Best dishes in Miami
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.
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.
Sanguich de Miami—the new kids on the Cuban sandwich block—talk a big game. And, boy, do they back it up. After one bite into the croqueta preparada, we were ready to follow them into battle. The preparada answers the very difficult question: how can one improve a Cuban sandwich? The answer: throw two fat croquetas in the middle. Done.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you think we skip dessert, clearly you don’t know us well at all. And clearly, you don’t know Phuc Yea’s chocolate croissant bread pudding, where sweet carbohydrates become a religious experience. It’s rich and gooey with a drizzle of condensed milk and a generous pile of shaved coconut on top. Praise be!
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.
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.
Celery is not the most exciting word in the English language, which is precisely why Stubborn Seed’s warm celery root is such a delightful surprise. It’s great! Like, way better than celery should be allowed to taste. The supporting cast of crackling maitake mushroom and creamy mustard really steal the show too.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
We were already huge fans of flan (What’s not to love, really?) but then we really fell hard for the dessert when we tried Suzy Batlle’s ice-cream version. She mixes Lila’s flan with her own handmade vanilla ice cream, throws in some dark rum and—like magic—you have one of Miami’s best-tasting frozen treats.
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.
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.
Have you ever wanted to marry a piece of chicken? We have; it was love at first bite at Sixty10, the French-owned spot in Little Haiti doling out juicy, roast birds. Get yours with a side of buttery Brussels sprouts and prepare to be blown away.
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.
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.”
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.