By: Jen Karetnick
Gastronomically speaking, Miami is a city that reinvents itself every year. Whether it’s high-design style, waterfront views, lounge-y vibes or casual lunch counters, here are 10 restaurants that will make you book a flight to Miami. Right. Now.
Michael Mina 74
Michael Mina 74 is an American bistro-lounge, located in the basement of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. An ideal blend of spirited dining and roguish nightlife. Celeb chef Michael Mina’s creative, playful fare features fish fresh off the resort’s own day boat in addition to high-end, skillfully handled flora and fauna from the rest of the region. Manned by a superior service staff continually refreshing your luxe cocktails, tables at MM 74 are an in-demand tableaux for the after-midnight savant.
Earls Kitchen & Bar
On the second floor of Dadeland Mall’s newly redeveloped wing, you'll find Earl's Kitchen and Bar. This Canadian export recently opened its first location in the eastern U.S. Executive Chef Luke Verkuylen showcases global dishes that not only tantalize taste buds, they could teach geography: crunchy Cambodian prawns; a signature New England lobster roll; Los Cabos chicken tacos with corn-avocado salsa; and a hand-smashed Bronx burger with beer-battered onion rings, red pepper relish, aged white cheddar and arugula, among others.
Designed by Stephane Dupoux (Nikki Beach) and christened by Beyoncé and Jay Z practically within moments of its opening, the Miami Riverfront Seaspice, already has reservations for months on Sundays. Try for a slot anyway, if only to see the yachts vying for the 250-foot dock space, or to sample some of the extravagant, truffle-dotted pastas, fish and meat dishes.
If Miami had a representative dish, it would be ceviche. And My Ceviche would be its agent. The restaurant, which has expanded to four locations, essentially opened as a take-out window on South Beach, where you’d exchange a ten-spot for a bowl of build-your-own fish or seafood tossed with some onions, chili peppers, citrus and herbs and spices ranging from ginger to cilantro. As its audience expanded, so did its menu. But ceviche remains the star.
Talk about a success story. This Asian-influenced, street food-centric joint, founded by chefs and partners Andreas Schreiner, Jose Mendin and Sergio Navarro, hit the sweet spot on the Sunset Harbor side of South Beach. Pubbelly and its subsequent siblings – five distinct concepts, including neighboring Pubbelly Sushi, Barceloneta and PB Steak, all opened within two years from each other -- lit up Miami like Steve Jobs did the tech industry. The trick at the original Pubbelly? There is no trick. Quality plus innovation equals one satisfying experience.
Touché Rooftop Lounge & Restaurant Miami
Top Chef star Carla Pellegrino is taking downtown Miami by the meatballs with her 7,100-square-foot rooftop venue. Design highlights include an open kitchen in the 50-seat interior dining room and a waterfall wall. Outside, the 225-seat lounge features a retractable roof so that it doesn’t rain on Pellegrino’s parade. Or put out her fire pits.
Michael's Genuine Food and Drink
James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz probably needs no introduction, but he’ll get one anyway. After debuting Michael's in 2007 to rave reviews in what was then a deserted Design District, the chef was credited with launching Miami’s locavore movement. He’s since gone on to open Harry’s Pizzeria, and the Cypress Room, and is set to rediscover another neighborhood with a waterfront restaurant at One Paraiso in Edgewater. Regardless, we’re still drawn to where it all began: the never-disappointing Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, where Schwartz still teams up with wunderbaker Hedy Goldsmith, another of the truest gems on the block.
The Federal Miami
Locals love, love, love The Federal Food, Drink and Provisions for a few reasons: The terrifically rich, inventive, tavern-y fare, created by Chef Cesar Zapata. The homey environs, run by co-founder Aniece Meinhold. The hidden, tucked-away location in the middle of a teeny-weeny strip mall on Biscayne Boulevard on the southern end of the Upper East Side. The weekly specials, which range from fried chicken to “Crawdaddy Nights.” The vegetarian-friendly dishes, such as “Truffled Egg & Buttered Dumplings,” that don’t skimp on the deluxe. Okay, that’s way more than a few. But hey, that’s what love’ll do to ya.
1826 Restaurant and Lounge
It may not quite be common knowledge, but Miami does have a couple of Michelin-starred restaurants within the city limits. And with the addition of two-starred chef Danny Grant, operator of the 1826 Restaurant and Lounge, it looks like that number just doubled. Also a Food & Wine Magazine “Best New Chef,” Grant launched relatively quietly on Collins Avenue in the middle of winter, but the fare, with its technical concepts speaking loud and clear, makes a pretty big splash. Already reservations are becoming hard to come by – just as the dining room attracts fellow chefs and foodies, the lounge, with an ambient global DJ vibe, is a happening spot for music and film industry VIPs. And it’s not only a feast for the mouth and ears. Whether you’re looking at the fare, the patrons or the décor, the visuals are stunning.
Far from your everyday American-Chinese joint, Blackbrick, located in Midtown, features some very authentic stuff – and some very authentic only-to-Florida stuff. Before opening, owner Richard Hales, a certified sommelier who is of Filipino descent and is a protégé of acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, promised, “At Blackbrick I’ll draw on inspirations from my travels as well as from traditional Chinese dishes and China’s regional cuisines.” With dishes that include marinated jellyfish salad with local mustard greens and prickly ash; dandan miam made with bucatini noodles rolled in-house and Berskshire pork; gong bao rabbit with roasted fresh chilies; and General Tso’s Florida gator with wok-braised bok choy, he’s certainly fulfilled his vow.
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