The Best Things We Ate This Week
We eat a lot while researching the various guides and reviews you see on our site. And we want to share some of that food with you, at least digitally. This guide is where we’ll be putting some of our favorite things we tried recently—the dishes that made us give a creepy smile to our plates. Hopefully it serves as a source of inspiration the next time you’re deciding what to order.
This was actually our third visit to Taqueria Viva Mexico. The first two times we tried to go, the restaurant was closed for renovations. But persistence pays off in life. And we are glad we kept at it, because Taqueria Viva Mexico is the kind of wonderful, straightforward Mexican spot Miami needs more of. The menu includes dishes like sopes, gorditas, and some of Miami's best tacos. The key here is to stay away from the more common taco variations like carne asada or al pastor (which are just alright) and instead go for the less common (at least for Miami) versions like oreja, lengua, and tripe, which this place excels at. The oreja and tripe in particular are incredibly tender and delicious. And this will certainly not be our last trip here.
It’s officially hot enough to declare it Ceviche Season (we’re making that a thing), and this Hollywood Peruvian spot makes a version of ceviche we've never seen before. Their signature ceviche Runas features fish and mixed seafood in a perfectly-balanced leche de tigre. That would be enough to make it solid cevichito, but Runas infuses it with smoked aji and then torches the dish so you get this whole fire and ice thing that would be gimmicky if it didn’t actually deliver a lot of flavor. It reminds us of everything we love about ceviche and pollo a la brasa (AKA Peruvian rotisserie chicken) in one cool, refreshing, and spicy bite.
We love Cuban pizza for its fluffy crust and that golden brown ring of toasted cheese, but sometimes we do miss those fancy toppings you find at more upscale pizzerias. That’s why the day we found out about Pizzamanina’s namesake pie was one of the happiest days for us (and our stomach) in recent memory. This pizza has the same crust and crown of crispy cheese that we love with the addition of prosciutto, blue cheese, and bacon. It’s a combination that would be too strong on a paper-thin crust, but it’s perfect on thicc Cuban crust. Sometimes separate things you love can come together. Now, let’s see if we can get someone to put croquetas in a baleada.
Turrón de Jijona Ice Cream
This little Cuban ice cream parlor by the airport takes its name from the famous Coppelia ice cream palace in Havana. Needless to say, you’ll find a lot of very Cuban flavors here, along with unique takes on sundaes, and even a special lingo for scoops. Our favorite thing to get is the ice cream flavored with turrón de jijona, a traditional soft almond nougat from Spain that’s really popular around Christmas. It has a toasty flavor that reminds us of a cross between almond butter and marzipan. You can order a soldado (one scoop), jimaguas (two scoops), or tres gracias (three scoops). Make sure to get all the toppings, including a generous dusting of Maria cookie crumbs.
Fourme aux Moelleux
We stumbled onto this Coral Way cheese shop on our way back from lunch and were surprised that we’d never encountered it before, since we try to stay up to date on all things cheese. That’s probably because it’s only been around for about a month. It’s a cute shop with shelves of gourmet European products and some locally made jams, yogurts, and mozzarella. But the focal point of the entire operation is the small yet extremely well-curated cheese case. We fell in love with the Fourme aux Moelleux after trying a sample and took a half-pound home with us. This French blue cheese is a Chevre exclusive in Miami, and is infused with slightly sweet, refreshingly tart vouvray wine. We love this on a baguette with some jam, but it’s even good on a potato chip.
Located in a strip mall in Sweetwater, Madroño is easily Miami’s best Nicaraguan restaurant. Each traditional Nica dish you order here is the best version of itself, and there really isn’t anything on the menu we don’t love. However, their nacatamal blew us away. This is a tighter preparation than the soupy versions you find at other restaurants in Miami. That means that instead of a porridgy hodgepodge of ingredients, each element of this tamal retains its shape and texture—and there are a lot of textures going on here. There’s soft nixtamalized corn spiked with sour orange juice, potato, rice, tomato, peppers, and a flavorful hunk of achiote-colored pork. Just writing this makes us want to grab a dozen right now to keep in our freezer.
Lobster Thermidor Fondue
We checked out Vinya for the first time this week. The new Key Biscayne spot is a wine bar, restaurant, market, and just generally wonderful place to hang out while consuming delicious things. One of those delicious things we tried (in addition to a few glasses of wine and a couple great cocktails) was the lobster thermidor fondue. These chunks of tender lobster were great. But what puts this dish in the "fondue" category is the cheesy gruyère-based sauce you get to wipe up with triangular slices of toasted brioche. Ask nicely for more bread, because you will need it to soak up every last molecule.
Strawberry Ice Cream
We took a little jaunt down south to Homestead this weekend, a city with a truly overwhelming amount of incredible things to eat. One new spot we checked out was a place called The Berry Farms, a huge property full of family-friendly activities like berry picking, a sunflower maze, and various playgrounds scattered about. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon, especially when we got our hands on their strawberry ice cream. One of many great things about Homestead is that it’s sort of the unofficial dessert capital of South Florida, and The Berry Farm’s simple but very good strawberry soft serve is a worthy member of the Homestead dessert club.
photo credit: CLEVELAND JENNINGS / @EATTHECANVASLLC
Our day-trip down south continued all the way to Alabama Jack’s, which is technically about 100 yards past the “Welcome To Key Largo” sign. This is one of those classic, divey South Florida seafood spots. There’s a live band, license plates and dollar bills stapled to the walls, and a lovely waterfront view along a little canal. But unlike most divey Florida seafood spots, the food here is more than average. This place serves some of the best fried seafood we’ve found in all of South Florida. And the best way to experience all that fried seafood is with the seafood sampler platter, which comes with fried and steamed shrimp, crab cakes, fish fingers, and the best conch fritters we've had in some time.
