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The 38 Essential Miami Restaurants, Winter 2019

The essential Miami spots

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We now present an updated version of Miami’s Eater 38 for winter of 2019, which can answer any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” This highly elite group, which is listed in geographical order, was created by a panel of experts and covers the entire city; spans myriad cuisines, histories, and locations; and, collectively, satisfies any and all restaurant needs, save for those of people who are never happy.

Every couple of months we update the list, adding pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (which means they’ve been open for more than six months — but usually closer to a year), or have stepped up their game.

After much reflection and time spent pouring over reader emails and comments, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Pubbelly Noodle Bar and Sherwood’s Bistro leave the list. The good news is that newcomers have taken their place: Hiden, Planta South Beach and Phuc Yea.

Think something has been missed? Temper tantrum not necessary — just nominate the restaurant in the comments section or drop us a line at miami@eater.com. Pop-up restaurants, however, do not qualify.

Note: Restaurants are listed in geographical order from north to south. The numbers are not rankings.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Makoto

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9700 Collins Ave
Bal Harbour, FL
(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 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 hungry shoppers coming back for more.

Makoto Interior
Makoto [Official]

2. Le Sirenuse Miami

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9101 Collins Ave
Surfside, FL 33154
(786) 482-2280
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Old-school Italian glamour oozes from every nook and cranny of Le Sirenuse Restaurant & Champagne Bar, the Surfside eatery housed inside the newly renovated Surf Club. Serving cuisine from the team behind Italy’s Michelin-starred La Sponda restaurant, like pasta stuffed with beef ragu and warm buffalo mozzarella salad, its elegance channels a bygone Great Gatsby-like era. Make sure to grab a drink at its al fresco Champagne bar, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and showcases an extensive cocktail menu focused on the bubbly stuff and Italian apertifs.

Le Sirenuse Interior
Christian Horan/Four Seasons Miami

3. Taquiza

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7450 Ocean Terrace
Miami Beach, FL 33141
(305) 748-6099
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Sure, Miami Beach has plenty of taco shops, but authentic taquerias? Not so much. Fortunately, that’s where Taquiza comes in. This North Beach waterfront restaurant features traditional tacos like pastor, chicken, and tongue, served on top of handmade blue-masa corn tortillas so good that it now supplies them for half of the restaurants in town.

Tacos from Taquiza
Ocean Drive

4. Pinch Kitchen

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8601 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL
(305) 631-2018
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This homey neighborhood spot serves up some serious cuisine thanks to executive chefs John Gallo and Rene Reyes, whose resumes read like a who’s who of the Miami restaurant world. The menu features twists on American classics like pork secreto, roast chicken with local veggies, and rum cake topped with thyme gelato. That, combined with a stellar beer list, unpretentious vibe, and reasonable prices, makes for a winning experience.

Burger from Pinch Kitchen
Pinch Kitchen/Facebook

5. Phuc Yea

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7100 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33138
(305) 602-3710
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As one of the restaurants credited with helping the resurgence of the historic MiMo district (and before that, it served as Miami’s OG pop-up restaurant) Phuc Yea offers an interesting mix of Vietnamese food with Cajun influence — a reflection of the owners roots. The colorful and industrial setting serves as a perfect backdrop for dishes like caramel pork riblets, bao buns, seafood curry, and the simple but forever craveable PY noodles made with plenty of garlic and parmesan cheese. While its lively bar serves a top spot for a post-meal drink or happy hour location.

PY Noodles
Phuc Yea [official]

6. Mandolin Aegean Bistro

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4312 NE 2nd Ave
Miami, FL
(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 overfried falafel here), entrees like lamb and beef meatballs, and the exceptional grilled octopus, all with refreshing Greek wine to complete a great meal.

Mandolin Miami patio
Mandolin/Facebook

7. Amara at Paraiso

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3101 NE 7th Ave
Miami, FL 33137
(305) 702-5528
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The latest restaurant in James Beard winner Michael Schwartz’s ever-growing culinary empire, Amara at Paraiso not only boasts some of Miami’s best waterfront views but has solid Latin-infused dishes to boot. Using Schwartz’s farm-to-table ethos that gained him national notoriety a decade ago at Michael’s Genuine, the menu is filled with items like crispy octopus, short-rib-filled empanadas, and melt-in-your-mouth yucca balls, all of which boast flavors from South America and the Caribbean.  

