Monday, February 20, 2012

"The List" - Where to Eat in Miami

I'm often asked "What are the best places to eat in Miami?" It's a fair question, given that it's kind of the primary subject matter of this blog. And yet I rarely have an immediate answer. Instead, I'll typically pose a number of follow-up questions in response: What kind of food do you like? What neighborhood? What price range? Are you a  local, or a visitor looking for "local flavor"?

I've always struggled to name "favorites" because my own answers depend on many of the same questions, my mood, my appetites any given day. But I do, of course, find myself going back to the same places, and recommending the same places, fairly frequently. So why not make a list?

This list is driven by other considerations as well. The blog format generally is a good thing - easy to use as a writer, easy to access as a reader - but it puts an undue emphasis on recency. Except for a few posts which seem to have some SEO traction (the "Best Cuban Sandwiches in Miami" post is perennially popular), most of what gets read is the most current posts. That's not necessarily the easiest way to find the most interesting, or the best, restaurants I've written about over the past three years (Food For Thought just had its three-year anniversary earlier this week). There's a "Restaurant Row" column of every place that's been covered on FFT, but it's entirely unfiltered and there are now nearly a hundred South Florida restaurants and food trucks on that list.

When I've gone to visit other cities, I've often wished that the local food writers would do something similar to whittle down their own lists. So this is my version: "The List - Where to Eat in Miami".

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The List is not ranked. I've also never done "stars" or any other rating system here, because, frankly, I want you to read through, get this one eater's complete sense of what's good and not, and make your own decisions about what might appeal to you. I'll continue to leave the rankings to Miami Restaurant Power Rankings (to which I do contribute, along with a few others). In fact, the List is not necessarily even identical to the one I give MRPR. I think of MRPR as something of a "Hot List" of who is doing the best right now, since Ryan makes us update our selections every couple weeks. What I'm hoping to capture here are the names that come up most frequently when I get the "What are the best places to eat in Miami?" question, since there are places that may not necessarily be the "Top 20" restaurants in town, but which give a meaningful glimpse into a particular corner of Miami's culinary map - mainstays like Joe's Stone Crab, holes in the wall like La Camaronera, along with what's new, hot and good.

The List will get updated periodically, though not as frequently as the "Where Should I Eat Now?" box on the main page (which itself doesn't get updated quite as frequently as I intended, but is more of a snapshot of recent good meals or places on my personal to-do list), and the number of restaurants listed may go up or down. Like everything here, it's a work in progress, and I'd welcome thoughts as to how to make it more useful.



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