Restaurant listings for the BT Dining Guide are written Pamela Robin Brandt (
). Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, but please call ahead to confirm information. Icons ($$$) represent estimates for a typical meal without wine, tax, or tip. Hyphenated icons ($-$$$) indicate a significant range in prices between lunch and dinner menus, or among individual items on those menus.
$= $10 and under
$$$$$= $50 and over
2699 Biscayne Blvd.
From the street (which is actually NE 26th, not Biscayne) this Honduran restaurant seems unpromising, but inside it’s bigger, better, and busier than it looks. Unlike many Latin American eateries, this one sticks close to the source and proves a crowd-pleaser. On weekends especially, the dining rooms are packed with families enjoying authentic fare like baleadas (thick corn tacos), tajadas (Honduras’s take on tostones), rich meal-in-a-bowl soups packed with seafood or meat and veggies, and more. $
3221 NE 2nd Ave.
Despite this tiny place’s modern décor, the family-run ambiance and Italian-American comfort food evoke the neighborhood red-sauce joints that were our favored hangouts growing up in NJ’s Sopranos territory. And low prices make it possible to hang out here frequently. Pizzas with hand-tossed crusts, not wood-oven but resembling honest bread, for less than fast food pizzeria prices? It’s an offer you don’t refuse. Don’t refuse garlic rolls, either, or sinful zeppole (fried dough) for dessert. There’s more complex fare, like chicken à la Francese, too. And they deliver. $$
2010 Biscayne Blvd.
At this Indian eatery the décor is cool and contemporary: muted gray and earth-tone walls, tasteful burgundy banquettes. And the menu touts “Modern Indian Cuisine” to match the look. Classicists, however, needn’t worry. America’s favorite familiar north Indian flavors are here, though dishes are generally more mildly spiced and presented with modern flair. All meats are certified halal, Islam’s version of kosher — which doesn’t mean that observant orthodox Jews can eat here, but Muslims can. $$$
4770 Biscayne Blvd.
On a restaurant-starved stretch of Biscayne Boulevard, this spot serves the same sort of simple but satisfying Italian fare (antipasti, soups, salads, pizzas) as its older sibling, South Miami’s Blu Pizzeria, plus burgers. The thin-crust, pliable pizzas, though lacking burn blisters, are brick-oven cooked, as are “blues,” unusual calzones (like the blu oceano, fatly filled with mozzarella, prosciutto crudo, arugula, and fresh tomatoes). Hefty half-pound burgers come similarly stuffed rather than topped. A sheltered patio and full bar make the place a pleasant neighborhood lounge, too. $$
Bin No. 18
1800 Biscayne Blvd.
At this wine bar/café, the décor is a stylish mix of contemporary (high loft ceilings) and Old World (tables made from wine barrels). Cuisine is similarly geared to the area’s smart new residents: creative sandwiches and salads at lunch, tapas and larger internationally themed Spanish, Italian, or French charcuterie platters at night. Though the place is small and family-run friendly, chef Alfredo Patino offers sophisticated snacks like the figciutto: arugula, gorgonzola dolce, caramelized onions, pine nuts, fresh figs, and prosciutto. Free parking behind the building. $$
2651 N. Miami Ave.
Miami’s most innovative art district is the perfect setting for this hip hangout, whose mad-genius menu proves that food is indeed one of the creative arts. Reinvented Latin/Asian street foods from chef Ricky Sauri (ex-Nobu) include spicy Spam-topped rice cakes; tuna tartare in seaweed “tacos”; a reina pepiada arepa, whose traditional mild chicken filling is replaced by shredded duck, avocado, tangy-sweet tamarind sauce, and Japanese mayo; an especially elegant Korean bibimbap; a vegan shitake-pumpkin tamale with nutty, cheesy natto sauce. For liquid art aficionados: cocktails like the eye-popping Tequila Beets (featuring roasted beet juice). $$$
Buena Vista Bistro
4582 NE 2nd Ave
If a neighborhood eatery like this one -- which serves supremely satisfying bistro food -- were within walking distance of every Miami resident, we’d be a helluva hip food town. Like true Parisian bistros, it’s open continuously, every day, with prices so low that you can drop in anytime for authentic rillettes (a rustic pâté) with a crusty baguette, steak with from-scratch frites, salmon atop ratatouille, or many changing blackboard specials. Portions are plentiful. So is free parking. $$
Buena Vista Deli
4590 NE 2nd Ave.
At this casual café/bakery, co-owned by Buena Vista Bistro’s Claude Postel, the day starts in authentic French fashion, with fresh breakfast breads, chocolate almond croissants, and other delights. At lunch cornichon-garnished baguette sandwiches (containing housemade pâtés, sinfully rich pork rillettes, superb salami, and other charcuterie classics) are irresistible, and a buttery-crusted, custardy quiche plus perfectly dressed salad costs little more than a fast-food combo meal. As for Postel's homemade French sweets, if you grab the last Paris-Brest, a praline butter-cream-filled puff pastry, we may have to kill you. $-$$
