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Chug’s Gets a Refresh, Hoja Taqueria Debuts on Miami Beach, and More Restaurant Openings

Tracking the latest restaurant and bar openings in South Florida

up close photo of a pancake with butter on top
Cast iron pancake from Chug’s Diner
Chug’s Diner/Official Press Photo

Below is a periodical round up of the latest openings around South Florida. The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

October 5

COCONUT GROVE — Cuban diner Chug’s (3444 Main Highway) has gotten a major facelift after a nearly year-long closure. The diner, which was once a small pop-up, is now a permanent and expanded full-service diner and modern day ventanita. The restaurant now occupies the same space it once did, all 677 square feet of it, but expanded outward to a total of 4,500-square-feet of indoor-outdoor dining, bar, and cafe space. Chug’s is now serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily with favorites like the cast-iron skillet, Chug’s burger, pan con minuta, and more making a return on the menu. And unlike most diners, Chug’s features a full bar, too.

MIAMI BEACH — Housed inside the new Greystone Hotel is Serevene (1920 Collins Avenue), the property’s main restaurant, led by executive chef Pawan Pinisetti. Serevene serves a menu that combines Japanese ingredients with French techniques, with dishes like lobster uni Alfredo, bison meatballs with black truffle, red wine braised beef cheeks, seared foie, and pork carved tableside.

WYNWOOD — From chef Erhan Kostepen, the former executive chef of Mandolin Aegean Bistro, comes the Magic City’s latest restaurant, Doya (347 NW 24th Street). The new restaurant boasts a meze-focused menu with Mediterranean and the Middle East flavors with dishes like octopus salad, branzino ceviche, lamb chops, mussels, butter shrimp, and pastrami hummus, all of which are meant to be shared.

SOUTH BEACH — The Bar Lab team, the group behind The Broken Shaker, Margot Wine Bar, and many others, have brought their cantina restaurant Taqueria Hoja (3120 Collins Avenue) to the Generator hotel. The second outpost features a full fledged menu and dinner service, indoor and outdoor seating, a private dining room, and a full-service bar with a Mexican-inspired cocktail menu crafted by renowned bartender Christine Wiseman. In addition to a large variety tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, the menu has filled out more at this new location with items like branzino, carne asada, shrimp and sweet potato flautas, and more.

CORAL GABLES — Rooftop dining and Coral Gables doesn’t typically go hand-in-hand, but Cebada Rooftop (124 Giralda Avenue) is looking to change that. The restaurant from the team behind Kendall favorite Abi Maria has created a menu focused on seafood and Cuban influenced dishes with plenty of cheekily named cocktails thrown into the mix. Guests can order from a wide selection of raw bar dishes, including $2 oysters at happy hour, alongside lobster rolls, roast chicken with tostones, bone marrow, crispy corn ribs, and sausage rolls housed in medianoche buns and topped with caviar. Drinks run the gamut from the Tom de la Cruz, made with mezcal and rosemary, to the frozen Shut Up Karen made with pumpkin, coffee, rum, and vodka, which are easily sipped on its expansive patio with views overlooking the neighborhood.

NORTH MIAMI — Natural wine is certainly having a moment in the Magic City, and the latest to enter the market is Paradis Books & Bread (12831 W Dixie Highway), which is part natural wine store, restaurant, and book shop. The concise menu is centered around dishes made with sourdough like pizzas by the slice or bread served with items like feta, pork terrine, and tins filled with various proteins and fermented vegetables. The wine list is filled with natural selections by the glass and by the bottle from producers throughout the country, and for real oenophiles, it even offers a wine club.

August 9 - Bodega Taqueria y Tequila Expands to Aventura

AVENTURA— Popular taqueria and nightlife restaurant Bodega Taqueria y Tequila (19129 Biscayne Boulevard) is opening its third location in Aventura on August 13, marking its third Bodega location in South Florida and the first of Bodega’s taqueria-only outposts. The Aventura location’s menu will mirror those of the South Beach and Fort Lauderdale with a variety of tacos, burritos, bowls, Mexican beers, frozen margaritas, and industrial decor, but this location will focus on just the food and doesn’t house a “hidden bar” in the back like the other locations do. This marks the first of five new outposts coming for the brand in the next two years including West Palm Beach (2021), Coconut Grove (2021), Wynwood (2023), and in Downtown Miami at the Natiivo Miami (2023).

