Enjoy Baklava for Breakfast
Fire up your cameras for the most instagrammable food of summer
Sleek, all-white décor and a menu with $44 entrees is usually a big Miami restaurant red flag. But this spot from longtime Joel Robuchon protégé Alain Verzeroli actually lives up to the fancy furnishings. Step up to the Starship Enterprise-looking bar and order a cocktail then relax among the soft white walls, enjoying some of the most beautifully-plated dishes in Miami. But Le Jardinier is not all style over substance. The melon burrata salad looks like modern artwork, but has a combination of flavors that’s completely original. And bigger entrees like fingerling gnocchi and heritage chicken with sweet corn are flavorful and filling without making you mandate gym time the next day.
Late-night craveables from Adrianne Calvo
After the roaring success of her Cracked food truck, fire-haired Adrianne Calvo is offering the same stuff in a restaurant that doesn’t move, taking over the old No Name spot in South Miami. Inside you’ll find a cozy space with simple tables, plating up the kind of calories-don’t-count plates that made the truck famous. The social media star is the pepperoni pizza truffle cheese fries, which is pretty much impossible to finish sober. For something that won’t require a to-go box, get the braised short rib grilled cheese or the shredded chicken and cheese empanada. It’s all the same quality stuff you’d find at her Kendall flagship, served in a more-approachable fashion.
Seat-for-seat, the best new restaurant of summer
Giant pink neon exclamation points always mean good things, right? That’s why Boia De has gone full-on Gen Z and opted for a punctuation mark instead of words for its signage at this Buena Vista strip mall. Inside you’ll find a cozy space with only 24 seats, full of inventive twists on Italian classics like sweet corn agnolotti with lobster mushrooms; and pappardelle alla lepre with rabbit and rosemary. Boia De also boasts a wine list that would be impressive for a restaurant five times its size, so be sure to ask your waiter for a taste of something you’ve never tried.
An old-school Italian sandwich shop perfect for post-beach lunch
Don’t roll into the lobby of the Meridian Hotel expecting to find a full-on Publix or anything. This “grocery” is actually an Italian deli named after the founder’s mother, and can definitely give our favorite supermarket subs a run for their sandwich money. The short menu is full of smoked hams, beef, and turkey on bread from Bouchon bakery, crafted like stuff you’d find in Little Italy. Sit down at the counter in the lobby, enjoy some free coffee, and try the Cousin Anthony with smoked chicken, fresh mozzarella, arugula, balsamic, and Regina’s pesto. Then wash it down with a crisp, fruit-flavored Italian sparkling water.
Doral gets its first vegan-friendly restaurant, with smoking juices
The summer’s most intriguing concept sits in a Doral strip mall, where a self-titled “vegan gastrolab” is introducing plant-based food to Northwest Dade. Laborejo isn’t all vegan, but has loads of vegan-friendly options like cauliflower-broccoli ceviche, a Beyond cheeseburger with plant-based cheddar, and a tuna roll where watermelon stands in for fish. Alongside those vegan innovations you’ll find smoking juice cocktails served in glass beakers. There’s no booze in them, but the watermelon sushi does pair especially well with the Speed Up, made with papelon, ginger, mint, and lemon.
Wine tasting and fresh pasta while you shop
Imagine going to the mall to do your usual weekend errands at GameStop and Hot Topic, and being able to stop and go wine tasting in between. That’s now a reality at the Ft. Lauderdale Galleria, where you can dip into Cooper's Hawk tasting room right off the mall’s main concourse. Or, if you’ve gotta wait for your kids to do whatever it is they do at the mall, you can make it a long rosé lunch and hit Cooper's Hawk’s restaurant where you’ll find loads of fresh pastas, handcrafted risottos, and red-wine braised short ribs. All of it better than whatever you’d find in the food court.
A tiki bar with octopus hot dogs
The tiki culture and fresh seafood of the Pacific Islands are magical, but it’s hard to justify flying 20 hours when you can find fruity drinks and fresh seafood at some Miami gas stations. Going Downtown, however, is a lot easier. And lucky for you that’s where Daniele Dalla Pola -- one of the world’s best tropical mixologists -- is shaking tiki greatness in an island setting on the ground floor of the Canvas condominiums. In addition to his drinks (some served in massive tiki mugs, others in volcanoes for group drinking) you’ll also find a menu full of Polynesian seafood specialties like pineapple fried rice and black squid ink risotto. Plus an octopus hot dog, which you’ll need to try just to tell people you did it.
