The most frequently asked question I get is what is your favorite restaurant in Miami. So I decided to answer that question for all of you readers. There’s one caveat. It’s a list of eleven since I have favorites for different reasons – do I want a steakhouse, Asian, festive/party scene, Italian, French, Mediterranean? As we all know, the restaurant business is tricky. Especially in Miami, the service and food can change from one day to next with a departing chef, transient wait staff, economics, etc. That being said, if and when you go to these places, hope they’re the best possible dining experience for you too. Enjoy!
BarMeli 69, Greek wine bar and restaurant. Find home style cooking, friendly service and a buzzy, casual atmosphere at this MiMo spot at 69th Street and Biscayne. It’s a favorite of mine to go to with friends, sharing light bites like Amalfi flatbread — grilled zucchini, goat cheese and mint; grilled whole sardines with toasted pinenuts; Merguez lamb sausage with lima beans; grilled octopus with chickpea salad; and the flaming saganaki cheese. Better yet, there’s live music on weekends. Reasonable prices too.
Wolfgang’s Steakhouse. This New York import has gained its stride and , judging by the big crowd a recent night we went, its regulars as well. Wolfgang, who began his career at famed Brooklyn steakhouse Peter Luger, and then opened several outposts in New York City, knows his well aged beef and it shows. Sides like a beefsteak tomato and onion salad (as in Peter Luger) and traditional sides like mac and cheese (albeit here lobster mac and cheese), German potatoes, mashed, and other vegetables including spinach as you like it, shine as well. Be sure to sit outside on the terrace overlooking the Miami River. It’s a lot quieter and then there’s a prized view.
Byblos. It’s probably not a surprise that this Eastern Mediterranean restaurant made the cut, given that it made my best dessert and best dish list this year. Everything is uniformly delicious and not your usual fare in food or beverage. Example, they serve Lebanese wine. The décor is attractive as well. It’s a good place for entertaining, but ask for a quiet table as it can get noisy.
Baoli was my pick for a birthday dinner celebration this year with girlfriends. The Asian inspired light bites are my favorites, delicious and low cal like the tuna tart – eight pieces of tuna sashimi served on a crispy tortilla with ponzu aioli, shaved black truffle and jalapeno; roasted beets with watermelon and feta cheese; quinoa with grilled corn, avocado , cucumber and tomatoes; and the lobster tempura. A few of these makes for a perfect meal if you’re in the mood for eating light but very well. Other favorites included Saikyo miso sea bass, charred and moist, accompanied by baby bok choy and garnished with black sesame seeds all in a light, clear ocean broth.I love the party atmosphere that the owners, from St.Tropez, know so well how to create. There’s a DJ and on Wednesday it’s ‘My Boyfriend is Out of Town” night that especially fun.
Pied a Terre. This intimate French restaurant in the Cadet Hotel in South Beach could be right out of the French countryside in its décor and cuisine. The menu is developed and staff trained by a different Michelin star chef every year. You can always count on high quality ingredients, presentation, food and service. Early in 2018 look for a new menu that veers away from its more traditional French cuisine in the past.
Via Emilia 9. Authentic dishes from Emilia Romagna, the home of everything from the region known for its gourmet products ranging from balsamic vinegar and parmigiano reggiano to prosciutto, lasagna, bolognese sauce, and mortadella. The owner who hails from the region is the chef and his wife oversees the service staff and serves herself. Count on excellent pastas and salumeria, and friendly service. Mr. W proclaimed Via Emilia 9 “the temple of pasta, where pasta worshippers go”. The ravioli was a standout, earmarked for my list of the best dishes of the year last year. Stuffed with pumpkin, they were a little sweet yet creamy. The restaurant has a “Sfoglina” or pasta maker, Chef Wendy Cacciatori, who hand rolls a variety of pastas right before guests’ eyes. Prices are reasonable and good value for the money. Plus, it’s a great place for a casual midweek meal.
DOA. This is another of those places I’ve been to numerous times and have always had an excellent meal. The menu is Asian fusion. It would also be one of the places I’d suggest for people eating alone, to sit at the bar and have one of their DOA sushi rolls and a bun. Their robata grill items including the beef, shishito peppers and mushrooms are also excellent.
Estiatorio Milos. This Greek restaurant never ever disappoints. The quality of the fish and lamb is superb, fresher fish or tastier lamb chops you’d be pressed to find. Kudos, too, to their Miami Spice and lunch specials which are, not surprisingly, a big hit.
Lobster Bar Sea Grille. Seafood is the star here in this new entry to Miami’s upscale restaurants. It offers a top of the line blue hard shell crustacean from Nova Scotia, the lobster served no fewer than nine ways and weighing up to 4 pounds. For other fish dishes, think everything from ceviche, a chili variety and with pasta, to lightly fried, steamed, stuffed, surf and turf, and served in a seafood tower. Whole fresh fish, too, that you can choose from the display on ice, the skin glistening with freshness. Meat lovers need not fret — there are USDA prime steaks. All of this in an ambiance that evokes the Oyster Bar in New York City’s Grand Central Station with its white subway tiles, arched ceilings, mahogany walls and art deco inspired chandeliers.Professional service too.
Please let me know your feedback and your experiences if you go to any of these – if they lived up to your expectations, your favorite dishes, and any other intelligence to share with readers. Any other restaurant you’d add to the list?