The List: Where to Eat in Miami

This list represents the places that come up most often when I answer the question "Where are the best places to eat in Miami?" Some are old mainstays, others are newcomers, but hopefully all will give you something of a taste of Miami that you may not find elsewhere. For more on the thinking behind "The List," read this. For more on each restaurant listed, click on "my thoughts" (clicking on the restaurant name will take you to the restaurant website, clicking on the picture will bring you to my flickr picture set for the restaurant if there is one).

(last updated: October 26, 2012)

The Short List:

Go to these places. You will have a great meal and a great experience.

Bazaar Bazaar (my thoughts)

duck fat fries Bourbon Steak (my thoughts)

kimchi benedict Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (my thoughts)

salmon Michy’s (my thoughts)

salmon belly Naoe (my thoughts)

The Not-So-Short List:

A bakers' dozen of favorites - many are "everyday" restaurants where I'm a regular, others may be visited less frequently, but all are places I readily recommend.

chef's special dumpling Chef Philip Ho (my thoughts)

DB Bistro Moderne

The Dutch

homestead tomatoes Eating House (my thoughts)

Milos Estiatorio Milos (my thoughts)

"chef's 6" Hiro’s Yakko San (my thoughts)

sashimi Makoto (my thoughts)

ostrich carpaccio neMesis Urban Bistro (my thoughts)

calamari and aioli montadito Pubbelly (my thoughts)

 Red Light (my thoughts)

bacon wrapped dates Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill (my thoughts)

December 3, 2011 Sushi Deli (my thoughts)

Tuyo Tuyo

The Long List:

Solid "neighborhood" joints, restaurants that maybe do one particular genre of food particularly well, and places that particularly capture Miami's local flavor.

 1500° (my thoughts)

 Blue Collar

Fish Box La Camaronera (my thoughts)

The Federal The Federal (my thoughts)

gastroPod2 gastroPod (my thoughts)

 Graziano’s

dim sum platter Hakkasan (my thoughts)

 Harry's Pizzeria (my thoughts)

 Joe’s Stone Crab

bagel and lox Josh's Deli (my thoughts)

Mandolin - outdoor area Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Petit Rouge (my thoughts)

River Oyster Bar

Route 9 (my thoughts)

angus beef bulgogi ssamSakaya Kitchen (my thoughts)

Salumeria 104 Salumeria 104

 Shake Shack (my thoughts)

Timo (my thoughts)

 Tropical Chinese (my thoughts)

melons & cheese Yardbird (my thoughts)

Notable Omissions:

Restaurants I've just not eaten at often enough or recently enough to feel like I know them well, but want to. Several are places that that have put on great special event dinners but which I need to revisit to try the regular menu. 

amuse bouche Area 31 (my thoughts)

anatomy of a suckling pig Azul (my thoughts)

Edge Steak + Bar

Lemon Raspberry Spiral J&G Grill (my thoughts)

Whisk

uni nigiriZuma (my thoughts)




27 comments:

  1. 2 restaurants that have been around for a couple months, 4 restaurants that I have had absolutely awful meals at, throw in Michael and Michelle's spot, and don't forget to include the social media club that will know if they were listed.

    FAILURE

    ReplyDelete
  2. Have you been to Yardbird yet? They just got nominated for two James Beard awards.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't know many people that have been to Hiro's Yakko-San. Most people go to Hiro's Lounge just west of Yakko-San. I'm glad to see it on the list since I always enjoy dining here.

    Also, I've been lucky to not need a reservation when I've got to Michael's. I guess I go on a night when people aren't expected to be out.

    And Sakaya, I really wanted to like that place, but I always get crappy service. My first time going, the girl at the counter was very unfriendly, uninterested in being helpful, especially since I didn't know how the whole "menu-thing" worked. She was very rude, actually. And the serve staff was just the same. :-/

    However, thank you for posting the list. I can always use a suggestion for new restaurants to check out. I am looking forward very much to Naoe's reopening so I can finally go!

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Local? Fed? Eating House (weeks old)? Sakaya? Surprised you didn't put Harry's.

    If I owned a restaurant and cared about getting you bloggers in the door, I would take the weirdest animal, wrap its shit inside intestine casing, sous vide it, and serve with exotic piss.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anon 1 - I didn't realize that Chef Ho and Chef Kushi were trending on twitter.

    But seriously, if you (or anyone else) has specific thoughts on any of these places, or any you think I've missed, I'd love to hear them. Or you can just generically whine, that's always good too. Of course, you can always request a refund for your FFT subscription, it comes with a money back guarantee.

    Ana - yes, I've been (a few times) to Yardbird, thoughts here. It is, like a number of other Miami places - Barceloneta, Gigi come to mind - a restaurant where I like the idea and have had some good things, but not enough, and not consistently enough.

    Anon 2 - I've been to Eating House 3x already and it's some of the most exciting food I've had in Miami in a while. You should call your restaurant "Coprophagia Genuine Food & Drink," it'll be a big hit.

