Nothing says “South Beach” like a day by the ocean, but all those hours spent soaking up the rays and salty air can work up a mighty appetite. Good thing SoBe harbors some of the tastiest seafood in Miami, thanks in large part to the world-class chefs who’ve chosen to drop anchor there. The SoBe Seafood Festival (Oct 21–24) spotlights the local catch, bringing Miami’s star chefs and hungry hordes together for all-inclusive drinks and à la carte offerings, including some off-the-menu specialties. The fun kicks off tonight with a sold-out dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab, but the main event comes Saturday when guests can try the best that 17 local restaurants have to offer. So much to eat, so little time. To help you choose, we asked co-founder Valerie Roy for her top-five favorites.
Crab cakes from Red Fish Grill
Crab cakes are one of those ubiquitous appetizers you’ll catch on every menu, whether the restaurant specializes in seafood or not, but no matter how many you’ve tasted, we’ll bet you’ve never had them like this. Red Fish Grill tops a towering hunk of fresh crabmeat with a delectable tropical slaw and creamy aji amarillo sauce that’ll have you scraping your plate. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about—everyone else is doing it.
Angry shrimp from Smith & Wollensky
Who ticked off the crustaceans? Whoever it was, they deserve a freaking medal of honor. You’re going to love them when they’re angry, which is a Smith & Wollensky’s way of saying they’re spiced up, placed on a mound of mouthwatering garlic mashed potatoes, and finished with red pepper oil and deep-fried basil leaves. It’s a specialty not included on the regular menu, so gobble it up while you can.
Stone crabs and lobster waffle cones from Joe’s Stone Crab
A lot of locals still can’t say they’ve enjoyed the famous taste of Joe’s Stone Crabs, not because they’re ignorant of the scrumptiousness, but because of the restaurant’s insane popularity. “Most people can’t get past the Maitre ’d,” Roy says, “and we’re bringing them to our guests to experience.” Stone Crab season just opened, and Joe’s is already backed up with reservations, so this might be your best chance. Plus, Joe’s is offering its hit lobster rolls in an easy-to-carry waffle cone.
Surf & turf skewers from Red, the Steakhouse
Angus beef and jumbo shrimp go together like burgers and fries, but every landlubber’s favorite sea excursion is a little too hefty for a festival environment. That’s why Red, the Steakhouse’s chef Peter Vauthy is putting the good stuff on a stick. It’s a genius move, and if you don’t want the shrimp, you can just get the skewered steak, or vice versa. Either way, it’s only going to cost you $7.
Oysters and oyster shooters from Tarpon Bend
If you’re talking oysters in Miami, Tarpon Bend is inevitably part of the conversation. The Gables raw bar takes its talents to South Beach, namely a truckload of freshly shucked goodness. You can eat them as is, or enjoy them in a sauce-filled shot glass. Whatever gets that little bugger in your mouth the fastest.