8. 27 Restaurant

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2727 Indian Creek Dr
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 531-2727
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The first full-service restaurant and bar from the guys that brought us the Broken Shaker, 27 Restaurant pays homage to Miami’s diversity with an eclectic menu filled with signature dishes from South America, the Caribbean, and even the Middle East with dishes like the kimchi fried rice and “Gabe’s arepa platter.” Located in a historic two-story house adjacent to the Broken Shaker, it features the same laid-back spirit and inventive drinks of the other restaurant in a hip (and air-conditioned) setting.

9. Zak the Baker

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405 NW 26th St
Miami, FL
(786) 347-7100
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That bread found on every table in town? Odds are Zak baked it. The popular baker, who has been supplying bread around town for years now, now has his own shop in the mix. Expect not only his signature breads, but also an assortment of soups, sandwiches, and pastries that will turn even the most carb-fearing person into a bread-loving convert.

Desserts from Zak the Baker
Zak the Baker/Facebook

10. Hiden

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313 NW 25th St
Miami, FL 33127
(786) 208-9959
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This aptly named omakase-style restaurant is literally “hidden” behind a taco shop in Wynwood. Once guests enter with a numeric code (provided when the reservation is made) they encounter an intimate, eight-seat restaurant featuring cuisine by Brazilian-born chef Tadashi Shiraishi. The menu constantly rotates on the 18 dish menu featuring small Japanese appetizers, sashimi, and nigiri, all made with seasonal ingredients brought in from Japan, paired with sake, Sochu beer and wine to wash it down with. Make sure to reserve early as seats book out months in advance.

Inside Hiden
Edo Kobayashi

11. KYU

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251 NW 25th St
Miami, FL
(786) 577-0150
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The brainchild of two former Zuma alums, KYU features Asian eats with a barbecue twist. Think wood-fired meats, unique dishes like brisket lettuce wraps and duck “burnt ends,” and sushi, all housed in a hip Wynwood setting. Oh, and don’t miss that coconut cake for dessert.

12. Ono Poke Shop

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2320 N Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33127
(786) 618-5366
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Poke shops are a dime a dozen in this town, but Hawaiann-themed Ono Poke stands out from the pack. Led by a Makoto vet, it features a concise menu of poke bowls and create-your-own varieties using the same caliber of fish employed at some of Miami’s top seafood restaurants. And while the seafood is the star, don’t skimp on its eclectic and vast array of toppings, like crispy scallions, wasabi aioli, spicy red wakame, and more that take the poke bowl to the next level. 

Interior of Ono Poke
Ono Poke/Facebook

13. Alter

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223 NW 23rd St
Miami, FL
(305) 573-5996
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Alter has helped put Miami’s artsy neighborhood of Wynwood on the radar of food-lovers near and far, proving it is worthy of all the hype — and there is certainly a lot. Running the kitchen is Brad Kilgore, who earned his cooking chops at Alinea and L20. Think beautiful, high-end, Florida-inspired cuisine utilizing unique flavor combos, all served in an unassuming and purposely industrial warehouse setting that perfectly aligns with its hipster ’hood.

Interior of Alter
Alter [Official]

14. Lucali

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1930 Bay Rd
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 695-4441
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This New York City import has been a hit since the day it opened. The pizzas and calzones are made with handmade dough, wheeled into thin sheets by empty wine bottles before they enter the wooden oven. Simplicity is key here, but the devil is in the details, as the restaurant uses some of the freshest ingredients around. As for the toppings, Pile up and enjoy.

Lucali pizza
Lucali/Facebook

15. Mignonette

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210 NE 18th St
Miami, FL
(305) 374-4635
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A modern take on the classic seafood restaurant by Blue Collar chef Danny Serfer and partner Ryan Roman. Described by critics and as a “plain and fancy” oyster heaven, it also features tons of other seafood items, as well as non-sea-dwelling options like prime rib, chicken, and veggies.