We recently checked out Makoto’s badly-needed and very impressive renovation. The Bal Harbour spot now has a new colorful dining room that feels like eating inside a perfectly ripe peach, some lovely patio seating, and a cute outdoor bamboo bar. The menu has been trimmed down a bit too, and the best thing we tried from it was the umami kanpachi. The fish was buttery and delicious, there was an ideal amount of yuzu, and the crispy garlic chips gave each bite a little crunch. If you find yourself here, this needs to be on the table.
We stumbled into this classic Miami pizzeria one day while recovering from a hangover, which might be the best way to experience Casola’s. Come here while sober, alert, and/or perfectly healthy, and you’re going to wonder why this place has been in business so long. However, when your stomach is ronkly, your mouth is sore, and chewy artisanal crusts feel like nails going down your throat, Casola’s is perfect. That’s probably why it’s so popular with the late-night crowd. The crust is soft and doughy, the very subtle, non-acidic sauce is painted on in a thin layer, and the mild cheese just makes you feel good on a quasi-spiritual level. If you’re tired of those fancy $35 pies that’ve been popping up all over town, this is the antidote.
Turkey Meatballs And Baked Goat Cheese
Like many people, we’ve been trying to find ways to avoid Miami’s hotspots during the month of March, which led us up to the magical, distant land of Wilton Manors and right through the doors of Apt 9F. This is a cozy queer-owned lounge serving classic cocktails, like vieux carrés and sazeracs, along with some small bites. The extremely warm and welcoming staff recommended pairing the turkey meatballs with the baked goat cheese, and now we’ll never order one without the other. The meatballs are tender, rich, and swimming in a puddle of nutty salsa verde. The goat cheese is smothered in a homemade apricot and peppadew jam that’s tart, mildly sweet, and has the perfect kick. Add a little bit of both to a slice of the accompanying crusty bread and you'll be very glad you made the journey to Broward.
Whole Fried Snapper
Shore To Door was actually the last review we published before the pandemic. And after our first trip back to the Coconut Grove fish market/weekend restaurant, we have good news: it’s every bit as delicious and wonderful as we remember. Especially the whole fried snapper, which is one of the tastiest whole fried fish preparations we’ve had in Miami. The tender meat comes right off the skeleton with little resistance, and it’s served simply with some pickled peppers and plantain chips. If you love fried seafood and are craving a Key West atmosphere, this place should become your new weekend tradition.
Carne Mechada And Gouda Tequeño
Tequeñomania, which has locations in Kendall and Doral, is one of the best places to grab these Venezuelan cheese sticks in Miami. If you’ve never had one, it’s basically the Miami version of fried mozzarella, except made with squeaky queso fresco and wrapped in a strip of dough to look like a bready barbershop pole. What we really love about Tequeñomania, though, is that they don’t stop at the traditional cheese tequeños. We really fell in love with the carne mechada and gouda filling featuring juicy shredded beef (kind of like ropa vieja) and gouda cheese that melt together into one of the tastiest phallic-shaped foods we’ve tried in Miami. Don’t forget to add a squirt of their addictive green sauce.
Before we checked out Antojitos Mexicanos Tenorio in Kendall, we thought we had to go down to Homestead to find one of our favorite Mexican dishes: alambre. Not only are we glad we don’t have to make that odyssey, but we’re happy that we’ve found the best version in Miami. An alambre is essentially a cheesy multi-meat fajita platter. The version here starts with a base of stretchy Oaxaca cheese on the plancha. It gets loaded up with sauteed steak, chorizo, ham, bacon, onions, and peppers. Once the cheese is good and bubbly, the whole thing gets flipped over onto a plate so that the crusty, golden-brown cheese is on top. The next step: dig in with your fork and load up a tortilla with the super decadent filling.
Hot Buttered Lobster Roll
Why yes, we did write about another lobster roll last week. Are you keeping track? What are you, the lobster roll police? Anyway, this week’s version comes from The Shores, a vendor inside The Citadel that makes some of our favorite seafood sandwiches in town. Their lobster roll is meaty and intensely buttery (if you order the “hot buttered” version over the “chilled mayo,” which we did). Moving forward, it’s still going to be a tough decision between The Shores’ lobster roll and their fried oyster sandwich (so don’t choose and order both, which we did).
Supreme Square Pie
Old Greg’s has graduated from pop-up to a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Design District. And (since Greg’s would sell out in .05 seconds in their pop-up days) we were a little nervous about big lines at their new shop, which is located in the old Ghee space. But we stopped by for takeout on a Thursday just before 7pm, and there was no line and a handful of open tables. Better news? The thick, sourdough pizza is still really, really good. Plus, they’ve added round pies to the menu too, which are excellent. But the best bite we had was a crispy corner slice of the supreme square pie, which comes loaded with tomato, mozzarella, maitake and oyster mushrooms, onion, green peppers, olives, and pickled banana peppers.
