2727 Indian Creek Dr., Mid-Beach
The Freehand's restaurant is located in a historic 1930s house directly adjacent to the hostel—also designed by Roman & Williams, the interior has a colorful, beachy vibe complete with picnic tables, bright pink and green shelving, blue-and-white wallpaper, and tables lit with Virgin Mary candles. The menu is a hodge-podge of cuisines that's illustrative of Miami's melting pot, incorporating Caribbean, South American, and Middle Eastern foods in dishes like cheese bread made with cassava flour, banana fosters pancakes with Appleton rum, or arepas with ropa vieja and queso de mano. Don't leave without ordering one of their tiki-bar-inspired drinks, which are served with a garnish of orchids, plastic sunglasses, and upside-down nips of rum.
223 NW 23 St., Wynwood
Miami foodies are quick to brag about local star Alter, Bradley Kilgore's fine dining establishment in the heart of Wynwood. One of Food & Wine's best new chefs last year, Kilgore's quickly become known for a menu that focuses on locally sourced ingredients and leans heavily on non-food descriptors—at the time of this writing, there's a dish on the menu called "fallen tree" that contains palm trunk, trumpet stump, twigs, moss, mud, and funghi. Each of the prix fixe menus (you can choose between five and seven courses) finishes with a dessert from Kilgore's wife, pastry chef Sonya Kilgore, who has a reputation for complex, textured, and ambitious dishes.
Apple a Day
1534 Alton Rd., South Beach
Located in a nondescript shopping mall, Apple A Day’s interior is likewise nondescript, but their cold-pressed, organic juices, made in house, are so fresh and so good. They also do smoothies, acai, salads, wraps, quinoa and brown rice bowls; they serve Panther coffee; and you can order online for delivery.
Bachour Bakery + Bistro
600 Brickell Ave., Downtown
This idyllic breakfast-and-lunch spot is helmed by two star chefs: Antonio Bachour on sweets and pastries, and Henry Hané on savory dishes (his pedigree includes two-Michelin-star restaurant Llançà, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, 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 their chocolates, bonbons, macarons, petit gateaux, and tarts, or order a specialty cake for an event—theirs are immaculately, sublimely beautiful. Through lunchtime, Chef Hané’s rotating menu spans from rich, veggie-based dishes, from leafy salads and grain bowls to stuffed veggies prepared sous-vide style—and hot soups to accompany them.
2395 Collins Ave., Mid-Beach
Tom Colicchio's restaurant inside the 1 Hotel matches the rest of the building's airy, beachy aesthetic, with woven chairs, light woods, brass light fixtures, and a generous patio overlooking Collins Avenue. It's a great choice if you're picky about meat and fish, as Colicchio serves only antibiotic-free meat and locally caught fish. There's also an excellent raw bar (perfect with a crisp white wine on a hot afternoon) and a peaceful Sunday brunch. If you can snag a reservation on a Friday or Saturday night, you'll be treated to live music performed by local musicians while you eat.
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—think burrata with organic tomatoes, tuna tartare, specialty 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 a great spot for a date night.
4385 Collins Ave., Mid-Beach
Tucked into the lush courtyard of the SoHo Beach House, Cecconi’s is the kind of place you’ll go for lunch and want to linger through sunset cocktails. Tiny lights are wrapped around the branches of the buttonwood trees overhead, small Edison bulbs hang from the wooden beams, and the flooring is a stripped antique Nile-green tile. The food is consistently good too: truffle pizza with goat cheese and zucchini blossom is worth the splurge, the garganelli Bolognese is a solid bet, as is the ahi tuna tartare. From Tuesdays through Saturdays they offer an awesome apertivo hour, too.
2300 NW. 2 Ave., Wynwood
Coyo is all about straightforward Mexican street food—the focus is on tacos, but you can get any of their meats as a burrito, bowl, or quesadilla (plus, there are excellent sides like corn on the cob with cojita and chipotle aioli). The uncomplicated menu makes it a great place to come with the littles in tow, though the Wynwood location can get rowdy later in the evenings as people make their way to the secret bar in the back, where they serve super-fresh margaritas and a crazy-long list of tequilas and mezcals. The recently opened Brickell location has a slightly expanded menu and the notable addition of Spanish tortas to the offering.
1111 SW 1 Ave., Downtown
Coyo is all about straightforward Mexican street food—the focus is on tacos, but you can get any of their meats as a burrito, bowl, or quesadilla (plus, there are excellent sides like corn on the cob with cojita and chipotle aioli). The uncomplicated menu makes it a great place to come with the littles in tow, though the Wynwood location can get rowdy later in the evenings as people make their way to the secret bar in the back, where they serve super-fresh margaritas and a crazy-long list of tequilas and mezcals. The recently opened Brickell location has a slightly expanded menu and the notable addition of Spanish tortas.
1424 Alton Rd., South Beach
Considering its location in a nondescript strip mall, you could walk right by the Drunken Dragon without knowing it was there—look for the "MARKET" sign to guide you into the space, which deceptively offers lofty ceilings, a long, dramatic bar, and sleek wooden midcentury chairs. Food here (the menu is helmed by The Dutch, Nobu, and Zuma alum Xavier Torres) is served Korean barbecue-style, so while you'll order a few sides for the table (the bok choy is a crowd pleaser), the main event is really a plate of raw cuts of meat that guests grill themselves over specially designed flames at the center of the table. The drink menu is appropriately dramatic, focusing on Tiki-style rum cocktails, and you can enjoy them well into the evening, as the restaurant stays open until 6am on weekends.
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