Miami is currently bursting with creativity on both the cultural and culinary front. And while there have been a number of restaurant and bar openings of late, this exclusive guide from Miami-based 50 Best TasteHunter Cheryl Tiu also highlights some of the establishments that helped shape the city into an international gastronomic destination. Their contributions include connecting with their environment, working with small producers, and weaving the city’s heritage and traditions with their own.
From breakfast through dinner to late-night cocktails, enjoy a mouthwatering ride through the Magic City
439 NW 4th Ave, Miami, FL 33128
What’s the story: Located in Miami’s historic Overtown district, Rosie’s is a pop-up concept serving soulful Southern cuisine. Jamila Ross and Akino West, the couple behind The Copper Bed and Breakfast, had always prepared breakfast for their hotel guests and were looking to extend their F&B program to the wider public. When the pandemic hit and travel guest bookings ground to a halt, they turned the driveway and patio of their 1940s lodging into a dining space. The restaurant fast became a Miami favorite, especially for weekend breakfast and brunch.
What to order according to Jamila Ross and Akino West: “My personal favorite dish is our soft scramble toast,” says Ross. “I love how minimal it seems and then how explosive the flavours are after your first bite. Akino has been refining our biscuit recipe for the last 10 years and he’s officially felt like he’s gotten it right - our chicken and biscuits are always a winner, great for a little sandwich action or eaten individually. Guests’ favorites include the wild mushroom and southern polenta, and the pastrami hash. First timers usually order our chicken because it is what we are known for.”
Best seats in the house: By the fruit trees that bloom during the winter months, and according to Ross, “those where there are great people nearby. We love to see our guests interacting with each other, asking each other what they’ve ordered.”
2020 Salzedo St, Miami, FL 33134
What’s the story: Antonio Bachour’s pastries are on a plate. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, the James Beard-nominated pastry chef and cookbook author grew up in his family’s bakery. In 2019, he opened his flagship Bachour in Coral Gables, where his pastries, which have helped amass an Instagram following of over one million, are now on full display - ready to be consumed there or to-go. The restaurant serves over 1,000 people a day on weekends. Bachour also invests time in sharing his techniques and talents, traveling overseas to conduct workshops and masterclasses. He has a second location at Doral, and his pastries are also available at Time Out Market Miami Beach.
What to order: “Start with the croissants. We have both savory and sweet: quiche, salmon, guava and cheese, pecan, flan Parisian,” advises Bachour. “Then, an egg dish like our egg sandwich or our Benedicts, before moving on to our star sandwiches like the croque madame or steak sandwich. Finally, finish with our petit gateaux, pancake or challah French toast.”
Best seats in the house: In their open-air courtyard, where you can feel that you are truly in Miami.
Zak the Baker
295 NW 26th St., Miami, FL 33127
What’s the story: On any given morning - except Saturdays in observance of Shabbat - the doors of the colour-blocked Zak the Baker in Wynwood open and close in quick succession, with customers looking to sit for breakfast/ brunch or to pick up their orders to-go. Zak Stern, who grew up in a secular Jewish home in Miami, spent time apprenticing in Europe and Israel before moving back home to try his hand at making bread. His naturally leavened loaves can also be found at other top restaurants in the city, as well as at Whole Foods.
What to order: “My personal favorite is quite simple: Everything Bagel, well-toasted, with nova, cream cheese, green scallions, and a hot black coffee,” says Stern. “Plakata.”
Best seats in the house: Close to the bread-shaping table where the action is. While you eat your babka and tuna melt, you can watch the team handshape hundreds of sourdough loaves at breakneck speed.
Brunch (image courtesy of Zak the Baker)
140 NE 39th St., Miami, FL 33137
Tiradito (image courtesy of Itamae)
What’s the story: James Beard-nominated siblings Valerie and Nando Chang, and their father Fernando ‘Papa’ Chang - fondly referred to by locals as the Chang Gang - create ultra-fresh Peruvian-Japanese dishes at this Design District favorite. Previously a counter in a food hall, Itamae re-opened as a standalone restaurant late last year featuring a more expanded menu of the the team’s umami-laden Nikkei offerings, which are divided into appetizers, bowls, rolls and tiraditos. They also offer a selection of natural wines (curated by Karina Iglesias of Niu Kitchen x Arson), including hard-to-find Peruvian varieties.
