Miami Dining Guide: 7 Muy Caliente Miami Restaurants You Need to Eat at Now

Get ready for glitz, glamor, and gourmet eating galore. Sunny Miami’s restaurant scene is ablaze. There’s a world-class dining scene in the Magic City giving lucky locals endless options – and out-of-towners plenty of reasons to fly down to check it out. Whether you’re in the mood for farm fresh Floridian fare, stellar seafood, a taste of the South, or top-notch Japanese cuisine, you’ve got plenty of options. In this mini Miami dining guide, we present seven muy caliente restaurants you need to try now.

Area 31
Perched on the 16th floor of the Epic Hotel, this high-flying blockbuster has spectacular views of Biscayne Bay and Miami River whether you choose to sit on the patio or inside. The name comes from the fishing zone – which runs from the mid-Atlantic through the Caribbean to the top of South America – where the restaurant’s catch is sustainably sourced. Executive chef Wolfgang Birk turns out dishes that span clean, lean preparations – you can’t go wrong with any of the crudos – to more decadent fare, such as a rich risotto dappled with generous chunks of lobster. Vegetable accompaniments get the star treatment. Think roasted Brussels sprouts amped up with pork belly and boozy raisins and duck confit sweet potatoes accompanied by tangy kimchi mayo. Make a reservation at Area 31.

Miami Dining Guide

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
Say hello to comfort food central. The sunny, Southern-minded eatery wants you to forget about your diet and just tuck into some good old-fashioned cooking. There’s a whole section of the menu devoted to Mama’s Biscuits, honey-sweetened, golden-crusted diamonds that are split open and packed with your choice of smoked brisket, Virginia ham, or fried chicken. Or you can simply eat them with a hearty brushstroke of housemade jam. Chicken and waffles are a highlight here, featuring elevated Eggos enriched with cheddar cheese, crackly crusted poultry, spiced watermelon, and bourbon-boosted maple syrup. Don’t forget to save some space for shareable small plates, such as skillet cornbread, five-cheese amped mac, and roe-topped deviled eggs. You can go back to your diet tomorrow. Make a reservation at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar.

Miami Dining Guide

Wynwood Kitchen and Bar
You’re just as likely to Instagram your surroundings as you are your food at this trendsetting restaurant. Street artist Shepard Fairey – creator of the Obama “Hope” image – and other gifted graffitists created the eye-catching murals splashed across the walls. The Latin-ish menu is designed for sharing so be prepared to fill up your table with a sweeping selection of small plates. Top of mind should be the ropa vieja empanadas, queso frito dotted with paprika sausage, adobo-rubbed pork belly, and your choice of skewers. The cocktails are as colorful and creative as the artwork that decorates the indoor-outdoor eatery, so make sure to snap a pic of those, too, before you sip. Make a reservation at Wynwood Kitchen and Bar.

Miami Dining Guide

Beachcraft
Tom Colicchio has a lot on his plate. Not only is he the head judge on a little cooking competition show on Bravo that you may know, but he’s also a successful restaurateur with a packed portfolio. He added this sustainably minded stunner to his collection this summer. It is his first Miami restaurant – and his first seafood eatery. Executive chef Michael Fiorello oversees the operation – sorry, Top Chef fanboys and fangirls! – keeping the focus on the freshest catch and latest harvest. Kick off in baller style with the skyscraping seafood tower featuring an array of raw delicacies. Flatbreads are a more restrained opener, as are the masterfully composed salads that pop off the plate with bursts of color. Pastas are a pleasant surprise, especially the jalapeno-pepped bucatini, which is given a briny burst by sea urchin butter. We’re sure Padma would approve. Make a reservation at Beachcraft.

Miami City Guide

Seagrape
James Beard Award-winner Michelle Bernstein presides over this booming brasserie. Muted autumnal shades are brightened by accents of airy blue and vibrant green, giving the space a chilled out vibe. Ceviche of the day is a worthy starting point, as is the spicy tuna and hamachi tartare. If you’re in the mood for meat, there’s a strong steakhouse menu, though seafood should remain your focus (this is Miami, not Nebraska!). Beheaded snapper is served whole a la a beachfront café in Thailand accompanied by coconut rice, slaw, and nam phrik chili sauce. Or there’s grilled grouper paired with a summery succotash. Either way, you’ll leave happy and eager to return. Make a reservation at Seagrape.

Miami Dining Guide

Barton G. The Restaurant-Miami Beach
Part magic show, part dinner theater, and part gotcha gastronomy, this palace of wonders never fails to delight. Be prepared to snap a plethora of pics over the course of your meal because the dishes here are designed to be selfie stars. Phyllo-wrapped lobster pop-tarts appear in a toaster, the popcorn shrimp is served inside an old-fashioned popcorn maker, and truffled lobster mac ‘n’ cheese arrives inside the crustacean’s shell. Definitely save room for dessert, which is the grand finale you would expect. One memorable finisher is a pink mannequin head wreathed with a beehive of cotton candy and accompanied by cakes. One piece of advice: Don’t forget to actually eat these dishes after you ooh, aah, and overload your Insta account. Make a reservation at Barton G.

Barton G Blog

Zuma
You’re beyond impressed before you even walk into this chichi Japanese restaurant. The parking lot is full of designer cars most people only ever see in magazines and towering mega yachts are docked at its wharf. Miami’s elite, celebs galore, and foodies looking to check a meal off their culinary bucket list flock here to indulge in high-end sushi and five-star izakaya fare. The space is stylish and sleek with soaring ceilings, the rooms rendered in a barrage of beiges with black accents. Dress sharp because it’s a place to see and be seen. You don’t want to run into Gwyneth Paltrow and ask to take a picture with her when you’re dressed like a schlub, do you? Make a reservation at Zuma.

Miami Dining Guide

What Miami restaurants are on your must-dine list? Share your picks here or over on  FacebookG+InstagramPinterest, or Twitter.

Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell

Photo credits: Andrew Meade (Wynwood); 50 Eggs (Yardbird); Eric Laignel (Beachcraft interior); Mark Jordan (Beachcraft cuisine); Thompson Miami Beach (Seagrape interior); Michael Pisarri (Seagrape cuisine); James Shearer (Zuma interior).

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