The Biscayne Times

Tuesday
Dec 11th
It’s Been a Big Year for Miami’s Food Scene PDF Print E-mail
Written by Geoffrey Anderson Jr. and Dianne Rubin, BT Contributors   
December 2018

APix_Dish_12-18nd just like that, 2018 is almost over. What a year it’s been. South Florida’s culinary food scene continued to grow with a swell of restaurant openings -- both big and small. Looking back, foodies have plenty to be thankful for.

One of the biggest restaurant openings this year was the dual concept Swan and Bar Bevy in the Design District (90 NE 39th St., 305-704-0994). Backed by local hospitality star David Grutman and singer Pharrell Williams, Swan features cuisine by Europe’s Top Chef (season three) winner Jean Imbert, who’s putting personal twists on classic European fare. Those seeking a nightcap after their meal can head upstairs to Bevy to enjoy a cocktail (or two) on the rooftop.

Another notable addition in the Design District has been St. Roch Market (140 NE 39th St., 786-542-8977). The food hall opened in March with a variety of vendors serving up various cuisines, from Italian and seafood to Mediterranean and Peruvian-Japanese fusion. It’s that last one that we’re most fond of: Itamae’s mouthwatering mix of ceviche, sushi, and bowls has earned quite the reputation, including a New York Times mention. If you haven’t made it out to the food hall, you’re missing out.

It’s only a matter of time before downtown Miami gets some national nods, too. The neighborhood, typically a ghost town after 5:00 p.m., has seen a lot of after-hours action lately. Lost Boy Dry Goods (157 E. Flagler St., 305-372-7303), a former denim store, is now a spacious bar and eatery focusing on classic cocktails (pro tip: get the gin and tonic), huge sandwiches, and shareable plates like cheese boards and pretzels. Over at Jaguar Sun (230 NE 4th St., 786-860-2422) a few blocks up, patrons are digging into Parker House rolls, spicy rigatoni, and short ribs while enjoying craft drinks well into the evening.

Vagabond Hotel is also in the middle of a resurgence, thanks to operator Amir Ben-Zion. Known for Gigi, Bardot, and other beloved Miami institutions, Ben-Zion has revamped the property into Vagabond Village (7301 Biscayne Blvd., 786-332-4991), a destination where guests can have it all: a restaurant (Vagabond Sushi Bar), a lounge (Bridgette), and a pool deck (Oasis). The village’s signature restaurant specializes in Izakaya-style plates that are perfect for friends to share before heading over to the lounge for a few libations. Alternatively, spend a day at Oasis and soak up some sun -- there’s no shortage of things to do here.

Further north, Aventura Mall (19501 Biscayne Blvd.) has turned our definition of “mall food” on its head. The shopping center made dining a priority with its new multimillion-dollar wing, which debuted earlier this year and is home to a wealth of culinary concepts. The expansion welcomed familiar names like Pubbelly Sushi, Genuine Pizza, and C.VICHE 105 into the mix -- brands you wouldn’t typically associate with a mall. Based on the consistent crowds day in and day out, the gamble paid off.

 

OPENINGS

As much as we like to reminisce, it’s also important to look forward, and the near future looks bright for Miami’s food scene. Come spring, Brickell City Centre will add coal-fired Cuban cuisine to its array of offerings. Chef Alberto Cabrera, formerly of Little Bread in Little Havana and Bread & Butter in Coral Gables, is leading the kitchen at Marabu (701 S. Miami Ave.), which will be churning out large-format meats and vegetables…not the heavy stuff you’re used to at your local Cuban spot.

Before then, customers can scratch their Latin food itch at La Placita (6789 Biscayne Blvd.), a new concept from Pubbelly’s José Mendin. Don’t expect the fusion fare from Mendin’s other restaurants, as this MiMo eatery is all about straightforward Puerto Rican cooking; you’ll find fried chicken chunks, conch salad, and a lot of pork on the menu. La Placita is slated to open sometime this month.

 

CLOSINGS

The Upper Eastside’s Wabi Sabi closed its doors temporarily -- and suddenly -- last month. Chef Shuji Hiyakawa cited a need to recharge and spend more time with family in Japan, according to a note posted on the restaurant’s Instagram. In Midtown Miami, Mediterranean restaurant Skorpios has called it a day.

 

Geoffrey Anderson Jr. and Dianne Rubin are co-founders of Miami Food Pug, an award-winning South Florida food blog that fuses the couple’s love of dogs and food.

 

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