Restaurant listings for the BT Dining Guide are written by Geoffrey Anderson and Dianne Rubin of Miami Food Pug (MFP), Andrew McLees (AM), Mandy Baca (MB), and the late Pamela Robin Brandt (PRB) (
). Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, but restaurants frequently change menus, chefs, and operating hours, so please call ahead to confirm information. Icons ($$$) represent estimates for a typical meal without wine, tax, or tip. Hyphenated icons ($-$$$) indicate a significant range in prices between lunch and dinner.
$ = $10 and under
$$ = $20
$$$ = $30
$$$$ = $40
$$$$$ = $50 and over
180 Degrees at the DRB
501 NE 1st Ave.
Gastronomy redefined with the ample use of sous vide, dehydration, smoking, and a mish mash of unusual flavors like snow crab, cream cheese, and yuzu ponzu is the name of the game here. And it actually works. The Twix Dessert with bacon chocolate ice cream, bacon caramel sauce, crushed frozen Twix, tempura deep-fried Twix bar, and bacon sugar is the craziest thing you’ll ever eat. Plus 150 craft beers are still on the menu. $$-$$$ (MB)
15th & Vine Kitchen
485 Brickell Ave.
In the 15th floor space originally occupied by Eos, the Viceroy’s top-end restaurant now focuses its décor on spectacular bay views (particularly from an outdoor garden/pool terrace). And the mostly small-plates menu of accessible internationally influenced New American fare is more Miami-appropriate, too. Especially recommended: Asian-inspired items like spicy ginger meatballs with sweet sambal chili sauce, or lump crab croquettes with sriracha, remoulade, and a frisée/fennel salad. Favorites like flatbreads and sliders plus a classy setting make this a striking business-lunch option. $$$-$$$$ (PRB)
1035 N. Miami Ave.
Here is a stroke of inspired insanity: an artisanal coffee shop and all-day breakfast bistro at the edge of downtown Miami’s clubland corridor. Fans of breakfast have plenty to fawn over, including a delicious baked egg and leek skillet served with a side of toasted baguette, and a curiously exotic poached egg and congee bowl. Sandwiches and salads are also available. The space is bright and accented with beautiful natural woods, and sports some seriously hip flourishes including a neon drink menu illuminating the coffee station. Single-origin coffee is a specialty here and the baristas prepare it with effortless finesse. For the weekend warriors, after the all-night EDM bender, thankfully there is All Day. $$ (AM)
154 SE 1st Ave.
Deep within the bowels of an otherwise unspectacular swath of urban sprawl lies a small but wondrous urban oasis where the food is fresh, creative, and presented with playful finesse. Chef Federico Genovese’s imaginative Mediterranean fusion menu rotates daily, and features fresh, seasonally driven recipes whose ingredients are sourced both locally and overseas. On a recent visit, nothing fell short of divine: the 24-hour short rib served over aged white cheddar and topped with mashed potatoes was expertly prepared. A show-stopping take on a classic blueberry tart dessert served with coconut foam garnished with powdered green tea was an inspired way to end the night. Even the bread was baked to perfection and served with the most fragrant olive oil I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. If there is an oyster’s pearl to be found in the heart of downtown Miami, this is it. $$$ (AM)
690 SW 1st Ct.
The gastropub grows up, offering a huge modern playground for the social butterfly to enjoy all aspects of life. From indulgent chicken and waffles at brunch to open-faced short rib flatbreads at dinner, dozens of craft beers and a long list of cocktails for happy hour, flat-screen TVs to watch all the important games, and even an area to dock your boat. Your most difficult task will be choosing between plush indoor seating and outdoor riverside seating. $$-$$$$ (MB)
270 Biscayne Blvd. Way
Not that the sleek interior of this seafood restaurant (named for fishing area 31, stretching from the Carolinas to South America) isn’t a glamorous dining setting. But we’d eat outside. From the expansive terrace of the Epic condo and hotel on the Miami River, the views of Brickell’s high-rises actually make Miami look like a real city. It’s hard to decide whether the eats or drinks are the most impressive. The food is impeccably fresh regional fish, prepared in a clean Mediterranean-influenced style. The cocktails are genuinely creative. Luckily you don’t have to choose one or the other. $$$-$$$$ (PRB)
848 Brickell Ave. #120
Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster adores all cookies. As a more specialized Macaron Monster, we assure you that this French bakery/café’s exquisite macarons (not clunky coconut macaroons, but delicate, crackly crusted/moist inside almond cookies, sandwiching creamy ganache fillings in flavors ranging from vanilla or praline to seasonal fruits) are reason enough to drop in daily, perhaps hourly. That the place also hand-crafts equally authentic French breads, complex pastries, baguette sandwiches, salads, soups, quiches, omelet’s, ice creams, and chocolates is a bonus -- icing on the gateaux. $$ (PRB)
1395 Brickell Ave.
Admittedly, the Conrad Hotel’s top-end restaurant has had its ups and downs since its early days as one of the few exciting fine-dining restaurants in the Brickell/downtown area. But Atrio is ready for rediscovery. Despite Brickell’s recent restaurant explosion, few venues are as spectacularly suitable for a sophisticated breakfast, lunch, or dinner for grown-ups who’d rather not shout over DJs. Panoramic views of Miami from the 25th floor are now matched by locally oriented dishes, including a mango/lime mayo-dressed lobster sandwich, crisp-skinned snapper with grapefruit salsa and basil aioli, a bracing orange tart, even citrus butter in the bread basket. $$$-$$$$ (PRB)
500 Brickell Ave.
Budget ramen be gone! Shimuja Ramen has arrived at Baby Jane, a swanky new pop-up turned menu mainstay by Ariete honchos Jason Odio and Michael Beltran. Literally meaning “With No Wicked Thoughts in Mind,” Shimuja ramen implores you to forget what you know about store-bought ramen and indulge in the myriad flavors of Kagoshima, Japan. So what makes this ramen special? For one thing, chef Keiichi Maemura prepares the tonkotsu-style broth from scratch, eschewing thin broth for a thicker, milkier pork and bone broth that releases a pleasantly fragrant billowing steam. Try the signature Kagoshima Ramen bowl for the real Shimuja experience, featuring pork that is leaner than expected, however no less welcome. Smaller tapas-style plates round out the menu, including expertly roasted shishito peppers, edamame, pork soup dumplings, and Japanese-style fried chicken. The yuzu salt served with the edamame is the dark horse at the table. Feel free to sprinkle it on everything. $$$ (AM)·
Bachour Bakery + Bistro
600 Brickell Ave.
At Bachour Bakery + Bistro, former Eating House chef Henry Hané plays the perfect foil to Antonio Bachour, one of Miami’s most beloved master pastry chefs. Bachour, a James Beard semi-finalist and all-around connoisseur of sweets, crafts exquisite pastries, small cakes, and macarons that pair marvelously with Hané’s savory sandwiches, salads, and entrées. This airy modern bistro serves breakfast, lunch, and early dinner fare -- perfect for Brickell’s highly mobile epicureans -- as well as all-day brunch on Saturdays and Sundays featuring the exceptional truffle buns. The bakery is open slightly later than the bistro throughout the week to satisfy any after-work cravings. $$$ (AM)
901 S. Miami Ave
Open until 4:00 a.m. on weekends, this London import (Miami’s second Balans) offers a sleeker setting than its perennially popular Lincoln Road progenitor, but the same simple yet sophisticated global menu. The indoor space can get mighty loud, but lounging on the dog-friendly outdoor terrace, over a rich croque monsieur (which comes with an alluringly sweet/sour citrus-dressed side salad), a lobster club on onion toast, some surprisingly solid Asian fusion items, and a cocktail is one of Miami’s more relaxing experiences. $$-$$$ (PRB)
