To keep tabs on every Miami restaurant and bar opening is folly. But to keep tabs on the most worthy? Yeoman’s work, and we’re proud to do it. Thus we present Table Stakes, a monthly rundown of the five (or so) must-know spots that have swung wide their doors in the past 30 (or so). Let’s eat.
Miami has welcomed quite a few restaurants to its culinary landscape in the past few weeks, including outposts of lauded, time-tested spots from elsewhere. Whether it’s an internationally renowned Brazilian steak chain or the most Instagrammable American brasserie you’ve ever seen, we’re thrilled to welcome these newcomers into the fold. But that’s not all! There’s also local flair on the menu, including an old favorite you’ll be thrilled to revisit. Here are the five we’re most psyched to try this month.
You’re here because… you’re already familiar with the Fogo de Chão family of experiential Brazilian restaurants, and you’re thrilled that a new flagship has arrived in The Plaza Coral Gables. The two-story location features a massive, 280-seat dining room balancing Brazilian tradition and contemporary flair, all anchored by an open air churrasco bar and animated by trained gaucho chefs. It’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palate.
You’re dining on… traditional churrasco from southern Brazil, of course! Yes, there’s pork, chicken and even seafood, but the star is undoubtedly beef: Think succulent skewers of filet mignon, bone-in ribeye grilled over indirect heat or bacon-wrapped steak medallions. The picanha is the house signature: a prime cut of top sirloin seasoned with rock salt and sliced super thin. These and more are served tableside by the chefs and accompanied by unlimited veggies and sides from the Market Table. And be sure to snag some charcuterie and South American wines from adjacent grab-and-go market The Butchery on your way out.
You’re here because… This American brasserie beloved by celebs like Kendall Jenner, Bruno Mars and Nick Jonas (and dubbed “The Most Instagrammed Restaurant in the United States” by Food & Wine) has finally opened a new location at Aventura Mall. Known above all for its photo-worthy desserts, Sugar Factory is also famous for its signature over-the-top décor. The new Aventura location stays true to tradition, boasting a custom I Heart MIA installation designed by local artist Jenny Perez as a tribute to South Florida.
You’re dining on… the most decadent desserts, from rainbow pancakes studded with chocolate chips and scattered with gummy bears to the signature insane milkshakes served in chocolate-covered mugs. Share the King Kong Sundae with 12 of your closest friends: 24 scoops of ice cream are covered with sprinkles, gummy bears and both caramel and fudge sauce, not to mention swirl pops. And that’s not all. Start things off with a walk on the savory side: Burgers come topped with cheddar, bacon and mac and cheese to boot, while rainbow sliders offer an ode to the restaurant’s better-known sweet side with their brightly colored (but savory!) buns. Cocktails like The Soul Man (designed by The Rock) or the Candy Shop (designed by 50 Cent) are joined here by the Miami Tropical Punch featuring peaches, pineapple, tequila and more — the perfect accompaniment to this blissfully over-the-top meal.
You’re here because… while nondescript “fusion food” is so 1988, you know that well-done fusion is a force to be reckoned with, and this marriage of the Korean flavors of chef Akira Back’s childhood and Japanese touches inspired by his travels totally fits the bill. The sleek, luxurious dining room at The Ray Hotel is the perfect place for Chef Back to execute his vision — and for you to dig into the master’s delicious creations.
You’re dining on… luxurious seafood specialties spiked with a combo of modern Japanese and Korean flavors. The AB Tuna Pizza sees tuna paired with umami-rich aioli and white truffle oil, while octopus crudo is jazzed up with onion salsa. The carpaccio selection combines fresh fish and seafood with yuzu, soy, hoisin, garlic, ginger and Szechuan pepper for a flavor explosion. Hot dishes drip luxury, like the lobster tempura paired with Korean pear and jalapeño or the angus filet mignon with mushrooms. Or go for the truffle bomb, if you dare: This dish unites sea urchin, sweet shrimp, fermented Korean gejang and caviar. You could also place your trust in the chef by ordering his signature “mystery box” with nine small dishes unveiled tableside.
West Palm Beach
You’re here because… you’re familiar with some of the other outposts of South Florida’s most iconic taco joint-cum-speakeasy, so you’re thrilled to see that the much anticipated Palm Beach outpost is finally open. But there’s more to this iteration of the chain than meets the eye. Atop the familiar fast-casual space, the new location is also home to a high-end cocktail bar with an exclusive menu of upmarket tequilas and mezcals, as well as cocktails like the Mexican Martini with Patrón or La Fresa with mezcal and strawberry syrup.
You’re dining on… a host of tasty tacos ranging from carnitas to roasted pineapple and pork al pastor. The tierra y mar quesadilla marries shaved ribeye and grilled shrimp with Monterey jack cheese, and burritos are bountiful, filled with your choice of steak, shrimp, chicken or even a combo, as in the “Late-Night” with braised short rib, roasted pork and roasted chicken. If you’re here with a group, be sure to snag a plate of nachos to share topped with your choice of meats (or Impossible chorizo), and don’t miss the house margaritas.
You’re here because… Maybe you’ve already visited the original Williamsburg Smorgasburg — the largest open-air food market in the U.S. — or maybe you’re just curious to taste the wares of some of 60+ local vendors at the brand-new Miami outpost. Either way, the prospect of this true temple to street food finally reaching Wynwood is something you can totally get on board with. Saturdays just got a little tastier.
You’re dining on… Anything from Drinking Pig BBQ’s succulent smoked beef to multicolored sheng jian bao from Mao’s Bao to hearty grilled cheeses from Ms Cheezious, all of which can be purchased from vendors around the perimeter of the new space and enjoyed at colorful picnic tables in the center. Snag a few choices with your nearest and dearest to mix and match.
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