A Guide To Miami’s Culinary Scene

citadel

The Citadel

coyo

Coyo Taco

dimsum

Dim Sum at Hakkasan

flatbread

Flatbread at Boulud Sud

spoons

Ceviche Spoons at Jaguar

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Miami Is A Youthful, Energetic Destination With An Ever-Expanding Culinary Scene

Dining in Miami is full of surprises. It’s full of high-ticket prices and sweet mom-and-pop places that won’t break the bank, celebrity chefs with flashy outposts, and homegrown talents who’ve made a name for themselves. When visiting Miami, the eclectic nature of the destination, particularly its dining culture, can be hard to navigate.

We’ve put together this primer on what you should know about dining out in Miami to expedite your research and get you seated and eating as soon as possible!

Ceviche Oriental at Jaguar Latin American Kitchen
Taste the Ceviche Oriental at Jaguar Latin American Kitchen

Cuban & Pan-Latin Cuisine

Cuban culture has been fused with Miami since the early 1960s, when the first wave of immigrants moved here en masse. The heart of the community is found in Little HavanaVersailles Restaurant has been its gathering place since 1971. This family-run restaurant is the definitive meeting place of the Cuban community and a must-stop for everyone from presidents to locals arriving home after a long trip in need of a jolt of Cuban coffee that tastes like home. Make room in your schedule, and your stomach, for a visit to Versailles. Taste sweet and strong Cuban coffee, Cuban sandwiches (made with honey-glazed ham, marinated pork, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard and pickles pressed on a crusty Cuban roll) and traditional entrees like ropa vieja (stewed beef) served with served with black beans, rice and sweet plantains.

Over the decades, Miami has become a melting pot of Latin and Caribbean culture including Central and South America. Peruvian food, in particular, is especially popular in Miami and you can indulge in fresh, citrusy ceviche at casual corners and upscale restaurants all over Miami. This signature dish of raw seafood marinated in lime juice with red onions, peppers, tomatoes and cilantro can be sampled in its many varieties at Jaguar Latin American Kitchen, a colorful spot with a robust ceviche menu located in Coconut Grove. You can also opt for a classic entrée here like lomo saltado, a beef stir fry with onions and peppers. If you’re looking for a quick bite, Miami's popular local chain, My Ceviche, offers diners a fast-casual ceviche experience where you pick the flavors and toppings.

Mexican restaurants are peppered around Miami, with many located in Little Havana, Homestead and South Beach. Miami has also seen a rise in trendy spots offering their version of street food or cantina-style tacos. Try Coyo Taco in Wynwood, Brickell and Coral Gables, and Taquiza, Bodega Taqueria & Tequila, and HuaHua’s in South Beach. These spots tend to be lively, party-atmosphere places, where you may start or end a night with a platter of tacos served traditionally or with a modern twist. For authentic, no-frills tacos, try Mi Rinconcito Mexicano or any of the home-style Mexican restaurants in Little Havana.

Los Fuegos
Dine at one of Miami's many hotel restaurants, like Los Fuegos at Faena Miami Beach

Flashy Hotel Restaurants

At Miami’s glamorous hotel restaurants, guests can take the elevator down to dine in a restaurant with a lavish design and buzzy ambiance that’s just as much a part of the experience as the menu. You don’t have to be a guest at a hotel to enjoy the many spectacular onsite dining experiences that Miami’s luxe hotels have to offer.

Take La Mar by Gaston Acurio at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami on Brickell Key. The chic dining room also has an expansive outdoor patio on the water with glittering views of Downtown Miami. This upscale Peruvian eatery boasts favorites like clasico ceviche made with fluke, the Nikkei tiradito with both tuna tataki and candied tuna in tamarind leche de tigre, and the stir-fried lomo saltado tenderloin. You can’t go wrong with the chef’s tasting menu at $75 to sample a little bit of everything. The brunch is also outrageous.

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach is a true foodie’s paradise, with several signature restaurants. London import Hakkasan serves haute Cantonese cuisine in a sumptuous setting, while celebrity chef Scott Conant’s simple, yet legendary spaghetti dish is a must-order at Scarpetta. Finally, Stripsteak by Michael Mina is a stylish, glittering, two-level steakhouse helmed by one of the country’s most creative chefs. Indulge in the seafood tower from its raw bar and then move on to your favorite cut of steak, or try something different like the lobster pot pie.

Faena Miami Beach is a palace of opulence, dripping in red velvet, leopard print and gilded flourishes with art by contemporary masters, and its restaurants follow suit. Los Fuegos is a sumptuous dining experience that takes the steakhouse concept to a whole new level creatively. This Argentinean restaurant specializes in flame-fired preparations, including skirt steak with chimichurri sauce crowned by crispy domino potatoes. For inventive pan-Asian cuisine, make a reservation at Pao by James Beard Award-winning chef Paul Qui. The unicorn dish, perhaps a nod to the giant gold unicorn sculpture in the center of the dining room, has earned cult status. It’s made of sea urchin with grilled sweet corn pudding, sake aioli and chili de arbol. From there, opt for anything from Koshihikari risotto to roasted fish to the Wagyu striploin. Don’t skip the specialty crab rice dish to share.