109 NE 2nd Ave.
While Indonesian food isn’t easy to find in Miami, downtown has secret stashes -- small joints catering to cruise-ship and construction workers. This cute, exotically decorated café has survived and thrived for good reason. The homey cooking is delicious, and the friendly family feel encourages even the timid of palate to try something new. Novices will want Indonesia’s signature rijsttafel, a mix-and-match collection of small dishes and condiments to be heaped on rice. Note: bring cash. No plastic accepted here. $$$ (PRB)
30 SW 12th St.
The name refers to Batch’s signature novelty items, which we think of as gourmet fast-food cocktails: high-quality fresh ingredients (some barrel-aged), pre-mixed in batches and served on tap for instant gratification. But a menu designed by E. Michael Reidt (ex-Area 31), means solid foods are serious chef-driven pub grub: the Mac Attack, sophisticated mac ’n’ cheese featuring gnocchi and aged Gruyere; sinfully succulent burgers, substituting brisket for leaner beef; nachos upgraded with duck confit; wood-oven pizzas topped with unusual combinations like pumpkin plus shortrib; duck fat popcorn; housemade sodas. $$ (PRB)
146 Biscayne Blvd.
From restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow, this contemporary tavern seems tailor-made for a newly urbanized neighborhood, inviting residents to hang from breakfast to late-night snack time, over updated comfort food that’s globally inspired while adhering to the local/organic mantra. Among expected casual favorites (solid American burgers; Asianesque pork-belly sliders) highlights are items that chef Will Biscoe stamps with his own unique, unpretentiously inventive touches, from small plates (housemade potato chips with blue cheese fondue) to large (a long-bone short rib “chop” with truffle popover; South Florida bouillabaisse). More than 30 craft beers accompany. $$-$$$ (PRB)
900 S. Miami Ave. #250
With a 41-martini menu (plus exotic lighting, late hours, dance floor, and live music most nights), this wildly popular place is more lounge than restaurant. Nonetheless food offerings are surprisingly ambitious, including substantial items like sliced steak with horseradish sauce, as well as shareable light bites -- parmesan-topped spinach/artichoke dip, served hot with toasted pita; shrimp and blue crab dip (yes: crab, not faux “krab”); a seductive puff pastry-wrapped and honey-drizzled baked brie. Come at happy hour (4:00-8:00 p.m. daily) for bargain drink/snack specials, and lots of locals. $$ (PRB)
638 S. Miami Ave.
From trend-spotting restaurateur Bond Trisansi (originator of Mr. Yum and 2B Asian Bistro), this small spot draws a hip crowd with its affordable menu of redesigned traditional Thai dishes, wildly imaginative sushi makis, and unique signature Asian fusion small plates. Highlights include tastebud-tickling snapper carpaccio; an elegant nest of mee krob (sweet, crisp rice noodles); blessedly non-citrus-drenched tuna tataki, drizzled with spicy-sweet mayo and wasabi cream sauce; greed-inducing “bags of gold,” deep-fried wonton beggar’s purses with a shrimp/pork/mushroom/waterchestnut filling and tamarind sauce. $$ (PRB)
500 Brickell Ave. #106
Though independently owned instead of a chain cog, this cheese and wine café/shop is like a pint-size version of Midtown Miami’s Cheese Course, right down to being officially self-service. But it is staffed by accommodating employees who, unofficially, do their best to double as servers for eat-in diners. The cheese (plus charcuterie) menu of garnished platters, salads, and crusty baguette sandwiches features numerous high-quality, imported favorites, but don’t miss more unusual domestic treasures like Wisconsin bread, a cooked cheese that, like halloumi, doesn’t melt but tantalizingly softens when heated. $$ (PRB)
Brother Jimmy’s BBQ
900 S. Miami Ave. #135
The South is supposed to be the source of barbecue. But Bro J evidently didn’t hear about that. His signature North Carolina pork ’cue comes from NYC, where the first Brother Jimmy’s opened more than 20 years ago. Miami’s location is actually the first south of the Mason-Dixon line. But the slow-smoked pulled pork butt tastes righteous -- no interfering glop, just hot sauce-spiked vinegar to balance the fab fattiness. There’s other ’cue, too, including big (not baby back) ribs, and respectable brisket. $$-$$$ (PRB)
Burger & Beer Joint
900 S. Miami Ave. #130
While not quite Miami’s first hip hangout featuring high-quality burgers, the original South Beach B&B certainly goosed the gourmet-burger craze in a major way. This Brickell branch has all the familiar favorites, including the ten-pound Mother Burger -- really more good gimmick than good. Otherwise B&B, which still consistently makes “Top 10” lists, features a huge selection of basics in addition to beef (bison, turkey, chicken, veggie, seafoods); nicely balanced topping combos; and enough succulent sides (tempura-battered pickles, fried green beans, mini-corn dogs) to make a meal that’s totally burger-free. $$-$$$ (PRB)
119 SE 1st Ave.
How often do you see something and ask yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that first?” Mad genius is oftentimes a simple yet elusive feat of imagination, so go easy on yourself for not coming up with the sushi burrito, also known as the “Sushirrito,” or “every college student’s fantasy meal.” What began as a West Coast trend has finally found a home in Miami; now you can find sensational sushi burritos at Burrito San, a fast-casual concept and one-trick pony that it does exceptionally well. Go straight for the rolled gold: a hearty portion of either white or brown sushi rice wrapped in seasoned nori, stuffed to the brim with pickled vegetables, meats, and seafood, among other fresh ingredients. Some personal favorites include the satisfying Hanoi Hog with braised pork, or the signature Mt. Fuji with sashimi tuna, crispy wontons, pickled cucumbers, and mango sauce. The crispy wontons served on the side are largely forgettable, but will come in handy when it’s time to finish what didn’t stay in the burrito. Ask for their sret menu. $$ (AM)·
Café at Books & Books
1300 Biscayne Blvd.
Adding unique literary/culinary arts components to the Arsht Center, this casual indoor/outdoor café, directed by Chef Allen Susser (arguably Miami’s earliest and most dedicated local-ingredients booster), serves fresh and fun farm-to-table fare all day, everyday -- unlike the Arsht’s upscale Brava!, open only for pre-performance dinners. Especially delightful vegetarian/vegan dishes range from snacks like cornmeal-battered “urban pickles” with dill tsatziki to a hefty curried cauliflower steak. Major breakfast pluses include heritage pork hash, eggs with Miami Smokers bacon, and free parking till 10:00 a.m. (in Lot C). $-$$$ (PRB)
248 SE 1st St.
Anyone looking for brunch, a quick lunch or dinner would be remiss to snub Café Bastille, a quaint bistro that practically vanishes against downtown Miami’s dreary cityscape. Once inside, however, this modern French eatery oozes charm and boasts seriously hearty portions, especially during brunch. The ham and salmon benedicts as well as the crêpes are phenomenal, and no French meal is complete without sampling dessert. For dinner, try the filet mignon de boeuf served over a creamy peppercorn sauce. Remember to ask about daily specials; it’s easy to overlook the tiny board located in the back of the restaurant. $$ (AM)