20 NE 41st St.
At this homey neighborhood jewel, located in a former apartment building, husband/wife team Tom Worhach and Karina Gimenez serve up warm welcomes and playfully inventive breakfast, lunch, and snack fare: bacon-wrapped egg and cheese cups; pressed Philly steak panini; an elegant yuzu-dressed smoked salmon, grapefruit, avocado, and arugula salad. But the must-eats are sweets, housemade by Worhach, formerly executive pastry chef at the Mansion at Turtle Creek and similar gourmet palaces. One bite of his decadent yet impossibly light white-and-dark chocolate mousse cake will hook you for life. $-$$
297 NW 23rd St.
This elegantly comfortable multi-room indoor/outdoor venue is described as an “art gallery/lounge,” and some do come just for cocktails like the hefty café con leche martinis. But don’t overlook chef Guily Booth’s 12-item menu of very tasty tapas. The signature item is a truly jumbo-lump crab cake with no discernable binder. At one South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Martha Stewart proclaimed it the best she’d ever had. Our own prime pick: melt-in-your-mouth ginger sea bass anticuchos, so buttery-rich we nearly passed out with pleasure. $$
Cerviceria 100 Montaditos
3252 NE 1st Ave. #104, Shops at Midtown Miami
Student budget prices, indeed. A first-grader’s allowance would cover a meal at this first U.S. branch of a popular Spanish chain. The 100 mini sandwiches (on crusty, olive oil-drizzled baguettes) vary from $1 to $2.50, depending not on ingredient quality but complexity. A buck scores genuine Serrano ham, while top-ticket fillings add imported Iberico cheese, pulled pork, and tomato to the cured-ham slivers. Other options revolve around pâtés, smoked salmon, shrimp, and similar elegant stuff. There’s cheap draft beer, too, plus nonsandwich snacks. $$
The Cheese Course
3451 NE 1st Ave.
Not so much a restaurant as an artisanal cheese shop with complimentary prepared foods, this place’s self-service café component nevertheless became an instant hit. Impeccable ingredients and inspired combinations make even the simplest salads and sandwiches unique -- like bacon and egg, elevated by hand-crafted cream cheese, roasted red peppers, avocado, and chipotle mayo. Cheese platters are exceptional, and customized for flavor preference from mild to bold, and accompanied by appropriate fruits, veggies, nuts, olives, prepared spreads, and breads. $$
City Hall the Restaurant
2004 Biscayne Blvd.
After 30+ years spent guiding other owners’ restaurants to success, Miami Spice program creator Steve Haas has opened his own expansive, two-floor place, on a stretch of Biscayne Boulevard that’s suddenly looking fashionable. The vibe is a mix of power-dining destination and comfie neighborhood hangout, and chef Tom Azar (ex-Emeril’s) has designed a varied menu to match. Highlights: an astonishingly thin/crunchy-crusted pizza topped with duck confit, wild mushrooms, port wine syrup, and subtly truffled béchamel; crispy calamari (rings and legs) with light, lemony tomato emulsion; and tuna tartar that is refreshingly free of sesame oil. Big portions and a full bar to boot. $$-$$$$
2818 N. Miami Ave.
Some still come for the inexpensive, hearty American breakfasts and lunches that this homey hole-in-the-wall has served for more than 30 years. Since about 1990, though, when owner Pearline Murray (“Ms. Pearl” to regulars) and cook Gloria Chin began emphasizing their native Jamaican specialties, the intensely spiced grilled jerk chicken has been the main item here. Other favorites: savory rice and pigeon peas; eye-opening onion/vinegar-flavored escovitch fish; sweet plantains; and cabbage that redefines the vegetable. $
Crumb on Parchment
3930 NE 2nd Ave.
Though located in a difficult spot (the Melin Building’s central atrium, invisible from the street), Michelle Bernstein’s bakery/café packs ’em in, partly due to Bernstein’s mom Martha, who makes irresistible oldschool cakes: German chocolate with walnuts, lemon curd with buttercream frosting, more. Lunch fare includes inspired sandwiches like seared rare tuna with spicy Asian pickles and kimchi aioli. And for morning people, the savory chicken sausage, melted cheddar, kale, and shallot sandwich on challah will convince you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. $-$$
The Cypress Room
3620 NE 2nd Ave.
Deer and boar heads on wood-paneled walls juxtapose with crystal chandeliers at this tiny fourth restaurant in Michael Schwartz’s burgeoning empire, evoking feelings of dining in a century-old millionaire’s hunting lodge -- in miniature. Many dishes are similarly fun fantasies of 1920s Florida fine dining, pairing yesteryear’s rustic proteins (including wild game) and veggies with preparations that are ultimately refined interpretations of the past: antelope/wild mushroom gnocchi; “French onion soup” with a sort of gruyere tuile float instead of the usual gooey melt, served on a lacy doily. Don’t miss the royal red shrimp, or Hedy Goldsmith’s desserts. $$$$$
The Daily Creative Food Co.
