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Photograph: Courtesy Taco Stand

The absolute best dishes in Miami you need to try

From breakfast to booze, these are the best dishes and drinks we had this year at Miami restaurants and bars

Virginia Gil
Written by
Virginia Gil
&
Ryan Pfeffer
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How does one eat like a local in Miami? Simple. It starts with the best dishes in Miami. This expertly curated list of entrées, sides, desserts and—yes—cocktails was carefully researched (we clocked in many, many hours at Cuban sandwich shops in Miami, Brickell restaurants and even a few local watering holes) to bring you the absolute tastiest eats across the city. Hungry yet? There’s plenty here to satiate your palates and satisfy your appetites. And to make sure we’ve covered every inch of the city, we’ve tapped a handful of our Time Out Tastemakers to contribute their favorite dishes of 2018. Dig in, friends. 

Best dishes in Miami

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Wynwood
  • price 3 of 4

Wynwood’s Le Chick is, first and foremost, a chicken restaurant—which is why we were slightly shocked and totally amazed upon tasting its cheeseburger, the Royale with Cheese. It’s. So. Freaking. Good. Two patties covered in cheddar cheese rest between a formidable house-baked bun. Simple concept. Perfect execution. There are lettuce, house pickles and a secret sauce invited to the party, too. Convince your friend to order the chicken. You stick with this puppy.

  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • South of Fifth
  • price 2 of 4

It’s true that not all vegan food is healthy, but the queso dip at Planta is leaps and bounds more wholesome than the dairy version served at your neighborhood taco joint. The craveable starter features layers of black beans, root-vegetable cheese (think carrots and sweet potatoes) and guacamole topped with pickled veggies and served with baked tortilla chips. The dish is large enough to share but we advise against it.

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  • Restaurants
  • Fusion
  • Wynwood
  • price 4 of 4

Give us pancakes, but make them Miami. Chef Norman Van Aken extends his “New World Fusion” cuisine all way through to brunch, where he subs bananas for ripe plantains putting a Latin spin on the sweet breakfast classic. These are finished off with a generous drizzle of vanilla bean maple syrup, passion fruit jam and whipped cream.

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Carnitas de pato burrito at Coyo Taco
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Wynwood

When we’re really hungry, we bypass Coyo’s (delicious) tacos and go straight for a burrito, which we make sure to pack full of the restaurant’s carnitas de pato. That’s duck, for you English speakers. We know duck ain’t the first protein that comes to mind when you think burrito but this crispy meat is cooked to perfection and goes so wonderfully with heaps of Coyo’s house sauce.

  • Restaurants
  • Food court
  • Allapattah

The expansive Italian marketplace inside Brickell City Centre serves one of the best negronis in Miami, partly because theirs spouts from an elegant gold fountain. Yes, La Centrale’s second-level aperitivo bar has a negroni fountain that pours bottomless drinks daily from 5 to 7pm for just $20. Prefer yours made-to-order? The barrel-aged negroni with campari, Bombay East gin and cinzano vermouth is equally tasty.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Wynwood

Few burgers will make us want to swap the meat for a veggie-filled patty, but Love Life’s vegan version always seems to—and that was before this towering beauty was named the best veggie burger at Seed Food & Wine Festival’s burger battle. It’s stacked with house-made ingredients (from the burger and the cheese sauce to the condiments, chef Diego Tosoni makes it call in-house) and paired with baked french fries for the full fast-food combo experience.

  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Wynwood
  • price 2 of 4

Miami and—honestly—the entire country’s favorite ice cream creation of 2018 was the Taiyaki fish cone. We are internally thankful that the Japanese dessert gods at Taiyaki NYC opened a second location in Miami because now we can spend our time devouring the Straight Outta Japan: a pillowy swirl of matcha soft serve stuffed into a warm fish cone.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Brickell
  • price 4 of 4

Somewhere between a French onion soup you can chew and a tender piece of Wagyu steak that sort of melts in your mouth is this pillowy dumpling. Katsuya’s gyozas are stuffed with beef short rib and dashi braised onions then topped with a salty Gruyere foam, and taste every bit as good as they sound.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • West Coconut Grove
  • price 2 of 4

This tropical cocktail at Ariete is why Time Out Tastemaker and frequent contributor Amber Love Bond changed her stance on its namesake fruit. “I don't even like guava but Ariete’s guava daiquiri with Havana Club rum and fruit harvested on a farm in Homestead is just so, so good. It’s quintessential Miami,” says Bond. We absolutely agree.

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  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • Midtown
  • price 2 of 4

We know what you’re thinking, “Pancakes? My three-year-old son makes those things!” Well—while we have no doubt your little one is talented and sensitive—his pancakes suck compared to these. Despite the fact they tried to kill our associate editor when he took an ill-advised run at the restaurant’s “pancake challenge,” we give these flapjacks a hundred thumbs up. We could fill a mattress full of them and sleep like a baby for the next 100 years.

  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Little Haiti / Lemon City
  • price 2 of 4

TO Tastemaker and Italian transplant Raffaele Piscopiello knows good pizza when he sees it. His favorite pie of 2018? The Positano at ’O Munaciello in MiMo. “I’m always looking for an original Italian pizza wherever I go or live. In Miami, it’s the Po
sitano made with real imported ingredients and dough that’s like the one you find in Napoli (or almost!),” he says.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Wynwood
  • price 2 of 4

Fans of frothy cocktails should head to Wynwood’s Beaker & Gray for its Lavagave concoction, says Time Out Tastemaker Anabel Sanchez. “It’s the perfect balance between floral notes, egg whites and agave spirits (Don Julio blanco tequila and Gracias a Dios mescal). It’s refreshing and delish.” Plus, the lavender cocktail is highly Instagrammable.