Cantina La Veinte
495 Brickell Ave.
In a spectacularly stylized indoor/outdoor waterfront setting, this first U.S. venture from Mexico’s Cinbersol Group serves upscale modern Mexican fare with international influences transcending Tex-Mex. No ground-beef tacos here. Rather, fillings range from cochinita pibil (pork in achiote/orange sauce) to grilled bone marrow -- even escamoles: butter-sautéed ant eggs. For the less adventurous, fried calamari with a Jamaican-inspired hibiscus reduction or dobladitas de jaibas suave, delectibly crunchy softshell crabs wrapped in flour tortillas with creamy/kicky jalapeño sauce, are irresistible. Bonus: A specialty market/deli with imported packaged goods, cheeses, pastries, more. $$$ (PRB)
465 Brickell Ave.
Derived, like all Cipriani family restaurants worldwide, from legendary Harry’s Bar in Venice (a favorite of Truman Capote, Hemingway, and other famous folks since 1931), this glamorous indoor/outdoor riverfront location in Icon has two absolutely must-not-miss menu items, both invented at Harry’s and reproduced here to perfection: beef carpaccio (drizzled artfully with streaks of creamy-rich mustard vinaigrette, not mere olive oil) and the Bellini (a cocktail of prosecco, not champagne, and fresh white peach juice). Venetian-style liver and onions could convert even liver-loathers. Finish with elegant vanilla meringue cake. $$$$$ (PRB)
Clove Mediterranean Kitchen
195 SE 3rd Ave.
Clove Mediterranean Kitchen whips up affordable and healthy fare for the businessperson on the go. Streamlined counter service offers a seltion of basic building blocks: a base (pita, bowl, or salad), a dip or spread, proteins and veggies, and toppings and dressings, including smoked paprika mustard, honey and orange tahini, and creamy feta. Although the cuisine tends toward the light side of Mediterranean cooking, portion sizes are undeniably hearty, making Clove a serious value. With its hip, clean, fast-casual appeal and above average cuisine, this is a welcome addition to the bustling downtown neighborhood, where people are hungry for exciting alternatives to the brown bag lunch and leftovers. $-$$ (AM)·
999 Brickell Ave.
Backed by “Midas touch” entrepreneur Arjun Waney, this high-end Peruvian-based concept from London serves ultra-upscale fare in a grown-up business/society setting with an “Incan Golden Age” palatial theme -- and an exclusive membership component. Servers, however, don’t disdain diners who just want a few dishes at the ceviche bar, and food (called “modern Peruvian,” but actually fusion creations devised by London celeb chef Sanjay Dwivedi) is solidly conceived. Recommended: fried baby squid with ocopa (creamy peanut/Peruvian marigold sauce); an iron-pot casserole of Peruvian dried potatoes, butternut squash and fried egg. $$$$-$$$$$ (PRB)
Crazy About You
1155 Brickell Bay Dr. #101
The owners, and budget-friendly formula, are the same here as at older Dolores, But You Can Call Me Lolita: Buy an entrée (all under $20) from a sizable list of Mediterranean, Latin, American, or Asian-influenced choices (like Thai-marinated churrasco with crispy shoestring fries) and get an appetizer for free, including substantial stuff like a Chihuahua cheese casserole with chorizo and pesto. The difference: This place, housed in the former location of short-lived La Broche, has an even more upscale ambiance than Dolores -- including a million-dollar water view. $$$ (PRB)
668 NW 5th St.
Chef-restaurateur Klime Kovaceski is back, and we are oh so glad. Not only does his pizza-focused restaurant fill a hole in the neighborhood, it offers a cozy space that feels more like someone’s rustic home. A lot of thought went into their crusts, and it shows -- sturdy enough to hold less traditional ingredients like perfectly cooked octopus and steak, and still doughy on the inside. The medium at 14 inches and 6 slices is large enough for two, and there will still be leftovers. Delivery available. $$ (MB)
105 NE 3rd Ave.
Fusion food - a modern invention? Not in Peru, where native and Euro-Asian influences have mixed for more than a century. But chef Juan Chipoco gives the ceviches and tiraditos served at this hot spot his own unique spin. Specialties include flash-marinated raw seafood creations, such as tiradito a la crema de rocoto (sliced fish in citrus-spiked chili/cream sauce). But traditional fusion dishes like Chinese-Peruvian Chaufa fried rice (packed with jumbo shrimp, mussels, and calamari) are also fun, as well as surprisingly affordable. $$ (PRB)
dB Bistro Moderne
255 Biscayne Blvd. Way
Just two words, “Daniel Boulud,” should be enough for foodies craving creative French/American comfort food to run, not walk, to this restaurant. Downtown’s db is indeed an absentee celeb chef outpost, but on-site kitchen wizard Matthieu Godard flawlessly executes dishes ranging from the original db Bistro’s signature foie gras/short rib/black truffle-stuffed burger to local market-driven dishes. Especially strong are seafood preparations, whether sauced with a refined choron or lustily garnished with Provencal accompaniments like tender sea scallops with chickpea panisse. $$$-$$$$ (PRB)
50 SW 10th St.
While it has become increasingly common to find servers at upscale restaurants utilizing computerized POS (point of service) systems to take orders, this high-tech hole-in-the-wall trumps them by replacing servers -- and in-house entertainment, too -- with iPads that accept not just food orders and credit cards but music requests. You can web surf or game, too, while waiting for your choice of the house specialty: supersized hot dogs, most overloaded with internationally inspired toppings. To accompany, hand-cut fries are a must. And have a cocktail. There’s a full liquor bar. $-$$ (PRB)
Dolores, But You Can Call Me Lolita
1000 S. Miami Ave.
From the stylish setting in Miami’s historic Firehouse No. 4, one would expect a mighty pricy meal. But entrées, which range from Nuevo Latino-style ginger/orange-glazed pork tenderloin to a platter of Kobe mini-burgers, all cost either $18 or $23. And the price includes an appetizer -- no low-rent crapola, either, but treats like Serrano ham croquetas, a spinach/leek tart with Portobello mushroom sauce, or shrimp-topped eggplant timbales. The best seats are on the glam rooftop patio. $$ (PRB)
900 S. Miami Ave.
Happy hour comes twice daily (after work and lunch) at this second location of a popular South Beach sushi, pan-Asian, small-plates restolounge, bringing discounted prices on treats like rock shrimp tempura with spicy aioli. Regular prices are reasonable, too, for seafood flown in daily, and makis displaying solid creativity rather than gimmickry. Especially enjoyable are items accented by Japanese ingredients rarely found in Americanized sushi bars, like the Geisha Roll’s astringent shiso leaf, beautifully balancing spicy tuna, pickled radish, and rich eel sauce. A huge sake menu, too. $$-$$$ (PRB)
114 SE 1st St.
From a transplanted French couple, this pleasant place (whose restrained ambiance, resistant to terminal hipster invasion, makes it suitable for casual business lunches) serves a mix of traditional Parisian corner-bistro fare and more modern fusion dishes. The latter range from familiar tapas (bacon-wrapped dates, mini-crab cakes, sesame oil-infused tuna tartare) to simple but sophisticated surprises (velvety butternut squash soup shooters). But classics rule, especially lunchtime’s perfectly mustard vinaigrette-dressed frisée salad with lardons and poached egg, or solidly satisfying steak au poivre with frites. Portion sizes satisfy, too. $$-$$$ (PRB)