    ReplyDelete
  6. How many people, obviously including myself, just looked up coprophagia? Pretty funny.

    Please do not take the wrong way, as I have been reading your stuff for quite some time now. Further, I have followed your suggestions on a handful of occasions when deciding where to eat and have attended a "Cobaya" event. so, most importantly, I appreciate what you do.

    I have been disappointed at many of the restaurants you tout as the best, and have had consistently incredible meals at some places I never hear about.

    Immediate disclaimer...I am not very into weird animal parts or experimental cooking. But I don't think most people are. And I think you miss the mark because of this.

    I get it, it's your blog, so of course these are your opinions. But I think a following like yours comes with some responsibility. Maybe you should write in your bio what kind of eater you are? Maybe separate places most people will like and those that the more adventurous would like? Also, say that service doesn't matter to you because most of your places are some of the worst in town.

    And while I am boring you, these are some of the spots that I think should make your list:

    Panya Thai- incredible food, friendly service
    Whisk- would think this is right up your alley. Best lunch spot in Miami, period.
    Hakkasan- holy shit!
    Red Steakhouse- its ok, Bourbon Steak won't hate you and these guys put out some kick ass steaks
    Route 9- read your review a while ago and pretty surprised you were so harsh after disagreeing with NT negative review when so young. Try again as this has been our go-to spot for past 3-4 months
    River Oyster- never taken anyone here who wasn't happy. Great place to being out of towners and incredible happy hour
    Hy Vong- terrible service but great food
    Petite Rouge- classy with great food
    BLT- might be pricey but damn it's good.
    Il Mercato- random strip mall in Hallandale with great food, vibe, amd friendly (but slow) service.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anon 3 - Thanks for your comments.

    That's a great list and there are a several places on there that I like quite a bit, and which if I expanded the list would probably be on it - in particular, River Oyster, Petit Rouge and Il Mercato. Haven't been back to Hy Vong in ages, used to love it but last experience wasn't quite as good. I like Route 9, and my most recent meal (which was a special event dinner) there showed a good bit of improvement over my last visits - it's a good neighborhood place.

    I've heard great things about Whisk but haven't made it there. Ditto Panya. Hakkasan has very good food but the prices and portions are such a disconnect that I have trouble recommending it - and almost never go myself.

    I had a couple good meals at BLT when Sam Gorenstein was there but haven't been back since the new chef took over. Haven't been to Red and just don't see much that excites me, though I'd give it a shot.

    Which kind of circles back to your bigger point. Yes, this blog is unquestionably geared to my personal preferences and predilections. I like creative cooking, I like offal, I like vegetables (but usually not salads), I have particular hankerings for Spanish and Japanese cuisines. I don't particularly like steakhouses and generic Italian joints, and I think Cuban food is boring.

    No, I don't feel any obligation to make any disclaimer as to those preferences, or adjust my writing or recommendations to account for what I think other people might like. My tastes won't correlate with everyone's, and maybe not with yours. I can say the same of every critic I read. But if anything, I do see myself as something of an advocate for those places that are doing things I like. The last thing I want to do is say "You know, you probably won't like it." Rather, by saying why I like it, I'm hoping to maybe convince others to try things they might not otherwise try.

    If you want everymans' opinion, go read Yelp. If you want mine, here it is.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Agree with previous comment.Love to read your stuff, but dislike meals at your most of your places. Nice to see Timo get a little love. That place has been great for years and no one ever talks about them. Local is pretty bad. Ive given it 3 chances. Eating House was very good once and decent second time. I'm tired of the places that bring out food at their own pace. I like the option to conventionally dine with everyone getting food at same time. Same reason I didnt like Phuc Yea (dont really like the new place either, Fed, which somehow made your list). Whisk is awesome. Route 9 is solid every time. Hy Vong kind of sucks.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My places in town where food, service, ambiance, and price come together for great, complete dining experience (not just great flavors):

    Timo
    Yakko-san
    River Oyster
    Whisk
    Dining Room
    Route 9
    Eating House (I know its new)
    Mandolin
    Buena Vista
    Michys
    Harry's (screw the haters)
    Il Mercato

    Probably missed a couple

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yes:
    Bourbon Steak (my thoughts)
    Chef Philip Ho (my thoughts)
    Hiro’s Yakko San (my thoughts)
    Joe’s Stone Crab

    Michy’s (my thoughts)
    Naoe (my thoughts)
    Sushi Deli (my thoughts)
    Red Light (my thoughts)
    Timo (my thoughts)
    Graziano’s

    No:
    Pubbelly (my thoughts)
    Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink (my thoughts)
    Chow Down Grill (my thoughts)
    La Camaronera (my thoughts)
    Sra. Martinez (my thoughts)
    Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill (my thoughts)
    neMesis Urban Bistro (my thoughts)


    Are you serious?:
    The Federal
    The Local (my thoughts)
    Sustain (my thoughts)

    Haven't tried:
    Eating House
    gastroPod (my thoughts)
    Makoto (my thoughts)

    Missing:
    Route 9
    Whisk
    The River Oyster Bar
    Escopazzo? (havent been in a couple years)
    Izakaya
    El Carajo

    ReplyDelete
  11. As someone who does not get special attention at many places, you should know that service at 2/3 of these restaurants is awful. Do you take that into account when choosing your favorites?

