Remember when chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten introduced the concept of warm chocolate oozing out of an individual cake, and every restaurant worth its salt followed suit with the iconic molten chocolate cake? Or when burgers were downsized to cute, miniature sliders making appearances as starters (in packs of three), tempting diners to wolf them down with little guilt?
Food trends have always helped define what’s sought-after and what’s not, and today’s culinary crowd pleasers have Miami’s thriving restaurant scene taking notice as well. Here are some top trends recently capturing the city’s heart.
Pizza Grows Up
Like all good American cities, Miami has always had a faithful infatuation with pizza. But discerning 305 palates began seeking pies made with upscale ingredients, like perfectly charred crusts from Stanzione 87 or imported Italian topping served at Editor Pizza. Old Greg’s Pizza, a pop-up that took quarantine-bound Miamians by storm during the pandemic, flooded Instagram with its photogenic sourdough-based square pies, while places like La Natural, located in Little River, took sourdough pizza to a new art form.
Arepas All Over
The humble arepa, a Venezuelan savory corncake served instead of bread in almost all of that country’s meals, captured Miami’s heart — and stomach — when South Florida realized how versatile and comforting this staple can be. Those yearning to visit a traditional Venezuelan “arepera,” which offers a dizzying selection of ingredients to be stuffed inside like cheese, meat, or the famous “Reina Pepiada” (avocado and chicken salad) frequent authentic spots like Doggi’s, La Latina, or arepa.bar. Dressed-up renditions abound, with spots like Jatto presenting spicy salmon roll arepas and Amara at Paraiso kicking things up a notch with beef tartar arepas with Stracciatella cheese, caviar, and shaved truffles.
Ode to Octopus
Crab cakes move aside, the seafood appetizer darling in South Florida is grilled octopus — a dish once only seen in select Greek restaurants like Miami’s perpetually popular Mandolin Aegean Bistro. Now diners find the succulent tentacle gracing menus of upscale restaurants like elegant Italian hotspot Fiola, Basque wunderkind Leku (octopus carpaccio with fried capers), and Orno, which serves it grilled with potato, pimenton aioli, celery, and aged sherry.
Modern Israeli food, the healthy, Mediterranean cuisine driven by hummus, salad, and grilled fish, has taken Miami by storm (think Abbale Tel-Avivian Kitchen, Motek, Mazeh, Jaffa, and Neya), and with it, the brunch-favorite shakshuka. Comprised of eggs poached in a spicy tomato and pepper sauce, it makes for a meal best enjoyed scooped with pieces of warm pita and shared with clever captions on Instagram.
Miami has always been a magnet for extravagant nightlife, so it was only a matter of time before partying and dining merged into one. With hospitality gurus like David Grutman (often paired with a high-profile celebrity) leading the way with restaurants featuring over-the-top decor and indulgent dishes. Spots like Sexy Fish, HaSalon, Papi Steak, Backdoor Monkey, Joia Beach, and Chica fit the bill. Those looking for a quiet, intimate meal best stay away; these places beg for diners willing and wanting to partake in loud, crowded fun.
Big Name Transplants
The world seems to have caught on with how great it is to live in Miami, including big-name restaurant transplants that have descended with much fanfare. Think New York power players Carbone, Cote, and Dirty French Steakhouse.
Proliferation of Omakases
Sushi bundled into exclusive omakase — Japanese for “I’ll leave it up to you” has caught on in Miami in all forms. Diners embrace the concept because of its ease (no need to order anything, a trained sushi chef chooses all 12-18 cuts of fish — often flown in straight from Japan) but also for the pomp and circumstance that accompanies the traditionally high price tag. With uber selective (and secret) omakase spots like Hiden, NAOE, and Hiyakawa, to theatrical restaurants like Nossa Omakase, Sushi | Bar Miami Beach, and Sushi by Scratch Restaurants, to more casual renditions like Mr. Omakase, Sushi Yasu Tanaka, Ahi Sushi, and Omakai, there’s no shortage of spots to partake in this multi-course sensory experience.