So, fall happened. We're not sure if anyone noticed, though, since it is still three-shower-a-day humid, highs are in the 90s, and local football is pretty forgettable. But technically, it’s been fall for almost three months now, and during that time some pretty amazing bars and restaurants opened up around South Florida. From two Stephen Starr efforts to a bar with pineapple-infused Cutty Sark, here are the 17 spots you need to hit before all the snowbirds show up and take all the good tables.
You wouldn’t think of the cruise passenger mecca that is Jungle Island as a place that would launch culinary innovation. But the new burger spot just outside the front gate might be the most unexpectedly delicious burger joint to pop up this year. Everything’s made fresh and flame broiled, and Island Burger takes it a step further with exceptional toppings for a park concession. Your best bet: the Cali burger with bacon, avocado, Swiss, and jungle sauce, one of the best new burgers in Miami.
If there is one place on Earth where you should feel perfectly fine ordering foie gras-covered filet mignon, it’s in the front room of the Versace mansion. Which is why that’s the go-to item at Gianni’s, the brand-new restaurant inside Ocean Dr’s landmark Casa Casuarina. The food-you’ll-feel-guilty-just-saying tastes even better when eaten next to the classic Mediterranean fountains on Gianni’s outdoor patio. Or, if you prefer your opulence air conditioned, inside the ceiling-painted dining room.
JEY’s Himmarshee empire that includes burgers, gastropub food, and tacos is expanding to bring artisan pizza to Lauderdale. The fresh-made dough is topped with inventive combinations like the fennel sausage pie: spicy sausage with caramelized onions, Calabrian chilies, and basil. But for the best this place offers head over on the weekends when you can complement your pizza with the light, not-caloric-at-all Nona’s special: house-made rigatoni cooked in red sauce with sausage, all-beef meatballs, and short rib.
Don’t lean too hard on the back door emblazoned with cheese names at Pizzacraft; it’ll give way and lead you into this hidden speakeasy next door, where dim light and red booths are the setting for the most inventive cocktails in Broward. The highlight of the menu is the pineapple-infused Cutty Sark, which in addition to being possibly the most hipster spirit in history, also tastes strangely perfect in any of the rotating cocktail creations.
The word “apeiro” means “infinite” in Greek, a name owner Burt Rapoport no doubt came up with during a particularly nasty trip driving down to Miami from Delray. Fortunately this DRB favorite is finally open in Midtown, where you can dine on pan-Mediterranean delicacies like Moroccan-spiced lamb ribs, bacon-wrapped dates with chorizo, and orecchiette with saffron cream. Or keep the Med-spirit going in the lively bar with a poached fig margarita or an ouzo raspberry fizz without having to sweat that “apeiro” drive home.
Unlike some other new hotel restaurants that have popped up -- and then subsequently popped down -- in South Beach, the Driftwood Room thinks you should be able to eat there even if you aren’t splurging on vacation. The China Grill Management venture boasts a kitchen helmed by Alex Guarnaschelli, who’s crafted dishes like a butter-poached cold water lobster and wild mushroom and sheep milk ricotta crostini that not only taste great when eaten poolside at the new Nautilus Hotel, but also don’t carry an eye-bulging price tag.
Even guests of the fabulous St. Regis need a place to chill out and grab a burger. So on top of the top-tier service it's known for, the hotel’s new burger bar offers up 6oz and 8oz burgers made either from the signature blend of chuck, sirloin, and brisket or American Wagyu, then lets you figure out how to top it with stuff ranging from turkey bacon to fresh burrata. Or, if you’re getting into the St. Regis spirit, grilled foie gras and black truffle.
Though South Florida’s had no shortage of Peruvian restaurants opening the past few years, only SuViche has managed to bring the full range of the cuisine -- from ceviche to piscos to lomo saltado -- to people quickly at a reasonable price. So much so that it's now bringing that same brand of light, healthy, affordable Peruvian food to Ft. Lauderdale, complete with a slick indoor/outdoor bar. So you can enjoy your pisco-soaked gummy bear shots with a hearty side of Las Olas people-watching.
Though this new drinkery on Liberty Ave has a menu full of cool stuff like elote, a Cuban torta, and zesty poached shrimp and popcorn, probably the sweetest thing about it is its happy hour: $5 rose and $.75 oysters (so they’re not ALWAYS overpriced) daily from 4-7pm. And if fancy wine and seafood aren’t your thing, it's got a cocktail menu full of specialty drinks and classics, most notably the Big Banana julep: sous-vide banana rum, bonded bourbon, salted banana syrup, and a mint wad that’s limited to one per customer.