MIAMI BEACH — Cantonese-style dishes are on the menu at newcomer at Jia (808 1st Street) a self-described “Chinese Dinner Club” in the South of Fifth neighborhood. The kitchen is led by executive chef Weng Choon “Wiliam” Lai and offers dishes like honey-roasted pork, spicy and sour seafood soup, black truffle sticky rice, tea-smoked beef tenderloin, and more. The space fuses Chinese, Art Deco, and tropical decor, with everything from Chiang Mai dragon veiled walls, rustic wood accents. bamboo chandeliers, and a 12-person seated wrap-around marble bar in the center of the room.

SOUTH BEACH — Two new restaurants have debuted inside Time Out Market Miami (1601 Drexel Avenue). First up is Square Pie City serving Detroit-style pizza by chef Jeremiah Bullfrog. The deep dish, square-shaped pizzas come in a variety of different flavors like the All White E’rrything with mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, and roasted garlic and Fire in the Bed with spicy calabrini chili, mozzarella, provolone, and sauce. Beyond pies there are salads and oven roasted sides like meatballs, broccoli rabe, half roasted chicken, and watermelon icees. The other new restaurant is Chick’N Jones, serving fried chicken by Amaris Jones. On the menu guests can dine on fried chicken available in sandwich form, by the bucket, or atop a kale salad, alongside sides like grilled green tomatoes finished off with crispy shallots.

WYNWOOD — The natural wine bar craze shows no signs of slowing down in the Magic City. The latest addition to the scene is Ciao Bella Natural Wine Bar (172 NW 24th Street), a three-month pop-up in the Charly’s Vegan Tacos space. The counter-service wine bar offers a variety of 15-20 natural wines including skin contact, white, red, rose, and sparkling, paired with bites such as red pepper hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, marinated olives, and truffle fries.

June 2

MIAMI LAKES — Texas-style barbecue outpost La Traila BBQ (8030 NW 154th Street) has officially opened its first permanent outpost. Founded by Austin native and pit master Mel Rodriguez and Miami native and Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver Isaiah McKenzie, the eatery originally debuted as a pop-up in the summer of 2020 and quickly grew a following. The counter service style eatery serves up items like the Brisket Sundae made with a mac and cheese base then layered with baked beans and cream corn then topped with smoked brisket, cotija cheese, crema and house sauce; platters and meat by the pound like smoked pulled pork, smoked sausage, pork spare ribs and Texas style brisket; and for some Miami and Texas fusion: brisket y queso empanadas and smoked pork rib croquettes.

KEY BISCAYNE — Wine lovers, rejoice: the city has a new wine bar, Vinya (328 Crandon Boulevard, #122 -123) Marking the first brick and mortar outpost for the local brand that started as a monthly subscription box service, the 3,200 square foot space offers a large array of wines, a marketplace, and a 10-seat wine bar where guests can pull a bottle right off the wall to sip on. On Wednesdays through Sundays the wine bar is also staffed with a bartender and offers cocktails and wine bar snacks for lunch and dinner by chef Mariano Araya, featuring light bites with a strong seafood focus.

MIAMI BEACH — The Lincoln Eatery has a new European bakery dubbed Café des Fleurs (723 Lincoln Lane North). Serving up French favorites like croissants, quiche Lorraine, crepes, macaroons. and a variety of breads, in an Instagram-friendly setting with feminine touches and a floral wall. Plus it runs a variety of weekly specials like a free macaroon with purchase of $10 or more every Monday; BOGO on French baguettes every Wednesday; two-for-one Challah every Thursday and Friday and brunch box specials on the weekend. In addition, Café des Fleurs offers a $14.99 lunch special Monday through Friday.

May 10 - Avocado is the Star at this New Sunset Harbour Restaurant

SOUTH BEACH — Love avocado? Then newcomer Avo Miami (1834 Bay Road) is the spot to go, which features the creamy green favorite in almost every dish it serves. From avocado salmon toast, fettuccini pasta with an avocado basil sauce, avocado grilled chicken breast, and more, the 60-seat space also has breakfast bites like matcha protein pancakes, overnight oats, and shakshuka.