Interior of Mignonette
Mignonette [Official]

16. Byblos

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1545 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 508-5041
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Arguably one of the most stunning restaurants in town, Byblos also serves food that’s worthy of writing home about. While the menu is described as Mediterranean, don’t expect to find any hummus on it. Instead, these dishes have a more Middle Eastern and Northern African slant: duck kibbeh, lamb ribs, Cornish hen in lentil sauce, and a variety of spiked tea cocktails.

Byblos interior
Byblos [Official]

17. All Day

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1035 N Miami Ave
Miami, FL
(305) 669-3447
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While on the outside All Day may seem like a coffee shop, it is really so much more. Aside from having the most creative coffee offerings in town — ranging from espresso made with your preferred amount of foam and milk to cold brew mixed with rosemary and limeade — its food menu should not be missed. Diners will find homemade nostalgic desserts along with drool-worthy breakfast sandwiches, the Miami must-have pan con croqueta; avocado toasts, and more, all served up in an Instagram-perfect setting.

18. Fooq's

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1035 N Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33136
(786) 536-2749
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This cozy Downtown Miami spot has become a force in the area serving up a unique take on Persian-French cuisine. While the menu rotates constantly, diners would be remiss not to opt for the spicy bucatini, honey Brussels sprouts, and its decadent Persian sundae, which is easily one of the most peerless desserts in the Magic City. 

Fooq’s interior
Fooq’s Miami [Official]

19. Macchialina

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820 Alton Rd
Miami Beach, FL
(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.” Under chef and owner Michael Pirolo’s lead, it creates Italian classics (braised short-rib lasagna, pork chop Milanese, etc.) with some interesting twists, like beet-filled ravioli.

Macchialina interior
Macchialina [Official]

20. NIU Kitchen

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134 NE 2nd Ave
Miami, FL
(786) 542-5070
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Seeing the word “tapas” on a menu is almost as common as hearing “dale” in the Magic City — it happens more often than it should. And while there are plenty of middle-of-the-line, traditional Spanish restaurants in this town, the gem of the bunch is NIU Kitchen. Tucked away in Downtown Miami, this 26-seat restaurant showcases Catalan cuisine by Barcelona native Deme Lomas the way it should be: simple, light, flavorful, and fun. The plates and menu rotate frequently, but the cold tomato soup with mustard ice cream, the truffle- and egg-filled potato foam, and the tartare can’t be missed.

Niu Kitchen interior
NIU Kitchen [Official]

21. La Camaronera

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1952 W Flagler St
Miami, FL
(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 fried-fish sandwiches. And while it may be no secret anymore, having found its way onto the to-do lists of every hungry tourist who watches his show, it still offers up some of the fairest-priced grub in Miami.

22. El Palacio De Los Jugos

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

Exterior of El Palacio de los Jugos
El Palacio De Los Jugos/Facebook

23. Stubborn Seed

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101 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(786) 322-5211
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The solo debut by Miami’s own Top Chef winner, Jeremy Ford, Stubborn Seed is a cozy-yet-hip South of Fifth spot turning out some of the city’s most elevated cuisine. While there is a complete a la carte menu with dishes like Jojo Tea cured cobia, warm celery root with crispy mushrooms, and umami short ribs, the real highlight here is the tasting menu, where guests can try a bevy of classics and seasonal creations, plus get some of its melt-in-your mouth gooey snickerdoodle cookies to take home to remember the meal.

24. Zuma

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270 Biscayne Boulevard Way
Miami, FL
(305) 577-0277
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Rainer Becker’s modern Japanese food, inspired by traditional izakaya-style dining, boasts a non-stop crowd of sleek, chic, celebrities, scene-chasers and food lovers. After all, its London and Hong Kong siblings made the Top 100 listing of the S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants.