2001 Biscayne Blvd.
While the food formula of this contemporary café is familiar – sandwiches, salads, soups, breakfast food, and pastries, plus coffee and fruit drinks – a creative concept differentiates the place. Signature sandwiches are named after national and local newspapers, including Biscayne Times, giving diners something to chat about. Sandwiches and salads can also be do-it-yourself projects, with an unusually wide choice of main ingredients, garnishes, breads, and condiments for the creatively minded. $
3401 N. Miami Ave. #123
Masterminded by Chef Allen Susser, the concept is to bring diners the comfort of homemade grilled cheese -- like mom’s, if mom hadn’t usually burned the bread and improperly melted the cheese. The Melt’s custom grill press browns/melts sandwiches perfectly every time. Additionally, Susser tested numerous all-American cheeses (no imports or artisanal products) for gooey goodness. Mom probably also didn’t create combinations like cheddar with green apples and Virginia ham, or allow a simple signature grilled American cheese to be dressed up with truffle butter. Accompaniments include roasted tomato soup, chopped salads, and sweet melts like s’mores. $
Egg & Dart
4029 N. Miami Ave.
While co-owners Costa Grillas (from Maria’s, a Coral Gables staple) and Niko Theodorou (whose family members have several Greek islands restaurants) describe their cuisine as “rustic Greek,” there is surprising sophistication in some dishes: an especially delicate taramasalata (cod roe dip); precisely crisp-fried smelts (like a freshwater sardine); galactobourico, an often heavy and cloyingly vanilla-saturated dessert, here custardy and enlivened by orange flavor. Extensive lists of mezze (snacks) and creative cocktails make the expansive, invitingly decorated space ideal for large gatherings of friends who enjoy sharing. $$$
Egyptian Pizza Kitchen
Shops at Midtown Miami
Buena Vista Avenue
Pizza, pita -- hey, they’re both flatbreads. So while many pizzas do indeed, as this halal place’s name suggests, have initially weird-seeming Middle Eastern toppings, it’s really not surprising that the Giza (topped with marinated lamb, feta, olives, peppers, and pungently spiced cumin sauce) works at least as well as Italian classics. Additionally the menu includes interesting Middle Eastern fare like foul, a hummus-like but lighter Egyptian dish of favas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. A brick oven makes both pizzas and homemade pitas superior. $$
18th Street Café
210 NE 18th St.
Most of the seating in this cool little breakfast/lunch room is in a sort of giant bay window, backed with banquettes, that makes the space feel expansive. This pioneering place deserves to survive, even if just considering the roast beef sandwich with creamy horseradish – an inspired classic combination that makes one wonder why more places in this town don’t serve it. Other culinary highlights include a turkey/pear/cheddar melt sandwich, and really sinful marshmallow-topped brownies. $
278 NW 36th St.
Dozens of little Latin American eateries, all looking almost identically iffy, line 36th Street. But this family-owned “bajareque” (shack) is one where you definitely want to stop for some of Miami’s most tasty, and inexpensive, Puerto Rican home cooking, from mondongo (an allegedly hangover-curing soup) to mofongo, a plantain/chicharron mash with varied toppings plus garlicky mojo. Housemade snacks are irresistible, too, and great take-out party fare: pork-studded pasteles, similar to Cuban tamals but with a tuber rather than corn masa dough, or empanadas with savory shrimp stuffing. $
4600 NE 2nd Ave.
Don’t come to this embassy for passports. The name is short for “Embassy of Well-being and Debauchery.” You will, however, feel transported to Spain’s gourmet capital, San Sebastian, after sampling ambassador Alan Hughes’s cunning pintxos (complexly layered Basque-style tapas). From a self-serve bar, choose from a changing selection of skewered stacks; brie, homemade fig jam, and twizzles of silky jamon Serrano; roast tomato, goat cheese, and anchovies on buttery garlic toast; many more. Small plates, to-die-for desserts like floating island with lychees, and weekend brunch items demonstrate similar mad-chef skills. $$-$$$
Feverish Gourmet Pop Shop
Shops at Midtown Miami
3552 NE 1st Ave.
When kids are sick, you take them to a doctor. If your inner child feels feverish, though, the cure is Felecia Hatcher’s handcrafted, vegan-friendly, natural and organic frozen treats -- popsicles reinvented for grown-ups. At this literal mom-and-pop shop, Hatcher and husband Derek Pearson offer more than 25 changing flavors, some spiked (like locally sourced mango with bourbon), others just sophisticated (pineapple basil, strawberry balsamic, chocolate banana). No artificial flavors, no refined sugars. Particularly playful inner kids can customize with coatings ranging from nuts to truly nuts: pop rocks, potato chips, and more. $
Five Guys Famous Burger and Fries
Shops at Midtown Miami
Buena Vista Avenue
No green-leaf faux health food here. You get what the name says, period, with three adds: kosher dogs, veggie burgers, and free peanuts while you wait. Which you will, just a bit, since burgers are made fresh upon order. Available in double or one-patty sizes, they’re well-done but spurtingly juicy, and after loading with your choice of free garnishes, even a “little” burger makes a major meal. Fries (regular or Cajun-spiced) are also superior, hand-cut in-house from sourced potatoes. $
George’s Kitchen & The Loft
3404 N. Miami Ave.
Veteran Miami restaurateur George-Eric Farge raises the sophistication bar at his new two-story restaurant/lounge. But the real star is Michelin-starred chef Steven Rojas, who combines French technique and personal creativity for dishes like Idiazabal cheese churros with romesco sauce, a green pea pot de crème “jar” with bacon marmalade (accompanied by butter-fried baguette slices for spreading), soy-glazed hamachi crudo with ginger gelee, and caper-sprinkled short rib tartare, the meat’s richness cheekily upped by poached bone marrow and caviar. Brunch and lunch items are equally ingenious. $$$
