Finding the best places to dine in our culinary community can change at the drop of a chef’s hat, so we update our Editor’s Picks continually to keep you in the know before you go! Divided by neighborhood, our Best Restaurants Guide includes a variety of menu options to suit every taste and budget. Bon Appétit!
BLT Steak / 1440 Ocean Drive, South Beach, 305-673-0044
The stampede of pricey steakhouses on South Beach leaves most diners wondering which restaurant merits the hefty price tag for pounds of porterhouse and gobs of lobster topped mac and cheese.
Chef Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Steak may not be the scene-iest (that’s Prime 112), and it may not be the loudest (STK by a mile), but it is by far the tastiest combination of quality beef, delectable sides, professional service and civilized atmosphere in town. While most of Ocean Drive seems tawdry and commercial, interiors at the Georgian Revival Betsy Hotel are conservative and cool. Waiters drop off complimentary crostini with a liver mousse and then steaming hot popovers to enjoy while perusing the menu and sipping cocktails. By the time the appetizers are gone, one message is clear; BLTSteak is no mere chop house – it’s a culinary destination.
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar / 1600 Lenox Avenue, South Beach, 305-538-5220
Taking over the kitchens at Yardbird this season, Chef Clay Miller plans to uphold the restaurant’s reputation for down home favorites like crisp fried chicken, tender shrimp and grits and addictive fried green tomatoes that keep patrons lining up seven nights a week. Weekend brunches bring in fans from nearby Lincoln Road Mall who dine indoors or out at the busy sidewalk tables where small dogs and toddlers don’t seem to faze the friendly waitstaff.
Smart travelers know that table reservations help mitigate a long wait at the bar, but if you do find yourself with some time before dinner, check out the curated list of bourbons and the crazy good cocktails, wines and craft brews on hand to help ease your pain. Weekends call for the all-day brunch menu which includes chocolate chip & banana Elvis Pancakes, cheddar waffles and a delightfully tender smoked beef brisket sandwich served until 4pm. By the time Supper rolls around, the kitchen hits its stride, sending out platters of golden chicken, smoky ribs and biscuits so flaky, you’ll start to wonder whose grandma is out back cutting them out with a ball jar.
Joe’s Stone Crab / 11 Washington Avenue, South Beach, 305-673-0365
Stone crab season runs from October through May and this classic Miami Beach dining room serves the best crabs in town to a crowd more than willing to wait in line for a taste of the ocean’s bounty. Much like celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain, Joe’s has No Reservations. While insiders debate about the loaded handshake that might transport savvy diners to the front of the line, we find it’s best to visit at lunch or early evening to sample the coveted claws, crisp fried chicken, onion-filled Lyonnaise potatoes, steamy clam chowder and chilled Key Lime Pie that have made Joe’s Stone Crab a South Beach landmark since 1913.
Casa Tua / 1700 James Avenue, South Beach, 305-673-1010
Secluded behind a dense hedgerow that surrounds a 1925-era palazzo in the heart of South Beach, Casa Tua feels like a posh private club on the Italian Riviera. The price of all this exclusivity makes this a special occasion destination, especially the private, second-level lounge that’s so popular with celebrities and socialites. Escape the everyday at this upscale Italian restaurant with a wildly romantic garden terrace just steps from the South Beach scene.
Osteria del Teatro / 1443 Washington Avenue, South Beach, 305-538-7850
Servers who know the ins-and-outs of running a dining room set the stage at this classic 25-year-old Miami Beach Temple of Italian cuisine perched on the edge of one of the most thumping dance clubs in the city. This ironic pairing of the old and the new captures what is best about South Beach and what makes Osteria work. While the menu is a comprehensive collection of traditional pastas, seafood and meats, the daily specials posted on the blackboard make it difficult to bother reading any further.
Prime One Twelve / 112 Ocean Drive, South Beach, 305-532-8112
This South Beach hot-spot enjoys a loyal local and international celebrity following and consistently dazzles with huge steaks, giant lobsters and decadent truffled macaroni and cheese served in a noisy see-and-be-scene dining room that crackles with excitement until midnight. From Presidents to Pro Athletes, from Supermodels to Rap Stars, if it’s happening in Miami it’s happening at Prime One Twelve.
Sardinia Ristorante / 1801 Purdy Avenue, South Beach, 305-531-2228
Miami Beach fairly groans with the weight of dozens of Italian restaurants, but regional Italian cuisine is a fairly new concept on these shores. Sardinia showcases the best of the tiny island’s cookery with a menu that works seamlessly with Miami’s own peculiar gastronomy and geography. House made flat breads and imported salumi and formaggi (cured meats and artisanal cheeses) pair deliciously with big-bodied wines. From salt-roasted branzino to succulent rosemary-scented roast baby pig, the chef’s mastery of the wood-burning oven lends a rustic flair to each dish.
The Forge Restaurant / 432 Arthur Godfrey Road (41st Street), Miami Beach, 305-538-8533
While most Miami Beach restaurants have been around for very few years and strive toward whatever is new and trendy, the Forge offers a long-standing, traditional fine-dining experience at every touch point.
Valet parkers whisk away your car, dressy hosts escort your party, and formal captains oversee your table service. A futuristic enomatic wine bar and a newly renovated interior set the stage for Chef Christopher Lee’s clever culinary riffs on classic, continental cuisine including lobster PBJs, prime steaks, and decadent desserts. Locals celebrate birthdays and anniversaries here and have since the 1930s.
