food is totally nondescript, boasting a chef with Nobu and Mr Chow pedigree means the food being served is the real deal. Such is the case at this new Asian-chic spot in SoFi where the European team behind Studio 23 has teamed with chef Yung Ngo Hong, who's crafting stuff like ca vuoc -- sea bass wrapped in banana leaf with coconut milk -- and black pepper stir-fried beef tenderloin. The vibe in here is befitting of the residents who populate the surrounding towers of SoFi, and it'll be the new go-to for Asian eats for anyone looking to dine south of Fifth.
Prime steakhouses in Miami have become almost as ubiquitous as people who refer to their occupation simply as "entrepreneur." So to set itself apart, this meat palace at the Margaritaville resort, named after one James William Buffett, has complemented its extensive menu of prime cuts with fresh, caught-that-day-by-spear seafood and a raw bar that literally takes up the entire front of the restaurant. But what clinches its spot as one of 2016's best is the secret sushi list that you won't find anywhere on the menu you're handed... but ask your server and you'll be treated to some of the best in South Florida.
Coral Gables (& other locations)
Yardbird's fried chicken and various artery-clogging Southern specialties have made it the rarest of things in South Beach: a restaurant institution. It's also expensive, and the wait for a table there on the weekend can take an hour and a half. However, this fast-casual spot from the 50 Eggs team that's exploded onto the scene in 2016 has pretty much the same food, for half the price, and a tenth the wait time. So if you're a diner who's more about eating than "the experience," this might be the most welcomed restaurant addition of the year.
Lines at Coyo just a little much? If you're willing to look down when you order -- instead of up -- chef Scott Linquist is bringing much of the same Mexican fare to his new family-style spot on Lincoln Rd. The menu offers dishes hailing from an array of Mexican origins, from the Oaxacan yellow mole to the Yucatan-style cochinita pibil, all served in shareable, ceramic bowls so your squad can get the feeling of eating in a Mexican family dining room. A dining room that also serves top-shelf margaritas and one of the biggest mezcal selections in the Beach. And if eating on Lincoln Rd makes you feel a little too touristy, start your meal off with some chapulines and dare anyone to call you a tourist.
Miami has some seriously standout barbecue joints. But when the best barbecue in the entire state finally makes its way to the southern part of Florida, it's a cause for rejoicing. With Pepto. The food here encompasses most regional styles in America perfectly, from St. Louis ribs to an 18-hour hickory-smoked Texas brisket. And it even throws in a South Florida twist with its Smokehouse Cuban sandwich, made with smoked pork and ham added to the traditional mustard, mayo, pickles, and cheese. And the line that sometimes stretches well into the parking lot moves so fast you wouldn't believe you're anywhere close to Miami.
It's always nice when partners split and both go on to great success. So as Yardbird has gone on to spin off Spring Chicken, so has the man behind the famous fried food gone on to something new with his life partner. Jeff McInnis has teamed with wife Janine Booth to bring Eastern spins on Southern cuisine. The culinary power couple starts things off with an "American dim sum" menu -- carts that circle the restaurant with items like pork belly buns and short rib dumplings. They continue with entrees, like a new take on fried chicken that's made with coconut curry and sprinkled with kaffir lime.
You might think something called "fast-casual poke" would be about as good as something called "month-old avocado wine." But California transplant Memphis Garrett has brought sushi-grade tuna to the quick-service realm, offering both build-your-own as well as set poke bowls that stand up to the best seafood spots in South Florida. Guests queue up and pick their favorite fresh protein from tuna, salmon, hamachi, and tofu, then they mix it with one of over 20 sauces, throw in some veggies, and finally put it all on rice, quinoa, or kale. For the indecisive, the Venice Beach Poke with salsa verde, avocado, and tomato is a guaranteed winner. But don't leave without trying the poke nachos, where wonton chips are topped with fresh tuna and avocado cream cheese.