What to order: “For me, the traditional ceviche is a love song for Peru,” says Valerie Chang. “We search for the best quality of limes that resemble Peruvian limes. We search for the freshest catch that remind us of our coast. We import the ingredients we can only get in Peru and we bring it all together in one dish.”
Nando Chang adds: “Our tiradito clásico is made with leche de tigre, which we don’t dilute with fish stock. The sashimi is cut to order and since we change these catches daily, you can come to Itamae three times in the same week and each experience with this dish will be different. Then there’s the cremolada, a cross between shaved ice and ice cream - our pastry chef Tere uses seasonal flavors.”
Best seats in the house: The patio seats under the canopy of shaded palm trees looking out over the Fly’s Eye Dome. Likewise, one of the eight counter seats inside for more interaction with the chefs.
Itamae's exterior (image: Michael Pisarri) and Valerie Chang (image: Wendy Mongiardo)
2057 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33135
Rosa Romero and Daniel Figueredo; Sanguich's counter (images: Ruben Cabrera)
What’s the story: Artisan Cuban sandwiches are the name of the game at Daniel Figueredo and Rosa Romero’s Sanguich. They brine the ham for seven days, marinate lechon for 24 hours, then brush the bread with lard, before pressing them all together to a crisp. Their 25-seater space in Little Havana, designed by Figuerado, features brass trimmings, floating tables and Cuban tiles, an homage to Cuba’s early 20th century architecture. Come early as Sanguich often gets packed for lunch.
What to order: Cubano with a batido de timba and plantain fries; pan con bistec with a Jai Alai IPA, and a pair of ham croquettes.
Best seats in the house: The bar counter where guests have the opportunity to engage with staff.
Pan con lechon (image: Ruben Cabrera)
1100 NW 23rd St., Miami, FL 33127
Tomato cracker and pulpo a la gallega
What’s the story: Housed in the Rubell Museum, Leku serves heightened flavors of Basque cuisine. It’s a project by Miami hospitality veterans Andreas Schreiner, Terry Zarikian, Jeffrey Chodorow, Alejandro Muguerza, and executive chef Mikel Goikolea. Thirty-two-year-old Goikolea previously worked at Eneko Atxa’s Azurmendi Prêt à Porter for seven years, and his dishes at Leku, whether à la carte or on the tasting menu, showcase this pedigree. This summer, they will be launching their asador, or Basque grill menu. Pro-tip: walk off your meal at the museum which features stunning pieces by Keith Harring, Takashi Murakami and Yayoi Kusama.
What to order: “Craquer de tomate, a fresh salad which sits on a corn cracker,” says Goikolea. “Iberico tartar, made with presa Iberico Cinco Jotas. Pulpo a la Gallega brings me back to my summers as a child in Galicia. Arroz de setas, where I use Calasparra rice cooked over coals in a homemade seasonal mushroom broth. The Basque cheesecake: at Leku, we add a touch of Idiazabal cheese and we serve it alongside raspberry ice cream.”
Best seats in the house: At the airy covered terrace overlooking the tropical garden.
Leku's outdoors space
251 NW 25th St., Miami, FL 33127
Fried chicken (image: Foodie Authority) and chef Raheem Sealey (image courtesy of Kyu)
What’s the story: Since it opened in 2016, this Asian-inspired restaurant in Wynwood has become a Miami success story, almost immediately earning a James Beard ‘Best Restaurant’ nomination. It also features on the 50 Best Discovery list. Kyu, which is led by St. Croix-born executive chef Raheem Sealey, focuses on low and slow Japanese wood-fired grilling techniques, churning out flavorful dishes that are great for sharing. The restaurant also runs a giving-back initiative that supports local artists, as well as community and environmental organizations. Kyu, which expanded to Mexico City last year, will open in New York City in November.
What to order: “You can’t leave Kyu without having tried our double fried Korean fried chicken, our fall of the bone 12-hour smoked wagyu brisket or our famous cauliflower,” says Sealey.