One of Miami’s newest luxury hotels is the Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club in Surfside. The historic property was once the playground of Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Winston Churchill. The original club was restored by Richard Meier, blending Old Florida glamour with modern architecture. The result is a clean, tropical aesthetic that’s positively jaw-dropping. The hotel is home to the Miami outpost of Le Sirenuse, a family-owned restaurant from Italy’s Amalfi Coast that is must-visit for the jet-setting diner. It’s a true fine dining restaurant. Start at the Champagne bar and then delight in delicate crudos, pastas and steaks accompanied by some of the best hospitality in Miami in one of its most beautiful dining rooms.

Also onsite at the Four Seasons is the first restaurant in Florida by Thomas Keller, of Napa’s French Laundry fame. The Surf Club Restaurant is helmed by the Michelin-starred chef and serves continental cuisine using the freshest ingredients: oysters, deviled eggs, steak tartare, fresh pasta, Lobster Thermidor, lamb chops and, of course, a caviar menu.

Matador Room
Experience the Matador Room at The Miami Beach EDITION

Celebrity Chefs

When Jean-Georges Vongerichten is at the helm of a hotel’s food and beverage program, you make a reservation immediately. At The Miami Beach EDITION, snag a table at Matador Room and enjoy the French master’s interpretation of pan-Latin and Caribbean food, ranging from sweet pea guacamole to Florida black grouper tacos. For a more casual dining experience, duck into Market just off the hotel’s gorgeous white lobby speckled with green plants and elegant touches, for black truffle and fontina pizza, kale salads, rigatoni and meatballs and all manner of delicious fare.

The flamboyant Spanish chef José Andrés has put his own spin on fine dining Spanish-style at the SLS South Beach. The Bazaar by José Andrés celebrates Spanish tapas with an inventive twist that is his hallmark. Iconic dishes include smoked oysters, tacos made with Iberico ham and caviar, and a tiny, light-as-air Cubano sandwich made with molecular techniques inspired by Little Havana’s iconic Versailles Restaurant.

27 Restaurant & Bar
Check out local favorites like 27 Restaurant & Bar

Local Favorites

When Michael Schwartz opened Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in the Design District, he single-handedly ushered in Miami’s farm-to-table movement. The cozy yet chic restaurant remains a must-stop on any gourmet’s tour of Miami, even as so many have now adopted the principles of locally sourcing ingredients. Schwartz specializes in a well-rounded seasonal menu featuring everything from a 24-ounce dry-aged Black Angus ribeye to wood oven roasted grouper and Diavola pizza. The fashionable neighborhood grew up around the restaurant, and Schwartz eventually opened Harry’s Pizzeria a few blocks away.

The enterprising James Beard Award-winning chef also has Amara at Paraiso in Edgewater overlooking Biscayne Bay and Tigertail + Mary in Coconut Grove. This indoor/outdoor restaurant is tucked away in the lush neighborhood, giving locals a new take on the boho charm of the area.

Giorgio Rapicavoli made a splash by winning Food Network’s Chopped not once but twice. The Miami chef soon went on to open Eating House in Coral Gables, where diners clamor for his creative and hearty dishes, including pasta carbonara with black truffle, applewood bacon and egg yolk, as well as beef short ribs with charred onions. At brunch, his Cap’n Crunch pancakes with condensed milk, candied cereal and vanilla butter have earned a cult following. His follow-up restaurant, Glass & Vine, is a popular spot in Coconut Grove set in a glass house amid Peacock Park overlooking Biscayne Bay. He’s also taken over a coffee shop concept in Coral Gables, House of Per’La, where he's partnered with a local coffee roaster and provides a menu of fresh breakfast and lunch options in a sleek coffee shop setting.

When chef Jose Mendin and his team opened the original Pubbelly restaurant in South Beach’s Sunset Harbour neighborhood, they kicked off a modern day Renaissance among local, homegrown restaurateurs. Specializing in inventive fusion cuisine with a Latin flair, Mendin has gone on to open the wildly popular Pubbelly Sushi in neighborhoods stretching from Aventura to Kendall and inside Brickell City Centre.

Dinner at 27 Restaurant & Bar at The Freehand hotel is one of the best ways to get a taste of Miami Beach’s local dining scene. Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta have created an eclectic and cozy restaurant inspired by the melting pot of cultures and fresh flavors in Miami. It’s the follow-up to their wildly popular Broken Shaker cocktail bar, which is also on the property. At 27 Restaurant and Bar, you’ll find everything from Gabe’s arepa platter to tostones and yucca fries inspired by Latin American cuisine. The crispy pork shoulder griot & pikliz dish is a taste of Haiti. And there are plenty of Mediterranean and Israeli dishes to choose from, like Elad’s stewed tomato and baked egg shakshuka.

Miami’s food halls are a great place to check out the work of local chefs. If you're pressed for time but want to taste a lot in one setting, check out The Citadel, Time Out Market Miami, Politan Row Miami, The Lincoln EateryYumbrella, or one of the two onsite Italian food halls at Brickell City CentreLuna Park or Casa Tua Cucina.

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