MIAMI — Who knew sandwiches and champagne was such a beloved pairing? But that is the idea behind the delivery-only restaurant Champs and Heroes. Spearheaded by Jourdan Binder and Reef Kitchens, it serves a menu of sandwiches like chicken parm heroes, spicy kale chicken Caesar wrap, and polenta dusted calamari wraps, along with sides like potato chips provolone cheese with a red sauce dipping sauce. And of course, like the name implies, guests can also order cold bottles of Champagne to go with their sandwiches.

MIAMI BEACH — The same group who introduced poke themed Koa Restaurants to Miami is expanding their footprint with their new omakase restaurant Nossa Omasake (1600 Collins Avenue) located discreetly behind the Hawaiian concept. Once all diners arrive, they are escorted through a dark corridor that opens up into a theater like den that is meant to “wow” guests, and then dine on an a 16-18 course dinner created by executive chef Max Kamakura. The menu features dishes like lobster sashimi, uni with black truffle on crispy rice, A5 wagyu nigiri, chutoro nigiri topped with caviar and otoro uni truffle temaki. Reservations are required, and once booked, guests will receive special instructions on how to access their destination.

April 29 - Instagram Favorite Zitz Sum Debuts a Brick-and-Mortar Outpost

CORAL GABLES — After becoming a runaway favorite last year during the COVID-19 shutdown through social media, “Asian-ish” eatery Zitz Sum (396 Alhambra Circle, Suite 155) has opened its permanent outpost in Coral Gables. Offering a much larger menu than its original creative dumpling offerings, diners can feast on dishes like cucumber salad, charred cabbage, grilled pork chops, and hanger steak — but don’t worry, the dumplings also make the menu. To wash the bites back, guests can sip on a large selection of natural wines, sake, beer, and more.

BRICKELL — Miami just can’t seem to get enough sushi. The latest sushi spot to debut in the Magic City is Paperfish Sushi by V&E Group. The space is meant to evoke restaurants found in Tokyo with Japanese street signs, paper lanterns, and a cherry blossom tree-lined dining room. The Nikkei focused menu boasts options like hamachi crispy rice, wagyu bao buns, smoked ceviche, tuna toro, along with nigiri, maki, and hand rolls.

FT. LAUDERDALE — For those craving pizza with a side of fun, head to newcomer Munchie’s Pizza Club (200 SW 2nd Street) an 80’s style pizza restaurant, arcade, and entertainment venue. Located in the Himmarshee space formerly occupied by Tarpon Bend, Munchie’s serves up unique creations by chef Todd Erickson like barbecue ostrich pizza, white truffle pizza, Florida Gator pie, alongside classic Italian versions of pizzas and vegan varieties. Craft beers, cocktails, and live music and DJ’s are also available.

April 13 - Be Transported to Hawaii at this Lincoln Road Newcomer

MIAMI BEACH — For those craving a taste of the “aloha,” head to Hapa Kitchen and Eatery inside Time Out Market (1601 Drexel Avenue). Featuring recipes from the founder Neil Sullivan’s hometown of Kailua, Hawaii, Hapa offers island favorites like loco moco, kaula pig, garlic chicken furikake, spam musubi, and more. Poke, another favorite of Hawaii, is also offered by the pound utilizing freshly caught fish or in build-your-own bowl varieties just like it’s done “back home” in Hawaii.

MIDTOWN — One of Miami’s longest standing juice bars and Mediterranean eateries, Miami Squeeze (3252 Midtown Boulevard, Unit 117), is finally expanding after 25 years in business setting up shop in Midtown. The menu will feature favorites like the falafel salad, wrap me wrap, and salmon platter, along with dink like the Vitamin C juice, mango loco smoothie, and mint lemonade. Unique to the Midtown location, baristas will be making smoothies and juices outside of the kitchen and in a designated bar area where guests can watch their drinks being prepared.

SOUTH BEACH — The Kayak Miami Beach Hotel has just debuted Layla (2216 Park Avenue), a self-described modern Middle Eastern restaurant and lounge. Taking over the former Mama Joon space, it serves up cuisine inspired by Life House’s Founder and CEO, Rami Zeidan’s Lebanese background and Head of Food & Beverage, Daniel Levine’s Jewish roots. Guests can dine on expansive mezze platters, roasted cauliflower with shawarma spice; braised lamb; Za’atar spiced chicken; and grilled branzino served with caramelized fennel, roasted tomatoes, capers, and shallots. The cocktail menu was crafted by World Class Top 10 Bartender Nathaniel Capenos, keeps the Mediterranean vibe going offering drinks made with ingredients such as saffron, cardamom, and baharat.