3470 N. Miami Ave.
As befits its location in artful, working-class Wynwood, Gigi has minimalist modern diner ambiance paired with truly creative contemporary Asian-influenced comfort food from Top Che contender Jeff McInnis (formerly of the South Beach Ritz-Carlton) at surprisingly low prices. From a menu encompassing noodle and rice bowls, steam-bun ssams, grilled goodies, and raw items, highlights include pillowy-light roast pork-stuffed buns, and possibly the world’s best BLT, featuring Asian bun “toast,” thick pork belly slices rather than bacon, and housemade pickles. There’s $2 beer, too. $-$$
3918 N. Miami Ave.
In this humble space (formerly Pizza Volante) are many key components from Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink two blocks east -- local/sustainable produce and artisan products; wood-oven cooking; homemade everything (including the ketchup accompanying crisp-outside, custardy-inside polenta fries, a circa 1995 Michael Schwartz signature snack from Nemo). Beautifully blistered, ultra-thin-crusted pizzas range from classic Margheritas to pies with house-smoked bacon, trugole (a subtly flavorful -- fruity, not funky -- Alpine cheese), and other unique toppings. Rounding things out: simple but ingenious salads, ultimate zeppoles, and Florida craft beers. $$
Hurricane Grill & Wings
Shops at Midtown Miami
Buena Vista Avenue
Shops at Midtown Miami Buena Vista Avenue, 305-576-7133 This Florida fast/casual chain became an instant hit in Midtown Miami owing to a winning concept: more than 35 heat-coded sauces and dry rubs meant for custom-tossing with wings and other things (including white-meat "boneless wings," really wing-shaped chicken breast pieces), accompanied by ranch or classic blue-cheese dip and celery. It would be silly to not pair your main with garlic/herb-butter parmesan fries. There are many other items, too, including salads. But hey, celery is salad, right? $$
Jean Paul’s House
2426 NE 2nd Ave.
Jean Paul Desmaison, original chef/co-owner of La Cofradia in Coral Gables, has chosen a decidedly less tony, more transitional neighborhood for this venture. But inside his renovated bungalow, ambiance is stylishly cozy, and the creative contemporary North/South American fusion cuisine is as elegant as ever. Best bets are dishes influenced by Desmaison’s native Peru, including crispy pork belly braised in pisco with silky sweet potato purée, and a beautifully balanced nikkei (Japanese/Peruvian) salmon sashimi that does the impossible: tame leche de tigre, Peru’s infamous “tiger’s milk” marinade. $$$-$$$$
2700 N. Miami Ave. #5, 305-573-1505
No need to trek to South Beach for what many consider Miami’s best classic Puerto Rican mofongo (fried green plantains mashed with fresh garlic, olive oil, and pork cracklings, surrounded by chicken or shrimp in zesty criollo sauce). This new location is bigger and better than the original, plus the mofongo is served every day, not just on weekends. But don’t ignore the meal-size salads or high-quality sandwiches, including a pressed tripleta containing roast pork, bacon, Black Forest ham, provolone, and caramelized onions. $$
Joey’s Italian Café
2506 NW 2nd Ave.
The first new restaurant in the Wynwood Café District, this stylish indoor/outdoor Italian hangout is as casually cool as one would hope -- and as affordable. There’s a five-buck half-serving of spaghetti al pomodoro and respectable vino for under $30. And few can resist delicately thin, crunchy-crusted pizzas like the creative Dolce e Piccante or orgasmic Carbonara. Pastas are fresh; produce is largely local; the mosaic-centered décor is minimalist but inviting. And no need to be wary of the warehouse district at night: Valet parking is free. $$-$$$
3509 NE 2nd Ave.
At last, an authentic Venezuelan arepera (purveyor of homemade arepas, with a variety of meat, cheese, and veggie fillings) that isn’t out in the boonies -- and decidedly isn’t a dive. With colorful décor concocted from recycled objects, this space, though small, has truly eclectic, Midtown style. The signature corn cakes, crisped outside and fluffy inside, put sodden supermarket specimens to shame. And cachapas (softer, sweeter corn pancakes folded around mozzarella-like fresh cheese) or bollarepitas (cheese-stuffed deep-fried corn cakes, with tangy nata dip) may be even tastier. $-$$
2200 Biscayne Blvd.
(See Brickell / Downtown listing.)
3425 NE 2nd. Ave.
In New Orleans, “lagniappe” means “a little extra,” like the 13th doughnut in a baker’s dozen. And that’s what you get at this combination wine and cheese bar/backyard BBQ/entertainment venue. Choose artisan cheeses and charcuterie from the fridges, hand them over when you pay (very little), and they’ll be plated with extras: olives, bread, changing luscious condiments. Or grab fish, chicken, veggies, or steak (with salad or cornbread) from the hidden yard’s grill. Relax in the comfie mismatched furniture, over extensive wine/beer choices and laidback live music. No cover, no attitude. $$·
Latin Café 2000
2501 Biscayne Blvd.
The menu is similar to that at many of our town’s Latin cafés, largely classic Cuban entrées and sandwiches, with a smattering of touches from elsewhere in Latin America, such as a Peruvian jalea mixta (marinated mixed seafood), or paella Valenciana from Spain, which many Miami eateries consider a Latin country. What justifies the new millennium moniker is the more modern, yuppified/yucafied ambiance, encouraged by an expansive, rustic wooden deck. $$
