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The 38 Essential Miami Restaurants, October 2014

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Here, now, is an updated version of Miami's Eater 38, your answer and ours to any question that begins, "Can you recommend a restaurant?" This highly elite group, which is in no particular order of importance or rank, has been culled from a panel of experts and covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines, histories, locations, and, collectively, satisfies all of your restaurant needs, save for those who are never happy. Every couple of months, we'll be adding pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months), or have stepped up their game.

After much reflecting and pouring over reader emails and comments, we've decided to drop PB Steak (this one because it closed) and Bar Crudo. The good news is that in their places, we shine light on Oishi Thai, while we bring back The Forge.

Think we missed something? Temper tantrum not necessary- just nominate your favorite restaurant in the comments section or drop us a line. Pop-up restaurants, however, do not qualify.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Bourbon Steak

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19999 W Country Club Dr
Aventura, FL 33180
(786) 279-6600
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Not just another insipid Miami steakhouse, Michael Mina's exceptional clubby, contemporary steakhouse tucked away in the Turnberry Isle Resort & Club is the way it is for many reasons, one big one being executive chef Gabriel Fenton, whose skills are a cut above most as seen in dishes such as lobster-stuffed tempura squash blossoms with truffle vinaigrette and an apple cider-glazed pork belly. And then there are those duck fat fries.

2. Edge, Steak & Bar

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1435 Brickell Ave
Miami, FL 33131
(305) 381-3015
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Bringing a sleek update to the steakhouse, executive chef Aaron Brooks has ambitiously and successfully set his sights beyond just the mastery of your standard filet mignon at Edge, Steak and Bar. And to think, you don't have to empty your wallet to enjoy a steakhouse in the Four Seasons.

3. El Mago de las Fritas

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5828 SW 8th St.
West Miami, FL 33144
(305) 266-8486
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The best fritas in Miami. Hands down.

4. The Federal Food Drink & Provisions

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5132 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33137
(305) 758-9559
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It seems that no restaurant has as much fun as the folks at The Fed, led by chef Cesar Zapata, Aniece Meinhold, and Alejandro Ortiz. The modern American tavern always keeps things interesting, cranking out adventurous food with a bit of a laugh - Jar-O-Duck, short rib pot pie and buffalo style pig wings, to name a few - and always hosting a hell of a party.

5. El Palacio De Los Jugos

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5721 W Flagler St
Miami, FL 33144
(305) 262-0070
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Cheap Cuban food, fresh fruits, veggies and a bakery known for it's fresh-squeezed sugarcane, tamales and perfectly salty chicharones cut to order. Sort of like Miami's version of Grey's Papaya- high on pork fat.

6. La Esquina Del Lechon Pork & Steakhouse

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8601 NW 58th St
Doral, FL 33166
(305) 640-3041
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Fans of all sorts of Latin American fare can agree to go here, where the pan con lechon, among other things, is arguably the best in town. Those truffling for an entire pig may want to head here Thursdays through Sundays when they serve the entire hog cooked out back in a caja china. In keeping with the times and the digestive tracts of its customers, they also welcome Gluten-free requests.

7. J & G Grill

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9703 Collins Ave
Bal Harbour, FL 33154
Jean Georges Vongerichten, emperor of a large contingent of restaurants throughout the world, has this whole restaurant thing down to a science. For his latest rendition of J&G Grill, JGV pairs the expertly executed cuisine of recently appointed chef Brad Kilgore, who puts his own twist on Vongerichten's global cuisine in the elegant and airy dining room at the St. Regis Bal Harbour.

8. Joe's Stone Crab

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11 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 673-0365
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Like the Madonna of restaurants, Joe's needs only one name and little explanation. It's a South Beach stone crab institution that's always mobbed and home of the original Miami Beach power lunch.

9. La Camaronera

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1952 W Flagler St
Miami, FL 33135
(305) 642-3322
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Long before Guy Fieri discovered it, La Camaronera was one of Miami's best kept secrets for fresh fish and the best fried fish sandwich you may ever eat. And while it may be no secret anymore and on the to-do lists of every hungry tourist who watches his show, locals still love it, even if they'd rather chase its food truck, The Fish Box, around town instead of standing in line with Fieri fans.

10. Palme d'Or

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The Biltmore Hotel
Coral Gables, FL 33134
(305) 445-1926
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Despite its ornate, old world ambience, Palme d'Or's cuisine is thoroughly modern, nouveau French cuisine that'll have you singing voulez-vous couchez avec moi to your plate. Indulge at the historical Biltmore Hotel's signature restaurant.