March 23 - Dine on Chicken Parm “Pizza” by Nicole Votano

MIAMI — The latest restaurant group to get into the delivery-only game is Plan Do See America, the brand behind eateries such as Azabu Miami Beach, The Den and Lolo’s Surf Cantina. Their latest venture is Bubusan, which is offering “high-class sushi at an affordable price.” Think those very Instagrammable omakase sushi boxes, alongside “Magic Pizza” in three flavors, and Nigiri, aka Japanese stuffed rice balls filled with different proteins. Now available on all major delivery apps.

LITTLE RIVER — Inspired by traditional Buenos Aires cafes and neighborhood bistros, Little River’s latest eatery Tigre (620 NE 78th Street) exudes and Argentina meets Miami feel. Housed right on the river, it serves up dishes like red prawn rolls, smoked and breaded pork chops, 36-hour smoked beef ribs, and swordfish steak, along with a full bar that specializes in apertitifs and cocktails, in addition to a wine list highlighting Argentine wines.

MIAMI — Chef Nicole Votano — the woman who helped create menus at DIRT and Fooq’s — has teamed up with REEF to launch Mamma Parmigiana, a delivery-only Italian comfort food concept inspired by the food of her childhood. The outpost serves up a classic red sauce style menu with items like meatballs, eggplant and chicken parm subs,baked rigatoni, cannoli, and red wine. And every Sunday, it’ll serve up its chicken parm “pizza” topped with slow coked pomodoro sauce and mozzarella served on top of Italian breaded chicken breast. Now available on all major delivery apps.

February 22 — Timon Balloo Opens a New Ft. Lauderdale Eatery

FT. LAUDERDALE — For those missing Timon Balloo’s cuisine (#rip Balloo), the chef is back and this time north of the county line inside the Wharf Ft. Lauderdale. Dubbed Mrs. Balloo (20 West Las Olas Boulevard) — an ode to Balloo’s wife — it features a variety of Asian-inspired casual bites, bowls, and buns. On the menu are items like pork dumplings, crispy panko shrimp, tuna crispy rice, and a Korean fried chicken sandwich, amongst others.

COCONUT GROVE — Newcomer Minty Z (3206 Grand Avenue) serves up dim sum and other Asian dishes, with a vegan slant. The restaurant has an array of plant based items that are traditionally found on dim sum menus throughout the country like Thai curry cauliflower, barbecue eggplant, pineapple fried rice, and wok-fried mushrooms. Eight different buns and rolls can be found on the menu like Cuban corn wontons filled with vegan ham and corn, or spicy tofu potstickers, and avocado spring rolls, all available a la carte or in a 10 piece feast for $33.

MIAMI — Bay Area based French fry concept Man Vs. Fries has debuted in Miami, courtesy of a partnership with delivery-based company REEF Kitchens. The delivery-only outpost offers fries either seasoned straight or curly, then topped with a choice of carne asada or pollo asada, and then served Norcal or SoCal style. Guests can also load up on burritos. crispy quesadillas, and more. Available now on all major delivery apps.

MIAMI — Another delivery-only eatery has debuted in Miami courtesy of Michael Schwartz. Inspired by his fan-favorite burgers, Genuine Burger’s is dedicated to the dish offering takes like the secret burger, barbecue brisket burger, and pork belly Genuine burger. Sides like house made chips and onion dip, onion rings, truffle fries, and stuffed chocolate chips cookies round out the menu. Available now on all major delivery apps.

January 12 - A New Sushi Spot Debuts at MIA Market by a Azabu Alum

MIAMI DESIGN DISTRICT — More omakase has debuted in Miami, this time courtesy of chef Yasu, formerly of The Den at Azabu in Miami Beach. Taking over a space inside the MIA Market, newcomer Sushi Yasu Tanaka By Masumura (140 NE 39th Street) offers a variety of nigiri by the plate in five, eight, or seven piece servings, alongside a 10-piece omakase menu offering various fish options like akami, chu-toro, double smoked salmon, salmon maki, and more. Guests who want to order nigiri or sashimi by the piece can also opt for that, or turn a piece of nigiri into a hand roll for a few dollars extra.