4600 NE 2nd Ave.
The menu here reads like your standard sandwiches/salads/starters primer. What it doesn’t convey is the freshness of the ingredients and the care that goes into their use. Entrée-size salads range from an elegant spinach (goat cheese, pears, walnuts, raisins) to chunky homemade chicken salad on a bed of mixed greens. Sandwiches (cold baguette subs, hot pressed paninis, or wraps, all accompanied by side salads) include a respectable Cuban and a veggie wrap with a deceptively rich-tasting light salad cream. $-$$
Lime Fresh Mexican Grill
Shops at Midtown Miami
Buena Vista Avenue
Like its South Beach predecessor, this Lime was an instant hit, as much for being a hip new Midtown hangout as for its carefully crafted Tex-Mex food. The concept is “fast casual” rather than fast food – meaning nice enough for a night out. It also means ingredients are always fresh. Seafood tacos are about as exotic as the menu gets, but the mahi mahi for fish tacos comes from a local supplier, and salsas are housemade daily. Niceties include low-carb tortillas and many Mexican beers. $
Limón y Sabor
3045 Biscayne Blvd.
In this dramatically renovated space, the room is now light and open, and the food is authentic Peruvian, with seafood a specialty. Portions are huge, prices low, quality high. Especially good are their versions of pescado a lo macho (fish fillet topped with mixed seafood in a creamy, zesty sauce); jalea (breaded and deep-fried fish, mixed seafood, and yuca, topped with onion/pepper/lime salsa), and yuca in hot yet fruity rocoto chili cream sauce.
Lost & Found Saloon
185 NW 36th St.
There’s an artsy/alternative feel to this casual and friendly Wynwood eatery, which, since opening as a weekday-only breakfast and lunch joint in 2005, has grown with its neighborhood. It’s now open for dinner six nights a week, serving Southwestern-style fare at rock-bottom prices. Dishes like piñon and pepita-crusted salmon, chipotle-drizzled endive stuffed with lump crab, or customizable tacos average $5-$8. Also available: big breakfasts and salads, hearty soups, housemade pastries like lemon-crusted wild berry pie, and a hip beer and wine list. $
3252 NE 1st Ave. #116
Originally called Machiya Ramen Noodle House, this eatery changed its name -- and really, the place is not so much a ramen joint as a contemporary izakaya (lounge featuring Japanese hot and cold small plates plus sushi), with a few added ramen bowls. Most of the menu is a mix of today’s popular favorites, like “Kobe” sliders, and unique inventions. Wildest: wasabi-spiced tuna pizza. Our faves: fatty salmon makis (lightly seared salmon belly with shrimp tempura, asparagus, and yuzu sauce); rich miso-braised short ribs; steam buns with rock shrimp and spicy aioli.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro
4312 NE 2nd Ave.
Inside this converted 1940s home’s blue-and-white dining room -- or even more atmospherically, its tree-sheltered garden -- diners feast on authentic rustic fare from both Greece and Turkey. Make a meal of multinational mezes: a Greek sampler of creamy tzatziki yogurt dip, smoky eggplant purée, and airy tarama caviar spread; and a Turkish sampler of hummus, fava purée, and rich tomato-walnut dip. The meze of mussels in lemony wine broth is, with Mandolin’s fresh-baked flatbread, almost a full meal in itself. $$-$$$
4141 NE 2nd Ave.
Chef/co-owner Dena Marino calls MC’s food “modern Italian” -- neither an evocative description nor explanation for why this place is one of our town’s hottest tickets. But tasting tells the tale. Marino’s food incorporates her entire culinary background, from her Nonna’s traditional Italian-American kitchen to a long stint in Michael Chiarello’s famed contemporary Californian eatery Tra Vigne, with pronounced personal twists that make eating here uniquely exciting. Particularly definitive: lunchtime’s “piadenas,” saladlike seasonal/regional ingredient combinations atop heavenly homemade flatbreads. Cocktails feature ingredients from za’atar to salmon roe. $$$-$$$$
3252 NE 1st Ave.
Some people frequent this fashionable restolounge, festooned with graffiti-style murals designed to evoke a bustling Mexican street market, just the dangerously smooth margaritas. But the main must-haves here are tacos, encased in a rarity: genuinely made-from-scratch corn tortillas, small but fatly-stuffed. Of 11 varieties, our favorite is the carnitas (juicy braised pork, spicy chili de arbol slaw, toasted peanuts). A close second: the hongos, intensely flavorful huitlacoche and wild mushrooms, with manchego and salsa verde -- a reminder that vegetarian food need not be bland. $$-$$$
Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink
130 NE 40th St.
An instant smash hit, this truly neighborhood-oriented restaurant from chef Michael Schwartz offers down-to-earth fun food in a comfortable, casually stylish indoor/outdoor setting. Fresh, organic ingredients are emphasized, but dishes range from cutting-edge (crispy beef cheeks with whipped celeriac, celery salad, and chocolate reduction) to simple comfort food: deviled eggs, homemade potato chips with pan-fried onion dip, or a whole wood-roasted chicken. There’s also a broad range of prices and portion sizes to encourage frequent visits. Michael’s Genuine also features an eclectic, affordable wine list and a full bar. $$-$$$$
Mike’s at Venetia
555 NE 15th St., 9th Floor
This family-owned Irish pub, on the pool deck of the Venetia condo, for more than 15 years has been a popular lunch and dinner hang-out for local journalists and others who appreciate honest cheap eats and drinks. Regulars know daily specials are the way to go. Depending on the day, fish, churrasco, or roast turkey with all the trimmings are all prepared fresh. Big burgers and steak dinners are always good. A limited late-night menu provides pizza, wings, ribs, and salad till 3:00 a.m. $-$$