 

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Miami Beach
  • price 2 of 4

Sure, oysters are an acquired taste, but even people who enjoy slurping down the raw mollusks grow tired of doing it the same way every single time—whether it’s with a spritz of lemon and cocktail sauce or doused in classic mignonette, it gets old. Putting a fresh spin on the yummy bivalves is Generator Hostel’s the Jim and Neesie, where chef Daniel Roy serves them topped with a house-made cucumber mignonette for un unexpected pop of flavor. Order a dozen or you’ll be left wanting more.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Little Gables
  • price 2 of 4

Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli adapted his family’s pasta carbonara recipe for his Coral Gables restaurant, Eating House, and we’re so thankful for it. His umami magic is made with bacon, truffle and heaps of grana padano, keeping the important bits of the classic recipe but blowing us away with something new and worth the major carbo splurge. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Global
  • Brickell
  • price 3 of 4

Carrots are having a moment in Miami: you’ll find them baked, fried, roasted, in desserts, sprinkled over cocktails and in a myriad of other forms on menus across town. ADDiKT jumpstarted the trend for us, giving us one of the most balanced and unexpected flavor pairings we’ve had all year. The Instagram-worthy dish in question is made up of grilled heirloom carrots served over Greek yogurt, carrot-harissa and a French lentil salad. It’s Europe meets the Middle East in one light and delicious starter.

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  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • Midtown
  • price 2 of 4

Here’s the problem: every time we go to KUSH we jump all over the burgers and sometimes forget entirely about the insanely delicious starters. We know. We know. But we’ve learned from our mistakes, and now we never dig into the main course without popping back a few crispy fried alligator bites dusted with Old Bay. God bless Florida ingredients.

  • Restaurants
  • Food court
  • Design District
  • price 3 of 4

Dressed oysters won us over in 2018 and so did cooked ones, especially the charbroiled oysters St. Roch Market’s Elysian Seafood is slinging. “These are the most delicious cooked oysters I’ve ever had. It’s a nice change from something normally enjoyed cold. Plus, you could take it to another level by adding bacon, shrimp or crab,” says Tastemaker Monica Gonzalez, who orders hers topped with roasted garlic, herbs, grana padano and butter.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Design District
  • price 3 of 4

There’s an abundance of octopus dishes in Miami but none live up to Michael’s perfectly wood-oven roasted rendition. In fact, it’s Tastemaker Amber Bogard’s favorite in the city. “Hands down, the best octopus in Miami with its crispy-charred outside and tenderness inside, which is perfectly balanced with some spicy heat (courtesy of the smoked chile) and a delicate crema.”

  • Restaurants
  • Latin American
  • Brickell
  • price 2 of 4

The easiest way to make something taste great: have Carlos Garcia cook it. The easiest way to make said chef creation taste amazing: put an egg on it. Do both these things and you have Obra’s filling entrecote a caballo, a thick-cut steak topped with a perfectly cooked runny egg that’s so rich and so satisfying, you’ll never crave a basic filet again.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Miami

We could eat Wabi Sabi’s deconstructed sushi bowls every day for the rest of our lives and we’d still be blown away by the freshness and quality of its ingredients. The titular Wabi Sabi bowl is the perfect example with generous helpings of tuna, salmon, lump crab, tobiko, cucumber, avocado, seaweed, and shiitake mushroom arranged over (our preferred base) sushi rice.

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  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Wynwood
  • price 2 of 4

If you still haven’t visited the food truck that’s taken Miami by storm, our condolences. The line may be long, but the creations of El Bagel are worth getting out of bed early on a Saturday. This is especially true for the B.E.C.—our go-to order—which sees Proper Sausage bacon, a fried egg and American cheese smushed between a fresh, warm bagel of your choosing.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • South of Fifth
  • price 3 of 4

It’s surprisingly easy to screw up a dish as simple as chicken. Luckily, Upland has it under control, doling out a deconstructed roasted half chicken that’s executed to perfection and arguably better than any fried bird you’ve ever tasted. Served over an heirloom tomato conserva with a side of greens, it’s satisfying and flavorful. Pro tip: pair it with Upland’s savory meadow carrots for a truly amazing meal.

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  • Restaurants
  • Latin American
  • Miami Beach
  • price 4 of 4

The adorable mini-bottle of hot sauce that sits on each table at the Matador Room was created by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten specifically to pair with the restaurant’s arroz con pollo. When the two meet, it’s a symphony of familiar flavors elevated to new heights. And, yes, that is crackling chicken skin resting peacefully atop the warm rice.

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  • Restaurants
  • Peruvian
  • South Beach
  • price 3 of 4

Autumn in Miami is like summer in Miami, only darker, so finding something seasonal to sip on isn’t as straightforward as it is in other cities. Chotto Matte, Lincoln Road’s opulent Nikkei restaurant, solves your cocktail conundrum with its tasty yuzu martini, says Tastemaker George William Read. “Chotto Matte’s drinks are quite stiff. I loved the martini—made with vodka, basil and lemon. It’s a refreshing option on these warm Miami ‘fall’ nights.”

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Wynwood
  • price 1 of 4

Taco restaurants, take note: sometimes its best to just keep it simple. Really! We don’t need fancy things. Just do as the taco stand does with their al pastor taco. That time-tested method of juicy rotisserie pork, onion, pineapple and cilantro. We’ll hand it to you west coasters—you sure do know your way around a taco.

Still hungry?

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