From South Beach to Downtown Miami to Wynwood to the Design District, Miami’s restaurant revolution is booming. As opposed to most cities, where dinner is a rest stop before the evening really gets going, in Miami the restaurant is often a destination unto itself. Stepping into some of Miami’s hottest restaurants is like stepping right into the heart of the city’s nightlife, with elaborately designed spaces filled with folks on a mission not only to see and be seen, but also to eat some stellar food. Here are the top 10 restaurants in Miami.
Miami’s first Asian-inspired gastropub, Pubbelly is quickly on its way to becoming well-known across the country. The brainchild of Andreas Schreiner, Jose Mendin, and Sergio Navarro, this perpetually packed casual spot, located on the west end of Miami Beach, is not only one of the most creative restaurants in Miami, it’s also one of the most fun. Pâtés, duck and pork rillettes, terrines, sausages, and pickles are all made in-house, and round out a charmingly creative menu that changes daily, but always includes ramen and udon in ways you’ve never seen them before (like carbonara-inspired), a raw bar, dumplings will fillings like short rib and corn or pastrami and sauerkraut, and a wide selection of small plates for sharing, like fried chicken, BBQ pork wings, and grilled octopus. For the adventurous eater, no visit to Miami is complete without a visit to Pubbelly (or its sister restaurant, Pubbelly Sushi).
#9 Prime 112
This steakhouse from renowned chef Myles Chefetz is one of the centerpieces of the popular South of Fifth neighborhood. Steaks range from an eight-ounce filet mignon to a 48-ounce porterhouse, served with a vast selection of sauces and butters, which are dry-aged for up to a month. Sides include the classically decadent truffled mac and cheese, housemade tater tots, and other steakhouse classics, but you’ll have a great meal even if you’re not that into steak: there’s a wide selection of salads, seafood, and even Chefetz’s interpretation of chicken and waffles.
For sushi lovers, you won’t find anything to top Naoe in the city. The sushi here would be considered some of the best around even in Japan, and at this tiny, eight-seat temple to raw fish, you can let sushi master Kevin Cory, called the "Omakase King," be your guide. The accolades for Naoe just keep piling up: Five stars from Forbes Travel Guide, named one of the country’s best sushi restaurants by Travel + Leisure, a nomination for Best New Chef from Food & Wine, and so on. If you can snag a reservation (only 16 guests are served each night), you’ll be presented with a selection of some of the freshest seafood imaginable, from both Japanese and local waters. There’s horse mackerel topped with fresh wasabi, fresh-roasted and basted eel, urchin-topped egg tofu, cured squid, Scottish salmon belly… the selection goes on and on, and by the time your meal is through, you’ll never look at sushi the same way again.
#7 Bourbon Steak
Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak, located inside the Turnberry Isle Resort and Club, is anything but a traditional steakhouse, largely thanks to the skill of chef Gabriel Fenton. Steaks like the 18-ounce dry-aged bone-in ribeye and the 24-ounce Kanas City Strip are flawless, but the chef shows his real skill with dishes like an elegant curried carrot soup, hand-rolled fettuccine carbonara with smoked duck confit, and rack of lamb with fresh garbanzo gremolata and roasted eggplant. Make sure not to miss the duck fat fries.
#6 J&G Grill
This hotspot comes from none other than Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and chef Brad Kilgore is serving his take on global cuisine from a bright, spacious dining room overlooking the ocean. Taking inspiration from this proximity, seafood is abundant on the menu, with items ranging from simply grilled yellowfin tuna and pumpkin swordfish to steamed black halibut with spiced jade emulsion and celeriac.
#5 Michael’s Genuine
According to Michael Schwartz, winner of the 2010 James Beard Award for Best Southern Chef, the most important thing you can take away from dining at his 2008 New York Times top 10 establishment is: Know Your Source. The restaurant procures its Old World rustic-breed chickens, for instance, from North Carolina's Joyce Foods, the only producer of Label Rouge poultry in the U.S. Heirloom tomatoes figure not only into the menu here (more than once), but also as décor in the minimalist dining room.
#4 Palme d’Or
For high-class fine French dining, Palme d’Or, located in Coral Gables’ Biltmore Hotel, has been consistently rated not just one of Miami’s best restaurants, but one of the finest in all of Florida. Light woods, white tablecloths, chandeliers, and, of course, palm trees, create a stylish and classy, yet unstuffy, atmosphere. All of this makes it the perfect location to enjoy a five-course prix fixe menu that utilizes only the freshest seasonal ingredients in ways that elevate traditional French cuisine to modern, envelope-pushing extremes. Appetizers include sea urchin with lemongrass, ginger gelée, and lemon cream; and marinated langoustine with Osetra caviar, passion fruit tapioca, and vodka gelée; entrées include potato-crusted sweetbread with green asparagus, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Ibérico ham, and warm black truffle vinaigrette; and foie gras-stuffed quail with porcini, creamy mash, and black olive sauce.
#3 DB Bistro Moderne
When Daniel Boulud puts his name (or, in this case, his initials) on a restaurant, you know it’s going to be good, and in this case he’s exceeded all expectations. The sleek, stylish bistro in downtown’s JW Marriott Marquis features 16-foot ceilings, a posh bar and lounge rich with cream-colored leather, a ground-level terrace, and two private dining rooms. Chef Matthieu Godard’s menu is a mix of classic French, international, and modern American fare, with dishes like Peruvian ceviche next to duck foie gras terrine, with plenty of seafood, homemade pastas, French classics like coq au vin and a côte de boeuf for two, and, of course, the DB Burger, a sirloin burger with braised short rib, foie gras, and black truffle.
#2 Michael Mina 74
Located in the heart of the landmark Fontainebleau, this high-end bistro not only offers some of the city’s finest cocktails, including barrel-aged cocktails and punches on tap, it’s also where you’ll find some of the city’s freshest seafood, fresh-caught daily on the hotel’s private boat, the BleauFish. The selection of items served via roving trollies adds a bit of whimsy, as do items like truffle doughnuts.
#1 The Bazaar by José Andrés
Chef José Andrés is one of the country’s finest, and at The Bazaar, which also has a location in Beverly Hills, he’s experimenting with Spanish cuisine in a way nobody else has. Located in a stunning space in South Beach’s SLS Hotel, the Philippe Starck-designed restaurant features playful lounge spaces, an indoor "piazza," and an elegant main dining room. The fascinatingly experimental menu artfully combines the Old World and the new, with everything from Singaporean street food to a "bagels and lox"-inspired cone to smoked oysters to Cuban-inspired coffee-rubbed churrasco, pushing the boundaries of fine modern dining. Some call it molecular gastronomy; we call it genius.