28 NE 29th St.
Housed in a beautifully refurbished 1930s private home, Morgans serves eclectic, sometimes internationally influenced contemporary American cuisine compelling enough to attract hordes. Dishes are basically comfort food, but ultimatecomfort food: the most custardy, fluffy French toast imaginable; shoestring frites that rival Belgium’s best; mouthwatering maple-basted bacon; miraculously terrific tofu (crisply panko-crusted and apricot/soy-glazed); even a “voluptuous grilled cheese sandwich” -- definitely a “don’t ask, don’t tell your cardiologist” item. $$-$$$
NoVe Kitchen & Bar
1750 N. Bayshore Dr.
At NoVe, the restolounge at the Opera Tower condo in NoVe (new nickname for the bayfront neighborhood north of the Venetian Causeway), the food is East-West. Meaning you can get burgers, pasta, and so on, or try the inventive Asian small plates and sushi specialties Hiro Terada originated at his past posts, Doraku and Moshi Moshi: the Atlantis roll (tempura conch with asparagus, avocado, scallions, and curry sauce); spicy, crunchy fried tofu atop kimchi salad; much more. Open 6:00 a.m. for breakfast to 3:00 a.m., it is kid-friendly and dog-friendly, too. $$-$$$
35 NE 40th St.
With a festively lantern-lit oak tree on the outdoor dining patio and stylishly playful lamps mimicking oaks inside, chef/restaurateur David Bracha of River Oyster Bar has transformed a previously cold space to warm. Food is equally inviting. The mostly small-plates seasonal menu roams the globe from supreme Vietnamese bahn mi (with pork belly and foie gras) to down-home buttermilk biscuits with bacon butter, and homemade charcuterie. If available, don’t miss Hawaiian-inspired steelhead poke; substituting the salmonlike but more delicate trout for the usual tuna transports this crudo to heavenly heights. $$-$$$
Orange Café + Art
2 NE 40th St.
The paintings hanging in this tiny, glass-enclosed café are for sale. And for those who don’t have thousands of dollars to shell out for the local art on the walls, less than ten bucks will get you art on a plate, including a Picasso: chorizo, prosciutto, manchego cheese, baby spinach, and basil on a crusty baguette. Other artfully named and crafted edibles include salads, daily soups, several pastas (like the Matisse, fiocchi pouches filled with pears and cheese), and house-baked pastries. $
3801 N. Miami Ave.
(See Brickell/Downtown listing)
Shops at Midtown Miami
3252 NE 1st Ave. #118
In France the word “folie” can mean “extravagant.” More often it means “madness.” It’s the latter translation that first comes to mind when perusing the menu of this French Rivera pasta/pizza fast-casual chain, whose concept is pastas, plus pizzas, from around the world -- even Italy. Don’t expect authenticity from the more exotic toppings; they basically contain one typical ingredient (along with a generic onions/peppers/veg assortment): bean sprouts in Thailand’s spaghetti, pineapple in Bali’s, curry sauce on India’s. Do expect super-fresh sauces, made daily. Friendly staffers and fun. $$·
3500 N. Miami Ave.
(See Brickell / Downtown listing)
Pride & Joy
2800 N. Miami Ave.
Behind this Wynwood warehouse façade you’ll find pure Southern roadhouse, and the backyard patio is an even more relaxing place to kick back with beer, blues music, and barbecue from pit master Myron Mixon. Oddly, considering Mixon’s many BBQ championships, the ’cue can be inconsistent. Our favorite choices: St. Louis ribs, tender without being falling-off-the bone overcooked, and enjoyably fattier than baby backs; vinegar-doused pulled pork sandwiches, which, unlike meat plates, come with sides -- fries, plus slaw to pile on for added juice and crunch. $$$
3500 N. Miami Ave., 305-576-5550
The imposing, cavernous lobby of the Grand doesn’t have that “do drop in” locals’ hangout vibe. But this lively Italian spot is actually a great addition to the neighborhood. The pizzas alone – brick-oven specimens with toppings ranging from classic pepperoni to prosciutto/arugula – would be draw enough. But pastas also please: diners’ choice of starch, with mix-and-match sauces and extras. And the price is right, with few entrées topping $20. The capper: It’s open past midnight every day but Sunday. $$
Primo Pizza Miami
3451 NE 1st Ave.
Just a few years ago, chain pizza joints were dominate most everywhere. Today many places now offer authentic Italian or delicate designer pizzas. But a satisfying Brookyn-style street slice? Fuhgedit. Thankfully that’s the speciality of this indoor/outdoor pizzeria: big slices with chewy crusts (made from imported NY tap water) that aren’t ultra-thin and crisp, but flexible enough to fold lengthwise, and medium-thick -- sturdy enough to support toppings applied with generous all-American abandon. Take-out warning: Picking up a whole pie? Better bring the SUV, not the Morris Mini.