Cuban seafood that would make Hemingway proud
Getting Cuban food on Calle Ocho is often trickier than you’d think. Sure, there’s no shortage of croquetas and Cuban coffee, but sometimes it’s hard to find anything…fresh. Enter Sala’o, a new spot from the creators of Old Havana Cuban Bar and Cocina that specializes in caught-that-day seafood. The décor is a tribute to Sloppy Joe’s or the Hotel Nacional -- old, deep-wood bars like you’d find in the heart of Havana. But the menus are full of fresh seafood reminiscent of stuff sold at beachside shacks in Varadero. They’re highlighted by the curry criollo, made with swordfish, combining the flavors of Cuba with the West indies. And the langosta en su salsa, which will remind you of lobster specials you probably once had on a paper plate.
Ft. Lauderdale Beach
Caribbean cocktails and jerk chicken right by the beach
The hotel on the corner of Sunrise and A1A was once the kind of place where you woke up face down on the pool deck, and didn’t use the restaurant for much other than its bathroom. But as FTL has grown up, so too has this hotel which is now a beautiful Sonesta with a new Caribbean gem on the ground floor. At Steelpan you’ll find a bar with expertly-mixed tropical drinks, which pair nicely with the jerk wings over papaya and cilantro cream. Continue the meal with jerk chicken and dumplings or the guava-braised short rib. Then finish with a pineapple rum cake, step outside, and enjoy the breeze from the ocean like you’re on vacation.
South Beach’s best North Italian -- now al fresco
If you’ve been to the original Via Emilia 9 in South Beach, you know it’s the best place in Miami to find the buttery, savory flavors of Italy’s best culinary region. Now, that same food has crossed the bridge into Midtown, serving tortellini in brodo, pumpkin cappellacci, lamb tortellini with truffle, and a massive selection of meats and seafood. As the name might imply, the restaurant’s central feature is its charming outdoor garden which, when the weather cools off, will feel a lot like having dinner on the Italian Riviera. For now, though, you may find it best to enjoy the fresh pasta an Italian wine inside, where the modern art and exposed concrete keep everything figuratively and literally cool.
Danny Serfer tries his hand at Italian subs
After opening two Miami classics at Blue Collar and Mignonette, chef Danny Serfer is aiming to top the sandwich world too with his new Downtown Italian sub shop. The checkered-floor sandwich counter in the historic DuPont building brings us imported 18-month prosciutto, Calabrian salami, and other high-quality meats, all served on fresh La Parisienne bread. You’ll get the classics like the Italian combo with ham, genoa salami, pepperoni, and provolone; and the Calabrian salami with Scamorza cheese. But since it’s 2019 Serfer’s also offering stuff for vegetarians that’s just as good, like the fresh mozzarella sub with heirloom tomatoes, basil, and aged balsamic vinegar.
Tacos with… you guessed it… a secret bar in the back
If you’ve ever seen From Dusk Till Dawn, you’ll almost expect Cheech Marin to be out front listing off different kinds of, well, products when you step inside El Santo. The front bar and restaurant seems pretty legit, serving ceviches, seafood, and wagyu beef tacos in church-themed décor. But head in the back and you’re at Don Diablo, a pure Mexican roadhouse with an epic mezcal collection, crowded booths, vaulted wood ceilings, and hopefully no vampires. If this all seems a little much for you, opt instead for the stand-alone taqueria where classic pastor, pollo, and carne asada street tacos are quickly and easily available.
Cocktails, croquetas, Cuban food and karaoke all under one roof
La Mesa is the perfect mix of Miami staples that make no sense and perfect sense at the same time. Latin bakery with Cuban coffee, and a septuagenarian singing “Me va a Extranar” karaoke next to a neon sign that says “Living your best life?” Check. Big circular booths where you can feel like Scarface while eating tostones topped with carne asada? You got it. A banquet hall serving drinks from the Cocktail Cartel and a live DJ playing Reggaeton? Done and done. The food here’s pretty good too, with evolutions of Cuban classics like a 24-hour braised short rib with onions, or ceviche tropical (Cuban shrimp on top of grilled watermelon and pineapple). It’s about the most west-of-the-Palmetto experience you’ll have anywhere that opened this summer. Just know what you’re in for before you go.
Miami’s oldest deli gets a bold reinvention and a cocktail bar
Slowly but surely, Hialeah is getting cool. There is, of course, The Leah arts district. And the renovated race track. But now its landmark restaurant -- Stephen’s Deli -- has gotten a 2019 makeover from that arbiter of Miami restaurant cool, Matt Kuscher. The guy behind Kush, Lokal, and Spillover has kept all the little details that made Stephen’s a classic, like hand-carved pastrami and seafoam Formica tables, and added some hip touches like a wall of family photos and a bathroom dedicated to Walter Mercado. He’s also opened an upstairs cocktail lounge called La Cocina, that’s done up in Caja Chinas and a neon “Nnnno…que barato” sign. Hialeah may not be the new Wynwood quite yet, but it’s getting there.
