As we put a cap on 2023, Eater surveyed a group of friends, writers, and all-around experts for their take on the past year. We asked them six 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 2023. 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.
Amber Love Bond (Eater Miami contributor): I wish I did more in Miami this year, but I traveled a ton — my best restaurant meal of 2023 would have to be between eating my weight in dumplings in Singapore at any hole in the wall spot I found myself in or at Grön, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Helsinki, where nearly everything was forged for that day and presented in the most amazing, delicious way.
Alona Martinez (Eater Miami Contributor): I finally made it to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Miami’s only 2 Michelin star spot) and, yeah, it did not disappoint.
David Rosendorf (Food For Thought): Locally: It took us a few months to get to Maty’s, but once we made it, Val Chang and crew were absolutely firing on all cylinders. Our first meal was a knockout. Every dish there ripples with a bright, almost electric energy and freshness. Really excited for brother Nando to open the Itamae v.3 omakase counter there too - it’s going to be like Megazord. Every recognition they’ve received this past year - Food & Wine Best New Chefs, Bon Appetit Best New Restaurants, NY Times Best Restaurants, Esquire Best New Restaurants - it’s all fully deserved and so gratifying to see.
Anywhere: We just got back from a trip to Spain, so that is a particularly difficult decision. I thoroughly enjoyed every single bite at Amelia, chef Paulo Airaudo’s restaurant in San Sebastian - fantastic Basque Country ingredients with some Japanese and Italian influences along with a bit of a Star Wars obsession.
Giovanny Gutierrez (Chat Chow TV/Eater Miami photographer): This is always a hard decision as we’ve been fortunate enough to have some delicious meals but Shinji in Coral Gables is the best Omakase experience right now in Miami. But apart from any meal, Kush Hospitality hosted a Taste of Pace Summer Soirée to raise funds and Miami’s best chefs came together on an incredible meal full of love, passion, and creativity showing off not only Miami’s prowess but the collaboration of our community and all for a good cause.
Laine Doss (Eater Miami contributor): Hands down, my best restaurant meal of 2023 was at Michael Schulson’s restaurant Bar Lesieur in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. This gorgeous space gives off Parisian speakeasy vibes yet has no pretension. I had the absolute best cocktail of 2023 there - a French 75 made with an American-distilled prune gin which gave it a spectacular tartness and a delightful violet hue. As for the food? My mushroom tart was buttery, rich, and earthy and the chef turned a humble salmon entree into a presetational showstopper that revealed a perfectly prepared piece of fish. Philadelphia, itself, is one of the best food cities in America and is vastly underrated. I can’t wait until Schulson brings his Double Knot to Wynwood.
Falyn Freyman Wood (Time Out Miami editor): Such a tough one! I’m gonna go with my birthday dinner at The Surf Club Restaurant. The Night in San Sebastián-themed collab dinner with QP Tapas at Vinya Table is a close second!
Jesse Scott (Eater Miami contributor): Perhaps it was the company (my wife and two of our best friends). Perhaps it was the rooftop vistas. Perhaps it was being able to take an elevator down to E11EVEN. But, my God, Giselle. What I remember about this meal - the bluefin tuna truffle cones topped with 24-karat gold leaves (I wanted 50 of them); the literally-on-fire flaming lobster thermador; and eating a red stiletto made from chocolate. Even my friend - who is one of the pickiest eaters on Earth - found genuine love in Giselle’s mashed potatoes. Well done. Such a great time.
Stacy Moya (Eater Miami Contributor): I’m all about flavors and Apocalypse BBQ truly blew me away. Everything on the menu is exceptional—from empanadas, wings, smoked meats, and sides to the and ooey gooey, chocolate chip cookie and cocktails—and they keep evolving it by introducing new menu items such the recently added deep fried, slow smoked rib with house made coffee rub rolled in frosted flakes—have mercy! I also had an excellent brunch at Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen. Fantastic flavors and a must try.
Lyssa Goldberg (Freelance food writer): We had some outstanding meals at Fiola this year — every dish there is more delicious than the next — and loved every bite at COTE. The Ortanique pop-up recently was fantastic, but it also made me sad it’s not back permanently. Miami needs more island cuisine like that! As for two very unique experiences, the meticulously synchronized service at Tambourine Room and the very traditional-style omakase at Shingo made for two memorable meals. Outside of Miami, I was in awe of the craftsmanship at Razza in Jersey City — “the best pizza in New York” that’s not actually in New York. Yes, the pizza crust was perfect, but so was everything from the simple green salad to the trio of butters served with their sourdough.
Sara Liss (Author of Miami Cooks): I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the tasting menu at the new iteration of El Cielo at the SLS South Beach. I had only dined at the Brickell location once when they opened seven years ago and I walked away thinking the tasting menu was too gimmicky and overwrought to be taken seriously. But this time around I was impressed with the flavors and stories behind each dish - every element came together in an interesting way and the whole experience was unique. Miami Spice at Klaw was a close second.
Matt Meltzer (Thrillist Miami):The new El Cielo at SLS was literally a top 5 meal of my life. And no, they didn’t even do the chocolate hand washing thing. One of those meals where the first course is the best thing you ever ate, but by the end of dinner it’s like the 9th best thing you ever ate.
A VERY close second was dinner at Rancho Patel back in May. To paraphrase that great South Floridian Roger Stone, you never pass up a chance to have sex, be on TV, or eat dinner on Niven Patel’s farm.
Ashley Brozic (Freelance food writer): I think Kaori is one of the more underrated restaurants in Miami. On the ground level, it’s a tight listening bar with amazing cocktails. Upstairs it’s an extremely zen dining room with a birdseye view of South Miami Avenue, which feels way more cosmopolitan than you might think. Drinks I’ve loved? The Hana Martini and Pear Sip. Bites I’ve loved? Wagyu and Foie Gras gyozas, KFC sandwich, bluefin tuna sashimi and a Chinese takeout box of la ji zi.
Gretchen Schmidt (Edible South Florida): A family celebration at Off Site was memorable –– Super Good Lager, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs on picnic tables – can’t beat that!
Olee Fowler (Eater Miami): I was lucky enough to have dinner a few months back at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and it was really special. Outside of Miami, dinner at De Haus in Amsterdam was a beautiful experience. They truly take the farm-to-table experience seriously.