Miami’s culinary scene is an aromatic cauldron of flavors that can be overwhelming. To follow our noses in the right direction, we went straight to the people who know the dining scene best, some of the city’s top chefs, to get their personal recommendations on where to wine and dine around town. From high-end restaurants and casual neighborhood spots, to late-night bites and food trucks, the chefs tell us about their go-to eateries.
Kevin Cory, Executive Chef, Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star NAOE
Running a restaurant usually only allows for after-hours dining or grabbing a quick bite with errands. Every week that I drive an hour south to Robert Is Here market for unique, fresh local fruits for NAOE, I grab a round of their famous milkshakes for our crew. If I have extra time when I get fish from the beaches, I make a pit stop at Bo Leg’s BBQ truck or the Japanese Market for chef Michio Kushi and his daughter Erika’s sushi deluxe. The nighttime ambience is charming at Cecconi’s in the Soho Beach House, Mandolin Aegean Bistro and Casa Tua. Right across the water from NAOE is a simple Italian restaurant, Cipriani, a real hot spot that even keeps my baby dancing in her seat with titanic window views of Brickell Key and Biscayne Bay. Late-night hunger may pull me to Momi Ramen for a rich tonkotsu broth that clings onto their homemade ramen noodles, or Sumi Yakitori for broiled chicken wings with a little salt and gyu-suji (beef tendon). I’m looking forward to 27, the new addition to one of the coolest bars in America, The Broken Shaker by Bar Lab’s Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta with bar manager Gui Jaroschy. Another new spot I’m hoping to visit soon is Mignonette, a casual American restaurant in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood from Ryan Roman and chef Daniel Serfer of Blue Collar.
Jamie DeRosa, Chef/Owner, Tongue & Cheek
Some of my favorite spots are J&G Grill with Bradley Kilgore and Macchiliana with Michael Pirolo and Jen Chaefsky — such great people. Mike’s pastas are second to none. The wife and I like to sneak for small bites at Pubbelly Sushi. I order Jose’s king crab roll with brown butter ponzu; I could eat a dozen of those. And, of course, I can’t drive home after work without stopping for a fried chicken taco from our good friend Todd Erickson’s new joint HuaHua’s Taqueria on Lincoln Road. His elote (corn) also has the right amount of saltiness, creaminess and cheesiness. All these places are different but all share the same warmth and hospitality that we try to strive for at Tongue & Cheek. All are such professionals, have very comfortable settings. Coming up, I’m looking forward to our neighbor and good friend Fabio Viviani’s Siena Tavern. I’m really happy with the direction of the Miami community these past few years. It’s an emerging market. We have great people, chefs and industry professionals with passion for food and beverage. Each striving to keep it local, while being creative and supporting one another.
Daniel Serfer, Chef/Owner, Blue Collar and Mignonette
I actually like schlepping out to Broward. Two places I really like are Café Martorano and Jack’s Old Fashion Hamburger House. Italian-American is one of my favorite styles to eat, so Martorano is always a good choice for me. I have eaten the whole menu and have never had a dish I didn’t love. My go-to, though, would be veal Parm. It’s simple but they use the best quality veal, tomatoes and cheese, so it is better than any other I have had. Jack’s Hamburgers is a bit of nostalgia thing. I have been going there since I was real little with my dad, so I have great memories of that place. It was actually one of the last places I ever went with him before he passed. For me, it’s my all-time favorite hamburger. Up next to try: N Lounge by Kevin Cory of NAOE. I think NAOE is the best place we have in all of Miami, in terms of everything from food, service and ambience.
My favorite places to eat are always ethnic food. My wife and I are always trying new restaurants and constantly ordering different dishes in order to explore other cuisines. The most appealing thing about ethnic cuisines, especially those from Asia, is how differently the dishes are cooked rather than using classic European/French techniques. The combinations of the flavors and focus on vegetables and grains rather than a large protein are always very interesting and inspiring. One of the most memorable meals I’ve had was at a restaurant called Gabose. It is a family-run Korean barbecue where they bring the hot coals out from the kitchen and you cook all of your food right there at the table. The kimchi omelet is amazing, and everyone has a great time interacting and cooking over the coals. It’s great for a night out with my wife and also works very well for large groups.
Michelle Bernstein, Executive Chef, Seagrape at Thompson Miami Beach
I love the variation of “hole-in-the-wall” to “fab.” We have both here in Miami, and I have to admit, I make my husband take me to both, depending on our desire to dress up or down, and make reservations ahead or just land in certain spots. The most critical decision lately is where can we go with our two-and-a-half-year-old son and not get kicked out. Panya Thai, Petit Rouge French Bistro, Makoto, Bourbon Steak and Hy Vong are my favorites. By the way, we almost never eat at a table at Hy Vong; we love to cozy up to a bar if we are on a date. I love green curry anything at Panya. The Caesar salad at Petit is the best as is [Bistro owner and chef] Neal Cooper’s mussels, escargot, steak frites and onion tart. Makoto is amazing for sushi, meats and veggies. At Bourbon Steak, everything is good. And at Hy Vong, I ask for the pork rolling cakes — I order two orders every time I go — salads, soups, lemongrass chicken, hand-cut noodles with beef and fish with mangoes. Looking forward to trying Morimoto’s new one [Morimoto South Beach] and, of course, our new place at Thompson Miami Beach.
Jose Mendin, Executive Chef, L’echon Brasserie
Some of the best places in Miami are Michael’s Genuine [Food & Drink], Harry’s Pizzeria, Zuma, DB Bistro Moderne and Edge Steak & Bar at Four Seasons Hotel Miami. [All of ] their cuisine is outstanding. I love the food they prepare and their menus. Michael’s changed the concept of dining in Miami, lots of small plates, local ingredients. Zuma is like going to a show, the flavors are amazing — in particular, I’m a fan of the baby chicken with barley miso. DB Moderne has some of the best cuisine in Miami; I love their charcuterie board. Edge chef Aaron Brooks puts up some amazing dishes, and he is always looking for the next cool thing. I am also very excited about Tom Colicchio opening [a restaurant at 1 Hotel & Homes] in Miami. Also, Morimoto [sounds exciting]. Can’t wait to see the new Nobu.
Cesar Zapata, Executive Chef, The Federal Food, Drink & Provisions
There are a handful of restaurants I like to frequent, depending on my mood. If I’m craving a nice Italian meal, I’ll go to Toscano Divino. For a casual Italian, it’s Salumeria 104. When I’m in the mood for oysters and fish, I hit up PB Steak/PB Fish. At Toscano Divino, everything is great, but I really love their fegato alla veneziana (sautéed chicken liver with polenta and balsamic onions). The truffle tagliolini and spaghetti vongole at Salumeria are to die for. PB Steak’s hamachi tacos are seriously food crack. If it’s Southeast Asian I want, I head over to Khong River House. For food that makes me feel good, I love Basil Park. And when I want legit Vietnamese, I make the drive up to Broward to a little mom-and-pop place called Pho Brandon. The food, ambience and service do it for me. I enjoy going to places where they treat you as if you’re in their home — and, of course, delicious food is a must. Up next: Midtown Oyster Bar. I love seafood, especially oysters, and I can’t wait till they open.