Summer is an excellent time to check out what’s happening on the food front in Miami. A host of new restaurants has opened or is on the verge of debuting, offering Magic City foodies an array of choices, from housemade bagels and deli meats at an all-day modern diner to fine dining at an Italian-influenced steakhouse and even a chic vegan sushi bar.
With debuts, rebrandings and full-on renovations on the horizon, Miami’s restaurant scene is proving to be as dynamic as ever.
Amara at Paraiso
Chef Michael Schwartz (of the Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink empire) has done it again with Amara at Paraiso, a massive waterfront bistro in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood. While the spitfire-grill-driven, Latin-infused concept has been open since the beginning of the year, it started serving Sunday brunch this spring — and it’s outstanding.
Select from roaming food carts featuring mouthwatering sweet and savory items, from pork belly feijoada (stew) to streusel-topped brioche pastry with dulce de leche. Raw bar items and a mix of small and large plates help round out the culinary options.
Follow up your feast with a bevy of tropical cocktails or a refreshing carafe of agua fresca.
This coming attraction has locals salivating already. Beaker & Gray’s Brian Nasajon is transforming the former home of late-night Asian-fusion joint Gigi into a modern all-day diner.
Nasajon says he’s going for an “authentic, old-school feel” at his Midtown eatery, and he plans to deliver just that with an indulgent menu of mouthwatering, “housemade everything” dishes.
Influenced by the chef’s Jewish upbringing, the plates at this spring-opening spot are expected to include everything from bagels and pastrami to bite-sized doughy churros and an omelet dumpling stuffed with chorizo.
AQ Chophouse by Il Mulino
Another reinvention is underway at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Acqualina Resort & Spa, where the in-house restaurant has been revamped into a swanky Italian-influenced steakhouse. Helmed by Il Mulino executive chef Michele Mazza, the elegant eatery channels a midcentury European vibe for a unique retro-meets-modern ambiance.
Besides the traditional steak and chops (like the juicy 18-ounce New York strip or the 32-ounce porterhouse for two), the menu boasts decadent sides, such as cream of corn and truffle fries, and a luscious array of antipasti.
Seafood lovers will want to check out the sensational sushi selections on offer from Miami’s famed Yakko-San. But whether you end up going with surf or turf, be sure to end your meal with one of AQ’s decadent desserts.
Boulud Sud Miami
Celebrity chef Daniel Boulud has given his downtown outpost, located on the ground floor of JW Marriott Marquis Miami, a Mediterranean makeover. Opened at the beginning of the year, this eatery is as popular among the power-hour lunchtime crowd as it is with the after-work socialites.
From the décor to the dishes to the drinks, the luxe Boulud Sud takes you on a trip across the region. Take in the Moroccan-inspired tile floors and lattice walls before sinking into the plush blue-and-white couches and ordering a few savory plates to share. The curated menu emphasizes richly flavored seafood and lamb, an abundance of vegetables and a healthy side of grains and herbs.
Stop by for Tapas Tuesday to enjoy live music, rosé three ways (sparkling, frozen and provençale) and street-food-like bar bites (lamb meatballs, falafel and fingerling potatoes with tangy aioli).
Surf Club Restaurant
Perhaps the most-talked about opening this summer is a new venture by the venerated Thomas Keller (Five-Stars Per Se and The French Laundry) within the storied Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club.
Though plans have been kept under wraps, the July-opening venue is expected to be a tip of the hat to the historic club’s glamorous past, when the property hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Tennessee Williams and Winston Churchill.
The throwback feel will be evident in the aesthetic, where you’ll see blue and coral hues, art-deco-inspired chandeliers and terrazzo floors.
While the official menu is still to be announced, you can expect a variety of classic dishes, such as beef Wellington, lobster Thermidor and lemon meringue tart, to take your taste buds on a flavorful trip down memory lane.
Making its South Beach debut earlier this spring, Planta is the first U.S. outpost of Toronto’s popular, high-end vegan eatery. Opened in partnership with local nightlife impresario David Grutman, the restaurant even boasts its own rooftop garden, so you know what you’re eating is as fresh as possible.
The space is airy, with soaring ceilings, an indoor courtyard and a sleek bar adorned with copper pineapples.
Plant-based cooking is made to look familiar here — think “crab” cakes made of hearts of palm with a side of cauliflower tots. You’ll also find heavy lifters on the menu, like the black bean, lentil, beetroot mash-up of a burger; a variety of cashew-mozzarella-topped pizzas (with gluten-free dough); and skillfully made, plant-based sushi.
For dessert, try the Chocolate Terrarium, a heavenly concoction made with dairy-free chocolate mousse, peanut butter cream, chocolate-date cake, salted caramel and a cashew milk soft serve.
The cocktails have a healthy kick, too, with the help of ingredients such as cold-pressed juices, activated charcoal syrup and kombucha.
Not to be outdone, Pitbull (a.k.a. Mr. 305) is set to open his first restaurant in Miami Beach over the summer. Appropriately dubbed iLov305, the new place will be situated inside the Bel Aire Hotel Miami Beach on Ocean Drive.
The 9,000-square-foot space includes a tropical-themed dining area, a DJ booth, three upstairs VIP rooms and a few uniquely Miami touches, such as a daiquiri bar and a small store complete with cigar rollers.
As for the food and drinks? The popular Cuban-American rapper is looking to serve Cuban sandwiches, the 305 burger (topped with shrimp, plantains and bacon), guava bread pudding and 50 kinds of mojitos.