EDGE, Steak & Bar
1435 Brickell Ave.
Replacing the Four Seasons’ formal fine dining spot Acqua, Edge offers a more kick-back casual welcoming vibe. And in its fare there’s a particularly warm welcome for non-carnivores. Chef-driven seafood items (several inventive and unusually subtle ceviches and tartares; a layered construction of corvina encrusted in a jewel-bright green pesto crust, atop red piquillo sauce stripes and salad; lobster corn soup packed with sweet lobster meat; more) and a farm-to-table produce emphasis make this one steakhouse where those who don’t eat beef have no beef. $$$$-$$$$$ (PRB)
Eternity Coffee Roasters
117 SE 2nd Ave.,
305-609-4981 Normally we list only full restaurants, but even a (not so) simple cuppa joe from Chris Johnson and Cristina Garces’s sleek micro-roastery will convince anyone possessing taste buds that fine coffee can be as complex as fine wine, and as satisfying as solid food. A changing selection of superior single-origin beans (many varieties from the Garces family’s Colombian farm; most others from Ethiopia and Kenya), roasted in-house, produces “slow-pour” regular brews with amazing nuances of fruits, chocolate, and more. The espresso is so smooth sugar isn’t necessary. Other treats: flaky chocolate-stuffed “cigars” and other locally baked pastries. Free parking. $ (PRB)
Fado Irish Pub
900 S. Miami Ave. #200,
Unlike most Miami “Irish” pubs, which serve mostly American bar food, rarely foraying past fish and chips or shepherd’s pie, Fado (pronounced “f’doe”) has a menu reflecting the pub grub found today in Ireland, including solid standards. But most intriguing are dishes mixing classic and contemporary influences, particularly those featuring boxty, a grated/mashed potato pancake. Try corned beef rolls (boxty wraps, with creamy mustard sauce and cabbage slaw), or smoked salmon on miniboxty “blini,” with capers and horseradish sauce. There’s a seasonal menu, too. $$ (PRB)
1300 S. Miami Ave.
Fi’lia (“daughter” in Latin) is the newest edition to James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz’s foodie empire. Here, Italian cuisine is treated with a delicate twist, as Old World offerings and regionally specific recipes are prepared with exquisite attention to detail. Fi’lia finds a warm home in the ultra sleek and modern SLS Brickell, handsomely designed by Philippe Starck. Touches of teak and twine give this sophisticated dining experience a rustic touch. Service is thoughtfully choreographed to welcome and engage with diners. This being a Michael Schwartz restaurant, fresh ingredients are paramount; oregano is freshly snipped to season olive oil, and caesar salads are served tableside. Cocktails are sublime, and the kitchen makes no short use of their brick oven, churning out dishes such as charred eggplant spread, wild mushroom pizza, and braised short rib crespelle. With comfort food this hip and fresh, Fi’lia just may be well on its way to becoming your new favorite date-night haunt. $$$-$$$$$ (AM)·
1035 N. Miami Ave.
In a rundown downtown area better known for panhandlers than chef’s skillets, hands-on owner/GM David Foulquier and chef Bryan Rojas serve international “feel-good food” that eschews comfort-food gimmickry. Instead of the usual trendy yawn-inducers (tuna tartar, sliders, etc.), fare ranges from a changing but always elegant “trio of jars” -- say, smoked trout rillettes, gorgonzola spread, and duck foie mousse, all gorgeously garnished with fresh and pickled local veggies -- to rustic bucatini all’amatriciana (or an off-menu secret, carbonara) and an elaborate, exotic “Persian sundae.” Particularly affordable lunchtime sandwiches include succulent roast pork/lemongrass aioli bahn mi. $$-$$$ (PRB)
213 SE 1st St.
Downtown isn’t yet a 24/7 urban center, but it’s experiencing a mini explosion of eateries open at night. That includes this family-owned ristorante, where even newcomers feel at home. At lunch it’s almost impossible to resist panini, served on foccacia or crunchy ciabatta; even the vegetarian version bursts with complex and complementary flavors. During weekday dinners, try generous plates of risotto with shrimp and grilled asparagus; homemade pastas like seafood-packed fettuccine al scoglio; or delicate Vitello alla Milanese on arugula. $$-$$$ (PRB)
Garcia’s Seafood Grille and Fish Market
398 NW N. River Dr.
Run by a fishing family for a couple of generations, this venerable Florida fish shack is the real thing. No worries about the seafood’s freshness; on their way to the dining deck overlooking the Miami River, diners can view the retail fish market. Best preparations are the simplest. When stone crabs are in season, Garcia’s claws are as good as Joe’s but considerably cheaper. The local fish sandwich is most popular – grouper, yellowtail snapper, or mahi mahi. $-$$ (PRB)
34 SW 13th St. #R1
Even culinary individualists who generally find chain eateries too middle-of-the-road make exceptions for Gyu-Kaku, a modern yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) chain with about 700 locations, most in Asia, where flaming charcoal grills at each table signal adventure: Diners cook their own premium meats/seafood and veggies -- guided by experienced staff; no worries. The DIY experience extends to choosing one’s own marinades/toppings, but there are prepared dishes, too, including fusion bibimbap bowls and dynamite tofu chigae. At happy hour, many items are just $4-$8. $-$$$ (PRB)
1451 S. Miami Ave.
If you never had the chance to enjoy classic Cuban dishes in glam 1950s Havana (pre-He Who Must Not Be Named), you can now at this nostalgic restolounge. Eat your way through the day, from hefty four-egg/croqueta breakfasts to late-night mini pan con bistec bar bites, surrounded by old-school memorabilia, music, and mojitos. Admittedly, prices are higher than those at average Miami Cuban eateries. But daily specials, including Wednesday’s especially tasty mojo-marinated chicken fricassee in sweet-savory criollo sauce, are a great value. And the time trip is priceless. $$-$$$ (PRB)
45 NE 3rd Ave.
Imagine a mini-express Benihana. This place specializesin teppanyaki cuisine -- minus the thrilling (or terrifying)tableside knife theatrics, true, but the one-plate mealsof seasoned steak slices, chicken, shrimp, or salmonplus dipping sauces, fried rice, and an onion/zucchinimix come at bargain prices. There are also hefty soupsor Japanese, Thai, and Singapore-style noodle and ricebowls loaded with veggies and choice of protein (includingtofu). The limited sides are Japanese (shumai, plumpchicken gyoza) and Chinese (various egg rolls). Fancy? No, but satisfying. $-$$ (PRB)
335 S. Biscayne Blvd.
Its location at the mouth of the Miami River makes this ultra-upscale Italian spot (especially the outdoor terrace) the perfect power lunch/business dinner alternative to steakhouses. And the culinary experience goes way beyond the typical meat market, thanks in part to the flood of freebies that’s a trademark of Manhattan’s Il Mulino, originally run by Il Gabbiano’s owners. The rest of the food? Pricy, but portions are mammoth. And the champagne-cream-sauced housemade ravioli with black truffles? Worth every penny. $$$$$ (PRB)
Jackson Soul Food
950 NW 3rd Ave.
With a recently refurbished exterior to match its classy/comfy retro interior, this 65-year-old Overtown soul food breakfast institution now has only one drawback: It closes at 1:00 p.m. Never mind, night owls. If you’re a first-timer here, order the astonishingly fluffy pancakes with juicy beef sausage, and you’ll set multiple alarm clocks to return. Classic drop biscuits (preferably with gravy) are also must-haves. And hearty Southern breakfast staples like smothered chicken wings or fried fish do make breakfast seem like lunch, too. $ (PRB)
