Miami's food scene has become almost as popular as its beach scene in the last few years, with chefs from all over the country (and beyond) setting their sights on its sun-drenched terrain. The last year alone has seen a swathe of new eateries worth checking out. Here are the ones that should top your list.
Restaurant Michael Schwartz
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink is one of the culinary anchors of the Design District, and now fans of chef Michael Schwartz's locally sourced, comfort food with a twist can get it in South Beach at the Raleigh Hotel. The menu at Restaurant Michael Schwartz (like that at Michael's Genuine) features a variety of different sized plates, ideal for sharing or for enjoying a few small bites (we recommend the devilled eggs and crispy hominy) over leisurely, pre-dinner cocktails while deciding on main courses.
Don't Miss: The breakfast pizza and extra-indulgent bananas foster bread pudding at weekend brunch, which is always a standout meal at all of Schwartz's restaurants.
Tongue & Cheek
In a mostly residential section of South Beach, Tongue & Cheek feels like the type of welcoming neighborhood place you'd come to on a weeknight for a dinner that's totally delicious but not too fussy or elaborate. It's got a sense of fun, with a menu (in sync with the name) that adds quirky touches to tried-and-true favorites, like a burger made with beef cheeks instead of sirloin or ground round. This is a place to feel like a local, even on your first trip to Miami.
Don't Miss: Asian-influenced dishes, with a Floridian nod, like Cantonese-style steamed snapper and a riff on shrimp toast with local rock shrimp and lime crème fraiche.
Patpong Road is the latest spot from John Kunkel, the man behind local foodie favorites like Yardbird and Khong River House. This atmospheric new opening is actually right above Khong River, is open only on weekend nights, and only quite late (from 10 am to 2 am.) It's got a deliberately seductive and almost illicit feel (starting with the name, the location of Bangkok's red light district) and hyperbolically-flavorful food inspired by what you might grab on the street in Thailand.
Don't Miss: The drunken rice noodles—a delicious mess of vegetables with chilies and, of course, noodles—and, to put you in the mood to enjoy them, a so-called stupid filthy dirty martini.
Cipriani Downtown Miami
The name Cipriani has become synonymous with glitzy elegance, thanks to its restaurants in New York city, Los Angeles, and European cities like Venice, where Giuseppe Cipriani created his trademark cocktail, the Bellini, at Harry's Bar in 1948. Its newest location, in the Icon Brickell, brings that swanky flair to Miami. It's definitely not cheap—a bowl of potato gnocchi is $24, for example—but it's a fabulous place for an occasion, or just an excuse to feel fancy, surrounded by glamorous Miami locals.
In a cavernous, atmospheric space in the heart of the Design District (which once housed Pacific Time) now sits Oak Tavern, a comforting and stylish restaurant that's always packed with a buzzy mix of trendy locals and shoppers attracted by the neighborhood's chic shops. There's an inherently relaxed feel here—just right for tropical Miami—and inventive takes on popular dishes, like a rich duck pizza, plus a wide selection of house-cured charcuterie.
Don't Miss: The porcine pleasures, particularly at brunch, which offers eggs benedict with crispy pork belly on a buttermilk biscuit and house-cured maple bacon.
Huahua's, which opened in July, is extremely informal and inexpensive—a flip-flops and shorts kind of place—with mostly outdoor seating to take in the always colorful passing parade on Lincoln Road. But Huahua's isn't a run-of-the-mill taco stand: standout guacamole comes with housemade-chips, as well as a vegetarian taco with fried avocado and tofu crema. This is the ideal place to sit back, have a couple cold beers, munch on a few tacos, and relax.
Don't Miss: The fried chicken taco. It comes with jalapeno cornbread.
Recently opened, Boxpark shares owners with the Hoxton, a popular gastro-pubby, English-inspired spot for food and cocktails. Here, you'll find more of a vibe-y modern restaurant, attracting locals and an after-work crowd in the busy Brickell neighborhood. And the menu—created by Santiago Rodriguez, who worked at Nobu—is filled with adventurous tweaks on shareable favorites, like the omnivore pizza, which comes covered in duck ham, antelope salami, and various veggies.
Don't Miss: The decidedly Floridian choices on the menu, like fried alligator (which actually does taste quite like chicken) and Everglades gumbo.
Photo credits: Restaurant Michael Schwartz courtesy of Restaurant Michael Schwartz; Tongue & Cheek courtesy of Tongue & Cheek; Patpong Road courtesy of Patpong Road; Cipriani Downtown Miami courtesy of Cipriani Downtown Miami; Oak Tavern courtesy of Oak Tavern; Huahua's Tacqueria courtesy of Huahua's Tacqueria; Boxpark courtesy of Boxpark