Est. 1971 | Little Havana
A local legend that’s an only-in-Miami experience
Until literally a decade ago, there weren’t any restaurants in Miami not called Joe’s Stone Crab worth coming to the city for. Except this one. Is it the best Cuban food in Miami? Maybe not. But is it the cultural center of an entire community where you can enjoy ropa vieja and vaca frita from waiters in white coats at tables with paper placemats? Every. Damn. Night. You can also sit outside at the bakery and café, listening to abuelitos talk politics and baseball, one of the most Miami experiences one can have without dropping half a paycheck. In a city whose food scene is almost brand new, Versailles remains our greatest culinary landmark.
Est. 2018 | Downtown
Robata grill and fresh seafood you can pick out yourself
Walking into this swanky London transplant you’d expect something a little more "scene" than hanging veggies and a giant ice-packed fish display. But that’s how Novikov -- Russian for “let’s eat” -- shows you how fresh your seafood really is. The Chinese-Japanese hybrid is long on fish, with rich, red sashimis and truffle-covered tiraditos plastering the immense menu. The robata grill is strong too, with black cod and wagyu filet, and king crab legs highlighting the bill. If you’re in the mood for a large piece of seafood, you can just wander over to the big, central display, point out what you want, and wait for the kitchen to prepare it perfectly.
Est. 2017 | Dadeland
Modern concepts that’ll change how you look at Indian food
Though it’s not the traditional naan and vindaloo you might be used to at the local Indian buffet, this Dadeland smash might be the best modern Indian restaurant in America. Pork belly vindaloo with shallot, habanero, and peanuts isn’t something you see on a lot of Indian menus. Nor are charred ribs with with mango and draggery glaze. The menu changes every day based on what fresh, local ingredients were available, making it the perfect place to get out of an Indian food rut and try a dish you’ve never 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.
Est. 2018 | South Beach
A retractable-roof tropical paradise with first-class sushi and over-the-top drinks
Miami’s most visually-stunning new restaurant of 2018 feels almost like dining at the bottom of a cenote, where tropical foliage drapes down the restaurant’s open center, leading to a boulder and palm trees behind the perpetually-buzzing sushi bar. The London Nikkei-Peruvian import has a retractable roof, for obvious reasons, under which you’ll feast on some of the most expertly-created Asian food in Miami. As you’d expect, the seafood is divine, with flavorful offerings like the langosta deluxe ceviche, tuna tartare with dragonfruit and ponzu chili dressing. And you’d be remiss not to indulge in the 96-hour marinated, applewood-smoked lamb chops. But the drinks here are almost as impressive as the decor, worth a visit lychee picante, topped with three slices of dragonfruit. Or Holy Water, delivered in a literally-flaming grail.
Est. 2015| SoFi
Heaping portions of fresh Greek food, served next to the ocean
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.
Est. 2010 | Coconut Grove
An Indian institution that’s never not-crowded
Though the interior looks more like a set piece from Miami Vice than an Indian restaurant, this family-run restaurant moved into the storied Mayfair and is packed every night of the week, for good reason. It’s the undisputed king of traditional Indian food in Miami, and while it’s not winning any awards for innovation, it does the traditional masalas, samosas, paneers, and tandoors better than anywhere in the city. The restaurant has reasonable prices and a friendly staff; the only thing that feels Miami about the place is the decor. And for default meals where you know you’re getting something good, few places deliver as consistently as Bombay Darbar.
Est. 2014 | 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.
Est. 2008 | 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.
Est. 2012 | 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.
Est. 2012| 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.
Est. 2017 | Doral
A Spanish-TV star creates the best healthy Latin food on the planet
As much as we in Miami love the spicy, savory flavors of Latin America, we’re also well aware that rice, beans, and pork don’t always make for a healthy diet. That’s why Venezuelan actress Michelle Posada struck out to become the Gwyneth Paltrow of Telemundo, creating a menu of healthy takes on Latin classics full of stuff that tastes like it should be way less healthy. Think dishes like tostones topped with ahi tuna and fresh mango, or lomo saltado served over brown rice. Quinoa arepas, and cauliflower crust pizza topped with ham and mushrooms. Posada also has a full menu of juices and smoothies, plus a gluten-free, sugar-free vegan carrot cake that actually still manages to taste like carrot cake. There’s a reason Spanish TV starts from the nearby Telemundo and Univision studios are regulars in this nondescript strip mall restaurant. They, like anyone who’s been here, know it’s easily the culinary highlight of sprawling Doral.
Est. 2014 | Edgewater
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.
Est. 2015 | 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.
Est. 2015 | 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.