When directions to your restaurant include the words “Turn at Crook and Crook,” it sounds like some kind of euphemism for a place that charges $28 for water. Not the case here, at this homey Coconut Grove neighborhood spot that’s serving up reasonably priced Italian, tucked in a strip mall behind US-1. The menu’s long on pastas and pizzas, most notably the polpettone -- ground filet mignon wrapped in mozzarella and Parm, then fried and served on top of tomato sauce with French fries. Or, if you don’t fear cholesterol, on top of a pizza.
Jimmy Buffett can knock himself out opening up mega-resorts in South Broward, the Hyde people know how to class a place up better than anyone. Case in point: the new restaurant and bar at their soon-to-open hotel on the Hollywood sand. Take a seat right on the edge of deck and enjoy fresh oysters while you listen to the waves. Then follow it up with a Danny Elmaleh-created menu, where he’s matched previous efforts at Cleo with an extensive Mediterranean selection highlighted by an inventive pizza menu and loads of fresh seafood.
One of Miami’s best sports bars isn’t even in Miami. Or in Broward. But you’ll forgive our liberal interpretation of geography once you try the food at this new Atlantic Ave gastropub that’s absolutely crushing the South Florida bar-food scene. In addition to pulling an all-star lineup of beers from the top breweries in Martin County to South Dade, it's plating up possibly the best gastropub eats in the region with stuff like house-smoked pulled pork, chicken, and beef sliders, plus flatbreads with those same meats on top.
Your interior design game is painfully on fleek when just a month after opening you’re already named one of Miami’s most beautiful bars. But this LED-lined Brickell dance club also fills itself with dark wood and tropical plants to give it a distinctly Floridian feel. Plus it's topped by 50ft concentric rings made to look like a blooming flower and an awe-inducing LED chandelier.
The team behind Marion absolutely nailed it when designing this authentic French brasserie across the street from the Brickell Metrorail station. From the framed posters inside, to the wicker-work chairs, to the Art Deco bar, the feel if this place is painfully Parisian. They missed the mark in a couple of ways, though; the servers are decidedly UN-French in that they are both friendly AND attentive. And despite being located next to a public train station, the restaurant smells surprisingly good, unlike it would in France.
Tongue and Cheek may be gone, but if you’re fiending for some of Jamie DeRosa’s finest work you can head a couple doors down from the old T&C space to Izzy’s, his new seafood concept. Inside you can start off with one of the Boston-themed cocktails, highlighted by the minty-delicious Green Monstah. Then slurp down a daily selection of fresh oysters before indulging in lobster poutine, a dish that no doubt will have Quebec drivers steering carefully to the beach to get some. Then finish off with the classic whoopies, which’re like the best Ding Dongs you’ll ever have.
It probably went something like this: Stephen Starr found himself waiting in line at Carpaccio one night, looked across the path, and thought to himself, “I wish there was a good restaurant over there so people had an option better than waiting two hours.” And so he made one, bringing authentic French brasserie cuisine to Bal Harbour where you can dine al fresco or in the nicely appointed dining room. The menu is highlighted by gourmet touches on French brasserie staples, like the beef bourguignon with crimini mushrooms and steak au poivre with Cognac demi-glace.
Kind of like those friends you barely see now that they have kids, Ni.Do. needed more space and set up shop in Miami Shores. But unlike those friends, this longtime MiMo staple actually got MORE fun in its new digs, where the second location has a homemade mozzarella bar, plus all the pizzas and pastas you got to know and love. The sprawling back patio doesn’t hurt either, which will be an even better place to dine al fresco if winter ever bothers showing up.
1. Island Burger at Jungle Island1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami
2. Gianni's1116 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach
3. Pizza Craft Artisan Pizzeria330 Himmarshee St Ste 101, Fort Lauderdale
4. Apothecary330 Himmarshee St Ste 101, Fort Lauderdale
5. Apeiro Kitchen & Bar3252 NE 1st Ave #101, Miami
6. The Driftwood Room1825 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
7. Burger Bar by the St. Regis Bal Harbour9703 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour
8. SuViche Las Olas401 E Las Olas Blvd #150, Fort Lauderdale
9. Sweet Liberty237 20th St Ste B, Miami Beach
10. Fornaro2750 SW 26th Ave, Miami
11. Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails111 S Surf Rd, Hallandale
12. FreehouseC-, 777 E Atlantic Ave #8, Delray Beach
13. Blume Nightclub1421 S Miami Ave, Miami
14. Marion1111 SW 1st Ave, Miami Financial District
15. Izzy's Fish and Oyster423 Washington Ave, Miami
16. Le Zoo9700 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour
17. Ni.Do. Caffe Italian Restaurant7295 Biscayne Blvd, Miami
It’s generally expected that food offerings at tourist attractions tend to be dismal, which is why Island Burger comes as a pleasant surprise. Whether you’re here to admire the flamingos or just swinging through to grab a bite, this Jungle Island spot doesn’t disappoint. We suggest you order the eponymous Island burger, a classic cheeseburger with the addition of their special “jungle” sauce, kick back, and admire the wildlife views -- just make not to feed the birds.