Jamon Iberico Pata Negra Restaurant
10 SW South River Dr.
From the outside, you know you’re walking into theground floor of a new condo building. But once insidethe charmingly rustic room, you’d swear you’re in Spain. Obviously Spain’s famous cured hams are a specialty, as are other pork products on the weekly changing menu, from a roast suckling pig entrée to a fried chorizo and chickpea tapa. But seafood is also terrific. Don’t miss bacalao-filled piquillo peppers, or two of Miami’s best rice dishes: seafood paella and arroz negro (with squid and its ink) $$-$$$ (PRB)
Kaori by Walter Martino
1250 S. Miami Ave.
Italian meets Japanese in the most ornate of ways: think perfume bottles, glass, and metal trees. So artistic, you almost don’t want to eat it, but do as the blend of cuisines provides a perfect balance for the taste buds -- sweet, salty, sour, umami -- with trios of risottos, small raviolis, and sushi. An art video installation provides entertainment. Reservations highly recommended. $$$-$$$$$ (MB)·
801 Brickell Ave.
Accommodating a whopping 300 seats, this contemporary three-floor behemoth blurs the line between restaurant and lounge. An indoor/outdoor layout festooned with floating bird-nest pods creates a treehouse ambiance enhanced only by Southeast Asian fusion of tuna porterhouse, lobster onion rings, skewers of miso black cod, and wasabi shrimp. $$$$$ (MB)
La Loggia Ristorante and Lounge
68 W. Flagler St.
This luxuriantly neo-classical yet warm Italian restaurant was unquestionably a pioneer in revitalizing downtown. With alternatives like amaretto-tinged pumpkin agnolloti in sage butter sauce and cilantro-spiced white bean/vegetable salad dressed with truffle oil, proprietors Jennifer Porciello and Horatio Oliveira continue to draw a lunch crowd that returns for dinner, or perhaps just stays on through the afternoon, fueled by the Lawyer’s Liquid Lunch, a vodka martini spiked with sweetened espresso. $$$ (PRB)
La Mar by Gastón Acurio
500 Brickell Key Dr.
It’s said that Peruvian cuisine is Latin America’s most varied and sophisticated. Reserve a patio table at this indoor/outdoor Mandarin Oriental eatery to experience Miami’s best for yourself -- along with some of the city’s best bayfront vistas. The specialty is seafood, and the beautifully balanced recipes of Acurio (called Peru’s food ambassador to the world), executed flawlessly by onsite executive chef Diego Oka, especially elevate ceviches, similar but more delicate tiraditos, uniquely lively “Nikkei” (Peruvian-Japanese fusion) sushi creations, and elegant whipped potato/fresh seafood causas, to world-class fine-dining level. $$$$-$$$$$ (PRB)
97 SW 8th St.
At four in the morning, nothing quells the munchies like a Crazy Burger, a Colombian take on a trucker’s burger: beef patty, bacon, ham, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, and a fried egg, with an arepa corn pancake “bun.” While this tiny place’s late hours (till 6:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday) are surprising, the daytime menu is more so. In addition to Colombian classics, there’s a salad Nicoise with grilled fresh tuna, seared salmon with mango salsa, and other yuppie favorites. $-$$ (PRB)
1064 Brickell Ave.
Great baguettes in the bread basket, many believe, indicate a great meal to come. But when Miamians encounter such bread -- crackling crust outside; moist, aromatic, aerated interior -- it’s likely not from a restaurant’s own kitchen, but from La Provence. Buttery croissants and party-perfect pastries are legend too. Not so familiar is the bakery’s café component, whose sandwich/salad menu reflects local eclectic tastes. But French items like pan bagnats (essentially salade Niçoise on artisan bread) will truly transport diners to co-owner David Thau’s Provençal homeland. $$ (PRB)
Largo Bar & Grill
401 Biscayne Blvd.
Sure, Bayside Marketplace is touristy. But it can be fun to spend a day playing visitor in your own city. If you do, this waterfront place overlooking Miamarina is a superior food choice. Expect nothing cutting edge, just tasty, familiar favorites solidly prepared. You won’t go wrong with stone crab claws and Cajun mustard dip; inauthentic but delicious fish tacos in hard blue corn tortillas with two sauces (cilantro and chipotle), generously portioned fish sandwiches (grouper, mahi, snapper, or daily catch), and festive cocktails. $$-$$$ (PRB)
34 SW 8th St.
This second location of the open-air diner that is SouthBeach’s favorite après-club eatery (since 1988) closes earlier (midnight Sunday-Thursday, 5:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday), but the smoothies, salads, and superb Parisian sandwiches are the same: ultra-crusty baguette stuffed with evocative charcuterie and cheeses (saucisson sec, country pâté, camembert, etc.) and choice of salad veggies plus salty/tart cornichons and Sandwicherie’s incomparable Dijon mustard vinaigrette. Additionally the larger branch has an interior, with a kitchen enabling hot foods (quiches and croques), plus A/C. $-$$ (PRB)
Brickell City Centre
701 S. Miami Ave.
Lobster rolls are tiny, sometimes overpriced slices of luxury, especially when portions run about as small as your average New York City apartment. This is not the case at Luke’s Lobster, the venerable New England fast-casual chain championing traceable, sustainable seafood. Luke’s understands the key to its destination status involves copious amounts of fresh lobster (¼ pound, to be exact) as well as a healthy dose of disarming simplicity. True to its simple charm, Luke’s Lobster is about as cheap and cheerful as seafood gets. All of the rolls -- lobster, crab, and shrimp -- are delicious, but it’s the signature buttery lobster roll with its split top bun and mysterious seasoning that is an absolute must-try for the uninitiated. Considering its limited seating, it’s safe to say this playfully rustic yet diminutive eatery gets hit hard during peak lunch rush at Brickell City Centre. $$ (AM)
1111 SW 1st Ave.
Third time’s the charm for this behemoth space that works best when broken up into different offerings. In this case, this rose-colored Mediterranean palace by the guys behind Bâoli Miami is a café, restaurant, bakery, and oyster bar all at once. Save space for French classics like whole rotisserie organic chicken (large enough for two) and whole fish baked in Normandy sea salt and filleted tableside. Other (smaller) standouts include piquillo peppers, tuna belly ribbons, and of course, dessert. $$$$$ (MB)
Meraki Greek Bistro
142 SE 1st Ave.
Tucked away in an unassuming and quaint nook of downtown Miami, Meraki Greek Bistro is a pleasant surprise for anyone hunting for an urban hideaway. With a pride that is palpable, this bright little bistro boasts friendly service and delicious Mediterranean medium to large plates. Sample Mediterranean fare à la carte from Meraki’s souvlaki (skewer) bar, or share a poikilies (family meal). Specials are also served daily, further expounding upon all of the wonderfully slow-cooked options on the menu. Meraki Greek Bistro offers everything you’d hope for in casual dining at a reasonable price. When it comes to Greek, the proof is in baklava -- and these guys nail it. $-$$ (AM)
5 SW 11th St.
Banish all thoughts of packaged instant “ramen.” Perfectionist chef/owner Jeffrey Chen (who cooked for more than a decade in Japan), changes his mostly ramen-only menu often, but constants are irresistibly chewy handmade noodles; soups based on creamy, intensely porky tonkotsu broth (made from marrow bones simmered all day); meats like pork belly and oxtail; and authentic toppings including marinated soft-cooked eggs, pickled greens, more. Other pluses: It’s open 24/7, and the ramen ranks with the USA’s best. Minuses: It’s cash only, and the ramen might be the USA’s most expensive. $$$ (PRB)