    ReplyDelete
  12. There are a handful of places where I'm "known," and I'm fully aware of it. But there are plenty more places where I'm just another peon, and I guess it's true - I generally don't pay much heed to service if the food is good.

    But I'm either a low-maintenance customer, or other people have pretty lofty expectations for how they're to be treated. I've got a few pet peeves - don't make me wait a half hour if I have a reservation, don't send me to the bar if a table's ready - but beyond that, take the order, bring the food in a reasonable amount of time (though even this isn't a strict requirement if the food is good, or Red Light and Naoe would be out of my rotation), and I'm copacetic.

    I mean, someone above commented about the service at Sakaya Kitchen. It's a counter service place. You order at the register, and someone brings your food when it's ready. What else do you need to be pleased in that scenario?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yeah . . . that was me who made a mention about the disappointing service at Sakaya. I realize that a lot of these places are modeled after a trend, but some people aren't aware of these menu-ordering trends. At least my first time at Sakaya, I didn't know how to order. I'm pretty sure this came across to the person at the counter. The person just looked at me like I was an idiot and should not be there if I didn't know how to order form the menu. The arrogance on behalf of the staff at same of these places is very much off putting, despite the great food.

    However, I do realize that everyone has a difference experience at every place. Fair enough.

    ReplyDelete
  14. So weird to read this now. We had such a good lunch at Whisk yesterday. Our server recommended trying Route 9, which we did last night. 2 great meals in 2 different independent restaurants in Coral Gables all in one day

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sounds like I really need to try Whisk.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yes, I've been telling you about Whisk for years now... Oh, and I too looked up coprophagia haha.

    I don't get the service complaints either, especially the Sakaya one where it's counter service "I'd like to order X. That will be $Y. Please have a seat and we will bring your food to you." Maybe because, I too, am a pretty laid back diner. As long as the server is somewhat attentive with ordering food and drinks, that's about all I need.

    It's pretty funny how much negative attention this list has gotten considering it's all opinion. Everyone has one. It really shouldn't matter if we all don't agree. I don't think there is one place you listed where one would have a "bad" meal.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm headed to Miami for a couple weeks, and I want to hit up the dives/hidden gems. Any suggestions guys? As a grad student, I'm looking for cheap and delicious.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Try Otentic on 710 Washington Avenue in Miami Beach. I had the speacial for the night, Beef Stroganof with Gratin Dauphinois potatoes, it was awesome. Everything on the menu is under $20!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I agree with a lot of the comments above. I think restaurants are hit or miss in this city depending on the day you go to dine. Unfortunately they are not perfect and have their good and bad days. There is one restaurant that is tried and true....I have been going for 9 years and have yet to have a bad experience. TIMO is consistently on point! Great service, great food and a beautiful wine list.

    ReplyDelete
  20. What is up with everyone posting negative comments as anonymous?! Whiners!

    Love the list! Love the "food for thought"! Love how you shed light on some of the creative and innovative cuisine in Miami. (Miami is NOT an easy city to live in as a foodie... Not like NYC or SF or even LA or Seattle.)

    I just want to thank you for putting it all out there. I truly would have been lost (and trapped in a sea of bad restaurants) when I first moved here a couple years ago without your insight.

    PS- I totally agree with you on the Cuban food being boring... But I like a lot of flavor and spices or sauces in my food- so what do I know?!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I've not been to Tap Tap in ages. Should probably go back.

    ReplyDelete
  22. "Graziano's" as your italian favorite/suggestion... mmm. I'm surprised that your list does not include Il Gabbiano and Pescecane Ristorante as fine italian cuisine. Those are the best italian restaurants in Miami, hands down! Try them out :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think of Graziano's as Argentinian rather than Italian, and I've also got Salumeria 104 and Timo in there on the Italian front (and would probably add Sardinia and Macchialina if I were to ever get around to updating this). I'm not a huge fan of Il Gabbiano, but haven't tried Pescecane yet. Thanks for passing along the suggestion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome... I'm a regular at Pescecane since is closer to my home than Il Gabbiano and I love it. It's a place that you go for the food and service more than "being seen", you know what I mean. Let me know when you go to recommend you a few dishes :)

      Steph

      Delete
  24. Myself, my husband ( who is a chef), my best friend (who is a chef), and her husband, will be visiting south Miami in January. I'm so happy to have found your blog as I conduct my advanced scouting. We live in San Francisco and feel that your reviews of the restaurants here have been spot on, we love offal, and, as an aside, I love your writing style. Just wanted to say that I appreciate your blo and can't wait to dig in!

    ReplyDelete