The Hit List is where you’ll find our favorite new food and drink experiences in Miami - whether they be pop-ups, pivots, or exciting new restaurants. Each month, we track new openings across the city, and then visit as many as we can. While this isn’t an exhaustive list of every good new spot, one thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include places that we have genuinely checked out, either in-person or for takeout.
Our goal is for this list to be as diverse as the city itself - inclusive of a wide range of cuisines, price points, neighborhoods, chefs and owners of all backgrounds, and the multifaceted communities within the industry. If you think we missed a great new place, we want to hear about it. Shoot us an email at email@example.com
Throw a library, a wine bar, some tinned fish, and a glob of sourdough starter into a cauldron, stir a few times, and you get Paradis Books & Bread. The excellent little North Miami spot straddles the line between bar and restaurant. You can certainly come here just to drink, read, and chat. But it’d be a shame if you didn’t order at least something to snack on, like the tinned sardines served with seaweed butter and slices of fresh bread. The pizza is outstanding as well, and has a delicious light brown crust that tastes like whole wheat dough that just got back from a delightful vacation with a loaf of sourdough. Inside, Paradis is only one room, with a few tables and bar seating great for a date. But there’s an outdoor area with round tables that are better for bigger groups too.
I tend to be as suspicious of a big, new Wynwood restaurant as I am of an unknown number that wants to talk to me about money I’m owed by the IRS - which could be mine if I just provide a simple DNA sample. But Doya is a wonderful surprise, and dinner here is as delightful as finding out the IRS does, in fact, owe you $5,000. There was really nothing I didn’t enjoy about Doya. The big Aegean restaurant has some lovely outdoor seating, and a spacious dining room that’s pretty enough for a date but casual enough for an easy Wednesday dinner. The best part about Doya is the food, though. The menu is a huge list of meze plates, and everything I ordered was great. The octopus in the octopus salad was as tender as fresh mozzarella, my lamb kebab was beautifully cooked, and the huge mussels were served in a perfectly balanced wine and garlic sauce. It was not only an excellent dinner, but might make me actually hear out that person who claims to be with the IRS next time they call.
I’m a sucker for a good speakeasy, and I’ll go anywhere that involves walking past a dining room full of people to another smaller dining room that those people aren’t aware of. This is the set up at Kojin, a small counter that seats about eight in the back of Little River’s Hachidori Ramen Bar. But the novelty of feeling like a secret agent is only a small part of what makes Kojin great. They also serve a very good rotating menu of Japanese small plates, which you can order a la carte or as a $75 six-course tasting menu. I did the latter, and didn’t regret it. The meal started with an excellent Caesar salad with shredded nori, Sasanian roe, and katsubushi. There was a tartare featuring tuna that had been tied into little bows, savory tomatoes in a bowl of dashi, and a great chawanmushi with a jiggly egg in the center. Also, sake. There will be a lot of that too if you opt for the $45 sake pairing, which is not a bad idea. And even though this might sound like a super fancy meal, the husband/wife team who run Kojin make it feel more like a dinner party where no one will judge you for pounding the table in delight, or having 30% more sake than you should have.
Benh Mi started as a pandemic pop-up run out of a laid-off chef’s kitchen. But now it’s an actual restaurant just off South Beach’s Española Way, where it stands as both a testament to the power of a good sandwich, and the home of the best bánh mì in Miami. There are five bánh mì options on the menu, with versions centered around a cheesy egg omelette, char siu mushroom, fried chicken, roasted pork, and short rib. Everything about them is perfect - the bread is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the sliced veggies and herbs play their role without overwhelming the flavor of the main ingredient. Benh Mi is more suited for a quick lunch or beach picnic pit stop than a big group dinner. There’s more good stuff on the menu too, like crispy waffle fries, spring rolls, green papaya salad, and rotating ice cream from Frice. But the main reason to come to Benh Mi is simply because you’re in the mood for Miami’s best bánh mì.
