The Hit List is where you’ll find our favorite new food and drink experiences in Miami - whether they be pop-ups, takeout-only spots, or exciting new restaurants. Each month, we track new openings across the city, and then visit as many as we can. One thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include places that we have actually visited - and loved.
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
When we talk about a restaurant we like, we 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 we 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 we were even halfway through the 8-piece nigiri platter, we 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 as most $200 per person omakase spots. 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.
We tend to be as suspicious of a big, new Wynwood restaurant as we are of an unknown number that wants to talk to us about money we’re 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 we 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 just about everything is great. The octopus in the octopus salad is as tender as fresh mozzarella, the lamb kebab is beautifully cooked, and the huge mussels are served in a perfectly balanced wine and garlic sauce. It’s not only an excellent dinner, but might make us 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.
If you’re a sucker for a good speakeasy experience, add Kojin to your list. The small counter 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. We 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. There’s not much room to sit at this mostly-takeout spot, so 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 we 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 us feel like we were 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. We’re 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 us seemingly got better and better, like a well-paced action movie. And by the time we reached the A5 wagyu, we 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.
We thoroughly loved Zitz Sum when we first visited back in April, on the restaurant’s second day in business. But now that it has had some time to blossom, it’s turned into an absolutely exceptional restaurant. This is mostly because of the menu, which features Chinese, Korean, and other Asian dishes so outstanding that choosing what to order feels like picking a favorite child. That menu changes often, but offers outstanding dishes like a sheng jian bao brisket bun, chicken wonton in a citrusy pho broth, and a Korean-style handroll you assemble yourself from a bowl of steak tartare beneath a layer of Japanese egg salad. Food aside, Zitz Sum also has more qualities we look for in a great dinner: little sippy cups of sake, wonderful service, and a playlist that’ll have you dancing in between bites.
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.
If you only listen to one thing we’ve said on this guide, make it this: order the patate fritte. 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. It’s one of the best dishes in the entire city. But the thing that makes Luca great is that just about everything else on the menu is wonderful too, especially the pasta. They serve what just might be the best cacio e pepe in town along with other delicious small plates and a solid negroni lineup. The restaurant also has lots of outdoor seating along a pedestrian-only street, and a simple dining room great for a date or fun dinner with a few friends. But you really don’t need a specific situation to come here. Just come here. And promise us you’ll get the patate fritte.
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. Our 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, we had the same thought we 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.
Uchi is a pretty hyped Austin restaurant, and - if the new Miami outpost is any indication - the hype is well-deserved. They’re making some of the best sushi in Miami here, along with other great small plates. If we have one small complaint about this place, it’s that the incredibly long a la carte menu can be hard to navigate for first-timers. But, in our experience, a simple chat with Uchi’s helpful servers can fix that. Once you’ve got your order locked in (which should include the hama chili, halibut, and karaage chicken) you can expect a series of outstanding bites that won’t leave you too full to bar hop around Wynwood afterward.
When a New York restaurant opens in Miami, we typically Slack one of our 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, we were told to “go eat it ASAP” and to also “get burg if you see burg.” We are now passing that advice along to you, because it’s 100 percent accurate. Even though Jeepney only occupies a small corner of the Wynwood food hall, they’re pumping out some great Filipino dishes. The lechon express is a plate of twice-cooked pork belly with crackling 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, heritage pork al pastor, and very good vegan koji sweet potato taco topped with a great morita sauce. They have some simple but tasty burritos too, which range from $6 to $10 and aren’t too overstuffed or obnoxiously big. The shrimp and potato flautas are also 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. For a more formal (and expensive) version of everything we just mentioned, check out Hoja’s new second location in Miami Beach’s Generator Hotel.
We 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 manatees often float by.
Itamae is an excellent Nikkei spot that initially debuted in a Design District food hall, but now has its very own restaurant just a short walk away. Their new space consists of lots of spacious outdoor seating and a small dining room with a handful of stools along a terrazzo counter. The Nikkei menu changes a lot (like on a day-to-day basis) but one guarantee we can make is that you will encounter some form of seafood that’ll make you want to cry - in a good way. Itamae is one of Miami’s best restaurants, a fact that was clear from day one, but has only become more obvious with each visit. What should you order? Anything. Every cebiche, tiradito, or sushi roll we’ve encountered here has been breathtakingly delicious. Just don’t skip the passion fruit/yuzu cremolada for dessert. That’s the only rule.