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Friends of Eater Share Their Biggest Dining Surprise of 2016

What surprised them the most?

Alinea Miami’s take on ceviche
Giovanny Gutierrez/Chat Chow TV

As we put a cap on 2016, Eater surveyed a group of friends, writers, and all around experts for their take on the past year. We asked them eight questions: from top standbys to top newcomers, from best meals to restaurants they’ve broken up with. All will be answered by the time we turn off the lights at the end of the 2016. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited herein. Readers, please do add your survey answers in the comments.

Jackie Gutierrez-Jones (UrbanDaddy Miami): Everything on the menu at Bazaar Mar. In José Andrés we trust.

Carla Torres (Ocean Drive): I’m still shocked by the fact that Alinea came to Miami, out of all places. And that I got to experience Grant Achatz’s magic not once but somehow twice, and got to talk philosophy and soulmate theories with Nick Kokonas. I was also pleasantly surprised by Jeremy Ford finally giving Miami a Top Chef win, and by the way Alex Chang just rode out from Miami (a big loss for us) after he talked so much about wanting to change the culinary landscape. Shoulda coulda woulda… Oh, and wtf is up with all these poke places?

Laine Doss (Miami New Times): The biggest dining surprise is how Wynwood restaurants kept themselves together through the Zika scare and came out the other side. So glad. I tried to do my part by eating and drinking there are much as I could.

Evan Benn (Indulge Miami): Coconut Grove, man. Ariete, 33 Kitchen, Juicense, Boho, Farinelli, Harry's (late-2015 debut) can't throw a stick without hitting a great food spot now.

Giovanny Gutierrez (Chat Chow TV/Eater Miami Contributor): The Local’s For the Love of Bourbon Dinner. The Bourbon-laced French Southern cuisine was phenomenal not to mention the beef fat candle that was melting in front of us the whole evening; The Osprey Tavern was a huge surprise and scored on every mark from service, to cocktails, apps, all the way through to dessert. A pretty flawless experience in Orlando. And Alinea because well…. it’s Alinea who surprises us a plenty – ‘Nuff Said.

Matthew Meltzer (Thrillist Miami): That there were no real standouts from the whole year. Most years there's one or two places you can point to - Kuro and Alter come to mind from 2015 - and say THAT was the best new restaurant of the year. Everything that stood out to me was fast-casual or casual. Everything else just felt like a lot more of the same.

Steven Scharf (The Chowfather): No more Michy's. That is the only answer to the question. Period.

Sara Liss ( We were pleasantly surprised at how much we loved our experience at Plant Food and Wine. I'm always open to vegan interpretations but the level of execution there is so sophisticated and the food was incredibly delicious. Combined with the gorgeous setting at the Sacred Space it's a home run for clean eating and elevating Miami's dining scene.

Olee Fowler (Eater Miami): I think the influx of really great coffee shops and coffee options at different restaurants around town. While I love me a good cafecito, I never thought Miami would stray far from it. But places like All Day, Brothers and Brawlers and even Salty Donut are all making really unique and different coffee options that I never thought we’d see here.


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