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 firstname.lastname@example.org
When I talk about a restaurant I like, I usually focus on the most exciting part, whether it be the food, atmosphere, or adorable tableware. But Coconut Grove’s Los Felix makes that approach difficult, because I just love everything about this place. So let’s just list, in no particular order, all the great things about Los Felix: the crispy sweet potato tetela plated with a crown of perfectly grilled oyster mushrooms; the dining room that’s right in the sweet spot between claustrophobic and cavernous; the spiral staircase that takes you to the natural wine shop upstairs; the casual-yet-attentive service; the fresh tortillas, which are thin but never tear and spill the innards of your taco; and (speaking of tacos) the fall-apart-tender pork cheek carnitas. To sum it up, come here next time you want a delicious dinner of interesting Mexican dishes in an environment fun enough to make you want to drink 3/4s of a bottle of wine.
Chug’s is not a new restaurant, but they did just undergo a big renovation and expansion. And going back here feels like reuniting with a cousin you haven’t seen since they were five - who is now a cool adult with interesting opinions, a unique sense of style, and the ability to cook phenomenal meatloaf. All this is to say: Chug’s is better and cooler than ever, and feels like a completely new restaurant. The Coconut Grove spot has the DNA of a classic diner, with booths, counter seating, and laminated menus you can flip through on each table. It’s a great call for breakfast or brunch, but it’s also lively enough for a weekend dinner (the cocktails are great too). The excellent food is familiar, mostly Cuban dishes. But there are plenty of unique twists along the way, like medianoche pierogis filled with ham and lechón, and a meatloaf that will make you excited about meatloaf for the first time since (possibly) ever.
Sushi Yasu Tanaka is not a place to hang out, and you don’t come here for the atmosphere. The sushi counter is located inside MIA Market, a Design District food hall with bad acoustics and not much in the way of ambiance. It also closes at 7pm (8pm on the weekends) so it’s mostly a lunch spot. But the remarkable thing about this place is that it’s home to some of the best sushi in Miami. Before I was even halfway through the 8-piece nigiri platter, I wanted to mail a letter to every resident of Miami-Dade County begging them to try this spot. Sushi Yasu is not a cheap meal (that 8-piece platter costs $38) - but their rotating sushi options are just as impressive any $200 per person omakase spot I’ve tried. Here, an 11-piece omakase platter clocks in at $59, but it will have you slapping the table in delight hard enough to scare the Gucci-clad tourists sitting next to you.
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. 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.
Editor’s Note: Kojin is temporarily closed until November 16.
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. So, it wasn’t a huge surprise when Eleventh Street Pizza, which serves New York Style pies, turned out to be great. You do not have to be a New Yorker to appreciate these incredibly good pizzas with foldable sourdough crust. 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 great Sicilian square slices. And now you can enjoy all of the above (plus lasagna) in their recently-renovated space, which includes indoor and outdoor seating.
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.
Taqueria Hoja is the casual little taco spot Downtown Miami so badly needed. Both the restaurant and menu are pretty small - but this place makes some of the best tacos in Miami. Taco options include a classic carne asada with beautifully charred beef, and a heritage pork al pastor. They also have some vegetarian-friendly ones, like the very good vegan koji sweet potato taco topped with a great morita sauce made from peanuts and almonds. They have some simple but delicious burritos too, which range from $6 to $10 and aren’t too overstuffed or obnoxiously big. The shrimp and potato flautas? Also crispy and delicious, and go very well with the excellent margaritas here. This is a good place to come hungry and order an amount of food that can barely fit on the table, which shouldn’t be too hard since nothing on the menu is over $10.
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.