La Mar’s bachiche tiradito ups the ante by including aged parmesan in the leche de tigre, which makes this dish an absolute umami bomb. It includes a few other Italian touches (bachiche is a nickname for Italian immigrants in Peru), like basil oil and crispy golden garlic chips. And we know this guide isn’t called The Best Things We Drank This Week, but we also thoroughly enjoyed La Mar’s cancha old fashioned, a less sweet version than many traditional old fashioneds. It’s made with bourbon infused with cancha, which are toasted Peruvian corn nuts. They give the cocktail a nutty, buttery flavor that reminds us of popcorn.
Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Cups From Exquisito Chocolates
We stopped at this gas station/convenience store on Coral Way for a bottle of water and found the Cave of Wonders. Besides having an amazing selection of wine, sake, craft beers, and even adaptogen-infused beverages to alleviate the effects of last night’s borrachera, they sell Miami’s very own Exquisito Chocolates. While we love the chocolate maker’s Little Havana storefront, it’s nice to know we can find their exquisite chocolates after they close shop for the day and on their days off. Their take on peanut butter cups are made with hazelnut ganache, and the description on the packaging says it better than us: “Picture if your favorite childhood treat went off and got its PhD.” These little bonbons really do feel like an upgraded version of what you’d get in your trick-or-treat bag.
Before you get too excited, we must warn you: Off Site’s lobster roll isn’t a full-time menu item. But recently, they’ve been making them on Saturdays. So when we saw this Little River nano-brewery announce another round of lobster rolls on Instagram, we showed up bright and early. We’re glad we did, because not only were they outstanding—buttery, tender, and not overdressed—but it’s so hard to find a proper lobster roll in Miami. Off Site also offers an expensive but luxurious caviar add-on option for your roll. Long story short, keep your eyes glued to Off Site’s Instagram. You don’t want to miss next lobster roll day.
This taco truck on Miami Gardens Drive is in that intermediate space that’s technically North Miami Beach but feels like Aventura. We were blown away by both the quality and the attention to detail here. Everything is delicious and tastes like what you’d find at a modern taqueria in Mexico City, but we completely fell head over heels in love with the costras. If you remember those double stuffed cheesy type things from Taco Bell, this may remind you of something similar but so, so, so much better. El Machine Gon melts Chihuahua cheese (no relation to the little dog) on a griddle until one side is crunchy, and then loads it up with meat or mushrooms before rolling it up into a crispy, cheesy log. It then gets stuffed into a blue corn tortilla with onions, jalapeños, and pureed avocado. Once you bite into the melty cheese, your mouth gets flooded with the juicy flavorful filling. This is definitely one of the best tacos in Miami right now.
Roasted Salmon Tail
Almost every dish we've ever had at Itamae is good enough to land on this roundup. But we’ll single out a recent plate that deserves to be in the Miami seafood hall of fame: the roasted tail. Itamae offers daily rotating roasted fish collars and tails (say that five times fast). The one pictured above is a massive salmon tail with crispy skin and a side of near-perfect sushi rice and salsa criolla. It was so fun to hack apart with a few friends, and easily the best preparation of salmon we’ve ever had.
Holy Schnitzel is a Kosher Israeli fast food restaurant in Aventura that got its start in New York, where it has a pretty strong following. We weren’t terribly impressed with their schnitzel sandwiches, which are rather dry and flavorless. However, their cholent is the best type of comfort food, especially on a cool night. This Thursday-only special is loaded with slow-braised beef, barley, root vegetables, and Kosher sausage. It’s subtly spiced while still being addictively flavorful. It’s also one of the most affordable things on the menu. We love this dish so much we’re thinking of creating a recurring calendar reminder to go get cholent at Holy Schnitzel every Thursday.
When someone first told us about The Food Truck Store, we pondered the very same question you’re probably asking yourself right now: Wait—is it a food truck, or a restaurant? It’s actually a restaurant that vaguely resembles a food truck inside. But all you really need to know is that this Argentinian import makes some very good burgers. We went with a classic double cheeseburger, which had two lovely seared patties and a soft, toasted bun. They have lots of options, though, including regional burgers like a Wisconsin butter burger and the Oklahoman masterpiece known as the fried onion burger.
Blue Collar Tower
Mignonette is one of the best seafood dinners you’ll find in Miami—especially if you order the Blue Collar Tower. It comes with a dozen oysters, a half dozen clams, shrimp cocktail, and the daily crudo (which happened to be cobia during our recent visit). It’s all delicious, fresh, and there’s just something so monarchical about eating a selection of raw seafood from something that resembles a skyscraper. It’s the ending King Kong deserved.
There’s been tons of exciting new pizza openings in Miami lately. But there is something comforting about an old school neighborhood spot that’s been around for decades and has never used the word “sourdough” once. Frankie’s on Bird Road is that kind of place. We picked up a pepperoni pie this week, and opted to get it “half-baked”—which basically means you get to finish cooking it at home. It’s a great option, because if you’re not afraid of using the broiler you can get the thin, square slices extra crispy.