2697 Biscayne Blvd.
On a quick drive-by, this eatery surrounded by still-ungentrified storefronts rather resembles a hole-in-the-wall Latin cafetería. Inside, though, the look is rustic-chic, and the menu features some of Miami’s most refined traditional or creative Spanish tapas. We love the open-faced sandwiches, particularly montaditos de boquerones (with fresh anchovies and brunoised veggies). Traditionalists will find patatas bravas satisfyingly spicy; braver experimenters should try bombas de queso (fried cheese balls with sweet orange blossom sauce), actually alarming in name only. $$-$$$
2001 Biscayne Blvd.
At this fast-casual restaurant, diners can enjoy a wide variety ofchef-created salads and wraps, or go the DIY route, choosing from one of four greens options; four dozen add-ons (fresh, dried, or pickled veggies and fruits, plus cheeses and slightly sinful pleasures like candied pecans or wonton strips); a protein (seafood or poultry); and two dozen dressings, ranging from classic (Thousand Island, bleu cheese) to creative contemporary (spicy Asian peanut, cucumber wasabi, blueberry pomegranate). Additionally, the place creates lovely catering platters, plus individual lunchboxes -- perfect picnic or plane food. $-$$
3451 NE 1st Ave. #104
In Italy, salumerias started, like American delicatessens, as shops selling salumi (cured meats), but evolved into the equivalent of eat-in deli/restaurants that also serve cold and hot prepared foods. At this modern Midtown salumeria, the soups-to-salads-to-sweets range of fare is the same. Custom-sliced imported cold cuts are a main focus, especially for those who enjoy taste-testing a plate pairing Italy’s two most famous prosciuttos: Parma and San Daniele. But homemade pastas are also impressive, as are hard-to-find regional entrées like fegato alla Veneziana, which will turn liver-haters into lovers. $$-$$$
Shops at Midtown Miami
Buena Vista Avenue
This chef-driven, fast-casual Asian eatery is more an izakaya (in Japan, a pub with food) than a sakaya (sake shop). But why quibble about words with so many more intriguing things to wrap your mouth around? The concept takes on street-food favorites from all over Asia, housemade daily from quality fresh ingredients. French Culinary Institute-trained Richard Hales does change his menu, so we’d advise immediately grabbing some crispy Korean chicken wings and Chinese-inspired, open-faced roast pork buns with sweet chili sauce and homemade pickles. $$
275 NE 18th St.
Sake takes a back seat to sushi – and sophisticated décor – at this small but sleek restolounge. Among the seafood offerings, you won’t find exotica or local catches, but all the usual sushi/sashimi favorites, though in more interesting form, thanks to sauces that go beyond standard soy – spicy sriracha, garlic/ponzu oil, and many more. Especially recommended: the yuzu hamachi roll, the lobster tempura maki, and panko-coated spicy shrimp with hot-and-sour mayo and a salad. $$-$$$
2001 Biscayne Blvd.
At this fast-casual restaurant, diners can enjoy a wide variety of chef-created salads and wraps, or go the DIY route, choosing from one of four greens options; four dozen add-ons (fresh, dried, or pickled veggies and fruits, plus cheeses and slightly sinful pleasures like candied pecans or wonton strips); a protein (seafood or poultry); and two dozen dressings, ranging from classic (Thousand Island, bleu cheese) to creative contemporary (spicy Asian peanut, cucumber wasabi, blueberry pomegranate). Additionally, the place creates lovely catering platters, plus individual lunchboxes -- perfect picnic or plane food. $-$$
2929 Biscayne Blvd.
The first stateside offshoot of a popular Venezuelan mini chain, this "urban Mexican grill" serves health-conscious, made-fresh-daily fare similar in concept to some fast-casual competitors. But there are indeed differences here, notably pan-Latin options: black beans as well as red; thin, delightfully crunchy tostones (available as a side or as the base for a uniquely tasty take on normal nachos). Other pluses include weekday happy hours with two-for-one beers -- and free parking. $-$$
Shokudo World Resource Café
4740 NE 2nd Ave.
At its former Lincoln Road location, World Resource’s café was better known for people-watching than for its standard sushi/Thai menu. But as the new name signals, this relocation is a reinvention. The indoor/outdoor space is charming, but creative takes on popular pan-Asian street foods are the real draw. Travel from Japan and Thailand through Korea, Vietnam, China, the Philippines, and beyond via light housemade momo, curried potato-stuffed Tibetan/Nepalese steamed dumplings; savory pulled pork buns with kimchi and crisped onions. Noodle dishes, hot or chilled, are especially appealing. $$-$$$
5556 NE 4th Court
Since opening in 1999, Soyka has often been credited with sparking the Upper Eastside's revival. Now the arrival of new executive and pastry chefs plus a wine-wise general manager, all Joe Allen veterans, signals a culinary revival for this neighborhood focal point. The concept is still comfort food, but a revamped menu emphasizes fresh local ingredients and from-scratch preparation. (The meatloaf gravy, for instance, now takes 24 hours to make.) Unique desserts include signature sticky date pudding, a toffee-lover's dream. And the wine list features new boutique bottles at the old affordable prices. $$-$$$
