The Hottest South Florida Restaurants Right Now
From bao buns to truffle chicken, here are five culinary hotspots you'll need to visit next time you're down South.
Here is a highly debatable statement that we believe to be quantifiably true: South Florida is the nation’s hottest restaurant scene right now.
OK, so you don’t believe us, but consider the evidence. Let’s assume that most people would agree that the nation’s top restaurant hotspots are New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and then perhaps, South Florida, up there in the top five. Right?
Then consider the current state of things. Every other top food city mentioned is still largely locked down or reeling from restrictions that have harmed the restaurant industry.
Meanwhile, you wouldn’t believe the number of restaurants opening right now in South Florida and the sheer breadth of chefs and restaurateurs coming here. Many of the places that have opened their doors this year are multimillion- dollar build-outs with big-name talent and glamorous concepts reminiscent of headier times.
Even before these new places opened, South Florida had a rich restaurant scene headlined by some of the nation’s finest chefs and a collection of longtime spots putting out regional fare like nowhere else.
So perhaps after reading this, you’re feeling hungry, maybe for ceviche, the raw-fish-and-citrus dish everyone seems to be doing right now, followed by a whole fish cooked over charcoal, which you’ll find in so many spots too. So we’ve put together a list of five must-eat places in America’s hottest restaurant scene.
This South Florida restaurant roundup is the first of three installments from Flamingo’s editorial team, in which we share our insights and recommendations for where to eat right now in South, Central and North Florida.
You might know Masaharu Morimoto as the Iron Chef, the slayer of Bobby Flay and dozens of others on reality TV food battles. He’s also a part-time Miami resident who just opened a ramen spot in Wynwood, where he discovered that he needed to elevate his simple ramen concept to match the artistic nature of the neighborhood. He added panache with tableside presentations, like a rice pot cooked right where you’re sitting and then artfully reassembled, the slices of fish and vegetables arranged like a blossoming flower on top of rice turned crispy from the clay vessel. Taste his dishes and you’ll see why he won so many of those shows.
Palm Beach Gardens
A disciple of the acclaimed Dean James Max and Niven Patel, Chef Pushkar Marathe is now on his own and created a menu that signifies the journey he’s taken, with spices from his native India and numerous other places he’s worked. The menu is insanely creative, flavorful and downright original. Pushkar just launched a new brunch, and based on the menu, we’re planning to start with the coconut sticky buns with lime cream cheese, followed by eggs benedict topped with crab and turmeric hollandaise and wash it all down with a kimchi bloody mary.
It isn’t that Chef Jeremy Ford’s Miami Beach restaurant is new. It made it on this list simply because Ford, a Jacksonville native, is killing it, putting out dishes that show why he won Bravo’s Top Chef and is so often mentioned on short lists for big awards. Last time I dined there, the tasting menu included a dish the server described as the chef’s experiment with slices of squash treated like ceviche, pepitas for a crunch on top, and a pair of sauces—one creamy and one herby— providing a real depth of flavor. It was just squash, yet simply delicious, and a perfect execution of the easy elegance he’s known for.
There’s a certain vibe in the Wynwood outpost of this Austin-born Japanese restaurant; it’s casual and chill but also trendy and handsomely decorated, a place where you won’t feel looked down upon for asking for the definition of an ingredient, but then also a place where you will likely try something you’ve never had before. The chef here is Edward Sura, who grew up on a farm in Michigan, a background he says taught him to appreciate the simplicity of good ingredients. He says, “The golden rule: if it grows together, it goes together.” You can taste that in his cooking, like an oyster appetizer with a flavorful coconut foam that doesn’t take away from the delicate taste of oysters, a balance that’s hard to achieve for the best of chefs.
Click here to read the simple and delicious recipe for Uchi’s signature oysters
After holding down the top job at Zuma, Chef Taek “Taka” Lee gets a place with his name literally on it, and it’s a stunner, with oceanfront views at the Conrad Hotel and the kind of creative Japanese-Korean dishes you used to have to go to New York or San Francisco to find. Don’t skip the duck bao buns, the lobster in yuzu butter and the japchae, a surprisingly delicate dish of beef with sweet potato noodles.