Fried Chicken Sandwich
Off Site is a new bar and restaurant from two establishments we love: the now-closed Boxelder and Taquiza. Like Boxelder, Off Site is a small, chill space perfect for a beer and a conversation. Unlike Boxelder, they have a kitchen and are serving some of the best bar food you’ll find in Miami. Among that bar food is a phenomenal fried chicken sandwich. It’s the ideal size - big but not how-the-hell-am-I-going-to-eat-this big. The chicken is crunchy, juicy, and accompanied by just some shaved lettuce, pickles, and a toasted sesame seed bun. And it is officially our favorite fried chicken sandwich in Miami.
Dan Dan Noodles
Speaking of excellent bar food, Haochi’s pop-up residency at Union Beer Store recently hit their year anniversary. And their food has only gotten better. We stopped by on a Friday night and ordered just about every dumpling on the menu. It was all great. But the dan dan noodles, which weren’t on the menu during our first visit here, are pretty incredible. Chewy, pork-y, spicey, with a perfectly nutty flavor. This is what you want to be eating with a cold beer.
Wabi Sabi is another old favorite we recently checked back in on. And the Upper East Side Japanese restaurant is still great. They have a few omakase options - all $100 or less - but the chirashi omakase is the best deal. It comes with 12 great pieces of sashimi arranged over a bed of near-perfect sushi rice, all for $41. It’s certainly one of the best sushi decisions you can make in Miami for under $50.
Basque cheese tart
There are lots of good, fancy things to eat at Leku, a Basque restaurant inside Allapattah’s Rubell Museum. But there is one menu item that you should be legally required to order: the Basque cheese tart. This Basque version of a cheesecake has a charred exterior, and a runny, creamy interior that just barely holds together. It’s delicious - and not too sweet and rich like some American cheesecakes. It took only one bite for this slice to move into my personal top 10 Miami Dessert Power Rankings.
Mimi's is permanently closed
Mimi’s is a new Edgewater restaurant that operates as a cafe and bakery during the day, and transitions to serving dinner at night. And you’ll find a really good burger on that dinner menu, which I added to our list of Miami’s best burgers approximately four hours after I finished it. The thick, six-ounce patty is covered in American cheese, a pile of caramelized onions, and is held together by a soft, squishy bun. It’s a burger that’ll leave you full and satisfied, especially if you finish the very good fries it comes with.
Char Siu Brisket Bun
I went to Zitz Sum on their second day in business. I thought it was great, but it’s also hard to judge a restaurant on its second day in business. So I visited again now that they have about five months under their belt. And I can now confidently say that “great” was a massive understatement - it’s one of the very best restaurants in Miami. Every dish I tried was exciting and delicious, but it was the char siu brisket bun that truly made me want to dance on the ceiling like Lionel Richie. The fluffy bun had a golden brown, crispy bottom, came with a delightful hot sauce, and was filled perfectly with tender brisket. Now here’s the part where I break your heart: it’s not a regular menu item. They debuted the buns during a recent collab dinner with Wolf of Tacos, and added them to their Happy Hour menu last week. Will they become a permanent addition to the menu? We’re certainly hoping. And next time you see them post about these on their Instagram, make a reservation like your life depends on it.
I published a guide to the best $10 (or less) meals in Miami last week. And even though Mi Colombia’s bandeja paisa costs $11, it’s still one of the best food deals in town. The delicious plate comes piled high with steak, fried pork rind, beans, plantains, rice, avocado, and an egg. If you finish it all, you get nothing except for our respect and admiration.
Pan Con Lechon
Another great thing from that $10 guide was the pan con lechon from Papo Llega Y Pon, which is an essential Allapattah spot. It’s getting harder and harder to find affordable sandwiches this good in the City of Miami. Papo Llega’s version comes with shredded lechon, diced white onions, a little mojo and hot sauce, and soft Cuban bread. And I wouldn’t change a single thing about it.
Pan Con Tomate
The pan con tomate is proof that some of the most delicious things in life are also the simplest. And while Aita’s version is a little less simple than the ones I’ve tried thanks to the addition of mussels, peppers, and little dollops of a fantastic aioli situation - it’s also probably the best I’ve ever had. Aita is a new vendor in MIA market, a Design District food hall, that identifies as a “somewhat Spanish snack bar.” This place is really worth a trip if you’re looking for lunch in the area, not only for the pan con tomate, but also for the shrimp skewers, the patatas bravas, and just about everything else on their great menu.
Chicken Al Mattone
Silverlake Bistro is back after closing for summer, which is a thing some Miami restaurants understandably do. So I went to welcome them back to North Beach this week, and also to work my way through more of their great menu, which includes a new dish: chicken al mattone. The chicken has ridiculously crispy skin, and it’s placed over a bed of roasted potatoes and translucent onions, which soak up the chicken’s juices. In short, this place is still great, and next time you just can’t think of a place to go to dinner, the answer is Silverlake.
When I heard El Bagel was selling knish this week, I rushed to my computer with the intensity of a 17-year-old hypebeast trying to buy the newest pair of Yeezys. Thankfully, the knish was a lot easier to snag than the latest popular sneaker. It also tasted considerably better (I assume) thanks to a great stuffing of confit garlic, cream cheese, and potato.
This week I went back to Jaguar Sun for the first time since they moved back into their Downtown dining room after doing outdoor pop-ups for the last year. Aside from a slightly different table layout, this place feels like the same restaurant, which is a good thing because Jaguar Sun has always been excellent. Their menu is pretty much the same too. And this is also a good thing, because it means I got to eat their corn agnolotti and it’s one of the loveliest bowls of pasta in Miami.