11. Makoto

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9700 Collins Ave
Bal Harbour, FL 33154
(305) 864-8600
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A Stephen Starr restaurant in Bal Harbour Shops where what's on the plate is more important than who's sitting in front of it sounds almost as implausible as a half off sale at Gucci, but alas, thanks to chef Makoto Okuwa, former Head Sushi Chef at Morimoto New York and Philadelphia, it's the real deal. In addition to the raw stuff, Makoto's modern Japanese dishes and bincho charcoal robata have even the most finicky fashionistas fawning over the fare.

12. Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

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130 NE 40th St
Miami, FL 33137
(305) 573-5550
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Design District trailblazer featuring groundbreaking, contemporary American, organic fare by Michael Schwartz and divine desserts masking as art by pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith. It's recently gotten a makeover, too, and now has more seats, longer hours and a raw bar. Michael's remains a celebrity and foodie favorite over the years.

13. NAOE

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661 Brickell Key Dr
Miami, FL 33131
After shutting down his spot on Sunny Isles, Sushi chef Kevin Cory relocated his acclaimed NAOE to Brickell Key and he hasn't missed a beat. The tiny eight seat NAOE constantly puts out the best sushi experience in Miami, always fresh and never disappointing.

14. Ortanique on the Mile

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278 Miracle Mile
Coral Gables, FL 33134
(305) 446-7710
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One of the few restaurants where the word fusion doesn't mean 'we're not sure what we are,' Ortanique's seamless blend of Latin, Caribbean and Asian cuisines translates into an exceptional culinary experience. Boozehounds praise the place for their mad mojito making skills, too.

15. Pascal's On Ponce

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2611 Ponce de Leon Blvd
Coral Gables, FL 33134
(305) 444-2024
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Pascal Oudin doesn't need a Food Network show, a manic Twitter account, or a publicist (chef handles all his own PR) to explain why his cozy, fine, contemporary French restaurant has been in biz since 2000.

16. Pubbelly

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1418 20th St.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 532-7555
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Typically, serious food fans would laugh off the notion of an Asian-inspired gastropub in Miami, but when it comes to Pubbelly, it's no laughing matter and a serious statement of what happens when people know what they're doing. This is the one that started it all, now with four subsequent siblings to add to the family.

17. Red the Steakhouse

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119 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 534-3688
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Proving the naysayers wrong and surviving the rife and wrath of other area steakhouses since they opened in 2009, Red, The Steakhouse has carved out its own meaty niche thanks to chef/partner Peter Vauthy's culinary--and social media--prowess. From Andrew Zimmern and Ferran Adria to NBA and celebrity heavyweights, Red's diners, famous or otherwise, are impressive and impressed, and for that it has well earned its permanent spot on the map as an essential Miami meatery.

18. The River Oyster Bar

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650 S Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33130
(305) 530-1915
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At The River Oyster Bar, you'll find seriously good seafood by David Bracha with no attitude and reasonable prices. A seasonal menu packs 'em in on a nightly basis, especially during daily happy hours when working stiffs, foodies and hipsters flock there to indulge in the restaurant's namesake--the freshest oysters south of the Puget Sound.

19. Prime One Twelve

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112 Ocean Dr
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 532-8112
Besides Joe's Stone Crab, there aren't many restaurants in Miami (or the world for that matter) that could get the words "Recession Proof" scribbled on their menus in indelible ink. Prime 112 is one of those restaurants. A meat palace of epic proportion (and profits), Prime is the city's most star-studded, slam-packed steakhouse.

20. Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill

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3252 NE 1st Ave
Miami, FL 33137
(786) 369-0353
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Overnight sensations are a dime a dozen (see: Justin Bieber), but when it comes to Miami restaurants, Sugarcane is a success story like no other. Chef Timon Balloo is a cool, culinary renegade, leading a talented team that works the restaurant's three kitchens to delightful effect.

21. Zuma

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270 Biscayne Boulevard Way
Miami, FL 33131
(305) 577-0277
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Rainer Becker's modern Japanese inspired by traditional, informal Izakaya-style dining may seem almost oxymoronic, but the sleek, chic crowd of culinary mafia, celebrities and scene-chasers who eat and drink here don't care. After all, it is the first Miami restaurant whose London and Hong Kong siblings made the Top 100 listing of The S.Pellegrino World's Best Restaurants.

22. MC Kitchen

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4141 NE 2nd Ave
Miami, FL 33137
(305) 456-9948
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The sophisticated and buzzy MC Kitchen by Dena Marino and Brandy Coletta features addictive modern Italian dishes with a twist of Americano. Coletta and Marino opened up their Design District eatery a year ago and since turned it into one of Miami’s never-disappointing dinner spots.