It was very hard to decide what I liked most about Cote, a Korean steakhouse in the Design District. There was the fact that the entire staff seemed to be sharing a single consciousness like a beehive, as they effortlessly tended to the beef sizzling away on the grill located in the center of the table. There was the restaurant’s design, which made me feel like I was eating 1,000 years in the future. And then there was the fact that everything - from the tangy ceviche to the melt-in-your-mouth ribeye - was just amazing. And when added all together, these things make Cote one of the most exciting restaurants in the city. If it’s your first time here, definitely start with the Butcher’s Feast, a $58 per person tasting menu that feels like a 90-minute performance dedicated to all things protein.
Like Goldilocks and her porridge, it can be hard to find an omakase that’s “just right” - one that hits that sweet spot between formal and informal, suspiciously cheap and give-your-accountant-a-heart-attack expensive. But Mr. Omakase in Downtown walks that line perfectly. I’m not going to call dinner here cheap, but both the 10 and 14-course options come in under $100 (at least before service, taxes, and sake), which is better than most upscale omakase options. The space has a dozen or so counter seats, and the service is attentive - but never suffocating. Every piece of fish, uni, or beef that was put in front of me seemingly got better and better, like a well-paced action movie. And by the time I reached the A5 wagyu, I wanted to stand up and applaud.
Like any proper barbecue restaurant, El Balbiquiu in North Bay Village can satisfy cravings for things like brisket and ribs and pulled pork. But this place also incorporates delicious Puerto Rican and Latin influences into its food - and it makes for one of the more interesting barbecue experiences in Miami. Sometimes the influence is subtle, like in the chimichurri sprinkled atop the brisket or the adobo seasoning in the pulled pork. And other times it’s loud and obvious, like in the incredible tripleta sandwich or the towering and delicious brisket mofongo, which looks a bit like a volcano with big pieces of brisket spilling over the sides. And, like with all great barbecue spots, the sides are outrageously good (especially the corn ribs). They offer beer and a few bottles of wine, but don’t expect to be able to hold a conversation once the food hits the table.
I visited this Coral Gables restaurant on the third day they opened. And, after searching for the restaurant (which is located inside an office building), I knew immediately that I wanted dumplings. That’s because this place started as a former pandemic dumpling delivery pop-up, and, predictably, both the plump pink shrimp har gow and the chicken potstickers, which sat on a pile of tingly Sichuan chili, were delicious. But there was also a tasty crudo that involved strawberries, a charred cabbage with habanero butter, and fried rice with a creamy egg, bits of snap pea, and crunchy bites of crispy rice. The food itself was enough to make me want to come back, but the restaurant is also the perfect size for a date or catch-up dinner with a friend who appreciates the tingly sensation of Sichuan spice. They’ve also got a small menu of natural and biodynamic wine as well as a courtyard with pet-friendly outdoor seating.
Abba Telavivian Kitchen is an Israeli restaurant in South of Fifth that serves some really excellent food. It’s a good choice for a sit-down breakfast or lazy lunch. The breakfast menu is a little smaller, but you can still find a great shakshuka or Jerusalem bagel. The bigger lunch menu has more very good dishes, like crispy falafel and roasted local fish. They also recently opened for dinner service, offering dishes like grilled lamb chops, tomato and watermelon salad, and sumac chicken shashlik.
I woke up at 6:43am the morning after having dinner at Luca Osteria, an Italian restaurant in Coral Gables, and panicked. I realized I forgot the leftovers in the car. So I got up and retrieved the last bits of perfectly al dente cacio pepe, and citrusy bucatini alle vongole with tender manila clams. There were also a few bites left of the patate fritte, which was one of the best dishes I’ve had all year. The plate of little fried potato balls comes topped with a layer of parmigiano fonduta, black truffle, and an egg yolk, which you mix together. Everything I ate here was just phenomenal, and it’s easily one of the best Italian restaurants in Miami right now. There’s a lot of outdoor seating along a pedestrian-only street, and a simple dining room great for a date or dinner with the parents. But you really don’t need a specific situation to come here. Just come here, order the patate fritte, and, please, remember to take the leftovers out of the car.
