Miami, Florida is known for its innovative and multicultural approach to food and its wealth of original contemporary design. From historic seafood establishments to cutting edge dining experiences, these 10 restaurants represent the best of Miami’s culinary scene.
The Forge Restaurant has been redesigned to resemble a private home of the elite and extravagant. Wood panelled walls are intricately corniced, and gothic arched passageways off the central dining room lead to smaller, more intimate spaces. The Rococo-esque interior is completed with hefty, crystal chandeliers that preside over a mixture of upholstered and metal furniture. The featured farm-to-table menu here is telling of the approach to dining at this renowned culinary establishment.
Restaurant, Bar, French, Japanese, Peruvian, American, $$$
The dishes at Juvia blend French, Japanese and Peruvian cuisine | Courtesy of Juvia
Juvia’s menu presents a carefully conceived convergence of French, Japanese and Peruvian cooking. Using only the freshest local ingredients, dishes are prepared by executive chefs Laurent Cantineaux, Sunny Oh and Gregory Gourreau who each bring their own distinct expertise to the kitchen. This collaboration results in dishes like unagi in chocolate eel sauce, causa croquette with cilantro and aji amarillo aioli and Chilean seabass with Hawaiian heart of palm basil soy butter, all of which merge unusual flavours in harmonious union. Internationally renowned botanist Patrick Blanc is credited with much of the interior design of the restaurant, and unusual elements like the indoor vertical garden bring a luscious rainforest feel to the dining room. The penthouse restaurant space allows guests to sit either indoors or outdoors, both of which offer majestic views out over the Miami skyline.
The neutral yet stylish interior of Lobster Bar Sea Grille brings together light coloured wall tiles, bubble shaped light fixtures and black and white aquatic themed paintings. Furthermore, low hanging archways and gentle illumination create an intimate yet casual ambience. Lobster Bar Sea Grille has built up a solid reputation for its fish, live lobsters and prime steaks served fresh and cooked to perfection. Menu highlights include char grilled Mediterranean octopus, cold water lobster tail, and the whole fish experience, which allows diners to choose from a list of eight whole fishes that can be shared between two people.
Versailles Cuban Cuisine has come to be recognised as one of Miami’s premier Cuban restaurants. Operating at the center of the city’s vibrant Cuban community, Versailles is often the first stop that politicians make when attempting to reach out to Miami’s Cuban exile population, as well as a point of reference for the local media when seeking the Cuban perspective on political issues. Versailles has thus become an iconic establishment within the city, serving its vaca fritta, chicken fricasse, cuban sandwiches and creamy cortadito coffees late into the evening.
Bar, Restaurant, American, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, $$$
Voted among the 50 best new restaurants of 2012 by Bon Appétit magazine, Yardbird Southern Table serves classic Southern cooking in a stylish space with rustic countryside influences. Yardbird strives to create a genuinely hospital environment, to serve only farm fresh ingredients and to promote the Southern ideals , devotion to one’s roots, family, hard work, that first inspired the restaurant’s opening. Serving brunch, lunch and dinner, standout dishes include the fried cornmeal crusted North Carolina catfish, Mama’s chicken biscuits, chicken n’ watermelon n’ waffles and shrimp n’ grits. In 2013 Yardbird’s innovative take on Southern food attracted the attention of The Cooking Channel which featured it on their show Unique Eats.
Joe’s Stone Crab has been a classic Miami institution for over 100 years. The region’s stone crab season runs between mid autumn to late spring, making the months between October and May the ideal time to visit Joe’s. Back in the early days of the restaurant’s operation Joe ran the kitchen while his wife Jennie managed the dining room. Known for her strong hand and no-nonsense attitude, she frequently rejected diners who she saw as bad mannered. Yet famous American gangster Al Capone was welcomed frequently in Joe’s elegant dining room. This timeless joint continues to serve as a hot-spot for famous figures of Miami, playing frequent host to politicians, actors and athletes.
Tobacco Road is Miami’s oldest running bar, first opened in 1912. Since its inception it has served as a prohibition era speakeasy, a gambling den, a gay bar, a strip bar and finally a blues bar. Throughout its colourful history the establishment has come into occasional conflict with the law, resulting in its closure in a number of instances. Tobacco Road has nevertheless persevered, and is without a doubt the best place in the city to enjoy an award winning, all-American greasy hamburger while listening to some of the most soulful Blues music in the country. This old time favourite remains a popular stop among locals and tourists alike.
Situated in Miami’s design district, The Cypress Room was listed as one Bon Appétit’s 50 best new restaurants of 2013. James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz serves his version of contemporary cuisine within a quirky yet vintage inspired dining room. Rich wood panelled walls and elegant chandeliers are contrasted with teal coloured leather booths, wall mounted deer trophies and the restaurant’s selection of thrift store and etsy bought decorative china plates. The menu is centred around its wood burning grill and rotisserie, and features items like the lamb tartare with quail egg and the duck leg, which can be enjoyed together with one of their barrel-aged cocktails.
De Rodriguez Cuba brings Miami Cuban cuisine to the realm of fine dining. James Beard Award-winning Chef Douglas Rodriguez begins with a palette of traditional Cuban flavours, adding a modern, innovative spin to his native cuisine. The restaurant’s dining room is ripe with vibrant colours, featuring bright red walls and dining chairs upholstered in plush blue fabric. Chef Rodriguez is a master of Ceviche, having written a book on the subject, and in addition to items such as foie gras and fig empanadas, creative tapas and crispy pork belly sandwiches, his menu includes a list of seven different ceviches made with the freshest seafood to be found in the city.
Barton G Weiss is known world wide as an exceptionally imaginative event planner and restaurateur. Weiss brings his decades of experience and preference for the elaborate to his restaurant on South Beach, where food is not merely sustenance, but a completely sensory, over-the-top experience. The interior of the establishment has been designed with romantic shades of brown, bronze and copper, and infused with dim, mood lighting. Diners can also choose to enjoy their meal outdoors in the dense, green garden that perfectly captures the spirit of Miami.