The most spectacular but unknown restaurant space in Miami is the old Porcao spot in Brickell's Four Ambassadors, where floor-to-ceiling windows give diners a front-row seat to Biscayne Bay and Brickell Key. Finally a steakhouse worthy of the space has opened up, where the Gil family is using grass-fed beef from its farms in Argentina and pairing it with wines from their vineyards in Rioja, Spain. The result is the best new steakhouse of 2016, where expert chef Atilio Prada cooks your steak medium-rare every time. But if you want it cooked more you'll have a tableside grill to finish off the job, creating a perfectly well-rounded dining experience from view and wine to exquisite steaks.
After crushing it in Coral Gables for over a decade, and subsequently closing up shop in Cayman, Cindy Hutson and husband Delius Shirley have decided to put their mark on Downtown Miami. This spot announced the arrival of Downtown as a serious dining destination, where the same tropical-fresh cuisine Miamians came to love at Ortanique is served in a larger, more chic setting in the main dining room. And for busy Downtown workers looking for that same quality at "I've only got 10 minutes to wolf this down!" speed, Zest Market offers quick, pre-made entrees and sandwiches all day long.
Even though Miami might actually now have more Peruvian restaurants than Peru, the undisputed best new arrival in that category is this tiny family-run spot in the Grove. Here, the menu changes almost weekly depending on which fish is fresh, and multiple trips will allow you to try a different original ceviche every time you go. The menu's also full of Peruvian staples like chicken and beef saltado, and on tap you'll find an extensive collection of local craft beers.
2016 saw an onslaught of healthy, organic, sometimes-vegan restaurants descend into Cuban food-crazy South Florida. And with a big tip of the hat to Grown, the best of the bunch is this one, tucked at the foot of Portofino Tower. The Maui transplants who've opened this spot have brought a serious dose of that island's yoga-and-nature vibe to the beach, with fresh-pressed tropical juices and smoothies, a killer falafel wrap, and a veggie burger that even meat eaters will enjoy. Chef Manuel Torterola -- formerly of Fat Duck -- can also create first-rate stuff with meat, exemplified by the chicken & Brie sandwich with sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, and pesto
What happens when the owner of a Chinese real estate conglomerate needs a place to bring his highfalutin clients in Brickell... but no good Chinese options exist? He builds his own place, of course. That's exactly what American Da Tang's Shan-Jie Li did in the lobby of the Four Ambassadors. The most exquisitely designed Chinese restaurant in Miami is full of hand-carved tables and chairs imported from China, as well as Chinese tapestries and murals adorning the wall. The menu is full of gourmet recipes that literally date back thousands of years, crafted by two head chefs who have combined old and new seamlessly. Try the vegetarian dumplings, served in an almost-transparent green skin, or the opulent deep-fried lobster tail in Szechuan sauce.
Funny names for menu items are kinda like starting a speech with a joke: If it's good, you've got them hooked. If it bombs, you're done. So it took some serious stones for the folks from Jugofresh to adorn the menu at their new fast-casual venture in Sunset Harbor with entree titles like "Dat Dosa Tho" and "Missionary Pancake Position." Fortunately, the food delivers. So even if you feel silly ordering, try the Trippy Cali dosa with hemp aioli, pulled chicken, dill beets, roasted carrots, and bacon made from shiitake. Wash it down with fresh-made juices or herbal teas, then scarf down a house-made dessert. It's healthy, so the calories don’t count, right? Right.
Saying something is "back" is always a little premature, as was evidenced by our local college football team before that unfortunate incident against Florida State. But you know what's actually back? The Grove. And that's best evidenced by this new seafood spot from the guys who brought us Kush and Lokal. They've opened up the first new restaurant in Streets of Mayfair since, well, the last time the Canes were good, combining fresh seafood specialties like Paul and Alba's jambalaya with Proper Sausages, gulf shrimp, and local grouper, with Miami’s first-ever mead bar. Creating what we can safely call the best new seafood restaurant of 2016.