The Downtown restaurant Fooq’s is now Eleventh Street Pizza. This is, like, their third pandemic pivot - all of which have been really delicious (especially the short-lived pasta concept, Da Lida). So, it wasn’t a huge surprise when Eleventh Street Pizza, which serves New York Style pies to-go, turned out to be great. There’s nothing too complicated going on here - just tasty pizzas with sourdough crust that you don’t have to be a New Yorker to appreciate. My favorite was the pepperoni and hot honey pizza, which comes topped with Calabrian chili paste, sweet caramelized onions, and little pepperoni cups. They also offer a great Sicilian square slice, which is actually more like four slices worth of pizza.
Sometimes you know you’re going to love a movie after the very first scene. Dinner can be like that too. At Casa Isola, a new Italian spot in Sunset Harbour, that first scene was the pane al prosciutto: a warm little circle of bread with cubes of prosciutto baked in and a parmesan honey butter for smearing. After that, I had the same thought I have during the first five minutes of most A24 movies: this is going to be good. And it was - from the simple but delicious rigatoni alla vodka to the massive veal chop parmigiana that arrives plated alongside the deep-fried bone it was once attached to. The food’s all great, served in big portions, and it’s the reason to love Casa Isola. They have some outdoor seating and a dining room you’ve probably seen in another Italian restaurant somewhere, with fake vines wrapped around an indoor pergola. But luckily the food is good enough to make this place as memorable as the best movie you watched this year.
I’ve never been to the original Uchi, but I did once walk by it in Austin and mumble, “Hey, that’s Uchi. I’ve heard of Uchi.” So when I saw they were opening a location in Wynwood, I grabbed a reservation as soon as I could. I’m glad I did, because the Uchi hype is well-deserved and they’re making some of the best sushi in Miami. Dinner was a blur of small plates. There were tasting menu options, but I ordered a la carte and the dishes came out one after the other with excellent timing between courses. I remember being particularly in love with the unagi, the hama chili, and the Hokkaido uni sashimi, which were four delicious lumps of uni topped with pineapple and wrapped in a shiso leaf. Oh, also the fried milk dessert is just as fantastic as it sounds. Uchi does have outdoor seating, though it is located alongside the driveway of an apartment building, so expect a steady stream of cars and loud motorcycles to roll by. Also, portions here aren’t quite designed to get you stuffed, so don’t fast for 24 hours before your reservation.
When a New York restaurant opens in Miami, I typically Slack one of my many New York coworkers to get some intel. And when Jeepney, a New York Filipino restaurant, announced it was opening a stall in Wynwood’s 1-800-Lucky, I was told to “go eat it ASAP” and to also “get burg if you see burg.” I took that advice, and am now passing it along to you. Even though Jeepney only occupies a small corner of 1-800-Lucky, they’re pumping out some great Filipino dishes. The Lechon Express is a plate of twice-cooked pork belly with a crispy skin that melts in your mouth. They also serve an excellent sisig, with bits of crispy pork, onions, garlic, peppers, and a freshly-cracked egg you get to mix in yourself. And that burger? Also outstanding. It comes with a patty made from ground beef and cured pork sausage, a sweet challah bun, an egg, and it’s worth Slacking a coworker over.
I ordered takeout from Taqueria Hoja, a small taco spot in Downtown, and got flautas, a couple of burritos, and some tacos. While I was waiting for the flautas and burritos to warm up in the oven, I decided to go ahead and eat my koji sweet potato taco over the sink, which is always an appropriate place to eat a taco in my opinion. Never before had I been sadder to finish a taco, because it was outstanding - a little sweet and savory with an amazing morita sauce made from peanuts and almonds. I was furiously upset that I didn’t order 17 of them, until I realized there was more food waiting for me in the oven. That stuff - which included crispy shrimp and potato flautas and a simple but delicious carne asada burrito - was also good enough to make me sad when it was gone. But thankfully, Taqueria Hoja will still be there next time my taco cravings hit. And you can bet I’m ordering at least three sweet potato tacos next time.
