Miami’s most raved-about new eateries highlight everything from fresh seafood to tempting tapas, complemented by unique cocktails, waterfront views and dramatic décor for truly memorable dining experiences. On your next trip, snag a coveted seat at one of this season’s brand-new vibrant restaurants — there’s one in just about every neighborhood.
La Mar by Gastón Acurio, Brickell Key
World-renowned ceviche superstar Gastón Acurio has created a sea of buzz across the city with his latest masterpiece, La Mar. The restaurant, located at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Miami on Brickell Key, marks Acurio’s third Stateside outpost and adds to the global La Mar family, which has locations in Bogotá, Lima and São Paulo. Executive chef Diego Oka combines a range of exotic dishes from high-end novo-Andean fare to Asian-Peruvian fusion to the traditional in the form of generous-sized tapas-style bites — think bowlfuls of ceviche and spoonfuls of tiraditos (sashimi), “street food” grilled items, and causas (whipped Peruvian potatoes) topped with seafood. The main affairs satisfy both surf and turf lovers with beef, lamb, pan-fried arroces (rice) and catch-of-the-day whole fish prepared Japanese-style. Pisco-infused classics with tropical twists anchor the cocktail menu. Inside, patrons can sit up at the ceviche or anticucho (beef skewer) bars and watch the fire-spitting grill in action. Or, ask for an outside table where the glistening waterfront Downtown view is as awe-inspiring as the menu.
Il Sole, South Beach
Housed within the iconic Ocean Drive mansion of famed fashion designer Gianni Versace, Il Sole is the new signature upscale restaurant for the boutique hotel The Villa By Barton G. Seafood-focused Mediterranean-style dishes reign at Il Sole (Italian for “the sun”). Executive chef Scott Linquist’s menu shines with artful spins on frutti di mare (seafood salad), housemade ravioli and spaghettini, roasted sea bass, and butter-poached lobster, all beautifully presented on brightly patterned Versace Rosenthal china. Don’t miss the torre de mare, a tower of seafood with lobster, gulf shrimp, king crab legs and tuna and snapper crudo. Gastronomic excellence meets storied history here: The intimate dining 30-seat space is draped in luxury with pebbled mosaic-laden walls and frescoed ceilings, while the patio overlooks a glistening luxe pool lined in 24-karat gold that was designed by Versace himself.
Chef Michael Shikany’s new offering is part restaurant and part cooking school in a 4,000-square-foot space in the artsy Wynwood neighborhood. Look for a creative play on your favorite comfort foods with a modern, global-inspired twist on the menu, which changes periodically. You can expect to see a range of small plates and à la carte dishes from seasonal oysters, quail eggs and caviar to wagyu tenderloin tartare and goat’s brie spring rolls. Duck fat-poached black cod, lobster mac and wild boar cheeks are just a few of the sophisticated main dishes you’ll find. Be sure to save room for dessert — you won’t want to miss the chocolate verrine and avocado mousse. Shikany will also prepare tasting menus; certain nights might focus on Italian or Lebanese fare, while other nights might include food-and-microbrew pairings. As for the cooking component, themed cooking classes start this summer.
Taperia Raca, MiMo District
Tucked in the heart of Miami’s burgeoning culinary-concentrated MiMo District, Taperia Raca is chef Giorgio Rapicavoli’s latest venture. Chef de cuisine Ryan Harrison heads the kitchen at this cool and funky spot with a tapas-style menu filled with dishes such as chicken liver mousse, poached octopus, patatas bravas, pork cheeks and duck wings. This place is also tops for Sunday brunch, where you’ll see tapas alongside items such as Belgian waffles with sherried bananas and cornmeal-peach pancakes. Sangria is, of course, front and center on the drinks menu. The space is cozy and comfortable inside, while the outside garden patio is lush and spacious. Here, you’ll find a laid-back atmosphere with quirky architectural motifs; art and music take center stage with brick-lined walls, cardboard bullheads and a custom-made mural hailing Spanish reggae music.
AQ by Acqualina, Sunny Isles
Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles recently debuted its new oceanfront eatery, AQ by Acqualina. Executive chef Dewey LoSasso, formerly of The Forge Restaurant, helms the kitchen, serving a Modern American-inspired menu featuring dishes such as herb-seared yellowfin tuna Marsala, pan-seared black grouper, grilled skirt steak and farro risotto with French feta and grilled vegetables. Also on deck, a sushi and raw bar by famed pan-Asian restaurant Hiro’s Yakko-San — in case you want to supplement your dinner with a little sushi. Inside, dark wood flooring, plush seating and marble dining tables exude sophisticated elegance, while, outside, the veranda is perfect for sipping a cocktail and enjoying the refreshing sea breeze. In true Acqualina style, the service is impeccable and, of course, the views of the water are spectacular.
Photos Courtesy of George Apostolidis, The Villa by Barton G and Mario Daviles Bone Money Entertainment