Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Miami Right Now

Published On 10/09/2017 Published On 10/09/2017
COURTESY OF NAIYARA
Ernie Rodriguez

Eating House

Coral Gables

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.

Courtesy of Yardbird

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Miami Beach

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.”

Courtesy of Toni's Sushi bar

Toni's Sushi Bar

South Beach

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.

Courtesy of Red, the Steakhouse

Red, The Steakhouse

South Beach

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.

George Apostolidis

La Mar by Gaston Acurio

Brickell

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.

Liz Clayman

Macchialina Taverna Rustica

South Beach

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.

Courtesy of Bombay Darbar

Bombay Darbar

Coconut Grove

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.

Courtesy of Pincho Factory

Pincho Factory

South Miami

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.”

Courtesy of Blue Collar

Blue Collar Restaurant

MiMo

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.

Courtesy of NaiYaRa

NaiYaRa

South Beach

“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.”

Mignonette

Mignonette

Edgewater

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.

Courtesy of Alter

Alter

Wynwood

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.

Coyo Taco

Coyo Taco

Wynwood

“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.

Mina's Mediterraneo

Mina's Mediterraneo

North Miami

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.

Crust

Miami River

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.

Santorini by Georgios

Santorini by Georgios

Miami Beach

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.

Bazaar Mar by José Andrés
 

Bazaar Mar

Brickell

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.

JONATHAN POSNIAK

Phuc Yea

Downtown

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.

Big Easy Winebar & Grill

Big Easy Winebar & Grill

Brickell

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.

Ghee Indian Kitchen

Ghee Indian Kitchen

Dadeland

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.

Kiki On The River

Kiki on the River

Miami River

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.

QUALITY MEATS

Quality Meats Restaurant

Miami Beach

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.

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1. Eating House 804 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Miami, FL 33134

Eating House isn't a regular restaurant, it's a cool restaurant. Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli's spot began as a pop-up in 2012 before it took a permanent, brick-and-mortar turn in Coral Gables a few years later. It's hard to decide what Rapicavoli does better: local ingredient-driven dinner or over-the-top brunch. Whatever it is, all the dishes coming out of the kitchen -- like Cap'n Crunch pancakes or black truffle carbonara -- are similar in their sheer creativity.

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2. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar 1600 Lenox Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Before Yardbird opened in 2011, Miami wasn't known for its Southern comfort cuisine, which somehow seemed odd for a city that's geographically part of the American south. All that changed when Top Chef finalist Jeff McInnis, along with restaurant vets Chris Romero and John Kunkel, opened Yardbird in Miami Beach and instantly made a name with their fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, and watermelon salad. The menu is chock full of quintessential down-home foods, and the well-stocked bar doles out house cocktails like blackberry bourbon lemonade and Bloody Marys with bacon-infused bourbon.

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3. Toni's Sushi Bar 1208 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Toni’s serves high-quality, no-flash sushi. Any South Beach sushi aficionado will list of a bunch of fancy, hotel-based spots as the best for nigiri and maki in SoBe, then back up and say “... but you know what's just as good? Toni’s.” Plus, you can eat here for about half the price. Or in your living room, because the Washington Ave restaurant also delivers.

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4. Red, The Steakhouse 119 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Once voted Sexiest Steakhouse of the Year (by Playboy, no less) and beloved by A-listers, Red delivers on all the swanky fronts. But we suggest you let the food -- from appetizers like seared foie gras and caviar with crème fraiche to the steak and seafood entrées -- do the talking. Throw in a fully-loaded wine list, and the fact that Red is one of the few places in the country to use Miyazaki beef (like Kobe but more marbled), and you've got a steak night to remember.

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5. La Mar by Gaston Acurio 500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami, FL 33131

Peruvian culinary maestro Gaston Acurio is mixing Andean and Asian flavors into a bold menu that highlights his home country at this chic restaurant inside the Mandarin Oriental. The menu includes made-to-order ceviche; tiraditos, or Peruvian-style sashimi; and causas, a traditional dish of potatoes whipped with seafood, avocado, tobiko, tomato, and egg. The drink selection is equally quintessential Peru, offering various takes on the pisco sour.

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6. Macchialina Taverna Rustica 820 Alton Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139

After heading up the Miami outpost of Scarpetta, Chef Michael Pirolo went out on his own with Macchialina Taverna Rustica, an Italian comfort destination on Alton Road. His handmade pastas --topped with baby meatballs and pancetta or tossed with clams, rock shrimp, and tomato -- is something for the books, as are shareable appetizers like local burrata, margherita pizza, and the polenta board with meatballs, sausage, truffled mushrooms, and pickled fruit. The wine selection is slim but highly curated, featuring reds, whites, and sparkling wines from across Italy.