I have come to expect certain things from Kush Hospitality, the folks behind Lokal, Kush, Kush Coconut Grove, and Kush Hialeah. Among these things: excellent burgers, fun restaurants, and very interesting bathrooms. The team’s newest spot, Cafe Kush, delivers on all of the above - though the bathrooms aren’t quite as awesome as the Walter Mercado-themed one at Kush Hialeah. Located inside MiMo’s Gold Dust Hotel, Cafe Kush has a slight French tilt to its menu, with new dishes like steak frites, croque monsieur, and ratatouille. There are also a couple of Kush classics, like the frita burger and collier county chicken sandwich. If you come here, ask for a table in the “riviera” seating, which is a little outdoor patio along a small canal where I have seen many manatees before.
When I heard Itamae, an excellent Nikkei spot that initially debuted in a Design District food hall, was going to open its own restaurant, I was way too excited. I probably checked their Instagram page on a weekly basis for updates. I even ended up interviewing Nando and Val Chang about the process of opening during a pandemic, which sounded like a planetary-size headache. But the new Itamae finally debuted in late November, and it exceeded my already-high expectations. The cebiche, tiraditos, and sushi rolls here are just as good - if not better - than I remembered. There are new things on the menu too, like torrejitas de choclo (fried corn fritters), an outstanding jasmine cream dessert, and a selection of natural wines, which you can enjoy while sitting outside in the Design District’s Palm Court. After only a few weeks in business, I not only feel comfortable saying Itamae is one of the best new restaurants in Miami - but one of the best restaurants, period.
Rosie’s caught me off guard. It wasn’t that I didn’t expect it to be good, I just didn’t expect it to be this good. I never really expect anything to be this good. Not even Nicole Kidman HBO dramas, and I love Nicole Kidman HBO dramas. The menu here (takeout-only at first) consists of Southern dishes like fried chicken and waffles and fish and grits. When I took my first bites of both of those things, my mouth sent a 4th of July fireworks finale to my brain. The restaurant started as a pop-up from Overtown’s Copper Door B&B team, but since it opened, Rosie’s has slowly become more of a permanent restaurant, with outdoor seating and an expanded menu. New dishes like wild mushroom polenta and rigatoni carbonara have appeared more recently, and while I haven’t tried either yet, I have a feeling it’s just going to be more brain fireworks when I do.
I remember hearing about Flour & Weirdoughs, a new bakery in Key Biscayne, and people kept talking about their brisket croissant. “Brisket croissant?” I thought. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.” Turns out, I was wrong. (This happens a lot.) The croissant was not, as I feared, a soggy, greasy mess. It was a delicate, savory little delight of a pastry - and I think I could eat about six of them in a row. The rest of the bakery is full of more pleasant surprises, like guava and cheese babka, huge cinnamon rolls, and a pan con lechon sandwich I thoroughly enjoyed. There are more things here I want to try, like their cacio e pepe sourdough loaf. I’m sure it’s great too, because I will never doubt these bakers again.
In a previous job, I actually interviewed Over Under’s Brian Griffiths about the restaurant he planned to open in Downtown Miami. That was in August 2018. They finally opened this summer. And while Brian deserves a bathtub full of Advil for the construction headaches he no doubt had to put up with, I’m just glad this place is finally open, because it’s everything I’d hoped for: an unpretentious spot perfect for a date, day drinking, or just any old Tuesday when you want a shot and a cheeseburger. The menu is small, but constantly changes, and that cheeseburger is in the running for one of the best burgers in Miami. The brunch here is fantastic too, with stuff like jackfruit chilaquiles and horchata french toast. Personally, I plan on consuming many shot/cheeseburger combos here for, I hope, years and years to come.