Best seats in the house: The tables closest to the open kitchen, or Sealey’s favorite: the hightop lounge tables, “because you get to see the entirety of the restaurant while still enjoying the fun ambiance of our vibrant bar”.
Kyu's counter (image courtesy of Kyu)
3540 Main Hwy, Coconut Grove FL 33133
Florida Orange (image: FujiFilmGirl) and chef Michael Beltran (image: Jaclyn Rivas)
What’s the story: Cuban-American executive chef Michael Beltran celebrates his, and Miami’s, heritage with a dexterously crafted tasting menu, and service that’s thoughtful and precise. Ariete is also known for it’s a la carte options, where you can easily enjoy the Cuban burger, frita or a pan con lechon. Beltran’s homegrown Ariete Hospitality also operates the Italian concept, Nave, Cuban breakfast diner Chug’s, cocktail bars The Scapegoat and The Taurus, and will soon open Brasserie Laurel and Scoop Records.
What to order: “I recommend starting with our wood-grilled oysters, which we offer two ways, served with a bone marrow or sea urchin butter,” says Beltran. “I'd follow this up with our Florida Orange: chicken foie mousse, duck and sour orange pate, chocolate soil and mint and our tamal en cazuela, with sea urchin, pork fat foam. Our canard a la presse is a duck for two that we dry-age in house. The duck is presented table side before removing the breast, we then place the remaining parts into the press where we extract the juices to prepare the accompanying sauce.”
Best seats in the house: Any table within the open kitchen area. “The energy you feel throughout the space really comes from what’s happening at the pass,” adds Beltran.
Ariete's exterior (image: Battery Operated Productions)
NIU Kitchen x Arson
104 NE 2nd Ave., Miami FL 33132
Ous dish by Niu Kitchen x Arson (image: Rami El Sabban)
What’s the story: Since opening in downtown Miami in 2014, NIU Kitchen, by executive chef Deme Lomas and wine director Karina Iglesias, has consistently ranked high as a local favorite. Over the course of the pandemic, it merged with sister restaurant Arson, just a few steps away, and both concepts are now housed in the latter’s larger space. The menu has been streamlined to include NIU’s Catalan signatures and Arson’s charbroiled plates, best enjoyed with natural wines carefully selected by Iglesias. In fact, the old NIU location has been converted to a natural wine store, Wine Medium, where you can purchase your favorite bottles to take home.
What to order: “Coca, a flatbread nicely toasted with escalivada [roasted eggplant, red peppers and onions]. We add some anchovies from the Cantabrian sea and some tuna belly confit. Deme’s Mom’s Clams are sautéed with picada, sherry vinegar and jamón ibérico. The sauce is so delicious, don’t forget to order bread!” says Iglesias.
Best seats in the house: Tables by the window can be cozy and romantic. They also have a private room for parties up to 12 people.
Niu Kitchen x Arson's dining room (image: Rami El Sabban)
5205 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33137
Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer; pappardelle (image: David Bley)
What’s the story: The 24-seater Boia De, opened in 2019 in a strip mall in Little Haiti by chefs Alex Meyer and Luciana Giangrandi, churns out New American dishes with Italian influences in exciting permutations and flavor profiles. This is perhaps a function of their training at some of the country’s top establishments, including Eleven Madison Park and Animal (Meyer), Scarpetta and Carbone (Giangrandi), and The Nomad Hotel (both). They complement their tapas-style dishes with a strong natural wine program. On Sundays, they serve sandwiches for lunch, including their popular fried chicken.
What to order: “Crispy polenta with marinated eggplant — it combines a few things from Livorno, where the restaurant's name comes from. The savory fried polenta, acidic and garlic-y roasted eggplant, salty ricotta salata, and sweet Italian basil all come together for a really tasty bite,” says Giangrandi. “Crispy tiramisu - we make ours to order, so the lady finger cookies stay crispy. The espresso is seasoned with honey and Kahlua, and the cream is flavored with cardamaro”
Best seats in the house: “We made half our restaurant counter seating and put a lot of work into finding really comfortable high chairs. The chefs' counter is great for watching the action, and the wine bar is great for interacting with our bartenders,” adds Meyer.