I am fairly confident I have never seen the word “meatloaf” appear on a menu in Miami. But that changed when I visited the newly-renovated Chug’s in Coconut Grove, and I’m thrilled to report that it’s one of the best new dishes in town. Yes, it sort of looks like something you’d see in an American food magazine from the ’50s - but it tastes wonderful. The meat is super flavorful - nicely charred on the outside and tender inside - and the side of creamy mashed potatoes, peas, and carrots, is the perfect accompaniment. If this is a sign of the great meatloaf resurgence, I couldn’t be happier.
Eleventh Street Pizza is another place I recently checked in on after some renovations. The old Fooq’s-turned-slice shop looks great, with a new interior, and some indoor and outdoor tables so folks can dine in. Their NY-style pizza is obviously what you’re eating here, but - if you happen to be with a few hungry friends or just want lots of leftovers - get the lasagna too. It’s really good, with a gorgeous bubbled, charred exterior, and appropriately cheesy layers of eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms. It’s also a great takeout option for those nights when you want lasagna but are also feeling way too lazy to actually make lasagna.
I’m refreshing our guide to Miami pop-ups this week, so I stopped by J Wakefield (the unofficial home of the Miami pop-up) to try a new one: The Maiz Project. They’re outside Wakefield on Thursdays, cooking up some stellar arepas. My favorite was the steak, which came covered in a delicious chimichurri. The maize dough they used also created a thinner and crispier arepa than I’m used to - which made it a much more manageable (and delicious) bar snack.
La Birra is an Argentinian burger spot that recently opened its first US location in North Miami, claiming to make “the world’s best burger.” And while it is not the world’s best, it is really, really good - and much better than I normally expect from a fast-casual chain. There are a borderline overwhelming amount of burgers to pick from - but I went with the golden burger, because it looked really gorgeous in its menu photo. It was pretty in real life too, with two patties covered in melted American cheese, finely diced onions, and a mayo-based sauce binding everything together. But the best part about this burger might be the buns they bake in house. They’re kind of a perfect burger bun - squishy but not soggy, and dotted with a light sprinkling of sesame seeds.
Ceibeno Con Pollo Frito
After battling an unexpectedly strong current (and a surprise manatee encounter that scared the pants off both of us) while paddleboarding in Key Biscayne this week, I needed a hearty meal. So I ordered takeout from Adelita’s Cafe, a casual Honduran spot in Little Haiti I really like. I switched up my order this week from my usual baleada and went with the ceibeno with fried chicken. It’s a comically large Honduran dish consisting of plantains and fried chicken covered in a mountain of shaved cabbage, tomato, and carrot. Hearty is an understatement. This is the meal you want after running a marathon - or accidentally paddling over a sleeping manatee.
Boat Noodle Soup
This week I followed the advice from one of our recent guides, The Best Restaurants On 163rd Street, and went to Panya Thai. I ordered the boat noodle soup, which was a dish called out by Carlos Olaechea, the author of the guide. And what great advice it was. If this list was called “The Best Things We Ate This Year,” this soup would easily make the cut. The fantastic broth is sweet, sour, and spicy. Also swimming inside the huge bowl: rice noodles, sliced pork, little pork meatballs, crispy pork rinds, and assorted herbage.
Toothfairy Bakery is permanently closed
Taro & Strawberry Soft Serve
I swung by Toothfairy Bakery for a dessert run this week. The South Beach dessert shop is one of three new concepts that just opened in the old Firestone complex on Alton Road. I can’t vouch for the other two yet, but if you are a fan of all things sugar, Toothfairy is really worth the trip. Everything here was great - especially the oatmeal cream pie, which has a wonderful, subtle coconut flavor. But the star of the show is the soft serve. It’s hands-down some of Miami’s best ice cream, and the tarro/strawberry flavor combination is just what you want on an 85-degree Miami night.
We’ve got a new Meet In The Middle guide coming soon. It’ll have suggestions of places where Broward and Miami residents can meet at restaurants that are located roughly between the two counties. One of those places is Le Tub, an old school Hollywood seafood restaurant. And while the seafood here is great, you come to Le Tub for another reason: their massive Sirloinburger. It’s the size of a softball and truly deserves its own historical designation as well as a statue inside the state capitol, because it’s a legendary South Florida burger. And I’m very thankful this guide gave me another excuse to eat this gloriously rare (as in temperature) burger.
Fried Chikn Sandwich
Isabel’s is a plant-based pop-up I’ve been wanting to try for a while. They bounce around a lot, so keep an eye on their Instagram for their latest location info. But, at the time of this writing, you can find them at the Coconut Grove farmer’s market on Saturdays. Hopefully, when you do find them (look for the pink tent), they’ll be serving this fried “chikn” sandwich, because it was a crunchy little delight - even after hanging out for 23 minutes in our passenger seat. The “chikn” in this sandwich is actually fried oyster mushrooms, and it’s better than a solid majority of Miami’s fried chicken sandwiches using actual chicken.
I’m doing some research for a new steakhouse guide, which led me to Edge Steak & Bar, an upscale spot inside Brickell’s Four Seasons. It very much feels like a fancy hotel restaurant - so use this more for business dinners than a fun night out. But the steak here was excellent, especially the wagyu churrasco. It was perfectly medium rare, had a great sear, and was super flavorful despite being such a lean cut. Also, the Aussie lamb chops deserve an honorable mention, too. Come here next time you’ve got access to a corporate card and are craving red meat.
