Sink your teeth into Miami and make your mouth happy
The cultural diversity of Miami creates this gorgeous culinary chorus in which each ethnicity, each chef, chimes in separately to create a fusion and unparalleled harmony that can only be found in South Florida. All the melting pot metaphors in the world cannot accurately describe the way the varying cuisines come together here, blending seamlessly while still maintaining their original flavors.
Food brings people together, and here is no different...it's just better. Any night of the week you can go down to Calle Ocho, sit inside a tiny restaurant and have the country's best Cuban food served by a grandmother who's owned the place for 40 years. Dance flamenco at a Spanish tapas and wine bar, or travel to Wynwood where art galleries double as restaurants, and vice versa. In South Beach, the food is the art at restaurants like Barton G, where the cocktails smoke with dry ice accents and duck confit is served inside a giant duck decoy.
Miami is a place to be adventurous, and chefs are not afraid to explore and push their boundaries, urging guests to follow suit. Of course there are items and places every visitor MUST try, like the stone crab claws at Joe's, but if you happen to find yourself at a local Peruvian ceviche restaurant and can't understand the menu, don't be afraid to point to an item and smile. Fill your table with culture and your stomach will love you for it.
10 Smith & Wollensky
Join the power brokers at this clubby, traditional steakhouse, which offers sublime outdoor dining on the waterfront, complete with sweeping views of exclusive Fisher Island. Watch cruise ships leaving the Port of Miami as you dig into lemon pepper chicken or grilled salmon. Of course, heartier appetites will yearn for a bite of one of Smith & Wollensky's famous steaks; whether it's filet mignon, English cut prime rib, or grilled sirloin these are some of the most consistently delicious tasting cuts out there. If it's too hot on the lovely deck, enjoy views from the massive picture window inside the dimly lit, upscale interior. Reservations are strongly recommended. (305-673-2800)
9 Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
Encased in the Wynwood Walls, a grassy art park featuring 20-foot murals and collages, sits Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. Hosting pieces inside and out by world-renowned graffiti artists, this restaurant is lovingly hipster chic, yet shockingly homey. The menu is simplistic in description, offering everyday items like braised short rib, pan-seared snapper, and pork tenderloin. There are no adjectives, nothing is described as succulent, decadent or even moist and tender. But what the menu lacks in poetics, it makes up for with some of the most complex tastes and just genuinely delicious dishes, expertly prepared and beautifully presented. (305-722-8959)
8 SUGARCANE raw bar grill
At the end of the promenade at the Shops at Midtown sits Sugarcane, a raw bar and grill featuring a tapas-style menu in which small plates are distributed to be shared and enjoyed. A wrought iron awning welcomes guests onto a dimly lit patio brightened by hanging lanterns. Patrons sit closely and sip signature cocktails muddled with local fruits and infused with house-made citrus essences. The menu changes monthly, and always features artisanal meats and cheeses, dozens of fresh sushi options, a full raw bar and dishes seared on a robata grill. (7863690353)
Gigi advertises noodles, BBQ and beer. It's so much more. The place is casual. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows encase this small, extremely intimate restaurant; the interior has an industrial feel - exposed ducts, and a glossed concrete floor. They are open every day at noon, stay open late, and are packed...at every hour. It is customary here to wait for at least 30 minutes for a table, often longer, even for a table at the bar, which overlooks the open kitchen. The idea here is communal eating - small plates that can be passed around and shared. Cuisine is mostly Asian inspired, and the staple of this menu is the bun, a fluffy dumpling folded over and stuffed with deliciousness like chorizo escabeche and short ribs. A fabulous brunch is offered every Saturday and Sunday, boasting menu items like the blt&e (pork belly, pickles and fried egg). ((305)573-1520)