DOWNTOWN MIAMI — Popular Downtown Miami eatery Novikov (300 S Biscayne Boulevard) has launched its own delivery and pick-up only eatery dubbed BoyChoy. The menu focused on dim sums like scallop and shrimp, pork and kimchi and Novikov Miami favorite duck and foie gras siu mai, alongside bao buns filled with roasted duck, soft shell crab, and spicy pork. Rounding out the menu are larger items like char sui pork ribs, black bean chicken, Thai black pepper beef, and Peking duck. BoyChoy is now available for delivery via Uber Eats.

WYNWOOD — Portable — and hand held — chicken and waffles is the idea behind Wynwood eatery Chick ’N Cone (2039 NW 1st Place). Guests can choose from fried chicken bites tossed in six different sauces like barbecue, blue cheese, peri peri, and cinnamon maple, all housed inside a waffle cone. French fries and sodas are available to complete the meal.

January 7 - 1-800-LUCKY Debuts Two New Eateries by a James Beard Nominee

MIAMI BEACH — Newcomer Café Americano (1144 Ocean Drive), housed inside the Hotel Victor, serves classic American fare with a Latin twist, offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a late night menu alongside cocktails. From V&E Restaurant Group — the same people behind Havana 1957, Mercato della Pescheria Miami Beach, Mercato della Pescheria Las Vegas, La Cerveceria de Barrio, Oh! Mexico, Marabú, Barseco — it plans to be open 24 hours a day when the the nightly curfew is lifted. On the menu are a variety of dishes ranging from huevos rancheros, buttermilk pancakes, she-crab soup, roasted chicken, barbecue shrimp, Cuban sandwiches, spice brined wings, guacamole quesadilla, along with drinks like Moscow mules, bloody Marios, and lychee martinis.

WYNWOOD1-800-LUCKY (143 NW 23rd Street) has tapped James Beard nominee chef Nicole Ponseca to debut a second location of her popular NYC restaurant Jeepney and a new eatery, Tita Baby’s, inside the Asian-inspired food hall. Jeepney focuses on Fillipino cuisine, while Tita’s features traditional pastries and desserts like cornbread bibingka, a rice cake served in a cast iron skillet, and halo halo, a shaved ice dessert.

SOUTH BEACH — Fans of popular watering hole Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Co. can now drink their beverages waterside thanks to its new pop-up location dubbed Sweet Beach (1801 Collins Avenue). Located inside the Shelborne South Beach, which is just two blocks away from its original location, it promises to be the “ultimate tropical version” of the bar with brand new cocktails from Naren Young like the Queen’s Park Swizzle made with Havana Club rum, peach, lime, mint, Moscato D’Asti, Perrier lime and the South Beach Spritz with Grey Goose vodka, martini fiero, martini blanco, passionfruit, sparkling rose, and orange blossom. The pop-up also offers guests a space to partake in activities and family-friendly games, including corn hole, ping pong, life-sized checkerboards, Jenga blocks, and more. The space will be open through the summer of 2021.

DOWNTOWN MIAMI — The team that brought Miami the eatery Poke OG has teamed up with sushi chef Ryo Kato for their latest concept: Mr. Omakase (163 SE 1st Street). The Downtown Miami eatery offers three different omakase “experiences” including a 10-course sushi meal priced at $69 per person, 14-courses meal at $89 per person, and a 18-course meal for $119 per person that boasts sushi like uni, chu-toro, A5 wagyu, and more. Sake, wine and beer are also available. The space boasts a traditional sushi bar meets modern vibe including a graffiti style painting by local artist, Sergey Gordienko, and seats only eight diners at a time to ensure proper social distancing.

SOUTH BEACH — Since January is certainly outdoor weather here in Sunny South Florida, it’s only appropriate that Baia Beach Club (1100 West Avenue) would make its grand debut. The waterfront eatery and membership club inside the Mondrian South Beach features a restaurant, bar, lounge, and pool deck. The menu features a range of salads, crudos, breads, spreads, an extensive hand-rolled sushi section and a variety of Mediterranean-inspired entrées, vegetable plates, rotisserie chicken, and a full bar. The space, also inspired by the Mediterranean, goes boho chic with accents of raw timber, airy shades, macramé fixtures, Belgian linens, and more.