1250 S. Miami Ave.
When three-time James Beard “Rising Star Chef” nominee Sam Gorenstein opened the original My Ceviche in SoBe, in 2012, it garnered national media attention despite being a tiny take-away joint. Arguably, our newer indoor/outdoor Brickell location is better. Same menu, featuring local fish prepared onsite, and superb sauces including a kicky roasted jalapeño/lime mayo), but this time with seats! What to eat? Ceviches, natch. But grilled or raw fish/seafood tacos and burritos, in fresh tortillas, might be even more tempting. Pristine stone-crab claws from co-owner Roger Duarte’s George Stone Crab add to the choices. $$ (PRB)
661 Brickell Key Dr.
Chances are you’ve never had anything like the $200 prix-fixe Japanese dinner at Kevin Cory’s tiny but internationally acclaimed oasis, but trust us: It’s one of those rare, exhilarating, instantly revelatory Eureka! dining adventures that’ll keep you thinking about it for years. The reservations-only, omakase-only (chef’s choice) meals begin with a subtly inventive seasonal soup true to both Japanese tastes and local terroir (like miso/fresh Homestead corn) and a four-course bento box of the chef’s creations, proceed to about a dozen sushi dishes eons above others in Miami, and end with three desserts. Always changing, always astonishing. $$$$$ (PRB)
N by Naoe
661 Brickell Key Dr.
Like local secret-star chef Kevin Cory’s dinner-only Naoe, newer lunch-only N by Naoe shares a reservations-only, omakase-only (chef’s choice) policy-- and actually shares the same door. Turn left for Naoe, right for N. Main differences: N has one elegant communal table, perfect for impressive power lunches (vs. Naoe’s intimate individual seating), and prix fixe lunches are $80 vs. $200 for dinner. Admittedly, lunch is abbreviated: soup and multi-course bento box plus one dessert, without the dozen or so sushi dishes. But bentos are much bigger (seven compartments vs. four), and equally unique. Think of N as a relatively bargain-priced introduction to Naoe, or as a revelatory dining experience on its own. $$$$$ (PRB)
134 NE 2nd Ave.
This contemporary Catalan eatery is located, according to its three playful proprietors, “somewhere between Dali’s moustache and Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.” Actually, it’s in the heart of downtown, but the description does reflect the Barcelona-born chef’s weirdly wonderful yet seriously skilled twists on tapas. Instead of Catalonia’s rustic, bread-thickened tomato soup, there’s a refined cold tomato broth poured over a mustard ice cream-topped crouton. Mato, a simple cheese and honey dessert, translates as custardy fresh cheese atop eggplant “jam,” with candied hazelnuts. $$$ (PRB)
1414 Brickell Ave.
For those who think “Argentine cuisine” is a synonym for “beef and more beef,” this popular eatery’s wide range of more cosmopolitan contemporary Argentine fare will be a revelation. Classic parrilla-grilled steaks are here for traditionalists, but the menu is dominated by creative Nuevo Latino items like a new-style ceviche de chernia (lightly lime-marinated grouper with jalapeños, basil, and the refreshing sweet counterpoint of watermelon), or crab ravioli with creamy saffron sauce. Especially notable are the entrée salads. $$-$$$ (PRB)
121 SE 1st St.
Executive Chef José Méndin and his “Partners in Swine,” popularly known as the Pubbelly Boys, are back with PB Station, a new concept located in the Langford Hotel. PB Station’s American Nouveau menu leans toward the meaty side of life, as evidenced by the well-portioned swordfish au poivre, flavorful French onion soup dumplings filled with short rib, and the short rib steak, cooked to perfection. The noirish Langford Hotel enriches the experience; the seductively lit dining room reveals Beaux-Arts architectural flourishes that recall the grandeur and mystery of classic train stations. Upstairs, the Pawnbroker bar offers expertly crafted cocktails and views of downtown Miami. $$$$ (AM)·
15 E. Flagler St.
From Thanasios Barlos, a Greek native who formerly owned North Beach’s Ariston, this small spot is more casually contemporary and less ethnic-kitschy in ambiance, but serves equally authentic, full-flavored Greek food. Mixed lamb/beef gyros (chicken is also an option), topped with tangy yogurt sauce and wrapped, with greens and tomatoes, in fat warm pita bread, are specialties. But even more irresistible is the taramasalata (particularly velvety and light carp roe dip), available alone or on an olive/pita-garnished mixed meze platter. $$ (PRB)
1111 Peruvian Bistro
1111 SW 1st Ave.
Peruvian cuisine gets honest with an ethos for ultimate transparency in the kitchen. Executive chef Geancarlo Mayorga and food superstar Diego Muñoz have gone back to the drawing board to not only find better ways to highlight every ingredient in simple dishes like causas and anticuchos, but to use higher quality products like duck and filet mignon. The team has fun with the catch of the day, so make sure to order it. $$-$$$ (MB)
15 SE 10th St.
Housed in a Revolutionary-era barn (moved from Vermont), this market/café was one of the Brickell area’s first gentrified amenities. At lunch chicken salad is a favorite; dinner’s strong suit is the pasta list, ranging from Grandma Jennie’s old-fashioned lasagna to chichi fiocchi purses filled with fresh pear and gorgonzola. And Sunday’s $15.95 brunch buffet ($9.95 for kids) – featuring an omelet station, waffles, smoked salmon and bagels, salads, and more – remains one of our town’s most civilized all-you-can-eat deals. $$ (PRB)
1451 S. Miami Ave.
If you can overlook a name as unenlightening as most in-jokes (it evidently refers to a favorite character of owner Claudio Nunes’s kids -- we assume the Pokemon Psyduck), you’ll experience pretty perfect pizza. Sadly, not all brick ovens turn out perfectly char-blistered crusts, crisp outside and airy/chewy inside, but that’s what you’ll consistently find here and a newer take-out/delivery-only Midtown branch. And unlike many artisan pizzerias, Pieducks doesn’t get cheesy with cheese quantity (though we like that extra cheese is an option). Elaborate salads complete the menu. $$ (PRB)
1250 S. Miami Ave.
What started as a humble burger and kebab shop in Westchester turned into one of South Florida’s biggest restaurant success stories. Pincho Factory has quickly expanded throughout Dade and Broward, and the new Brickell location continues its tradition of mad-scientist creations. Case in point: the Toston Burger, which uses fried plantain patties for buns. While there are healthier options like the kebabs (pinchos in Spanish), being adventurous pays off -- especially when it comes to the mouthwatering chalkboard specials. Just save room for Pincho’s sweet potato tots and apple butter. $-$$ (MFP)
69 E. Flagler St.
Roman-style rectangular pizzas, served in square slices, have been available in the Miami area since the mid-1990s. But the familiar squares and Pizzarium’s are similar only in shape. Main difference: dough, here allowed to rise for four days. The resulting crusts are astonishingly airy, as authentic Roman slices, intended as light street snacks, should be. Toppings, a rotating selection of nearly 30 combinations, are highlighted by quality imported ingredients -- not to mention a healthy imagination, as the zucca gialla attests: pumpkin cream, pancetta, smoked scamorza cheese. $ (PRB)
169 SE 7th St.
Hawaiian poké is currently enjoying a nice long moment in the sun, and if you’re even the slightest bit excited by the thought of sushi, it’s easy to understand why. This exotic raw fish dish is front and center at Poké 305: seven exotic signature dishes and a trendy build-your-own-bowl option, served fast-casual style amid a spartan smattering of industrial décor. The signature “Big Mao” Alaka’i bowl -- salmon, tuna, and crab salad drizzled with wasabi aioli -- is the biggest and baddest bowl of the bunch, but all the dishes are equally adept at satisfying a raw fish craving. Word of advice: skip the overpriced drinks. $$ (AM)·