6 Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Chef Michael Schwartz is a celebrity all himself. The James Beard Award winner has made his mark on Miami, combining the freshest local ingredients with an overwhelming purity of flavor. The menu changes daily, and dishes vary from small to extra-large, ensuring that you get just enough to satisfy your appetite. The only problem here is that you might have too many creative choices, from wood roasted sweet onion filled with ground lamb and apricots to crispy beef cheek with whipped celeriac, celery salad and chocolate reduction. A comfortable bar, offering wine by the glass, beer and cocktails, is an additional draw. (305-573-5550)
5 Joe's Stone Crab
Open since 1913, Joe's Stone Crab is a legend in Miami. In fact, they say you haven't truly visited South Florida until you've been to Joe's. Stick out the typical two-hour wait, and you'll be amply rewarded with some of the best stone crab known to man, mouthwatering sides like hash browns and creamed spinach and phenomenal Key Lime Pie. Another thing Joe's is known for is impeccable service. It's rumored that servers here own their own sections, making the opportunity coveted, as evidenced by the extreme attention to detail and general welcoming nature of the staff. Joe's is open full hours during stone crab season (October to May). (305-673-0365)
4 Barton G. - The Restaurant
Barton G. Weiss' penchant for spectacle has proven to translate well into the culinary world. Within the sleek dining room, showmanship joins flavor and innovation, resulting in a menu of reinvented American favorites that relies as much on appearance as on taste. Popcorn shrimp is served in a popcorn box on a bed of (you guessed it) popcorn, and sea bass is steamed in a paper bag and then unveiled at the table. Lamb chops, a NY strip, glazed duck, fried chicken and a trio of seafood pot pies also figure into the broad menu. Plus, intriguing desserts are as dramatically plated as any you'll find. (305-672-8881)
Paralleled by the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami, Azul is an extremely intimate and classically elegant delight combining the best in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines to stunning effect. The restaurant's signature brand of fusion cooking features sumptuous dishes like Kobe beef tartare, sake-marinated black cod, and lemon verbena perfumed turbot. The sommelier-selected wine list boasts over 700 vintages from established and fledgling wineries, providing a range of apt accompaniments. In the serene, sophisticated dining room, an exhibition kitchen and panoramic views add distinction. (305-913-8288, 305-913-8358)
2 Prime 112
The Art Deco facade of Prime One Twelve's Exterior is sharply juxtaposed by the sleek black vinyl-lined booths and eternally modern interior decor. One of Miami's most upscale steakhouses, Prime blends impeccable service with piquant dashes of party time. Their bar snacks are maple bacon strips...need we continue? The menu continues this theme of reconsidered classics. Dry-aged Prime beef arrives sizzling, cooked to your specifications, and topped with a choice of butters or sauces. "Accessories" are sublime: truffled mac and cheese, sautÃ—ï¿½Ã—Â©ed forest mushrooms, or even rum-baked sweet plantains. Desserts, too, get stylish attention; apple pie is topped with candied walnut streusel, while chocolate pudding cake flaunts Amarene cherries and a dollop of sweet cream. (305-532-8112)
Tuyo is the crown jewel sitting atop Miami Dade College's new Miami Culinary Institute, offering a spectacular view of the bay and Miami skyline. Its breakthrough recipe for culinary excellence in the 21st century infuses a trailblazing menu with the Institute's state-of-the-art approach to the culinary arts, setting the table for food culture innovation by focusing on environmentally sound practices and drawing upon the food grown locally and in the Institute's edible organic garden. Come and enjoy an exquisite fusion of New World flavors in a unique dining experience specially prepared by award-winning Executive Chef Norman Van Aken. ((305) 237-3200)
About Maria Arroyave
Maria Arroyave is a Miami native. She left only briefly, to attend Florida State University. She earned a master’s degree in print journalism from the University of Miami and has held an associate editor title with two local luxury lifestyle publications. Maria has also been a senior editor for an international travel publication company, during which time she oversaw print and online publications for local and international clients, including the travel and tourism boards of Bermuda, St. Martin/St. Maarten and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Travel has been instrumental in Maria's writing and identity. She is happy to have the opportunity to convey her personal experiences to others on 10Best, knowing her tips will make a Miami visit all the more enjoyable and comfortable.
Read more about Maria Arroyave here.