Hoja Taqueria Downtown is permanently closed
Shrimp & Potato Flautas
If you are seeking out great Mexican food in Downtown, go to Hoja Taqueria. The little spot pumps out some really good tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and a fantastic tres leches cake. But the star of their menu really are the crispy shrimp and potato flautas. I’ve had them in takeout form before, but I sat down to eat at the small restaurant for the first time this week. Now I can confirm that the flautas taste even better when paired with one of Hoja’s excellent smoky pineapple margaritas.
I hadn’t been to Itamae since they opened in December. Back then, the Design District Nikkei spot wasn’t doing dinner service yet, and had a slightly different menu too, so it was a good time to check back in on this place. A longer review is coming shortly, but for now, just know that this is hands-down one of the best restaurants in Miami. Every dish is a home run, and this is especially true for the topneck clams: six meaty clams simply dressed with a little dashi, lime, and ají limo. Each bite starts with a punch of citrus, then settles into a briney aftertaste that feels like being slapped by the ocean. An absolutely perfect way to start dinner at an absolutely perfect restaurant.
This former Detroit-style pizza pop-up now has a home in South Beach’s Time Out Market, and I picked up a few pies this week to see if the thick and crispy slices were as good as I remember from when they were located behind Boxelder. Turns out, they are. However, one important thing to know is that there is an option to order the pizza “well done.” Do it. It ensures the crust is going to be a little more on the crispy side, which is an objectively good thing.
Even though Miami’s pop-up scene has settled down a bit this year, there are still some great ones. We’re working on an updated guide to them right now, which is why we placed an order with Liger’s this week. Liger’s is all about cookies - soft, chewy cookies that are dangerously easy to eat a dozen of within five minutes. Chocolate chip is normally the move here, but they just added some lemon cookies to their menu that are outstanding, and have just enough lemon flavor and a thin icing that cracks and melts in your mouth when you bite into it. They offer delivery and pick-up at Andrew in Downtown. There’s more info about that on their website.
Gnocchi Alla Norcina
Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night, panicked, and say out loud: “I need to go back to [insert restaurant I haven’t visited in over a year.] Up until this weekend, Boia De was one of those restaurants keeping me up at night. But I finally found a reservation (not the easiest thing to do) and reunited with the little Italian restaurant. The result? Boia De is not only as good as I remember, it’s about 276% better. Every dish was worthy of its own billboard, but especially the gnocchi alla norcina, a plate of pasta as luxurious as a Bentley wrapped in a fur coat. The bowl of fluffy gnocchi comes with chunks of sausage from Proper Sausage, and a light blizzard of shaved black truffle. It’s a dish worth waking you up out of a deep REM sleep.
Lamb Kabob Platter
We’re currently working on a guide to what’s quite possibly the tastiest street in Miami: NE 163rd St. And one spot that’s definitely making that guide is Kabobji, an excellent Lebanese restaurant. Everything here is great, especially the exceptional freshly baked pita. I also really loved the lamb kabob platter. The meat was tender, beautifully spiced, and it went so well with jallab, a fruity and refreshing drink made with date syrup and rose water.
Uchi, a new Japanese restaurant in Wynwood, is another place I recently followed up on. And, again, this spot has only gotten better. If I have one tiny, little issue with Uchi, it’s that their huge menu can be really tough to navigate. But, there is a way around this obstacle: your server. Ours, perhaps sensing some ordering anxiety, asked what we liked, how much we wanted to spend, and proceeded to course out a really incredible meal. That meal ended with something particularly incredible: Uchi’s karaage chicken. This should really be on the table whenever you eat here. The little chunks of fried chicken thigh are coated in this slightly sweet (and just a touch sour) sauce that’s just so good.
7th Cafe is permanently closed
Every time I go to Rosie’s in Overtown, I think, Wow, this place is as good as it gets. But then I go back only to discover that they’ve somehow managed to get even better. That’s what happened this week when I tried their pastrami hash for the very first time. It’s a big pile of house-smoked pastrami, crispy cubed potatoes, sweet potato sformato, roasted scallion vinaigrette, with a heavy snowfall of parmesan shaved over the whole thing. Despite being full of very rich things like pastrami and cheese, it was still somehow balanced and delicate and I kind of wish I ordered two, because it reheated wonderfully the next day.
Foirette is permanently closed
Pulled Chicken Sandwich
Someone DM’d our Instagram page this week and urged me to try the sandwiches at Foirette, a vendor inside MIA Market in the Design District. So when I found myself in the area conducting some unrelated sushi research, I decided to take their advice. And my mouth/stomach/soul would sincerely like to thank that person, because the pulled chicken sandwich is so damn good. It consists of juicy strips of rotisserie chicken with scallion, cucumber, avocado, and a chili bonito aioli - all on a brioche bun. Every bite is a little crunchy and creamy, with perfectly cooked chunks of chicken. And now I will be sliding into people’s DM’s and begging them to order it.
I recently checked in on NIU Kitchen, one of my favorite restaurants in Miami. During the pandemic, they had to merge with their sister restaurant, Arson. But the good news is that this place is still great. The even better news is that they still serve one of the best dishes in Miami: the Ous. It’s a bowl of runny poached eggs, truffled potato foam, black truffle, and crispy bits of jamón ibérico. You mix the whole thing up and then spend the next five minutes absorbing every last drop of this magical mixture with bread. Don’t expect to have a conversation while you eat this - unless you plan to communicate exclusively in moans.