Welcome to the gourmet burger scene, Broward County. This new spot right on Las Olas has one of the most original, unique, and fantastic menus to hit South Florida in 2016. The burgers here are first-rate, cooked on a grill made from cast iron and crafted as offerings like the LMFAO with peppercorns, balsamic aioli, and a shot of Jack Daniel's. But the rest of the menu is unlike anything to drop this year, ranging from peanut butter and jelly chicken wings to a lobster-topped hot dog and milkshakes infused with all sorts of alcohol. Perfect for sipping on a hot day and people-watching on the spacious streetside outdoor bar.
Vietnamese-Cajun fusion isn't exactly a cuisine exploding onto the culinary scene. But give it time. The husband-wife team of chef Cesar Zapata and Ani Meinhold -- who brought us the Federal -- are onto something here, and bringing Miamians a style next year's chefs will be clambering to duplicate. The seafood-heavy menu is full of rolls and rice (try the bo bia or cha gio) that deliciously mix the spice of both cultures with shrimp, pork, and crab. But the must-have items are the Cajun pots, where diners choose a Gulf-fresh protein, mix it with a spicy house sauce, and wait for the resulting fusion's aroma to fill up their table.
Your date might get a little exasperated when you tell her you've found a romantic new spot in Doral, and then you pull into the parking lot for Hungry Bear. But this little family-owned Italian restaurant that shares a strip mall with those sub sandwich stalwarts brings an intimate, artsy environment to Miami's most up-and-coming dining 'hood. Modern art adorns the walls and the menus are a funky, handwritten font full of Italian classics like beef lasagna and risotto Champagne, as well as hearty meats like the ossobucco di vitello. The prices are reasonable, since the proprietors have opted for quality over cool, and it's a perfect date-night spot for anyone living west of I-95.
1. Pizza & Burger4441 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
2. Now & Zen736 1st St. , Miami Beach
3. JWB Prime Steak and Seafood1111 N Ocean Dr, Hollywood
4. Spring Chicken1514 South Dixie Highway, Coral Gables
5. Olla1233 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
6. 4 Rivers Smokehouse2660 N University Dr, Coral Springs
7. The Sarsaparilla Club1801 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
8. The Poké House666 Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale
9. El Churrasco801 Brickell Bay Dr, Miami
10. Zest Miami200 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami
11. 33 Kitchen3195 Commodore Plz, Miami
12. Lilikoi Organic Living500 S Pointe Dr Ste 180, Miami Beach
13. Da Tang Unique801 Brickell Bay Dr, Miami
14. Paradigm Kitchen1834 Bay Rd, Miami Beach
15. The Spillover2911 Grand Ave, Miami
16. B Square Burgers & Booze1021 E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale
17. Phuc Yea7100 Biscayne Blvd, Miami
18. Ocio3399 SW 72nd Avenue, Doral
The Michael Mina 74 space at the Fontainebleau has reinvented itself as a pop-up restaurant with a menu inspired by a laid-back backyard party. The concept, Pizza & Burger, specializes in exactly that. Each burger is decidedly different from the next, and the signature is the MM74 topped with double-smoked bacon, American cheese sauce, lettuce, and a secret sauce. As for the pizzas, there are round pies and Grandma-style ones with focaccia crust.
In a sleek, contemporary space in Miami Beach, Now & Zen serves upscale Asian cuisine influenced by various regional countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, and China (with a focus on dim sum). Share steamer baskets filled with dumplings, Bao buns, spring rolls, Tom Yum soup (okay, maybe get your own soup), and bok choy with oyster sauce. For the share plate-averse, there are entrees and grilled items meant to be taken down by one, like Wagyu beef skewers and grilled lobster. A meal at Now & Zen isn’t complete without tea service, and for dessert: mochi.
JWB Prime Steak and Seafood -- named after the man, the myth, Jimmy Warren Buffet -- is an upscale, contemporary American steakhouse located inside the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort. The menu boasts spear-caught fish and seafood, a raw bar, and prime cut steaks in a spacious, 142-seat, funky-chic, space. Enjoy your meal with views of the open kitchen, and enjoy a bottle of wine from the cellar wall on display. Throw your notions of Margaritaville out the window: JWB Prime is a high-end restaurant with high-quality ingredients and an air of elegance, and no, there are no cheeseburgers in paradise here.
