MIAReview

There is a version of South Beach that lives in most people’s heads. It’s wearing a silky shirt and casually balancing a martini between its fingers. It arrived in a very expensive car and will leave in a different but equally expensive car to go to some party on a yacht. It is, for lack of a better word, sexy.

Unfortunately, the real South Beach is a minefield of tourist traps, sceney clubstaurants, and overpriced spots that survive off the momentum of a Drake visit that happened four years ago. The South Beach most people know has a shiny shirt. It’s just also stained with Corona and smells like bad mall kiosk cologne.

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But Orilla is that rare and idyllic version of sexy South Beach. The Argentinian restaurant is a place where you can dress up a little, sip martinis, and cut into a perfectly medium rare steak. It’s where to go out in South Beach when you’re sick of South Beach.

The restaurant is located on the always-busy 5th St., but thanks to some clever landscape architecture, you hardly realize it. Orilla feels like a private little steak jungle. When it’s nice out, the northern wall opens like a garage door, which makes every table feel like an outdoor table. Palm fronds extend into the edges of the restaurant and a big mural of a tropical bird covers the wall. The space is dark, but not in a way that’ll make you use your phone flashlight to read the menu. It’s the sort of perfectly dim lighting that makes you feel like the coolest version of yourself.

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When it comes time to order, focus on red meat and cocktails, because that’s what Orilla does best. Steak options include a New York strip, rib eye, bone-in prime rib, and the occasional special, like a huge tomahawk steak. They won’t cover them in edible gold like some other South Beach restaurants. The meat hits the table presented simply, with an edge-to-edge pink interior and a great chimichurri for dipping. Toss on a few sides like french fries provençal, mashed potatoes, or tender roasted Brussels sprouts. Or, if you come on a Sunday, get the parrillada special. It’s a shareable platter and shrine to protein that comes with flank steak, New York strip, lamb chops, chorizo, and chicken. All of the above also go great with Orilla’s Seashore Martini. It comes with a tableside presentation that feels like a science fair demonstration and is one of the only martinis in town we’re OK paying $24 for.

But you’re not just coming here for the food and drinks. That’s certainly part of the experience—and it’s good—but you’re coming because you deserve to meet that grown up version of South Beach that lives in your head. And Orilla is one of the best places to do that.

Food Rundown

Empanadas

The empanadas are a great way to start the meal. There are only two versions (hand cut beef and spinach) and they come two per order, so get one of each. Both have a bubbly crust with leoparding that’d make a Neapolitan pizza proud.

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Black Rice

This is a good accompaniment to one of the larger meat entrees. The hot skillet of ink-black rice comes with little bits of squid and smoked pork belly dispersed throughout—and our only issue is that we wish it came with a bit more of each. Just make sure to scrape up some of the crispy bits of rice stuck to the skillet.

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Prime Rib Eye

If you want to go all out with the $132 bone-in prime rib, we won’t stop you. But the $59 prime rib eye is a great choice too, and big enough to split if you throw in a couple sides.

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Wagyu Cheeseburger

If you aren’t in the mood for a steak, the burger is a good compromise. It’s one of Miami’s best, and this is thanks to the deeply flavorful wagyu patty, which we would happily eat all on its own with a fork and knife. You might have to do that too, because this burger can get a little messy, and we’ve had the bottom half of the bun go soggy on us.

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