This upscale Mediterranean seafood restaurant located in the front of the Versace Mansion offers dishes like foie-gras-covered filet mignon. Classic Mediterranean fountains speckle the outdoor patio and the inside dining area is air-conditioned and opulent.
The ROK:BRGR and Himmarshee Public House guys are behind this Fort Lauderdale pizzeria that's doing great things for local pie culture. The small shop makes its dough in-house and creates some pretty inventive topping combos. The menu includes both red and white pies and also features a few pasta dishes, which can be ordered in appetizer or entree sizes. Pizza Craft's Sunday brunch is also a hit because aside from hangover-curing egg sandwiches, there's breakfast pizza.
This elusive cocktail club is accessible through a backdoor at Pizzacraft and is characterized by moody lighting, red booths and a short copper bar. Bottle service is popular on weekends but the handcrafted, made-to-order cocktails are not to be missed.
This restaurant serves a range of Mediterranean dishes, from kebabs to pasta. The lively bar area serves inventive cocktails like a poached fig margarita.
Dining at this hotel eatery feels something like abandoning Miami in favor of a mid-century, European beach club. Built of dark leather, white marble tables, and wood-paneled ceilings, the indoor space radiates class, while the atmospheric terrace features scattered paper lanterns and romantic poolside views. The kitchen, helmed by Food Network celeb Alex Guarnaschelli, cranks out modern Mediterranean flare, with a heavy emphasis on seafood. Guests can enjoy small plates like Moroccan-harissa topped mussels and seared tuna-nicoise, before delving into full entrees like white wine lobster risotto. While patrons can finish their food off with a digestif or a desert wine, a meal at Juvia is best concluded with its signature house-baked chocolate walnut cookies, accompanied by a glass of bourbon-spiked milk.
This new burger bar, set to open at the end of October 2015, will feature fancy (spikeable!) milkshakes and burgers. Get their signature with black truffle, grilled foie gras, tomato jam, lettuce and tomato.
This Peruvian restaurant offers a full range of authentic Peruvian cuisine, from piscos to ceviche. There's an indoor/outdoor bar perfect for people watching while slurping pisco-soaked gummy bear shots.
This hip neighborhood cocktail bar offers creative drinks and American eats. Get there for happy hour to score $5 glasses of rose and 75-cent oysters.
This homey Roman-style trattoria in Coconut Grove serves authentic Italian, from pizza to pasta. Get the polpettone, which is ground filet mignon wrapped in Parm and mozzarella and served over tomato sauce with french fries.
This restaurant and bar has a breezy beachside deck and an extensive menu of Mediterranean dishes, many of which are heavy on seafood.
Sports bar that marries British and American sensibilities. Welcoming of long hours of lounging and boozing.
A classic Florida aesthetic is fused with a modern Miami atmosphere at this swanky club, which sets palms and ferns among a LED chandelier and color leather seating. The lounge also boasts a sizable dance floor and themed nights.
This breezy French brasserie feels wonderfully Parisian with an Art Deco bar and a charming cafe component. "Table snacks," cheeses and charcuterie boards are all great for sharing.
Not only does Izzy's offer a weekly "Tuesday Tacos & Tequila" special, but the tacos come stuffed with meaty lobster chunks, shipped directly from coastal Maine. The restaurant sources its all-star seafood selection from all across the United States, and fresh shipments are delivered to the kitchen several times a week. While the fish-joint is fairly casual, with white-tiled walls, a marble oyster bar, and relatively small dining room, the food is exceptional. Classic dishes are prepared with the utmost precision -- lobster rolls are served hot with brown butter sauce dripping down the sides, and clam chowder broth is poured over bowls of leeks, clams and potatoes at the table, while salivating guests ogle. The whole place has an air of casual sophistication -- high quality eats, in an informal, debonair space. And perhaps most importantly, the chefs at Izzy's are the proud inventors of the bacon-lobster poutine.
A 200-seat deep brasserie serving up the finest of French cuisine. From seafood to charcuterie boards, the critics haven't a foul word for this new joint.