Interior of Zuma
Zuma Miami/Facebook

25. Upland Miami

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49 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 602-9998
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Restaurateur Stephen Starr rarely disappoints, and such is the case with his latest South Florida restaurant, Upland Miami. An offshoot of the popular New York City restaurant, it features an approachable menu by Justin Smillie filled with dishes inspired by his California upbringing. Think items like coal-roasted short rib that’s large enough to feed a table, little-gem salad, and pistachio-topped pizza. 

Upland Miami
World Red Eye/Facebook

26. Planta South Beach

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850 Commerce St
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 397-8513
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Vegan and vegetarian food finally got the street cred it deserves with the arrival of Planta South Beach. The Toronto eatery, brought to Miami by hospitality king David Grutman, serves up cuisine that makes even the most staunch carnivores happy. The menu boasts a variety of plant-based comfort food favorites like sushi made with dehydrated watermelon that tastes like the real thing, cauliflower tots, and coconut-based ceviche, all served up in a lush and very tropical Miami setting. 

27. Joe's Stone Crab

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11 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 673-0365
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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 it’s the home of the original Miami Beach power lunch.

Joe’s food spread
Joe’s Stone Crab/Facebook

28. NAOE

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661 Brickell Key Dr
Miami, FL 33131
(305) 947-6263
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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 offers the best sushi experience in Miami, always fresh and never disappointing.

Nigiri at NAOE
NAOE/Facebook

29. Lung Yai Thai Tapas

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1731 SW 8th St
Miami, FL
(786) 334-6262
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Good Thai cuisine can be found in Miami, and Lung Yai Thai Tapas is proof. This small, unassuming Little Havana spot has been perpetually packed since its debut, featuring a menu filled with duck salad, curries, and some of the best fried chicken around — just be prepared to wait, since reservations aren’t accepted.

Pad Thai
Rin J./Yelp

30. La Mar by Gaston Acurio

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500 Brickell Key Dr
Miami, FL
(305) 913-8288
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Located in Brickell at Mandarin Oriental, La Mar by Gaston Acurio offers a combo of well-executed upscale novo-Andean fare and Asian-Peruvian fusion dishes. Think classics like lomo saltado, local offerings like yellowtail snapper, and several ceviche options.

31. Eating House

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804 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Miami, FL 33134
Miami, FL
(305) 448-6524
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What started as a hit pop-up by chef Giorgio Rapicavoli and partner Alex Casanova quickly turned into a permanent drool-inducing Miami go-to. Several years after going permanent, the spot continues to turn out creative dishes that summon taste buds year-round. Think pasta carbonara on steroids, playful desserts like the “dirt cup,” and, yep, Cap’n Crunch pancakes.

Eating House interior
Eating House [Official]

32. Bazaar Mar by José Andrés

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1300 S Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33130
(305) 615-5859
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José Andrés’s Brickell stunner Bazaar Mar is — as the name suggests — an ode to all things seafood. The over-the-top space turns out some of the most creative seafood dishes in South Florida, like the seaweed-based take on a funnel cake topped with avocado and blue crab or the bite-sized Not So Po Boy Jose filled with fried oysters and caviar and nestled in a steamed brioche bun. While a meal at Bazaar Mar is best experienced on someone’s expense account, it’s still worth a visit for a special night out.

33. La Petite Maison

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1300 Brickell Bay Dr
Miami, FL 33131
(305) 403-9133
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From the team behind culinary behemoth Zuma comes La Petite Maison, an equally chic high-end French brasserie with Mediterranean touches. Guests to this Brickell spot can expect to dine among the socialite crowd and business crowds, who are all in search of one thing: delicious food. Stars of the menu include the creamy burrata, fresh yellowtail carpaccio, and the very traditional escargot, but don’t forget to save room for the chocolate mousse. 

La Petite Maison interior
La Petite Maison [Official]

34. Edge, Steak & Bar

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1435 Brickell Ave
Miami, FL
(305) 381-3015
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Bringing a sleek update to the traditional steakhouse, executive chef Aaron Brooks set his sights beyond the standard filet mignon at Edge Steak and Bar. His menu features a variety of unique dishes, like Aussie lamb shoulder, kangaroo empanadas, and steamed stone crabs tossed in hot butter. And while it might be housed in the ritzy Four Seasons Miami, there’s no need for an expense account to enjoy it.