I got lost on my way to Drinking Pig, circling through a North Miami neighborhood I didn’t really know and panicking that the barbecue I’d spent the last four days looking forward to was getting cold. At one point, I tried to roll down the window and smell the air like a bloodhound. It didn’t work. Turns out, I was only one street away, and when I finally rolled up to the massive smoker parked at the end of a cul-de-sac, I assumed I was in the right place. Drinking Pig is a front yard barbecue pop-up (one of many great pop-ups I tried this year) run by Raheem Sealey, Mark Wint, and Yohanir Sandoval. On weekends, the crew serves barbecue brisket, pork and beef ribs, and chicken along with sides like mac and cheese, cornbread, and collard greens. Quite simply, it’s some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had in South Florida - the kind where every bite requires a moment of reflection. You can place an order by DM’ing them on Instagram, and they also have a few picnic benches out front in case you also get anxious about your ribs getting cold.
I fell in love with USBS, like many people, at Boxelder, when I was about three beers deep. The Wynwood bar was known to host some outstanding food pop-ups in its backyard (El Bagel is also a Boxelder alum), so I swung by for drinks and to try the new cheeseburger in town. And what a cheeseburger it was: a homemade potato bun, perfectly seared double patties, and some kind of runny, beautiful cheese sauce they called “government cheese.” When USBS finally got its own space inside The Citadel food hall in September, I was thrilled to discover that the burger I fell in love with still tasted the same, even zero beers deep. It’s also now joined by a fantastic little fried chicken sandwich.
Right next to USBS, you’ll find Lil’ Laos. They used to be a pop-up too, bouncing from kitchen to kitchen with a menu of Laotian dishes. It was Sakhone Sayarath’s attempt to introduce Miami to her native cuisine with her husband, Curtis Rhodes, doing the cooking. I had tried Lil’ Laos before, but the food never tasted as good as it does now. I ordered a few things on my most recent visit: the sai krog muu (pork sausage), nam tod khao (crispy rice), and goong nam pa (shrimp ceviche). That sausage still makes appearances in my hunger-induced daydreams, as does the perfectly acidic ceviche, and crispy rice, which came mixed with chunks of spam. I plan on working my way through the rest of the menu (especially the Lao pho) as soon as possible.
Ask me what Miami needs more of and I will say without hesitation, “dumplings.” There are about three million other things on that list, but we don’t have the time. This is about HaoChi Dumplings, because they are quite possibly the best dumplings you’ll find in Miami right now. HaoChi is a pop-up that takes over Union Beer Store every Mon-Wed from 4-9pm, and the options include mushroom and leek; shrimp, cabbage and white miso; and pork, beef, and peanut gyoza. You should probably get all three versions - plus a bulgogi snow pea stir-fry. And obviously a beer too. They also have a wonderful Little Havana backyard patio where you can eat, complete with a wandering rooster.
I only got to try takeout from Motek, but that was enough to convince me that there was something special happening here. I ordered hummus tehina, a Jerusalem grilled cheese, and the arayes burger from the Downtown Israeli cafe. The hummus was perfect and the Jerusalem bagel grilled cheese - how could that be bad? My favorite thing I tried, though, was the arayes burger, which comes with four soft little pitas stuffed with beef and then grilled. I can’t wait to go back for a proper sit-down dinner and try the shakshuka and crispy chicken schnitzel plate. It’s also BYOB with no corkage fee right now.
Tran An is a small Vietnamese restaurant in Little River and it’s got an interior that I’m going to call, “infrared disco hunting lodge.” It looks like a restaurant inside an upscale spaceship, with severed golden animal heads jutting from the walls and a bathroom that feels like a tiny nightclub. It’s not all looks here, luckily. The food is good - especially the pho, which is so good I will happily eat it on a 90-degree day. Other things you might want to eat include banh mi, green papaya salad, and crispy pork and shrimp imperial rolls.
The pandemic lockdown saw the nationwide rise of the at-home pop-up, Miami included. Essentially, these were people making food in their own kitchens and running small-scale takeout operations from their homes. I tried a few great ones over the last few months, but Oori is still the one I think about most. Run by Helen Kim, Oori specializes in sourdough baked goods, and if I close my eyes and try, I can still smell Kim’s everything charcoal rolls, still warm from the oven. Her shokupan and red bean and dark chocolate milk buns also now live in my head, where, about every week, they whisper “order me” into my subconscious.