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By: Matthew Meltzer

Greater Miami and Miami Beach has seen a veritable explosion of new restaurants lately, filling the local dining scene with exciting new offerings. The quality and variety of dining here has never been higher, but with so many intriguing new options, figuring out which to try can perplex even seasoned locals. Amid this bumper crop, several stand out: From a highly anticipated Korean steakhouse to a culinary trip through the Andes, here’s your guide to seven of the best new restaurants in town.

Butchers Feast at COTE Miami
The 10-course Butcher's Feast at COTE Miami

Cote Miami

The original location of this Korean steakhouse has garnered several accolades from the James Beard Foundation. Cote Miami, its new outpost in the Miami Design District, is most definitely worth a visit. Inside the dramatically lit dining room, you’ll be treated to everything from dry-aged USDA Prime beef to A5 Japanese Wagyu, grilled right at your table. If you’re seeking out the total experience, go for the 10-course Butchers’ Feast. It pulls together the best of the menu, including four selected cuts of meat, as well as kimchi and a selection of other veggie sides that will leave you feeling surprisingly light after your meal.

La Natural

La Natural may be the lightest, breeziest pizza restaurant you’ll find anywhere in Miami. The indoor/outdoor restaurant in the Little River neighborhood, just north of Little Haiti, opens up its massive garage doors to give the space a continuous flow, keeping the warm breeze going and the chilled wine flowing. La Natural’s sourdough pizza is made with a special 48-hour cold fermentation process that leaves the wood-fired pies with a lighter crust than most. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, the rest of the menu is long on fresh veggies and healthy options. If you’re looking to explore Greater Miami’s pizza scene without overdoing the calories, La Natural is the spot.

Luca Osteria

Celebrated local chef and “Chopped” champion Giorgio Rapicavoli returns to his Italian roots at Luca Osteria, on Giralda Plaza in Coral Gables. The small dining room and big outdoor patio provide the perfect setting to explore his spin on Italian cuisine, with dishes such as blood orange crudo di pesce and a hearty short rib Bolognese. The chef is happy to present the classics with pastas you’ll recognize, but Luca is also a great place to try something new. Dig into the patate fritte appetizer – fried potato croquettes topped with black truffle, egg yolk and parmesan fondue – and you’ll see why this place is quickly topping locals’ lists of best Italian restaurants.

Shelter Restaurant Miami

The heart of Wynwood isn’t necessarily the first place you’d expect to find yourself dining among elkhorn chandeliers and snowshoes on the walls, but Shelter’s “hunting lodge chic” makes for a cozy place to enjoy its impressive culinary lineup. The eclectic menu starts with crispy artichokes with pecorino cheese dip and wood-fired pizzas, and moves on to the parillada for two (ribeye, chorizo, morcilla, skirt streak and chicken served with roasted vegetables). Don’t leave without tasting Shelter’s version of empanadas, with savory fillings folded into pizza dough like an Argentinian calzone. The adventurous will want to try an octopus hot dog – the bacon-wrapped tentacle arrives inside a hot brioche bun.

Strawberry Moon Lobster dish
Strawberry Moon's lobster served with tzatziki and za’atar

Strawberry Moon

For dinner with a generous side of “scene,” you can’t beat Srawberry Moon, the poolside gem at Pharrell Williams’ and David Grutman’s GoodTime Hotel in South Beach. You’ll be a part of the pastel pinstriped pool party while you dine on Middle Eastern-inspired dishes including kebabs, falafel and pide, a Turkish version of pizza. Small and full-size plates offer everything from Yemenite bread with fig tahini butter to lobster served with tzatziki and za’atar. It’s a welcome departure from the usual pool deck fare of burgers and fried food, and it’s yet another reason the scene at the Goodtime has quickly climbed to the top of South Beach night – and day – life (who is that, tucked into that curtain-clad cabana?).

Tigre Miami

For that oh-so-elusive combo of wildlife spotting and fabulous Argentinian cuisine, look no further than Tigre Miami, just west of Biscayne Boulevard in the Little River neighborhood, near Little Haiti. At this waterside restaurant, you can dine next to a manatee sanctuary – and, while the owners don’t promise “sea cow” sightings, it’s relatively common for a family of manatees to swim by while you’re enjoying a 36-hour braised short rib. The shaded riverfront patio is a great outdoor dining spot where you can enjoy swordfish steak au poivre, smoked and breaded heritage pork chops, mojo verde mussels with anchovy toast and other new takes on Argentinian dishes.

Tar Tar at Wayku
The Tuna TarTare at Wayku is beautiful and delicious

Wayku Miami

This chic new Wynwood hotspot specializes in cuisine from the Andes. The Argentinian-led team at Wayku Miami has brought forth a menu full of grilled meats and creative vegetable dishes, tantalizing diners with treats such as the short rib over mashed peas and ginger. They also offer lighter options like tuna tartare with green apple and avocado foam, all of which can be enjoyed on the intimate outdoor patio. If you’d rather experience the fruits of the Andes in air-conditioned comfort, opt to eat inside, where the stucco walls and rustic furniture give Wayku its signature mountain feel, and the bar tempts with cocktails like the Latin Lover and La Flor Blanca.

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Miami Eats: Miami Spice edition

Miami Eats: Miami Spice edition

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