2727 Indian Creek Dr., Mid-Beach
The Freehand's restaurant is located in a historic 1930s house directly adjacent to the hotel—also designed by Roman and 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 hodgepodge of cuisines that's illustrative of Miami's melting pot—Caribbean, South American, and Middle Eastern flavors meld together in dishes like cheese bread made with cassava flour, banana bread French toast with Appleton rum, and arepas with ropa vieja and queso de mano. Don't leave without having one of the 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
The food crowd in Miami is 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 in 2016, Kilgore 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 (choose between five and seven courses) finishes with a dessert from Kilgore's wife, pastry chef Soraya 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 the cold-pressed organic juices, made in house, are so fresh and so good. They also do smoothies, salads, wraps, and acai, quinoa, and brown rice bowls. They serve Panther coffee, and you can order online for delivery.
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.
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.
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. Admirably, 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—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.
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 Nile-green-and-white-striped tile. And the food is consistently fantastic: The truffle pizza with goat cheese and zucchini blossom is worth the splurge; the garganelli Bolognese is always a solid bet. From Tuesdays through Saturdays, Cecconi’s has a delightful aperitivi hour.
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.
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.
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