Zuma / 270 Biscayne Boulevard, Downtown Miami, 305-577-0277
The Epic Hotel trumps the odds-makers scoring two top rated restaurants under a single roof as Zuma joins Chef Michael Reidt’s Area 31 serving pristine fresh seafood to an adoring crowd.
With raw granite walls, pale wooden tables and a modern Japanese teahouse design, the interior soothes even as the sushi, sashimi and grilled items dazzle with artful presentations and bold flavors. Executive Chef Bjoern Weissgerber may indeed be German (with a side of Swiss), but he definitely understands the complexity and precision required to craft stunning Japanese plates with unique flavor combinations that make Zuma one of Miami’s brand new heavy hitters!
Il Gabbiano / 335 S. Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, 305-373-0063
Downtown Miami takes back the night at this pricey temple of classic Italian cuisine served overlooking the Bay by an old school, highly attentive wait staff. Offering gratis chunks of fragrant Reggiano Parmesano and just-made Fritti to temp your palate and ruin your diet, hosts Gino and Fernando Masci bring more than 25 years of service at New York’s Il Mulino to this heavenly high-rise culinary destination. By the time you’ve sipped the last of your limoncello digestivo, you’ll be fortified enough to face the dinner check.
NAOE / 661 Brickell Key Drive, Downtown Miami, 305-947-6263
Fans of this storefront 17-seat Japanese restaurant where Chef Kevin Cory crafts perfect bento boxes for reservations-only diners who pay rapt attention to the mastery of an artist doing what he does best will thrill to learn he is now moving to new digs on tony Brickell Key. Cory ventures to nearby marinas to secure the day’s fresh catch and airlifts the rest straight from Japan to fill out his daily menus. Every night’s meal is determined by the chef and served in an atmosphere of Zen-like simplicity at three sittings. After the last bento box is served, the chef slices perfect duets of sushi and sashimi for each guest until everyone is ready to go home and dream in fluent Japanese.
Orantique on the Mile / 278 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, 305-446-7710
Cindy Hutson’s “Cuisine of the Sun” is as bright and warm as a mythical Caribbean marketplace. Serving Bahamian black grouper in an orange liqueur or jerk-seasoned pork in a rum-guava glaze, the kitchen meets it’s match in the deliciously colorful dining room and terraced outdoor garden. Take your taste buds on an island holiday without leaving the cozy confines of Coral Gables.
Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink / 130 NE 40th Street, Miami, 305-573-5550
Transforming the Design District from stuffy decorator showrooms to a dynamic nighttime destination, Michael Schwartz deserves the key to the city. If opening a successful restaurant with trendy small, medium and large-sized plates designed for pairing and sharing weren’t enough, the innovative chef managed to capture the imagination of New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni and every vacationing celebrity and super star chef passing through town as well. If you can get a reservation, run, don’t walk to MGFD. Create your own menu of beautifully prepared, locally sourced entrees and dazzling small plates at this hip MidTown bistro. Save room for dessert because pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith got the nod from James Beard this year too. While it might be awkward to order more than one of her sweet treats after dinner, her coffee cake, hand made poptarts and doughnuts are the best part of Sunday brunch.
The Federal / 5132 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, 305-758-9559
If ever there was a Miami restaurant the locals do not want anyone to talk about so they can still hope to score a table on a Saturday night, it is The Federal. Tucked away in a non-descript MidTown shopping center alongside a dry cleaner and a Dunkin Donuts, this innovative foodie hotspot takes inspiration from Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and then stirs in a healthy dose of youthful bravado to come up with frequently-changing menu items that make our tastebuds stand up and salute. Helmed by Chef Cesar Zapata, the standouts on our most recent visit include small plates like the Jar O’Duck (a clever riff on duck rillette paired with sweet potato and charred marshmallow fluff), Pig Wings (buffalo spiced pork shank with house made pickled veggies) and the Federal Lamb Burger topped with a fresh duck egg and serve on a pretzel bun baked at the restaurant’s brand new Acme Bake Shop which recently opened nearby.
Hiro’s Yakko San / 3881 Northeast 163rd Street, North Miami Beach, 305-947-0064
When the chefs around town finally call it a night, they head to this decidedly off-the-radar Japanese kitchen known for just-caught fish and small plates of exotic tapas crafted from the fresh offerings of the marketplace that change each day. Chef Hiro and his team enjoy cult status in a town of jaded foodies who appreciate their culinary skills and unstuffy presentations served until the wee hours to an in-the-know crowd. You may need a GPS to find the IntraCoastal Mall, but once you’ve tried Hiro’s, you’ll be back!
Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak / 19999 W Country Club Drive, Aventura, 786-279-6600
Our northernmost destination is worthy of a foodie’s pilgrimage if only to sample the crispy fries cooked in duck fat and served with a trio of house made sauces. The chef makes his own onion ketchup and barbeque dipping sauces that truly offer the taste of success. Mina is famous for his luxurious spins on modern American comfort food and diners can indeed take comfort in the chef’s remarkable ability to create upscale lobster pot pies and truffle-speckled macaroni and cheese. All this goodness comes with a hefty price tag, but this 21st Century steakhouse really dazzles.