Inside Boia De
La Mar by Gastón Acurio
500 Brickell Key Dr, Miami, FL 33131
Chef Diego Oka; Tiradito Bachiche (image: Michael Pissari)
What’s the story: The fresh Peruvian seafood dishes coupled with stunning views of the Miami skyline consistently draw in crowds for date nights and special occasion dinners. Anticucheros are turned to rolls and the potato salad causa is elevated with blue crab and tobiko. Executive chef Diego Oka is key in making the dining experience personal. He also often hosts collaboration dinners with local chefs (most recently with Nando Chang of Itamae) and visiting international chefs (most recently Enrique Olvera of Pujol), which foster camaraderie and cultural exchange.
What to order: “Tiradito Bachiche - a 24-month aged parmesan cheese leche de tigre with Italian anchovies. Four years ago, I spent a month interning at Osteria Francescana with Massimo Bottura. Massimo's favorite ingredient is Parmigiano-Reggiano, and they use it in so many interesting ways so when I came back to La Mar Miami I wanted to make something with it,” explains Oka. “It’s the perfect marriage between my Peruvian roots and the Italian experience.”
Best seats in the house: Either of the terraces with spectacular views of the city, especially those that immediately front the water.
La Mar's Terrace (image: World Red Eye)
237-B 20th St., Miami Beach, FL, 33139
Miami Martini and Pina Colada (image: Michael Pisarri)
What’s the story: The Miami Beach institution that reminds us all to ‘Pursue Happiness’ has a come-as-you-are feel (from shorts and flipflops to power suits) that draws in varied crowd for its delicious cocktails. Conceptualized by Dan Binkiewicz, David Martinez and the late John Lermayer, Sweet Liberty, a regular on The World’s 50 Best Bars list, recently welcomed Naren Young as its new creative beverage director. Shauna O’Neil, one of the city’s top female bartenders, is also bar manager.
What to order: “Pina Colada, The Florida Cocktail and The Spaniard,” says O’Neil.
Best seats in the house: The bar table behind the bar, which is Sweet Liberty’s version of a chef’s table.
Inside Sweet Liberty
Café La Trova
971 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33130
El Guayabero cocktail (image: Michael Pisarri)
What’s the story: At Café La Trova, located in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, Cuban-born bartender Julio Cabrera pays homage to the traditional cantinero [highly trained professional bartender] cocktail culture. That means 1950s favorites, including rum cocktails and Hemingway tributes, prepared by bartenders dressed in the traditional attire of vests, bow ties and jackets. Chef Michelle Bernstein serves Cuban-inspired plates like vaca frita sliders and skirt steak ropa vieja, which are great accompaniments to the live music that takes centre stage every night.
What to order: “Café La Trova is well known for its Daiquirí Clásico, but we can also recommend El Guayabero [Tiki style spicy guava margarita] and the award-winning Buenavista,” says Cabrera.
Best seats in the house: The bar for a full cantinero-style experience, otherwise by the stage for the live Cuban music.
Cafe La Trova (image: Adam Delgiudice)
The Champagne Bar at Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club
9011 Collins Ave, Surfside, FL 33154
What’s the story: Tucked inside the Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club in Surfside is The Champagne Bar. While this gilded establishment, as its name suggests, serves some of Miami’s best Champagne selections, the reason most people come here is for the elegant, dexterously crafted minimalist cocktails by head bartender Valentino Longo. Soon, they will be launching Extravaganza, bringing together “the past, present and future, paying homage to the extravagance, elegance and gregarious nature of the good old days at The Surf Club”.
What to order: “Essenza Negroni, a blend of three different negronis and three different techniques, or The Surf Club Martini, which pays tribute to the classic Turf Club Cocktail. Here we blend of two different vermouths, one dry and one sweet, dry sherry infused with a maraschino cherry, and house-made pickled cordial,” says Longo.
Best seats in the house: At the bar counter.
A cocktail at The Champagne Bar (image: Ruben Cabrera)
To be the first to hear about the latest news and announcements from The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2021, join the community on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.