23. Mandolin Aegean Bistro

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4312 NE 2nd Ave
Miami, FL 33137
(305) 576-6066
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The best Greek and Turkish food in Miami is tucked away in the intimate, understated courtyard at Mandolin. Transport to the Greek Isles with a menu of elegant small plates (no over-fried falafel here) and entrees like lamb and beef meatballs and the exceptionally grilled octopus with refreshing Greek wine to complete a great meal.

24. Blue Collar

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6730 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33138
(305) 756-0366
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Opened at the start of 2012, Blue Collar has moved up in the rankings due to its cult following and rave-worthy American comfort food. Chef Daniel Serfer puts TLC into every meal he serves at the small diner-like spot. Fans include Rakontur director Billy Corben, after whom Serfer created a special off-the-menu Corben sandwich.

25. Gigi

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3470 N Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33127
(305) 573-1520
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Since Gigi exploded onto Miami's dining scene two years ago, it has continued to serve delicious, inventive Asian-inspired dishes at bargain prices. Even after Chef Jeff McInnis' departure, their buns are still some of the best in town, and it remains the go-to late night spot for good eats in Midtown, always busy at nearly any hour.

26. db Bistro Moderne

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255 Biscayne Blvd Way
Miami, FL 33131
(305) 421-8800
Daniel Boulud's restaurant at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami in Downtown brings a taste of exceptionally refined French fare to Miami. Renowned for their charcuterie, especially the pate, and their namesake sirloin burger filled with braised short ribs, foie gras and black truffle, db Bistro Moderne also has been praised for its vast selection of premium wine labels.

27. Harry's Pizzeria

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3918 N Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33127
(786) 275-4963
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Michael Schwartz's second restaurant in the Design District neighborhood has received more than a warm welcome since its opening in the fall of 2011. Harry's continues to be a casual go-to for some of the best wood oven specialty pizza in town, polenta fries, salads, draft brews and more.

28. Hakkasan

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4401 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33140
(877) 326-7412
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The Fontainebleau’s Cantonese restaurant has quickly made its way to being a Miami staple with its mouth-watering dishes and sleek atmosphere. Two words to remember: Dim Sum.

29. Khong River House

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1661 Meridian Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 763-8147
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After exploding onto the Miami dining scene, the trendy Khong received numerous accolades for dishing out some seriously bold and authentic flavors. Hands down the best Thai food in Miami and though you might have to work hard for that reservation, you won’t regret it.

30. Eating House

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804 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Miami, FL 33134
Miami, FL 33134
(305) 448-6524
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What started as a hit pop-up by chef Giorgio Rapicavoli partner Alex Cassanova quickly turned into a permanent drool-inducing Miami go-to. Almost seven months after opening, the spot continues to churn out creative dishes that summon taste buds all ‘round. Think pasta carbonara like you’ve never had it, playful desserts like the ‘dirt cup’ and, yep, cap’n crunch pancakes.

31. The Local House

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400 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Exactly what its name implies, The Local House caters diligently to its Ocean Drive regulars, though everyone else likes it too. Located in the lobby of The Sense Beach House, the year-old restaurant offers seafood galore, creative twists on classic dishes and caviar cocktails in a homey setting.

32. Cypress Room

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3620 NE 2nd Ave
Miami, FL 33137
(305) 520-5197
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Michael Schwartz’ higher-end, contemporary American eatery has garnered rave reviews since opening in 2013. His third Design District restaurant hones in on much of Schwartz’ famed, pure approach to food, using only local and fresh ingredients in ever evolving, seasonal dishes.

33. Swine Southern Table & Bar

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2415 Ponce de Leon Blvd
Coral Gables, FL 33134
(786) 360-6433
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Situated in a two-story space in Coral Gables, this 50 Eggs comfort-food-with-a-boozy-kick restaurant has consistently satiated Southern cravings for a little over a year. Not interested in pounds of smoked meat and juicy burgers? For a pork-based restaurant, they have quite the veggie selection as well.

34. Wynwood Kitchen & Bar

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2550 NW 2nd Ave
Miami, FL 33127
(305) 722-8959
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Home to regular artsy dinners and a sweet happy hour, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar is where the cool crowd migrates. It's also where chef Miguel Aguilar unfailingly pleases the taste buds with various menus while WKB’s art laden walls provide the funky eye candy.

