3540 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove
Ariete, which has inadvertently put Coconut Grove on the culinary map, specializes in comfort food with a Cuban edge. The grilled oysters drenched in bone-marrow butter is the most indulgent interpretation of surf and turf we’ve ever seen. The interior can’t quite make up its mind—tiled walls against wooden floors, with industrial ceilings heavy with pipes. But the sunny patio brings the whole thing together, and the fritas (spiced burgers topped with crispy fried matchstick potatoes and wrapped in a Cuban roll) make us quickly forget any design quirks.
850 Commerce St., South Beach
Planta hits that sweet spot of healthy, sustainable dishes that are flavorful and substantial and look absolutely beautiful. We’re partial the “lox” platter, with its smoky carrots, surprisingly good cashew cheese, and sharp pickles. The banana pancakes are comfort on a plate and the ceviche—in this case, with fresh watermelon, mango, and coconut—is incredibly refreshing. The drinks are reason alone to show up. We love a Kombucha Mojito to start, then suggest moving on to a Charcoal Bourbon Sour (with whipped aquafaba, or chickpea water, instead of egg whites). For dessert, get a side of the especially good (and gluten-free) banoffee pie to share—or not.
313 N.W. 25th St., Wynwood
If you’re in town for only one meal, eat here. Hidden within a nondescript taco joint is what may be the best sushi restaurant in Miami. The roughly painted wall slides open to the big reveal: chef Tadashi Shiraishi searing tuna to perfection or slicing yellowtail snapper with the skill of an artist. Born in Brazil and raised on his grandmother’s traditional Japanese cooking, Shiraishi runs the kitchen, while his wife handles the front of house. You won’t see even the suggestion of a spicy tuna roll here—everything served at Hiden is true to traditional Japanese cuisine, like firefly squid or octopus blanched and tenderized in a dashi and sencha broth. Dinner at Hiden is sixteen courses long and $130 per person—and don’t expect a menu. It changes daily depending on what’s fresh and what fish has arrived from Japan, flown in twice a week.
Sherwoods Bistro & Bar
8281 N.E. 2nd Ave., Little River
Sherwoods has a key role in getting people to come to the Little River neighborhood just above Little Haiti and west of Biscayne Boulevard. The eccentric, eclectic décor is what first drew us in: The patterned tiles and peeling-paint bar make you feel like you’re in a ramshackle bar in Tuscany (if Tuscany had any ramshackle bars). Blue leather booths, ceiling fans and chandeliers, walls heaving with framed oddities—this is one of those places that has a lot to look at and it’s hard to decide where to set your gaze. The menu is every bit as colorful. Order the St. Tropez grilled cheese (with bacon, Brie, and apricot preserve) to share, maybe a bowl of coq au vin, and coconut-sugar caramelized plantains to finish. The heavy food feels counterintuitive to the climate, but the fans whirring overhead keep things cool.
1664 Lenox Ave., South Beach
The late 1800s was a time of mass migration from Japan to Peru. One of the unexpected results is what is now known as Nikkei cuisine. And Chotto Matte may be the best example of it outside of Lima. A table loaded with the Nikkei-dressed sushi—which means traditional sushi servings of yellowtail tuna or scallops “dressed” in Peruvian-style spicy sauces such as aji amarillo (a bright orange, almost fruity-tasting chili)–paired with a few bowls of citrusy branzino ceviche make for a fine meal. The restaurant is similar to the original London location, but grander, louder, and way more Miami: tall, leafy trees; bright murals by local graffiti artists; and—in a truly Miami move—a ceiling that’s fully retractable.
9101 Collins Ave, Surfside
Up in Bal Harbour, the Four Seasons opened the first outpost of Le Sirenuse (yes, that Le Sirenuse) outside of Italy, and the results are stunning, both visually (dramatic palm fronds hanging over the tables, a spacious patio overlooking the ocean) and menu-wise (fusilli puttanesca, battuto di scampi, and lobster with caponata, mozzarella, and mint).
PB Station (Closed)
121 S.E. 1st St., Downtown
Miami Beach restaurateurs the Pubbelly Boys opened PB Station inside a historic Beaux Arts building, once the site of the Miami National Bank and now also home to the Langford, a luxury boutique hotel. Executive chef Jose Mendin’s menu takes New American pub food to the next level with a raw bar, steaks, seafood, braised short ribs, and a sublime house burger topped with truffle mushroom ragu, caramelized onions, and Emmental cheese—all with considered pairings of wine, beer, and cocktails.
270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Downtown
Zuma is the Miami outpost of chef Rainer Becker's internationally acclaimed, modernized adaptation of Japanese izakaya-style cuisine (there are other Zuma restaurants in London, Hong Kong, New York, Dubai, Istanbul, and Bangkok), and it features a stunning, pristine modern interior design to match the menu. (Note: While traditional izakayas are informal, Zuma requires a smart casual dress code—no shorts or beachwear allowed.) From the sushi bar to the robata grill, the dishes on offer are not your average teriyaki-smothered fare; rather, you’ll find kurobuta pork belly skewers with yuzu mustard miso, a roster of tempura-fried snackables, plus exquisite signature dishes with elaborate flavor profiles like roasted lobster with shiso-ponzu butter and black cod marinated in saikyo miso with homemade hajikame. Keeping with at least one element of the izakaya tradition, most of the signature dishes are designed to be shared.
1700 James Ave., Mid-Beach
Casa Tua also has an Aspen outpost, and like its cold-weather sister, this location serves upscale Northern Italian fare—burrata with organic tomatoes, tuna tartare, various risottos, grilled branzino, biscotti, and gelato. The restaurant occupies a luxurious Tuscan-style villa that's also home to a hotel and exhibition space; ask for a seat on the outdoor patio, which is lush and green and adorned with the subtlest twinkle lights and antique lanterns hanging from the trees. It's perfetto for a date night.
Bachour Bakery + Bistro
600 Brickell Ave., Downtown
This idyllic breakfast and lunch spot is the marriage of two star chefs: Antonio Bachour on sweets and pastries, and Henry Hané on savory dishes (his CV includes Spain’s two-Michelin-star restaurant Miramar and Giorgio Rapicavoli's Eating House in Miami). Their brilliant culinary mashups include a pepperoni pizza toast, decadent tartines with ahi tuna and avocado, and a croissant patty melt—yes, that’s a cheeseburger on a fresh, flaky croissant. Mornings, the place is wafting with tantalizing smells of fresh-baked treats; for later, take home some of the chocolates, bonbons, macarons, petit gateaux, and tarts, or order a specialty cake for an event—they are immaculately, sublimely beautiful. Through lunchtime, chef Hané’s rotating menu features rich, veggie-based dishes, like leafy salads, grain bowls, and stuffed veggies prepared sous-vide, plus hot soups to accompany them.