Parker House Rolls
This week was the last week of Jaguar Sun’s outdoor pop-up at Lot 6, so I went to say goodbye to what was easily the best pandemic dining experience in Miami. That’s still such a strange sentence to type. Anyway, the good news is that Jaguar Sun is returning to their original Downtown dining room soon (follow their Instagram for dates). And more good news: They will continue to serve their fluffy Parker House Rolls, which just might be my favorite bread in Miami.
2021 is all about catching up with old friends you haven’t seen in way too long. For me, this means visiting Blue Collar at least once a month. This MiMo restaurant is as good as it’s ever been, and their cheeseburger is still firmly in the conversation for the city’s best. I attribute this to two things: the dry-aged NY strip patty and the slightly sweet Portuguese muffin they use for the bun.
Shelter is permanently closed
Octopus Hot Dog
Shelter is yet another New York restaurant that flew south to Miami this year. The Argentinian spot landed in Wynwood, where it serves some very good empanadas, decent pizza, and various other dishes inside a dining room that looks like a hunting lodge collided with a coworking space. The food here wasn’t bad though, especially the bacon-wrapped octopus hot dog. The bacon was nice and crispy, there was some pickled slaw on top, and, while it was more of a snack than a $20 entree, we thoroughly enjoyed it.
This week, I took my own advice and hit up a spot from our guide to Restaurants Perfect For A Day Trip Outside Miami. I chose West Palm Beach’s Tropical Smokehouse (and paired it with a visit to the lovely Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens). This place is excellent, and should be on the radar of all South Florida smoked meat enthusiasts. The ribs, fish dip, and key lime pie are all outstanding. But my favorite thing here was their old fashioned hamburger, a really simple but perfect handheld burger wrapped up all nice and neat inside a paper bag. It made me want to buy a timeshare within walking distance.
The Citadel has a new seafood vendor called The Shores, and if you’re a fan of Florida seafood (especially fried Florida seafood) then you should make a trip here soon. Everything I ordered was great - the Dungeness crab dip, grouper sandwich, mac and cheese - but the standout was the fried oyster sandwich. The oysters were perfectly crispy, and served on two thick slices of bread with crunchy iceberg lettuce, a tomato slice, and some sort of creamy mayo situation. It also came with beautiful house potato chips. It’s easily one of my new favorite sandwiches in town.
Every bite of food at Cote could be on this list, but in the interest of space, let’s single out the Korean bacon. I recommend ordering this appetizer as strongly as I recommend binge watching Mare of Eastown. The thick slices of smoked pork belly are to bacon what a tyrannosaurus rex is to the common lizard. And the entire time I was eating this, I was thinking, “Please, Cote, open up a breakfast restaurant and serve these on an English muffin.” I still endorse this concept.
Normally, this list is reserved for food - but this week I drank (ate?) a cocktail that deserves a bit of attention. It was Orilla’s Seashore Martini, and it’s one of the few cocktails in town I think is actually worth $24. It’s prepared tableside, filtered through cubes of pink Himalayan salt, and then the bartender pours it from way above the glass to oxygenate the vermouth, which, if nothing else, makes you feel better about the fact that you just spent $24 on a martini. It’s finished with a few drops of basil pesto that floats atop the martini, and every sip of this thing is just delightful.
Banana Dulce De Leche Ice Cream
This week, I’m updating our ice cream guide in time for summer. And the Italian/Argentinian spot Below Zero is joining the list. This little scoop shop on the outskirts of MiMo is easy to miss from the street (and not much to look at inside either). However, the ice cream here is very good, and they have some great flavors like stracciatella, cannoli, and a perfectly balanced banana dulce de leche. There were other good desserts here too, like frozen alfajores and mini ice cream cakes. I still have half a frozen alfajor and a pint of stracciatella in my freezer, and I’m counting down the minutes until it’s a socially acceptable hour to eat both.
Alidoro is permanently closed
I am constantly searching for a great Italian sandwich the way meerkats constantly scan the horizon for predators. And this week, I found a great new option at the recently-opened Oasis Wynwood, an outdoor food hall/concert venue/bar. One of the vendors on the property is Alidoro, a sandwich shop from New York City. I got the Gothamist, which comes with prosciutto, sun-dried tomato paste, lemon basil pesto, and a healthy amount of burrata. It was a little messy, but very satisfying. There are about a dozen more hot and cold sandwich options - and it is my personal goal to try them all by July.
On Cinco de Mayo, I hit up my local taco people over at Uptown 66 for takeout. Everything was good, but I’d like to use this time to celebrate their nachos, which were great and came with a perfect distribution of roasted corn, pickled jalapeno, spring onion, radish. But what really blew my mind was that they put the nachos in a pizza box. I’m sure they’re not the first people to do this, but - wow - what a brilliant bit of takeout engineering. It allowed the nachos to stay evenly dispersed and crispy, and they even put the queso on the side so things wouldn’t get soggy in transit.