Pollos & Jarras
115 NE 3rd Ave.
From Juan Chipoco, Peruvian chef/co-owner of seafood-centric Cvi.Che 105, this stylish but affordable two-level restaurant is centered around pollo a la brasa, as a huge rotisserie oven attests. Grilled steaks, unique sandwiches, anticuchos, and varied starters and sides are also served, but the must-not-miss is rotisserie chicken, marinated in roughly a dozen-and-a-half seasonings before a self-basting spin on the spit cooks it to incomparable juiciness. It’s served with crisp fries and a substantial salad. Meals also come with a complimentary cup of aguadito -- assertively cilantro-spiked chicken rice soup. $$ (PRB)
Quinto La Huella
788 Brickell Plaza
Uruguayan beef is in a class of its own, but it requires serious skill and the right tools to prepare it the way Uruguayan parrilleros do. Located within the hulking steeled Brickell City Centre, Quinto La Huella brings a dark, moody ambiance and the prestige of one of South America’s best restaurants, Parador La Huella, to the complex. The centerpiece of this rustic eatery is an authentic wood fire parrilla, an essential component to grilling meat like a true gaucho. It should come as no surprise then that the beef -- ordered medium rare, of course -- is the main attraction here. Other options represent typical steakhouse fare, with some standout wood-fired seafood entrées and pastas that deserve a try. Snag a seat outdoors during the more temperate Miami months; otherwise, opt to sit near the heart of the controls: the parrilla. Bring a liberal side of patience with you while dining room service sorts itself out. $$$$ (AM)
Raja's Indian Cuisine
33 NE 2nd Ave.
Despite its small size and décor best described as "none," this place is an institution thanks to south Indian specialties rarely found in Miami's basically north Indian restaurants. The steam-tabled curries are fine (and nicely priced), but be sure to try the custom-made dosai (lacy rice crepes with a variety of savory fillings) and uttapam, thicker pancakes, layered with onions and chilis, both served with sambar and chutney. $$ (PRB)
The River Oyster Bar
650 S. Miami Ave.
This casually cool jewel is a full-service seafood spot, as evidenced by tempting menu selections like soft-shell crabs with grilled vegetables, corn relish, and remoulade. There are even a few dishes to please meat-and-potatoes diners, like short ribs with macaroni and cheese. But oyster fans will find it difficult to resist stuffing themselves silly on the unusually large selection, especially since oysters are served both raw and cooked – fire-roasted with sofrito butter, chorizo, and manchego. There’s also a thoughtful wine list and numerous artisan beers on tap. $$$ (PRB)
900 S. Miami Ave.
This expansive indoor/outdoor space offers a dining experience that’s haute in everything but price. Few entrées top $20. The décor is both date-worthy and family-friendly -- festive but not kitschy. And nonsophisticates needn’t fear; there is nothing scary about zarape de pato (roast duck between freshly made, soft corn tortillas, topped with yellow-and-habanero-pepper cream sauce), or Rosa’s signature guacamole en molcajete, made tableside. A few pomegranate margaritas ensure no worries. $$$ (PRB)
Seaspice Brasserie & Lounge
422 NW N. River Dr.
Unlike older Miami River market/restaurants like Garcia’s, run by fishing families, this stylishly retro/modern-industrial converted warehouse (once Howard Hughes’s plane hangar) has an owner who ran South Beach’s hottest 1990s nightspots, so expect celebrity sightings with your seafood. What’s unexpected: a blessedly untrendy menu, with simply but skillfully prepared wood-oven-cooked fish and clay-pot, shellfish casseroles. Standouts include luxuriant lobster thermador, as rich as it is pricey. $$$-$$$$$ (PRB)
Soya & Pomodoro
120 NE 1st St.
Life is complicated. Food should be simple. That’s owner Armando Alfano’s philosophy, which is stated above the entry to his atmospheric downtown eatery. And since it’s also the formula for the truest traditional Italian food (Alfano hails from Pompeii), it’s fitting that the menu is dominated by authentically straightforward yet sophisticated Italian entrées. There are salads and sandwiches, too. The most enjoyable place to dine is the secret, open-air courtyard. Alfano serves dinner on Thursdays only to accompany local musicians and artists. $-$$ (PRB)
Sparky's Roadside Barbecue
204 NE 1st St.
This cowboy-cute eatery's chefs/owners (one CIA-trained, both BBQ fanatics nicknamed Sparky) eschew regional purism, instead utilizing a hickory/apple-wood-stoked rotisserie smoker to turn out their personalized style of slow-cooked, complexly dry-rub fusion: ribs, chopped pork, brisket, and chicken. Diners can customize their orders with mix-and-match housemade sauces: sweet/tangy tomato-based, Carolinas-inspired vinegar/mustard, pan-Asian hoisin with lemongrass and ginger, tropical guava/habanero. Authenticity aside, the quality of the food is as good as much higher-priced barbecue outfits. $-$$ (PRB)
87 SW 8th St.
Though Neopolitan-style pizza isn’t the rarity it was here a decade ago, this is Miami’s only pizzeria certified authentic by Italy’s Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. This means following stringent rules regarding oven (wood-fired), baking time (90 seconds maximum, here closer to 50), tomatoes (imported San Marzano), olive oil (extra-virgin), even flour (tipo 00, for bubbly-light crusts). Toppings do exceed the three original choices served in 19th-century Naples, but pies like the Limone (fresh mozzarella, pecorino, lemons, arugula, EVOO) prove some rules should be broken. $$ (PRB)
91 SE 2nd St.
A little paradise in the heart of downtown Miami, complete with hidden patio, lush greenery, long communal tables, tropical juices like papaya and lucuma, and extra large Peruvian sandwiches and burgers. This oasis offers a more casual taste of the cuisine, the comfort foods that will remind you of home, no matter where you come from. Their $10 daily special includes your choice of a sandwich or burger with fries, salad or soup, and dessert. Delivery available. $ (MB)
21 SW 11th St.
In Japan, many traditional eateries concentrate on one signature specialty -- various types of tofu, for instance, or ramen noodles. As originally opened by perfectionist chef Jeffrey Chen, of Momi Ramen and Momi Gyoza, so did this place, authentic from its unusual (in the USA) variety of grilled/marinated meat and veggie items to its imported Japanese binchotan charcoal. Now under new management, the former yakitori bar has broadened its concept in typical American-fusion style. It’s a place for sushi and Japanese-inspired small plates. Yakitori is still available. $$$ (PRB)
1000 S. Miami Ave.
Fans of the popular parent Sushi Maki in the Gables will find many familiar favorites on this Brickell branch's menu. But the must-haves are some inventive new dishes introduced to honor the eatery's tenth anniversary -- and Miami multiculturalism: "sushi tacos" (fried gyoza skins with fusion fillings like raw salmon, miso, chili-garlic sauce, and sour cream), three tasty flash-marinated Asian/Latin tiraditos; addictive rock shrimp tempura with creamy/spicy dip. Also irresistible: four festive new sake cocktails. $$-$$$ (PRB)
49 SW 11th St.
This small Japanese-Peruvian place serves food influenced by each nation distinctly, plus intriguing fusion items with added Caribbean touches. Cooked entrées, all Peruvian, include an elegant aji de gallina (walnut-garnished chicken and potatoes in peppery cream sauce). But the emphasis is on contemporary ceviches/tiraditos (those with velvety aji amarillo chili sauce particularly), plus huge exotic sushi rolls, which get pretty wild. When was the last time you encountered a tempura-battered tuna, avocado, and scallion maki topped with Peru’s traditional potato garnish, huancaina cheese sauce? $ (PRB)