From the same restaurant group that brought us Yardbird is this fast-casual Southern home-style concept in Coral Gables. Expect the food that made Yardbird so legendary -- fried chicken, biscuits, watermelon salad -- served in 10 minutes, for half the price. A small but carefully curated beer selection featuring local brewers and wine on tap rounds out the menu. You heard it here first: Spring Chicken is a win win.
Olla is a South Beach spot for Mexican cuisine from the man behind Coyo Taco, but the kitchen extends its reach far beyond the handheld favorite. Olla's menu spans the different regional cuisines of Mexico, with recipes inspired by Oaxaca, Puebla, Yucatan, and Veracruz, among others. Expect a family-style, shared experience, with a number of small and large plates best enjoyed among friends. Have your guacamole prepared tableside, your mole en masse, and your cocktails mezcal-based.
The BBQ joint that helped turn Winter Park into one of America’s best small food cities has a South Florida outpost in Coral Springs, too. The barbecue at 4 Rivers encompasses most regional styles in America perfectly, from St. Louis ribs to an 18-hour hickory-smoked Texas brisket. And it even throws in a South Florida twist with its Smokehouse Cuban sandwich, made with smoked pork and ham added to the traditional mustard, mayo, pickles, and cheese.
From Jeff McInnis, otherwise known as the guy who invented Yardbird chicken, is this stylish Asian-meets-Southern restaurant in South Beach's Shelborne Hotel. The beachfront spot stands out for its "American dim sum" concept where carts tote fusion items like pork belly buns and short rib dumplings. As for entrees, expect that famous fried chicken and plenty of curries.
The Poke House in Fort Lauderdale is a fast-casual joint for Hawaiian food, or more specifically, poke. The restaurant’s updated take on the traditional poke bowl is expressed through the build-your-own option, where instead of the standard tuna, rice, sesame, and soy composition, you can choose from a wider variety of fish, bases, and sauces. Of course, you can still get the basic bowl -- or one of the restaurant’s set combinations if you’re riddled by indecision. The menu also features a variation on nachos made with wonton chips, tuna, and avocado cream cheese, plus steamed buns and a hybrid "pokerito." Enjoy your meal at communal surfboard tables, and wash it down with a Hawaiian soda -- but there's also sake if you're looking for something harder.
First opened in Spain by two families -- one from Spain and the other from Argentina -- El Churrasco is an Argentine-style steakhouse whose first stateside location is in Brickell's Four Ambassadors Hotel. The upscale restaurant is dedicated to a dining experience rooted in the owners' traditions: the steaks are sourced from their farms in South America, charcoal for the open grill is imported from Argentina, and wines on offer include those from their own vineyards in Spain. Enjoy it all with views of the Biscayne Bay.
Zest is a contemporary eatery that doesn't adhere to one cuisine but takes inspiration from all over the world. The downtown Miami restaurant is the brainchild of Cindy and Delius Shirley, best known for their mind-blowing food at Ortanique in Coral Gables. Zest serves up food of Ortanique quality for brunch, lunch, and dinner, so prepared to be amazed by seafood and meat entrees unlike anything you've tasted before (exhibit A: oxtail and lobster ravioli).
This family-run Peruvian restaurant in Coconut Grove serves a rotating selection of fresh ceviche and Peruvian classics like chicken saltado, plus an extensive collection of local craft beers. The space is cool and rustic with reclaimed wood, a copper bar, and mason jar light fixtures. The menu has a back-to-basics mentality (most dishes have around five ingredients) that lets the flavors, many of which are Asian-inspired, stand out.
