Miami's 20 Best Restaurants

Miami might not be the first place that comes to mind when we think of great dining cities — the beach, the sun, and the sand don't necessarily go hand-in-hand with heavy fine dining. But just because it's a health-conscious city doesn't mean that it's not allowed to have some of the best restaurants in America. And from a sushi restaurant that serves only 16 diners per night to an institution renowned for its stone crab claws, it certainly does. 

Miami's 20 Best Restaurants (Slideshow)

The dining scene in Miami is booming right now, and has been for the past several years. It seems like every week another great restaurant is opening, and people are starting to take notice: chef Michael Schwartz's The Cypress Room was named one of the 50 best new restaurants in America last year by Food + Wine. The city is a true melting pot of cultures, with not only Latin cuisine playing a large part but also French and Asian influences chiming in as well; while "fusion" might have gone out of style elsewhere, it's still alive and well — and breaking new ground — in Miami. 

From South Beach to Downtown Miami to Wynwood to the Design District, Miami's restaurant revolution is going strong. And as opposed to most cities, where dinner is a rest stop before the evening really gets going, in Miami the restaurant is often the destination in itself. Stepping into some of Miami's hottest restaurants is like stepping right into the heart of the city's nightlife scene, with elaborately designed spaces filled with folks on a mission not only to see and be seen, but to also eat some stellar food.

In order to assemble our list of Miami's best restaurants, we looked at not only the amount of buzz these restaurants are getting (and some of these restaurants have been buzzed about for years), but the level of critical appraisal, classic status, reliability to deliver a world-class meal, creative ingenuity of the cuisine, and quality of the overall dining experience. We also incorporated selections from our rankings of the 101 Best Restaurants in America, the 50 Best Casual Restaurants in AmericaAmerica's Best Steakhouses, and The 101 Best Burgers in America, and supplemented our list with pre-existing rankings in both print and online from some of Miami's leading authorities, including Miami HeraldThe Scene MiamiMiami New-Times, and Miami Living.

20) Tongue & Cheek

A veteran of the Wolfgang Puck organization and former chef at Campanile and Patina in Los Angeles — and former three-month apprentice at The Fat Duck in England — chef Jamie DeRosa loves bold flavors. His menu at this comfortable, casual restaurant, with its white stone walls and elegant feathered wood columns,  ranges from chilled peach gazpacho to chicken-skin chicharrones with bacon-sriracha aïoli, from a beef-cheek burger with pimento cheese to Florida grouper cheeks with smoked almonds and wild mushrooms. His side dishes include homemade tater tots with garlic aïoli, and "poutine" of braised brisket with aged cheddar and pastrami-spiced fries. Need we say more?

19) The Dutch

Andrew Carmellini's hotspot inside the W Hotel has been packing them in since coming onto the scene in 2011, and with good reason: his simple twists on traditional American cuisine are fun, inspired, and delicious. The second outpost of a New York gem, Carmellini is turning out dishes like Florida mahi with berbere spice, stewed red lentils, and lime; Australian lamb saddle with goat cheese polenta, and romesco; and chilled sweet corn soup with ancho chile and piquillo pepper. The oysters and 28-day dry-aged beef are also stellar, as are the pies, made fresh daily. 

Want more great Miami content? Find it here. For more great restaurant coverage in other cities, check out our rankings of the best restaurants in New YorkChicagoBostonLos AngelesLas VegasAustinNew Orleans, and San Francisco