35. Macchialina

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820 Alton Rd
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 534-2124
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Macchialina, which comes from the words "Macchia" meaning "mark or spot" and "Maialina" meaning piglets, aims to be reminiscent of a "small rustic eatery in the heart of any Italian town." Starting up strong as a part of the Pubbelly group’s offerings, Macchialina continues to deliver under the talented hand of former Scarpetta chef and newly appointed owner Michael Pirolo. Think Italian classics (braised shortrib lasagna, pork chop Milanese, etc.) with some interesting twists, like Italian dim sum brunch.

36. Sakaya Kitchen

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3401 N Miami Ave. #125
Miami, FL 33127
(305) 576-8096
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Back by popular demand, Richard Hales’ no-frills Sakaya Kitchen has stepped up its game and reasserted itself as Miami’s coolest fast-casual, modern Asian restaurant. Recently called the “ninja of flavortown” by Guy Fieri, Hales has clearly gone beyond a locals' favorite and garnered some serious national affection with his Midtown eatery.

37. Oishi Thai

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14841 Biscayne Blvd
North Miami, FL 33181
(305) 947-4338
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Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, affectionately known as Chef Bee, opened up this Asian gem to rave reviews nearly ten years ago on Biscayne Boulevard. Like its name might suggest if you happen speak Japanese, the restaurant serves up a mixture of "oishi" or delicious Thai, Japanese and Korean street-style dishes.

38. The Forge

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432 W 41st St
Miami Beach, FL 33140
(305) 538-8533
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Shareef Malnik's The Forge Restaurant and Wine Bar's newly appointed chef Christopher Lee breathes new life into the eatery's menu (post chef Dewey Losasso departure). Still, the stars of the menu here are the steaks.

1. Bourbon Steak

19999 W Country Club Dr, Aventura, FL 33180
Not just another insipid Miami steakhouse, Michael Mina's exceptional clubby, contemporary steakhouse tucked away in the Turnberry Isle Resort & Club is the way it is for many reasons, one big one being executive chef Gabriel Fenton, whose skills are a cut above most as seen in dishes such as lobster-stuffed tempura squash blossoms with truffle vinaigrette and an apple cider-glazed pork belly. And then there are those duck fat fries.
19999 W Country Club Dr
Aventura, FL 33180

2. Edge, Steak & Bar

1435 Brickell Ave, Miami, FL 33131
Bringing a sleek update to the steakhouse, executive chef Aaron Brooks has ambitiously and successfully set his sights beyond just the mastery of your standard filet mignon at Edge, Steak and Bar. And to think, you don't have to empty your wallet to enjoy a steakhouse in the Four Seasons.
1435 Brickell Ave
Miami, FL 33131

3. El Mago de las Fritas

5828 SW 8th St., West Miami, FL 33144
The best fritas in Miami. Hands down.
5828 SW 8th St.
West Miami, FL 33144

4. The Federal Food Drink & Provisions

5132 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137
It seems that no restaurant has as much fun as the folks at The Fed, led by chef Cesar Zapata, Aniece Meinhold, and Alejandro Ortiz. The modern American tavern always keeps things interesting, cranking out adventurous food with a bit of a laugh - Jar-O-Duck, short rib pot pie and buffalo style pig wings, to name a few - and always hosting a hell of a party.
5132 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33137

5. El Palacio De Los Jugos

5721 W Flagler St, Miami, FL 33144
Cheap Cuban food, fresh fruits, veggies and a bakery known for it's fresh-squeezed sugarcane, tamales and perfectly salty chicharones cut to order. Sort of like Miami's version of Grey's Papaya- high on pork fat.
5721 W Flagler St
Miami, FL 33144

6. La Esquina Del Lechon Pork & Steakhouse

8601 NW 58th St, Doral, FL 33166
Fans of all sorts of Latin American fare can agree to go here, where the pan con lechon, among other things, is arguably the best in town. Those truffling for an entire pig may want to head here Thursdays through Sundays when they serve the entire hog cooked out back in a caja china. In keeping with the times and the digestive tracts of its customers, they also welcome Gluten-free requests.
8601 NW 58th St
Doral, FL 33166

7. J & G Grill

9703 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour, FL 33154
Jean Georges Vongerichten, emperor of a large contingent of restaurants throughout the world, has this whole restaurant thing down to a science. For his latest rendition of J&G Grill, JGV pairs the expertly executed cuisine of recently appointed chef Brad Kilgore, who puts his own twist on Vongerichten's global cuisine in the elegant and airy dining room at the St. Regis Bal Harbour.
9703 Collins Ave
Bal Harbour, FL 33154

8. Joe's Stone Crab

11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Like the Madonna of restaurants, Joe's needs only one name and little explanation. It's a South Beach stone crab institution that's always mobbed and home of the original Miami Beach power lunch.
11 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139

9. La Camaronera

1952 W Flagler St, Miami, FL 33135