Opened by Maui transplants, Lilikoi takes organic and plant-based cooking to a new level. The kitchen works with nearby farms to ensure that its menu is built around fresh and local produce, and dishes like vegan nachos, mushroom farro risotto, and loaded veggie burgers will tempt typical meat evangelists. Though Lilikoi certainly highlights vegan and vegetarian options, the chicken & Brie sandwich with sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, and pesto proves that nothing can truly replace the simple combination of meat, cheese, and bread.
Da Tang Unique is a high-end restaurant serving authentic Chinese cuisine in the Four Ambassadors complex. The menu features modern interpretations of 5,000 year-old recipes, including dishes that were eaten during the Tang Dynasty (they were served to royalty, so you know you’re in good hands). The various regions of China are represented through dishes like transparent vegetarian dumplings, a whole Beijing duck with cucumber and scallion in seafood sauce, or the opulent deep-fried lobster tail in Szechuan sauce. In keeping with tradition, Da Tang highlights the importance of tea service, with a wide range of rare and everyday varieties on offer.
From the founder of Jugo Fresh, Paradigm Kitchen is a health-focused, organic restaurant in Sunset Harbour. The restaurant serves nutrient-rich breakfast and lunch dishes, many of which are tailored to Paleo, vegan, and gluten-free diets -- but you wouldn’t know it if we didn’t tell you. The poutine here is arguably the healthiest you’ll find, made with sweet potato fries, cashew gravy, and avocado (if that's still considered poutine is up to you). Take the gluten-free route at dessert with the Stoner’s Delight: a square of vegan banana bread drizzled with almond butter, chocolate sauce, caramelized banana, and granola. As you’d expect, there’s no alcohol here, so enjoy cold-pressed juices and mock cocktails (try the Turmeric Fizz) instead. Do your body good at Paradigm Kitchen, because it’s always beach season in Miami.
Successfully fulfilling Miami's "mead bar" quota, this Coconut Grove spot serves rare mead, cider, and sour brews, alongside a seafood-centric menu that highlights Floridian tastes. The Spillover is another project from the team behind Lokal and Kush, focusing on regional comfort food -- shrimp-topped mac n' cheese, jambalaya, and local grouper -- in a hip, industrial-chic setting with exposed brick, street art, and blue accents.
Offering a gourmet take on the tried and true pairing of burgers and booze, this industrial-chic eatery (sparkling white tiled walls, exposed lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling, weird bird cages that have been repurposed into chairs) has quickly become a Fort Lauderdale staple. While the array of non-denominational light bites is surprisingly legit (the garlic and chorizo-topped Palomino oysters, turkey meatballs à la pomodoro, and duck spring rolls are each drool-worthy in their own right), it's the burgers that have the masses coming back to B Square. We suggest you opt for the heavy-hitting standout "Dad Bod," not simply because it has an amazing name, but because it's combines bleu cheese, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and a fried egg on top of a perfectly cooked, juicy burger.
Back by popular demand, one-time pop-up Phuc Yea is here to stay with this mid-century-designed brick-and-mortar. The Vietnamese-Cajun concept from the team behind The Federal is serving up soulful food with 90s hip hop blaring from the speakers. Expect traditional noodle dishes like Banh Cuon -- dry shrimp rice noodles, pork, vegetables, finished with flavors from the Thai spice pantry -- and more fusion plates like the Caja China Cola Duck, served in lettuce wraps and topped with Coca Cola hoisin sauce. You can enjoy offerings from the raw bar (oysters on the half shell, of course) and create your own Cajun-flavored wok, or stop by for the dim sum-style weekend brunch (if you can reserve a spot… in which case, don’t miss the famous Federal buttermilk biscuits).
Tucked away in a strip mall center, Ocio is an intimate hideaway offering authentic, high-end Italian cuisine in Doral. Traditional dishes are interpreted for modern taste and hit with some Miami spice, like octopus carpaccio, Champagne risotto, and a guava tart. The wine list is extensive and reaches beyond the restaurant’s Italian roots. Ocio’s moody, dramatic lighting from the birds nest chandeliers and tufted, cozy benches and couches sets the tone for a romantic, rustic experience.