Burger Bob's is permanently closed
In case you haven’t seen yet, our Burger Guide is out in the world. It’s full of 19 outstanding burgers, and one of the last ones I tried during my research was at Burger Bobs. What a fantastic little slice of Miami history this place is. It’s a cash-only diner located on a Coral Gables golf course that’s been in business for over 50 years. The cheeseburger cost just over $5, and looks like it just came out of a time machine. In all seriousness, it was actually pretty good - and if you’re ever in the Gables craving a diner breakfast or a quick cheeseburger, please pay Bob a visit.
I’m always looking for a great new pizza in Miami, because everyone loves pizza, but not everyone has the time to try all of them. Thankfully, I do, and this week I made it over to Collins Pizza, which is so good I added it our list of Miami’s Best Pizza. I’m hardly the first to catch on to this simple North Beach slice spot. The pizza here is the closest thing to a classic New York slice in...maybe the whole city? They use a slowly fermented dough (72 hours, in case you were curious), which gives the crust a great flavor. I picked up a pepperoni and vodka pie. Both were foldable and delicious, with perfect ratios of sauce to cheese. But the vodka is one I’ll absolutely be ordering again.
World Famous Five Cheese Truffle Mac & Cheese
It was a Sunday night and the words “mac and cheese” were bouncing around in my head like a couple ping pong balls. So, I placed an order at House of Mac, a Miami spot with locations in Wynwood and North Miami. The five cheese truffle mac and cheese was very tasty, and made for a great takeout experience because it comes in an aluminum bowl you can pop right in the oven to warm up. Also, don’t sleep on the wings here. They’re perfectly fried, delicious, and come with a satisfying amount of sauce options. I picked hot honey and it was a great choice.
This week I was very excited to finally check out Zitz Sum, a new restaurant in Coral Gables and former pandemic dumpling takeout operation. They just opened up a really cute new restaurant inside an office building, and everything here was delicious. There’s plenty of non-dumpling dishes worth your time (like the fried rice, crudo, and charred cabbage) but I really loved the har gow: four plump dumplings with shrimp, lemongrass, makrut lime, and tomatillo.
Cajun Fried Okra
I’ve been driving by Big Mama’s BBQ for a couple months now, and every time I pass the little outdoor barbecue spot on 79th Street, I make a mental note to order from them. This week, one of those notes finally stuck, and I got some ribs, cornbread, mac and cheese, and Cajun fried okra. The ribs were good, but the sides were even better - especially the Cajun fried okra. The little nuggets of golden brown okra are crispy, well seasoned, and taste good dipped in the sweet barbecue sauce - or all by themselves.
Cheesy Gaucho Empanada
Another place on 79th Street I pass by way too often: Half Moon Empanadas. They have a few locations scattered around Miami, but the 79th Street location is a casual walk-up window, where you can grab a six-pack of some really great empanadas to bring to the beach - or back home to your couch. I got a few (all delicious) but I really liked the cheesy gaucho, which has a list of fillings that requires a very deep breath to say out loud: ground beef, diced onion, red pepper, black beans, corn, bacon, mozzarella, asiago, provolone, and chimichurri.
Pounded Yam With Egusi
Miami has very few African restaurants, which is all the more reason to support the ones we’ve got. And it’s easy to support a place like Moji, because the food here is great. Moji, a casual spot with a pool table and some counter seating, specializes in West African food. They don’t take orders over the phone, so I had to come in person to get my egusi with fufu (pounded yam) and jollof rice. Both were very tasty, but the egusi with pounded yam is definitely something I’ll be ordering again. Moji makes this stew very spicy, with hunks of braised meat, bell peppers, onion, spinach, and a big ball of fluffy pounded yam for dipping and absorbing.
I had one of the best dinners in recent memory at the new Coral Gables Italian restaurant Luca Osteria. Everything here was fantastic, from the opening plate of prosciutto through the simple, excellent cacio e pepe. But the one true must-order-or-else-risk-a-lifetime-of-regret dish here is the patate fritte. It’s a bowl of little fried potato balls blanketed underneath a layer of silky parmigiano fonduta, black truffle, and an egg yolk. You get to mix the whole thing together once it hits the table, and then spend the next seven minutes seriously debating whether or not to order a second helping.
I ordered takeout from Overtown’s Lil Greenhouse Grill this week, and really enjoyed just about everything I got. The highlight, however, were the rib tips. If you’ve never been fortunate enough to enjoy a great version of this barbecue classic, then place an order here soon. Greenhouse’s rib tips are tender and delicious, but the best part might be the sweet barbecue sauce they apply generously.
Pastel De Nata
I’m currently researching a new bakery guide, and a few weeks ago I asked for suggestions on our Instagram. More than one commenter shouted out Majestic Portuguese Bakehouse on Coral Way, and I’m so glad they did, because it led me to this very delicious pastel de nata. I’m ashamed to say this was my first time trying one of these famous Portuguese pastries. But I am excited to say it will not be my last, because I plan on coming back here on a monthly basis and ordering a dozen.
Gochugaru & Red Bean Brownie
I finally got around to placing an order at 2 Korean Girls, a delivery-and-takeout-only spot based in Coconut Grove. It was a fine meal, but the highlight was dessert - specifically the gochugaru and red bean brownie. It is true that I’ve never met a brownie I didn’t like, but it’s also true that I’ve never met a brownie as exciting as this one. It was soft and gooey, but the gochugaru gives it a very subtle yet highly enjoyable lingering spice right at the very end. Absolutely add this to your order.