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7. Bombay Darbar 2901 Florida Ave, Miami, FL 33133

Bombay Darbar opened its first location -- a small dining room with 30 or so seats -- in 2010 and slowly accumulated a loyal fanbase across Miami. Fast forward six years and all of Miami is in on the secret (that it's the best Indian food in town), so the team opened a bigger and better location in Coconut Grove with 200 seats. Everything you've ever wanted from an Indian restaurant -- garlic naan, vegetable samosas, chicken tikki masala, basmati rice -- is served here. The tables are covered with white linens, and you'll know you've reached your limit when your table is stained with cumin and turmeric.

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8. Pincho Factory 9860 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165

Pincho Factory specializes in two things: burgers and kebabs, but it's the burger that catapulted the fast-casual resto to must-try status. Owner Nedal Ahmad's signature Toston burger, topped with jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and homemade cilantro sauce then sandwiched between two fried plantains, won the annual South Beach Burger Bash in 2015. Since then, Pincho Factory has made a mark with its menu of greasy and good street food, which includes customizable kebab wraps, rice bowls, and salads.

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9. Blue Collar Restaurant 6730 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

Blue Collar's mission is to give off a true neighborhood hang-out vibe, which it successfully does with a huge menu of comfort food staples. Every day, the kitchen serves a different rib dish (baby back, short ribs, spare ribs, etc), parmesan dish (chicken, veal, pork, eggplant, etc), and a braised dish (brisket, pot roast, ox tails, pork shoulder). There's a whole chalkboard of vegetable sides to counter the meaty entrées, and appetizers like definitely-order-or-you'll-regret-it potato latkes. Don't even get us started on brunch -- just make sure you get there early.

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10. NaiYaRa 1854 Bay Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, aka Chef Bee, is doling out street food-inspired eats from his native Thailand at this cool and airy Sunset Beach restaurant. Expect an extensive menu filled with spicy curries, noodle dishes (pad thai, drunken noodles, you know the drill), and untraditional sushi rolls. As for drinks, NaiYaRa's bar serves up Thai beer and cocktails that come with a definite Asian touch.

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11. Mignonette 210 NE 18th St, Miami, FL 33132

Seafood is as much of a staple on Miami menus as are kitschy takes on the Cuban sandwich. But like with so many things in life, the ones who do it simplest, do it best. Case in point: Danny Serfer’s Edgewater restaurant Mignonette, 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 exploring the fancy stuff, the swordfish with duck confit is your best bet.

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12. Alter 223 NW 23rd St, Miami, FL 33127

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.

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13. Coyo Taco 2300 NW 2nd Ave. #3, Miami, FL 33127

Coyo is a grilled-meat taco emporium whose house-made tortillas are filled with everything from crispy duck and grilled cactus to charred octopus and slow-roasted pork shoulder. Tacos come two per order, and if you prefer your meat-and-tortilla combo in another form, you can "convert" it into a burrito, salad bowl, or burrito bowl. The Wynwood original has a bar in the back where you'll usually find a weekend DJ set.

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14. Mina's Mediterraneo 749 NE 79th St, Miami, FL 33138

Housed in a renovated Haitian church, Mina’s Mediterraneo serves an approachable menu that spans Southern Europe and the Middle East with dishes like spanakopita, lamb tagine, spaghetti bolognese, and stuffed cabbage. A generous pizza selection provides full coverage of the Mediterranean itself: the Moroccan pizza comes with lamb sausage, red peppers, and harissa, while the Spanish option is topped with manchego cheese and Iberian ham. Mina's features a light-strung garden in the back, where live music is often playing. The craft cocktail program offers classics as well as those representative of the regional cuisine, with drinks like the mint tea-and-rye Marakesh Cocktail and the Alexandrian Dusk (date-infused vodka, cane juice, and sandalwood syrup). For dessert: baklava.

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15. Crust 668 NW 5th St., Miami, FL 33128

The husband and wife duo behind this casual Italian restaurant are doling out house-made pastas, fresh pizzas, and an impressive wine selection at very reasonable prices. The Spanish-roofed spot right by the 7th Ave Bridge is almost made for big group meals and family dinners, but Crust also delivers to downtown Miami and Brickell. The pizzas are pretty outstanding, especially when topped with sirloin tips, mushrooms, and caramelized onions.

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19. Phuc Yea 7100 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

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).

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23. Quality Meats Restaurant 1501 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

This South Beach steakery grinds and mixes steak sauce right at your table. And while putting A1 on a prime cut is the stuff of late-night Denny's second-dinners, the stuff here mixes perfectly with the house-cut beef like the 12oz filet or the 24oz tomahawk bone-in ribeye. For an extra-healthy meal, you can also order the chicken parm pizza -- a 12in pounded-down breaded chicken, fried, then covered in sauce and cheese. It may or may not feed you for a week.