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L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Photograph: Ricardo Mejia

The 10 Miami restaurants worthy of Michelin stars

They make tires and award high marks to restaurants, but the Michelin Guide isn’t Miami—which means we get to speculate

Eric Barton
Written by
Eric Barton
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Due to some combination of money and politics and other mysterious reasons we might never understand, Miami doesn’t appear in the Michelin Guide. While that’s obviously a vile oversight, it does open the door for one of our favorite games: If someday Thanos snapped his finger and gave us the power to award Michelin stars, which of the best Miami restaurants would get them? Our initial list started with a whole lot of deserving spots, like about 30, seriously. Then we ruled out a lot of excellent restaurants that weren’t necessarily influenced by a chef’s personality (a must for the Michelin guide). And so we ended up instead with local spots (including some new Miami restaurants) that put out some serious Michelin-caliber cooking and also have chefs whose talent and experience dictate amazing menus.

RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in Miami

Michelin-star-worthy restaurants in Miami

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

Chef Jeremy Ford certainly had the résumé to do big things, considering he can name Jean-Georges Vongerichten as a mentor and took home the top spot on Top Chef. At his fine-dining restaurant on Miami Beach, Ford just simply exceeded those expectations. His kitchen puts out stunning dishes that also happen to be equally tasty. Better yet, while much of fine dining feels like visiting a museum, Stubborn Seed is lively and downright fun, a vibrant bar and restaurant experience. Go at the least for the multi-course chef tasting menus that show Ford is among the finest talent in the business.

★★★

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Surfside
  • price 4 of 4

What happens when one of the most celebrated chefs in the world moves into town and opens up a new restaurant? Exactly what you expect: deliciousness. And Thomas Keller’s Surf Club Restaurant is a shining example of the quality and elegance the chef is known for. Focusing on classic American dishes and channeling old-school charm froAmong the most celebrated chefs ever, Thomas Keller stuck to what he’s known for with the Surf Club: continental cuisine and American classics, prepared with the best ingredients using old-school techniques. A menu of oysters Rockefeller, crab cakes, fettuccini alfredo and sea bass might not sound like something special, but then the dishes arrive, looking reinvented by an artist—which is exactly what happened. All of this goes down in a space that’s both swanky and charming, with service that’s impeccable, making for a restaurant that would earn three stars in any city.

★★★

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

Among the criteria that Michelin judges purportedly look for in a fine restaurant is the fact that you can tell, by the dishes that are served, who’s back there in the kitchen. That’s undoubtedly true at any of Michael Beltran’s restaurants, where he bakes his Miami upbringing and Cuban heritage into his menus. His dishes at Ariete are often inventions, combining ingredients and techniques in ways nobody has tried before, and yet they’re approachable and delicious—the kinds of things you want to go back for many more times.

★★

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Buena Vista
  • price 2 of 4

The time they spent working the line at Michelin-starred restaurants undoubtedly prepared Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer to own their own place. Here, though, their Michelin-quality cooking is served in the most casual of spots, in the most unassuming of Buena Vista strip malls. Quite simply, everything they make is heavenly, like the cold squid ink tagliolini with crab or the much-Instagrammed tortellini in brodo or whatever seasonal thing they’re coming up with next.

★★

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  • Restaurants
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

Chef Deme Lomas recently combined two sister restaurants, Niu Kitchen and Arson, into one space, offering up highlights from both menus. That means you can get the Spanish-inspired items from Niu alongside the grill-focused dishes from Arson, a combination that actually makes a whole lot of sense anyway. Lomas’ creative dishes are reason enough to come, but add to that pairings by wine director Karina Iglesias and you have a truly special experience.

★★

The late Joël Robuchon picked up more Michelin stars—32—than any other chef in history, so you’d expect a restaurant chain that bears his name to put out a certain quality of dining. At his Miami outpost, a team of Robuchon protegees put out tasting and a-la-carte menus as stunning as any in town, in an ultra-modern red-on-black space that speaks to the seriousness of the whole affair.

★★

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  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Midtown
  • price 3 of 4

In our book, this is the kind of spot deserving of all the accolades that can come its way. Chef Niven Patel took inspiration from his Indian upbringing and the techniques he learned working in fine dining restaurants to create a menu like no other Indian restaurant around. Perhaps best of all, Patel grows some of the produce himself on a farm nearby. The resulting dishes somehow taste like the just-picked carrots or broccoli or plantains but then also boast spice and seasoning that show the deft hand he’s taken in everything he serves.

★★

  • Restaurants
  • Peruvian
  • Design District
  • price 2 of 4

The team behind Itamae—father Fernando Chang, daughter Valerie and son Nando—are total kitchen mad scientists. They'll drop onto their ever-changing menu a dish that just sounds downright crazy, like conchitas, a daily catch roll with leche de tigre and parmesan that not only works but also just kind of blows away your perception of what can work. Their Nikkei-inspired spot in the Design District is essentially dining room free, just chairs spread out in the courtyard, and so while a visit is weather-dependent, it’s also one of the most original experiences you’ll have dining out.

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Brickell
  • price 4 of 4

It came from Nice serving food the French eat along the Mediterranean, in a space that felt very much like you were there. Our hearts were in just with the tomatini cocktail and tomato-plus-baguette to start, and then the love affair continued with the bright salads, the fish simply cooked over wood, the little pillows of gnocchi, the handsome strawberry mille-feuille pastry tower. The decor both in and out feels like classic French elegance, and is it okay if we just stay for good?

  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Allapattah
  • price 3 of 4

The menu here is like a quick trip around Spain, often executed with flair, dissected and deconstructed and reassembled into something new. Sometimes it’s familiar, like the sticky awesomeness along the edge of the paella, and then other times Leku will challenge you to rethink things, like the Galician octopus looking like little islands among a milky potato cloud. The largely open-air spot occupies the front of the new Rubell Museum in Allapattah and feels as much like the art that surrounds it as the artful dishes arrive from servers well trained in comfortable fine-dining style.

Fine dining not your thing?

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