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Photograph: Courtesy KomodoMiyazaki Wagyu

The 15 best restaurants in Florida

From James Beard-nominated chefs to Florida’s only master sommelier-led restaurant, these are the best restaurants in Florida

Written by Megan duBois in association with GetYourGuide

Working up an appetite in the warm Florida sun is easy to do, especially when most of the top activities in the Sunshine State include hanging out at the beach, enjoying the latest thrill rides at the theme parks, and a copious amount of water sports along the rivers and intracoastal waterways. That's where the best restaurants in Florida come in. 

Whether traveling around the state to different cities, or just exploring your own culinary backyard, the best restaurants in Florida are often found in some of the most unique locations (don't miss the the historic St. Augustine spot that’s housed in a circa-1927 ice factory) and range in style from James Beard-nominated chefs and sommelier-led restaurants to hole-in-the-wall taco joints and stunning European-style multi-use spaces. Reserve a highly sought-after seat, imbibe at the bar, or get takeout to munch on at home from one of the 15 best restaurants in Florida and you’ll understand why chefs are flocking to the state and why locals can’t get enough of these places.

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Best restaurants in Florida

Komodo is located in the up-and-coming Brickell neighborhood in Miami. The three-story restaurant and lounge creates stunning Southeast Asian dishes with a distinct Miami party vibe. Take a stroll around the restaurant to decide which of in one of the floating, birds-nest–style seats. The menu is filled with signature Asian dishes like peking duck, citrus miso black cod, and perfectly sliced sashimi and nigiri.

Since 2003, The Cellar Restaurant has been crafting a fine dining experience while serving some of the best Italian dishes within miles of Daytona Beach. The restaurant is located in the historic home of President Warren G. Harding. The menu is filled with imported meats and cheeses and handmade pasta and gnocchi, combined in dishes like bucatini carbonara – hollowed out, spaghetti-like pasta topped with three types of cured meats, onion, and cream and finished with an egg and Parmigiano cheese.

The Ravenous Pig is one of the most talked about restaurants in Florida and with good reason. Owners and chefs James and Julie Petrakis have been recognized as semi-finalists by the James Beard Foundation for four consecutive years. The restaurant uses local, seasonal ingredients to make many of the dishes on the menu, including the house-cured meats on the charcuterie and cheese platter, and the decadent mushroom and gruyere beignets. After your meal, stop next door at Ravenous Pig Brewing Co. to sip on a cold beer while you enjoy freshly made sweet and spicy caramel corn.

Union Public House is a Southern-style gastropub serving up typical pub favorites with a modern twist. Take, for example, the Scotch Egg, which uses cracklins as the breading instead of breadcrumbs. The charcuterie is cured in-house and each of the cocktails on the menu is handcrafted using local ingredients when possible – plus, they're pretty much works of art. 

Restaurant Orsay offers a Southern-inspired menu with a distinct French flair. The menu is seasonal and changes often, but mainstays include the seared duck breast with French green lentils, Eden Farms bacon, carrot puree, roasted duck jus and crispy carrots. The off-menu beef wellington is another standout and can easily satisfy two to three diners. Just be aware you need to call at least 24 hours in advance to order the wellington, but it’s worth it when its presented table side and is perfectly medium rare in the middle.

Edison Food and Drink Lab is under the watchful eye of Chef Pierola, who has been a James Beard Semifinalist an impressive five times. The restaurant thrives off new interpretations of American classics like beef wellington, where the chefs are actually using confit pork belly for an unctuous few bites of pork bliss. The cocktail list is equally as stunning with drinks like the Edison Manhattan, which mixes bourbon, bitters and a house blend of sweet vermouth for a perfectly balanced drink.

Ice Plant Bar is a farm-to-table restaurant housed in an old ice plant building dating back to 1927. The restaurant sources seafood from St. Augustine and the surrounding areas when possible, and produce is brought in from local farms for the freshest dishes possible. The bartenders take immense pride in the craft cocktail list, where drinks are made with house pressed juices and specially crafted syrups. Spice enthusiasts will be excited to see that many dishes on the menu use datil peppers, which is a very spicy pepper native to St. Augustine.  

Columbia Restaurant has become a Florida staple with locations around the state, but true aficionados know that the original location is in Ybor City and has been open since 1905. The restaurant serves authentic Cuban sandwiches, black bean soup, and Cuban coffee. Try the 1905 salad, which is tossed table side and served with the Columbia’s signature garlic dressing. Don’t forget to get a pitcher of house made sangria for the table.

As the name implies, Florida’s Fresh Grill serves some of the freshest seafood in town – the fish being prepared at dinner was likely caught the same morning. The atmosphere is casual with a slightly upscale menu that continues to draw diners in each day. To really eat like a local, consider trying the Gator and Grits, which takes fresh alligator tail nuggets, a Florida delicacy, and deep fries it. The gator tail is served over jalapeño cheddar grit cakes, shrimp and chorizo then everything is doused in a savory red-eye gravy.

Wine Bar George is the only Master Sommelier-led restaurant in Florida, where everything on the wine menu can be savored by the bottle, ounce or glass, or even as a hand-picked flight. To go with your wine there’s a wide selection of sharable plates like house made meatballs and polenta, grilled romaine salad with a creamy dressing, and of course cheese and charcuterie boards. If you’re still hungry, consider ordering a sharable entree like a whole grilled sea bass that’s filleted and deboned table side.

Hunger Street's authentic regional-style tacos always start off with house made corn tortillas; the corn is even nixtamalized in house from heirloom corn, often resulting in beautifully colored tortillas that range from blue to green to a creamy yellow. As you would expect, its two locations get very busy on the weekends so be sure to get there early if you want to get the pick of the menu before the restaurant sells out for the day.

Dining in Key West runs the gamut from fine dining to dive-y shacks, and somewhere in the middle is Blue Heaven. Don’t let the eclectic al fresco dining area fool you though, because the food is some of the best on the island. The menu doesn't change often, but that's actually ok. We want the Caribbean bbq shrimp – blackened Key West shrimp that’s been deglazed with Caribbean Red Stripe beer – to be there every time we're in Key West. 

The Oxford Exchange in Tampa is part restaurant, part bookstore and part boutique shopping, all with a distinct European flair. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch in a room surrounded by beautiful art and an open kitchen. No matter what you order off the menu it’s bound to be worth a spot on your Instagram feed and taste just as good as it looks. Every Sunday from 3 to 5pm, Oxford Exchange serves afternoon tea, where you get to pick a tea of your choice combined with the chef’s selection of sandwiches, cakes, scones and accompaniments.

The charming, historic town of St. Augustine is brimming with restaurants but none are as acclaimed at Collage. The small dinner-only spot has been serving guests for over a decade with the same fine dining service and exquisite menu items patrons have come to love. Collage uses locally caught fish and seafood and locally grown produce as much as possible. Do not leave without trying the housemade burrata cheese, which starts life as a mozzarella ball that’s then stuffed with a goat cheese mousse for a twist on the traditional burrata.

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