Interior of Edge
Four Seasons [Official]

35. Ortanique on the Mile

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278 Miracle Mile
Coral Gables, FL
(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 translates its seamless blend of Latin, Caribbean, and Asian cuisines into an exceptional culinary experience. Boozehounds praise the bartenders for their mad mojito-making skills, too.

Ortanique on the Mile interior
Ortanique on the Mile [Official]

36. Bombay Darbar

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2901 Florida Ave
Miami, FL
(305) 444-7272
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Serving arguably some of the best Indian food in the city, this Coconut Grove staple is always packed. Luckily for us, it moved to a much bigger space down the street, so getting your hands on some of the restaurant’s signature dishes, like crab samosas, lamb vindaloo, tandoori chicken, and mango lassi, is now much easier.

Rice from Bombay Darbar

37. Ariete

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3540 Main Hwy
Coconut Grove, FL
(305) 640-5862
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Leading the way for Coconut Grove’s culinary renaissance, Ariete has quickly become the standout in a group of relative newcomers. Led by Cypress Room alum Michael Beltran, it features a menu of inventive yet hearty comfort-food dishes with a Cuban flair that reflects Beltran’s upbringing. Highlights include the grilled oysters drenched in bone marrow butter, a smoky pork chop with black-eyed peas, and an on-the-bone short rib that is more than enough to satisfy any hungry group. 

Ariete interior
Ariete [Official]

38. Ghee Indian Kitchen Downtown Dadeland

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8965 SW 72nd Pl
Kendall, FL 33156
(305) 968-1850
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This Indian eatery from Michael’s Genuine alum Niven Patel features Indian-inspired cuisine made mainly from produce from Patel’s farm in Homestead, like vindaloo made with pork belly, green millet, garlic naan, and more. Plus there’s a $55 tasting menu available, so exploring the offerings is encouraged. The restaurant is so popular, it opened a second location in the Design District (3620 NE Second Avenue), so no matter the part of town, diners can easily get a taste of the cuisine. 

Interior of Ghee

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1. Makoto

9700 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour, FL
Makoto Interior
Makoto [Official]

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 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 hungry shoppers coming back for more.

9700 Collins Ave
Bal Harbour, FL

2. Le Sirenuse Miami

9101 Collins Ave, Surfside, FL 33154
Le Sirenuse Interior
Christian Horan/Four Seasons Miami

Old-school Italian glamour oozes from every nook and cranny of Le Sirenuse Restaurant & Champagne Bar, the Surfside eatery housed inside the newly renovated Surf Club. Serving cuisine from the team behind Italy’s Michelin-starred La Sponda restaurant, like pasta stuffed with beef ragu and warm buffalo mozzarella salad, its elegance channels a bygone Great Gatsby-like era. Make sure to grab a drink at its al fresco Champagne bar, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and showcases an extensive cocktail menu focused on the bubbly stuff and Italian apertifs.

9101 Collins Ave
Surfside, FL 33154

3. Taquiza

7450 Ocean Terrace, Miami Beach, FL 33141
Tacos from Taquiza
Ocean Drive

Sure, Miami Beach has plenty of taco shops, but authentic taquerias? Not so much. Fortunately, that’s where Taquiza comes in. This North Beach waterfront restaurant features traditional tacos like pastor, chicken, and tongue, served on top of handmade blue-masa corn tortillas so good that it now supplies them for half of the restaurants in town.

7450 Ocean Terrace
Miami Beach, FL 33141

4. Pinch Kitchen

8601 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL
Burger from Pinch Kitchen
Pinch Kitchen/Facebook

This homey neighborhood spot serves up some serious cuisine thanks to executive chefs John Gallo and Rene Reyes, whose resumes read like a who’s who of the Miami restaurant world. The menu features twists on American classics like pork secreto, roast chicken with local veggies, and rum cake topped with thyme gelato. That, combined with a stellar beer list, unpretentious vibe, and reasonable prices, makes for a winning experience.

8601 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL

5. Phuc Yea

7100 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138