6 restaurants pushing the envelope in Miami

Dry ice features alongside multiple dishes at Sexy Fish - Miami in Brickell. | Credit: Sexy Fish - Miami

Creativity is one of Miami’s distinguishing features, cropping up in the city’s bold approach to art, design, and fashion. Thankfully, it’s also a trait that stretches to Magic City’s dining scene, which sizzles as strongly as the South Florida sun.

In South Beach, a chef places sustainability at the heart of his rotisserie-meets-izakaya menu. An inventive Indian restaurant in Kendall pairs Floridian flavors, such as avocado and yellowfin tuna, with South Asian staples. Cuban sandwiches are ubiquitous across this tropical, melting pot of a metropolis, but a duo in Little Havana ups the ante on the hand-held classic, ensuring each component is crafted in house.

Standing out in one of America’s most cutting-edge cities is no easy feat. These are the six restaurants that excel when it comes to offering some of Miami’s most unique meals.

Pez Loco (Wynwood)

Mexican Baja cuisine at Pez Loco. | Credit: Pez Loco

After speaking candidly about burnout during his time cooking in the award-winning Los Angeles restaurant Alma, chef Ari Taymor took time to recalibrate before opening his latest Miami-based restaurant, Pez Loco, in early 2022. Set in trendy Wynwood, the tropical spot offers beach-flavored dishes such as radiatore with octopus-mezcal ragu and Sinaloan tuna crudo. The plates are inspired by the coastal towns of Mexico, areas where Taymor spent time as a child before finding solace in the region’s surf culture as an adult. Taymor is a passionate advocate for his employees’ mental health, routinely encouraging them to find pursuits that bring joy and balance outside the kitchen. The result is an especially thoughtful restaurant, offering a blueprint for balance in a relentless industry.

Fiola Miami (Coral Gables)

Carbonara pasta topped with caviar at Fiola Miami. | Credit: 52 Chefs

Japanese multi-course menus are all the rage in cosmopolitan Miami. But this Washington, D.C. transplant breaks boundaries by offering pasta-themed omakase, inspired by executive chef Daniel Ganem’s trips to Japan. Fiola’s inventive, six-course menu features an ever-changing selection of an appetizer, four pasta dishes, and a dessert. Dishes such as the porcini mushroom “cappuccino soup” and the carbonara pasta, topped with kaluga caviar, intend to take diners on a Japanese-accented jaunt through Italy. To that, add a striking, glass-walled wine room—translation: a prolific bottle selection—and you’re in for one of Miami’s most exquisite meals.

Sérêvène (South Beach)

All the meat and seafood at Sérêvène is sourced from eco-conscious suppliers. | Credit: Sérêvène

Executive chef Pawan Pinisetti, who has trained under culinary powerhouses such as Tom Colicchio and the late Joël Robuchon, runs an exceptionally responsible kitchen at this rotisserie-meets-izakaya. At Sérêvène, set in the chic, adults-only Greystone Hotel, the menu unabashedly fuses traditions, featuring foie gras hot pockets and red wine-braised beef cheek with lemongrass coconut curry sauce. Sustainably steers the kitchen here. Pinisetti ensures no scrap goes to waste as he remixes culinary techniques: Vegetable peels and fruit skins are used as broth enhancers, disposable products are made with biodegradable plastics (or avocado pulp), and meat and seafood is sourced from suppliers that offer humanely raised fish and operate on USDA-certified farms. For Pinisetti and co., sustainability isn’t an afterthought, it’s second nature, making a meal here a truly unique experience.

Ghee Indian Kitchen (Kendall)

South Asian staples meet Floridian flavors at Ghee Indian Kitchen. | Credit: Ghee Indian Kitchen

Miami doesn’t have the most prolific Indian restaurant selection, but when the craving hits, Ghee Indian Kitchen, steered by James Beard Award semi-finalist Niven Patel, hits the spot. It’s a quaint restaurant, lined with jars of fermenting vegetables, and executes an innovative cultural balancing act. Dishes such as yellowfin tuna bhel, avocado bhatura (deep-fried, leavened bread), and turmeric-marinated local fish infuse distinctly Floridian flavors into South Asian staples. Much of the produce here is sourced from Rancho Patel in Homestead ), the chef’s two-acre farm home about an hour south of Miami, where he grows taro leaves, tomatoes, radish, kale, and over a dozen types of mangoes, which all make their way into Ghee’s dishes. By creating this unique farm-to-table ecosystem, Patel not only reduces costs, but also provides the freshest ingredients for his restaurant, resulting in an impressive hospitality doubleplay.

Sexy Fish – Miami (Brickell)

The ocean-themed men’s room at Sexy Fish – Miami. | Credit: Ken Hayden

Step past the velvet ropes and into an over-the-top, under-the-sea party at this awe-inspiring spot. At Sexy Fish, which blazes new trails when it comes to restaurant design, both the dishes and the interiors are feasts. The menu is inspired by Asia’s oceans, while the extravagant interiors—massive mermaid sculptures, glass mosaics—come courtesy of award-winning Martin Brudnizki Studio, displaying art by Damien Hirst, plus a multi-million dollar fish lamp installation by Frank Gehry. Many of the dishes, such as the yellowfin tartare, are as dramatic as the surroundings, complete with wisps of dry ice. Once the clock strikes 10 pm, the restaurant turns up the buzz with live music, compelling diners to order another round and enjoy the show at this inimitable Brickell stunner.

Sanguich de Miami (Little Havana)

The Cuban sandwich is one of Miami’s many culinary ambassadors. And though you’ll find the ubiquitous, hand-held classic at ventanitas (walk-up windows) on many street corners, no spot makes it as meticulously as Sanguich de Miami. Every single part of this sandwich, a mouthwatering stack of ham, lechon, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles, is cooked and prepped in-house. The only thing made off site is the bread—it’s baked at a spot in Homestead, using a recipe created by Sanguich’s co-owners, Rosa Romero and Daniel Figuerdo, who set out to create gourmet versions of the sandwiches they’d devoured as kids. At their unassuming, 25-seat restaurant, a refreshing departure from some of the more extravagant meals Miami is known for, the duo most definitely delivers.

Amber Love Bond is a Miami-based food + beverage writer who can typically be found somewhere delicious with her laptop in tow and a cocktail in hand. See what she’s sipping and follow her adventures on Instagram.

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