Proving to the world that we eat more than lettuce and slightly larger pieces of lettuce, The 305 has been on a culinary tear of late, turning to the water and the tropical soil to extract an unparalleled bounty of fresh ingredients. And who better than our local editor to help you wade through the culinary ocean that's right next to the real one.
My Favorite Restaurant: I have several go-to spots I hit up for particular dishes, but Blue Collar serves and equally crushes brunch, lunch, and dinner. Their Big Ragout sandwich, lemon-ricotta pancakes, and bread pudding could all change your life
Best Late-Night Eats: Don't bother looking for anything more satisfying than Momi Ramen's pork leg-bone ramen, because you won't find it, and if you do, it probably won't be open 24/7
Best Sandwich: I love saddling up to the bar at La Sandwicherie and seeing everything made right in front of me. Whatever the special sauce is, it's totally addictive
Best Cheap Eats: Pancho Taco could probably have kicked back and relaxed after deciding to cook in & serve from a 1964 Mercury Commuter station wagon, but they decided to go and make 'em really tasty, and then charge only $2. Oh, and they're totally freaking free on Tuesdays
Best Italian: When the Pubbelly crew enlisted ex-Scarpetta Chef Michael Pirolo to take the helm at Macchialina, my expectations were high. Then, they surpassed them. The braised short rib & Taleggio-stuffed lasagna is what dreams are made of. Or nightmares, if you're a Lipitor pill
Best Chinese: There's a reason Tropical Chinese has been a Miami institution and dim sum go-to for 20+ years
Best Mexican: Mercadito Taqueria has all the flavor of its sibling resto at a fraction of the cost, and it's dare I say better than. Hands-down the best burrito in Miami, no contest. Lunch-only on weekdays
Best for a Work Dinner: A cool, rustic eatery South of Fifth, The Local House is never so crowded that you won't be able to hear your boss talk. More importantly, it has really great lamb sliders
Best for Partying: I actually assumed Baoli was a club until I went for dinner and realized they'll actually feed you something other than vodka. The outdoor space may be the main attraction, but the food isn't half bad, and once it hits midnight things go off completely
Best Brunch: The whole menu is top-notch, but two words at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar standout above the rest: chicken biscuit
Best Fine Dining: One of the few scenes in the city that lives up to the hype, the meal at Prime One Twelve is to die for. They actually replaced peanuts with jars of brown-sugar-coated bacon as the gratis bar snack
Most Romantic Restaurant: If you're looking for Greece in Miami, head to Mandolin Aegean Bistro -- breathtaking outdoor area, and everything on the menu is as delicious as it is easy to share
Best Lunch: The team at 50 Eggs always bring it, and Khong River House is no exception. Get the vermicelli noodle wraps and thank me later
Weirdest Food: Reggae Tacos is an insanely cool little Jamaican shack in Downtown where they simmer goat in chiles, garlic, jerk spices & apple cider for five hours. Unreal
Best Food Truck : This is a tough call, because the grilled apple & Havarti cheese sando at Ms. Cheezious is truly incredible but Latin Burger & Taco has one of the best spiciest burgers around. Call it a draw
Most Local: Most restaurants worth their salt are sourcing local ingredients these days, but Kris Wessel from Florida Cookery actually frequents neighboring farms weekly for ingredients (get the banana/bacon French toast). Also, Acme Bakery & Coffee uses the natural yeasts from Midtown Miami for its off-the-charts bread selections, which isn't nearly as gross as it sounds.
1. Blue Collar Restaurant6730 Biscayne Blvd, Miami
2. Momi Ramen5 SW 11th St, Miami
3. La Sandwicherie229 14th St, Miami Beach
4. Pancho Taco2531 NW 2nd Ave, Miami
5. Eating House804 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Miami
6. Macchialina Taverna Rustica820 Alton Rd, Miami Beach
7. Tropical Chinese Restaurant7991 Bird Rd, Miami
8. Mercadito3252 NE 1st Ave, Miami
9. The Local House400 Ocean Dr, South Beach
10. Prime One Twelve112 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach
11. Bâoli1906 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
12. Mandolin Aegean Bistro4312 NE 2nd Ave, Miami
13. Reggae Tacos93 SE 2nd St, Miami
14. Florida Cookery1545 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
15. Acme Bakery & Coffee3451 NE 1st Ave, Miami
16. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar1600 Lenox Ave, Miami Beach
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.
Unlike the cheap ramen you had back in college, Momi (who traveled Japan for a half-dozen years) has mastered the ramen to its purest perfection.
French eats in Miami -- just so the city's covered all its bases. LS's has been voted best sandwich in the 305, plus they've got salads, a juice bar, and hot sammies.
Out back at Wood Tavern, there's a little placed called Pancho Taco, where a bona fide genius had the idea to serve cheap street-style Mexican food ($2 tacos and cheese quesadillas) and tons of booze, all in an outdoor space meant to resemble a lucha libre wrestling ring. Although there's no wrestling actually allowed, don't be surprised to get in a fight or two for the last of the homemade tortilla tacos stuffed with marinated chicken.
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.
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.
Just trust us on this: Tropical Chinese Restaurant has the best dim sum in Miami. The family-run spot has been drawing crowds -- especially on weekends around 10am -- for steamed shrimp dumplings, pork buns, and crispy Peking duck for decades. Though its daytime cart service is a must, Tropical's also great for group dinners, thanks to a family-style menu with hits like ginger peel chicken and pineapple fried rice. Total bonus: it's cheap.
Stop by Mercadito's weekend late-night taqueria, a perfect after-party for your night out. The tacos are cheap, which is good if since you spent all your money on drinks earlier. Or come on a weeknight - happy hour lasts from 4pm to 7pm Monday to Friday and includes drink and taco specials (with extra deals on "Taco Tuesday" and "Thirsty Thursday").
The Local House boasts rustic communal tables and comfy chairs that encourage you to relax, eat, and maybe even take a nap.
One of the few scenes in the city that lives up to the hype, the food at Prime One Twelve is to die for. They actually replaced peanuts with jars of brown-sugar-coated bacon as the gratis bar snack.
Contrary to what you might think, Baoli is a club that'll actually feed you something other than vodka. The outdoor space may be the main attraction, but the food isn't half bad, and once it hits midnight things go off completely.
From a Turkish/Greek husband/wife team committed to the simple rustic cuisine their often-contentious people have in common, Mandolin's on the roster of intimate Buena Vista date spots, and looks like a cottage lifted from the Aegean coast.
Although it's lunch only, Reggae Tacos has got enough Rastafarian pride to last well-beyond your meal, with flavorful island-style eats.
Kris Wessel created this airy, contemporary joint as a way to pay homage to her love affair with Miami. She even claims she'd serve this food to her own family (well...thank God...wouldn't most resto owners?). Tons of unique cuisine smatters the menu (like roasted Everglades Wild Boar!), so be sure to take advantage.
Acme's expanded its offerings even more with new lunch and brunch plates like cornbread waffles, farro tossed w/ chicory & candied pecans, and a pot pie of the day.
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.