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These Are the Best Meals Friends of Eater Miami Had in 2020

The highlights in a rather tough year

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Spread from Houtong Miami

As we (finally!) put a cap on 2020, Eater surveyed a group of friends, writers, and all around experts for their take on the past year. We asked them ten 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 2020. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited herein. Responses do not necessarily reflect the views of Eater and Eater Miami.

Laine Doss (Miami New Times): I have to say the only meal that brought a real, genuine smile to my face was by 2 Korean Girls.

Belkys Nerey (WSVN 7): My best meal was takeout from Caja Caliente. I ate my feelings via a “Cuban Taco” during the summer at the height of the pandemic LOL Chef Monica Leon is a genius, as far as I’m concerned, always elevating the simplest concepts.

Amber Love Bond (Eater Miami contributor): I really loved my first meal at Jaguar Sun when their Sonny’s Steakhouse menu launched. It was the perfect steakhouse menu paired with hearty sides, oysters, and great martinis. Keeping with steakhouses — I made it to Bern’s in Tampa for the first time and enjoyed it so much that I went back the next night as well. Protip: don’t skip the dessert room, and splurge on a bottle of port. The presentation is worth it.

Giovanny Gutierrez (Chat Chow TV/Eater Miami photographer): Ariete. Between their Tasting Menu Series and The Cochon At Home “Duck Press”, they knocked it out of the park.

Matthew Meltzer (Thrillist Miami): During peak pandemic, we did a round-the-world take-out tour and got Guacamole from Bakan, General Tso’s Gator from Blackbrick, samosas from Ghee, Buss up shut from LC Roti in Miami Gardens, Ethiopian from Awash (and appropriately ate it on the ground at a CVS parking lot near Hard Rock Stadium), then finished with mojitos from Ball and Chain. It was maybe my favorite food tour I’ve done in Miami, and was only possible because there were literally no cars on the road.

David Rosendorf (Food For Thought): I’m torn between two: the “Cobaya At Home” dinner we did with Mike Beltran in late March, shortly after the shutdown, where he packed up Ariete’s fantastic “Duck Press Experience” for people to duplicate at home (no duck press included); and a birthday dinner for my wife recreating Daniel Humm’s famous NoMad roast chicken with a lot of help from Alex Mayer of Boia De, who stuffed and trussed the bird and gave me perfect instructions for pulling this off in our home kitchen.

Stacy Moya (Eater Miami Contributor): As a red meat lover, I have yet to be bowled over by any steak other than Chef Adrianne’s five diamond reserve filet mignon.

Virginia Gil (Time Out Miami): I wrote a whole piece on this because choosing one is pretty impossible. My first meal at Hutong after it reopened was great, in part, because it felt like normal life for a couple of hours. I also loved takeout from LPM. The hand-painted tote bag they use to pack your meal is still in heavy rotation when I need to transport things. Lunch at Leku was so delightful. The people! The decor! Its location inside the Rubell Museum—I loved it all.

Alona Martinez (Eater Miami Contributor): Anything that made me feel enveloped in a ginormous comfort hug seemed to do the trick this year, so, there was an extraordinary amount of bread consumption on my part (shoutout to Flour & Weirdoughs, Domaselo and [Pan]za. Macchialina has my heart for a solid pasta meal or, if someone else is footing the bill, Fiola is divine as well.

Sara Liss (Author of Miami Cooks): In November Chef Diego Oka of La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental hosted a dinner in honor of “Miami Cooks” and invited chefs from the book to cook with him. The lineup was top notch - Michael Beltran of Ariete, Cesar Zapata of Phuc Yea and Mikel Goikolea of Leku - and each dish was unique and delicious, a true expression of the culinary talent we have in the city. The feeling in the room was convivial and it felt like a relief to come together during this time to celebrate something.

Kelly Blanco (NBC 6): Hiyakawa

Olee Fowler (Eater Miami): This is always such a tough one. My dinner at Hutong Miami was fantastic, and I still dream of those lobster and ginger dumplings. I’m a sucker for LPM, and luckily I was able to dine there a few times this year and it never disappoints. I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner at Osaka Miami when it first opened at the beginning of the year pre-pandemic, and its takeout bento box is probably my favorite of the bento box options in Miami and is perfect for a date night at home.