From its heyday as an American vacation and retirement mecca to its growth as an international community, Miami has seen dramatic changes. Nowhere is this more evident than South Beach—an enclave that rapidly morphed from wealthy to seedy to hip.
The Jewish delis and hotel dining rooms that once dominated have given way to chic cafes and bars and global chef-driven concepts.
Around South Beach
Wish at the Hotel 305-674-9474 www.wishrestaurant.com
Wish turns out cutting edge cuisine in an equally cutting edge setting. Michael Bloise’s menu boasts Asian touches; Crispy Snapper with grilled shrimp, Chinese sausage, jasmine rice and Vietnamese tea foam and seared foie gras with roasted banana, daikon and black pepper marshmallow are examples.
Talula 305-672-0778 www.talulaonline.com
Husband-and-wife team Andrea Curto-Randazzo and Frank Randazzo infuse lots of spirit into the décor and menu here. Signatures include Pan-Seared Diver Scallop with butternut squash griddle cake and sherry crema and Preserved Lemon and Thyme Grouper.
Taverna Opa 305-673-6730 www.tavernaoparestaurant.com
This South Beach Greek combines a high-energy vibe with fresh, authentic fare. In between bites, patrons dance on tables, smash plates and twirl napkins.
Off the beach
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink 305-573-5550 www.michaelsgenuine.com
This Miami Design District restaurant is getting lots of buzz for chef-owner Michael Schwartz’s contemporary take on local and organic ingredients. Graduated plate sizes offer flexible dining options and prices.
Azul 305-913-8358 www.mandarinoriental.com/hotel/526000039.asp
Chef Clay Conley struts his stuff in preps like Japanese hamachi served tiradito style and a Moroccan-influenced lamb trio. Striking views of Biscayne Bay wow the diners.
Dogma Grill 305-89-DOGMA www.dogmagrill.com
The fourth location of this cool hot doggery recently opened in North Miami. Patrons face the dilemma of deciding among 20 or more specialty dogs, including the Cali (topped with avocado, bacon, sour cream olive oil,vinegar, salt and pepper).
Fruit and Spice Park 305-247-5727 www.fruitandspicepark.org
This park’s Homestead, Florida, location boasts a tropical climate in which over 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs and nuts flourish. Visitors learn as they walk the 30 acres; sampling is encouraged afterwards.
El Palacio de los Jugos 305-264-4557
This open Cuban bazaar houses a tropical produce market, a bar serving fresh “jugos naturals” and batidos (island shakes) and a couple of hot food stalls. A few dollars buys arroz con pollo, tamales, rice and beans or pan con lechon (a quintessential Cuban pork sandwich).
Farmer’s Market on Lincoln Road 305-531-0038 www.themarketcompany.org/lincoln.htm
Every Sunday, blocks of this Miami Beach pedestrian mall are turned into a green market. Florida farmers sell fruits, vegetables, plants, flowers, baked items, jams and honey.
Food Network South Beach Food and Wine Festival 305-625-4171 www.sobewineandfoodfest.com
Come February, foodies, chefs and vendors flock to this outdoor eating and drinking fest. The event raises funds for FIU, a co-host with Southern Wine & Spirits.
Oldies but goodies
Joe’s Stone Crab 305-673-0365 www.joesstonecrab.com
What began as a small lunch counter in 1913 has evolved into a legendary Miami Beach dining landmark. Florida Stone Crabs—available only from October 15 through May 15—are the specialty, but plenty of other seafood and meat dishes fill the menu.
The Forge 305-538-8533 www.theforge.com
When it comes to the best steak in town, most Miamians will direct you to The Forge—a perennial favorite known for its prime meats and excellent wine cellar. The menu doesn’t skimp on such luxe items as caviar and made-to-order dessert soufflés, all served with finesse.