600 Brickell Ave.
Like its predecessor, French/Mediterranean Lippi, this coastal Italian-inspired eatery is actively co-owned/run by the married team of Yona and Tuni Pur. But with input from partner Arjun Waney (a founder of Zuma), it has been transformed: less formal, more appropriately Miamian casual/chic cool. Elegant crudos (like local wahoo with cukes and lemon dressing, or prawns served in nearly see-through-thin slices), available in shareable samplers, are this hipster hangout’s culinary strong suit, along with sophisticated desserts. Samplings from an al fresco champagne bar amplify enjoyment of the solid sustenance. $$$$ (PRB)
109 NE 1st Ave.
Inside this “better burger” spot, décor is so charmingly 1950s retro you almost expect to find the Fonz leaning on a jukebox. What you actually find: hand-formed, hormone-free, 100% Angus patties (or alternatives like veggie burgers, a lightly-breaded chicken Milanesa, and all-beef hot dogs) on toasted buns, with fresh-cut French or sweet potato fries. Welcome surprises include an assertively spicy/tangy BBQ-like secret sauce; prices that, while not 1950s level, rival those at junkfood joints; and old-school service -- the kind that comes with a smile. $ (PRB)
100 Chopin Plaza
Back before Miami’s business district had any there there, the InterContinental’s original restaurant was an executive lunch/dinner destination mainly by default. This replacement, from restaurant empire-builder Richard Sandoval, brings downtown power dining into this decade. As the name suggests, you can go bullish with steakhouse fare, including an abbreviated (in variety, not quantity) “rodizio experience.” But the place’s strongest suit is its pan-Latin small plates -- upscaled refinements of classic favorites: crisp corn arepas with short rib, guacamole, and crema fresca; fluffier cachapas pancakes with tomato jam; more. $$$-$$$$$ (PRB)
900 S. Miami Ave.
When an upscale restaurant remains perennially packed during a recession, you figure they’re offering something way beyond the usual generic Italian fare. While familiar favorites (Caprese salad, etc.) are available, the changing menu is highlighted by harder-to-find Tuscan specialties, albeit luxe versions: pappa al pomodoro, tomato/bread peasant soup elevated by an organic poached egg and finocchiona (a regional fennel salami); an authentic-tasting “fiorentina” porterhouse, with smoked potato purée plus more traditional veggies. A budget-conscious boon: changing three-course lunches and early-bird dinners. $$$-$$$$$ (PRB)
1109 Brickell Ave.
With multiple Marriott hotels in Brickell and downtown, one of them housing high-profile db Bistro, it’s not surprising that this small, second-floor restaurant is something of a “best kept secret.” But it deserves discovery. Chef Maria Tobar hasn’t Daniel Boulud’s fame, but she does have classic European-type technical skills, combined with contemporary creativity that turns even ultimately old-fashioned items, like a pork/cabbage strudel, into 21st century fine-dining fare. Both décor and service, similarly, are swelegant, not stuffy, and the room’s intimacy makes it a romantic spot for special occasions. $$$$ (PRB)
Truluck’s Seafood, Steak, and Crab House
777 Brickell Ave.
Compared to other restaurants with such an upscale power-lunch/dinner setting, most prices are quite affordable here, especially if you stick to the Miami Spice-priced date-dinner menu, or happy hour, when seafood items like crab-cake “sliders” are half price. Most impressive, though, are seasonal stone crabs (from Truluck’s own fisheries, and way less expensive than Joe’s) and other seafood that, during several visits, never tasted less than impeccably fresh, plus that greatest of Miami restaurant rarities: informed and gracious service. $$$-$$$$ (PRB)
415 NE 2nd St.
Atop the revolutionary Miami Culinary Institute, this upscale eatery, unlike the café downstairs, isn’t student-run. Rather it’s designed to showcase school ideals -- including sustainability as well as definitive Miami cuisine. The changing menu, from a culinary Dream Team headed by “New World Cuisine” inventor/MCI instructor Norman Van Aken (plus former protégés Jeffrey Brana and Travis Starwalt), mixes citrus-inflected creamy conch chowder and other pioneering signatures with new inventions like mind-reelingly multidimensional oyster pan stew, or tartare of tuna and burstingly ripe tomato topped with a delicate sous vide egg. $$$$$ (PRB)
Verde Restaurant & Bar
1103 Biscayne Blvd.
Located in the Pérez Art Museum Miami, this indoor/outdoor bayfront bistro, a project of restaurateur Stephen Starr, serves elegant, eco-friendly fare to match PAMM’s green certification. (Museum admission not required.) Seafood crudos shine: hamachi “sashimi” slices flash-marinated in a subtle citrus/ponzu emulsion and enlivened by jalapeño relish; a sprout-topped, smoothly sauced tuna tartare with lemon and horseradish flavors substituting for clichéd sesame. Light pizzas topped with near paper-thin zucchini slices, goat cheese, roasted garlic EVOO, and squash blossoms virtually define farm-to-table. And doughnuts with Cuban coffee dip are the definitively local dessert. $$-$$$
Whole Foods Market
299 SE 3rd Ave.
From the minute you walk through its doors or pull into a spot in the underground garage, you’ll notice this Whole Foods is a bit different. Not only have local artists outfitted its walls in graffiti art, but also half of the store is dedicated to grab-and-go food and an ample and comfortable seating area, including casual counters and tables. Grab a coffee for energy at MET café, because you may be there awhile. Options include items from Jugofresh, Zak the Baker, and pre-made desserts by Versailles restaurant. There’s also La Churrasqueira, Sushi Maki, Pizza Bar, and a soup bar featuring 20 soups like stone crab and chicken corn chowder. Parking is free for one hour with the purchase of an item. $-$$ (MB)·
315 S. Biscayne Blvd.
Proprietor Wolfgang Zweiner worked for decades at Brooklyn’s legendary Peter Luger’s before opening the first of his own much-praised, old-school steakhouses in 2003, which explains the quality of the USDA prime-grade steaks here -- dry-aged on premises for bold, beefy flavor and tender but toothsome texture. Prices are prodigious but so are portions. The 32-ounce porterhouse for two easily feeds three or four folks curious to taste the difference. Plentiful sides include a bacon starter favored by those who love Canadian bacon over pork belly. Personally, just the simple, superb steaks leave us happy as clams. $$$$$ (PRB)
200 Biscayne Blvd.
Cindy Hutson finally has a home in the neighborhood with her “cuisine of the sun.” If you can manage to order the entire menu, from cast-iron charred calamari to 50/50 meatballs and conch scampi, do it. You won’t be disappointed in food that is so perfectly matches the city’s weather and overall culture. The décor also screams Miami, in lively lime green, orange, and neutrals with pops of blue in between. Don’t forget the tropical drink. $$-$$$$ (MB)
270 Biscayne Blvd. Way
This Miami River restolounge has a London parent on San Pellegrino's list of the world's best restaurants, and a similar menu of world-class, Izakaya-style smallish plates (robata-grilled items, sushi, much more) meant for sharing over drinks. Suffice to say that it would take maybe a dozen visits to work your way through the voluminous menu, which offersample temptations for vegetarians as well as carnivores. Our favorite is the melt-in-your-mouth pork belly with yuzu/mustard miso dip, but even the exquisitely-garnished tofu rocks. $$$$ (PRB)