S & S Diner
1757 NE 2nd Ave.
Some things never change, or so it seems at this classic diner. Open since 1938, people still line up on Saturday mornings, waiting for a seat at the counter and enormous breakfasts: corned beef hash or crab cakes and eggs with grits; fluffy pancakes; homemade biscuits with gravy and Georgia sausage – everything from oatmeal to eggs Benedict. The lunch menu is a roll call of the usual suspects, but most regulars ignore the menu and go for the daily blackboard specials. $-$$
Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
3250 NE 1st Ave.
This chic indoor/outdoor space is an offspring of Lincoln Road’s SushiSamba Dromo and a sibling of Sugarcane lounges in NYC and Las Vegas, but more informal than the former and more food-oriented than the latter, as three kitchens -- normal, raw bar, and robata charcoal grill -- make clear. Chef Timon Balloo’s LatAsian small plates range from subtle orange/fennel-marinated salmon crudo to intensely smoky-rich short ribs. At the daily happy hour, select dishes (like steamed pork buns with apple kimchi) are discounted. $$-$$$
Tapas y Tintos
3535 NE 2nd Ave.
With about 50 different generously sized traditional tapas plates, from simple (imported Spanish cheeses and cured meats; varied croquetas, including beautifully smooth spinach) to sophisticated (crisp-fried soft-shell crab with aioli dip; the witty Popeye y Olivia, garlicky wine-sauced chickpeas with spinach and olive oil) plus complex salads, paellas, and charbroiled meat and seafood entrées, all add up to entertaining eating even without this tapas/wine bar’s live entertainment. This second T&T feels less nightclub and more neighborhood than the South Beach original. Great for dates, business lunches, or very happy hours. $$$
1951 NW 7th Ave.
Just over the border from artsy Wynwood, this ultra-cool café (whose interior features a 30-foot Italian glass floral mosaic) isn’t what you’d expect to find inside one of the medical/lab buildings in Miami’s sterile “Health District.” But the owner is Thea Goldman, former founding partner of Wynwood’s pioneering restolounge Joey’s, which explains both the stylishness and the menu, highlighted by imaginative wood-oven designer pizzas, plus artisan charcuterie/cheese platters, creative salads, and housemade salted caramel gelato. Not your typical hospital food. Call ahead regarding dinner. At this writing, it’s being served Fridays only. $$-$$$
3 Chefs Chinese Restaurant
1800 Biscayne Blvd. #105
Until this eatery opened in late 2010, the solid Chinese·restaurants in this neighborhood could be counted on the·fingers of no hands. So it’s not surprising that most people·concentrate on Chinese and Chinese/American fare.·The real surprise is the remarkably tasty, budget-priced,·Vietnamese fare. Try pho, 12 varieties of full-flavored·beef/rice noodle soup (including our favorite, with welldone·flank steak and flash-cooked eye round). All can be·customized with sprouts and fresh herbs. Also impressive:·Noodle combination plates with sautéed meats, salad,·and spring rolls. $$
Tony Chan’s Water Club
1717 N. Bayshore Dr.
The décor at this upscale place, located in the Grand, looks too glitzy to serve anything but politely Americanized Chinese food. But the American dumbing-down is minimal. Many dishes are far more authentic and skillfully prepared than those found elsewhere in Miami, like delicate but flavorful yu pan quail. Moist sea bass fillet has a beautifully balanced topping of scallion, ginger, cilantro, and subtly sweet/salty sauce. And Peking duck is served as three traditional courses: crêpe-wrapped crispy skin, meat sautéed with crisp veggies, savory soup to finish. $$-$$$
Vintage Liquor & Wine Bar
3301 NE 1st Ave. #105
Gentrified atmosphere, a remarkably knowledgeable staff, and a hip stock (including liquor and global beers as well as wine, plus gourmet packaged foods to accompany them), and a self-service wine dispenser for sampling make this an enjoyable retail shop. And a wine/cocktail/tapas bar (open from 4:00 p.m. daily) makes it an enjoyable neighborhood hangout, too. The simple but tasty tapas include spinach or hummus dips, shrimp cocktails, a traditional Spanish tortilla, and lavishly garnished imported cheese and charcuterie platters. $-$$
Wine Vault Miami
Shops at Midtown Miami
Fountain Circle #105
From a Wine Vault press release: “Over 1300 square feet of pure decadence.” In fact, the soaring, two-story space, complete with glass elevator, has a look that lives up to the hype. But the most decadent thing inside is a nibble from its tapas list: chocolate-covered bacon. Go ahead and make a meal of it. We grown-ups can eat what we want. More substantial plates to accompany the roughly four dozen wines, artisan beers, or cocktails include chorizo with new potatoes, and sweetly piquant piquillo peppers stuffed with shredded tuna. Happy-hour wine prices are so low we’d better not mention them. $$-$$$
Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
2550 NW 2nd Ave.
The exterior is eye-popping enough, with murals from world-famous outdoor artists, but it’s the interior that grabs you. Colorful and exotic work by Shepard Fairey, Christian Awe, and other acclaimed artists makes it one of the most striking restaurant spaces anywhere. As for food, the original menu has been replaced with Spanish/Latin/Mediterranean-inspired favorites from chef Miguel Aguilar (formerly of Alma de Cuba): gazpacho or black bean soups; shredded chicken ropa vieja empanadas with cilantro crema; grilled octopus skewers with tapenade; plus fingerling potato-chorizo hash and other seasonal farm-to-table veg dishes. $$-$$$