10 Restaurants That Mattered Most in 2013

By Carissa Chesanek  |  December 16, 2013

This past year, we've seen a number of restaurants come and go in South Florida, but there are plenty of remaining contenders holding strong in our emerging foodie town. Here are some of the standouts of 2013 - including newcomers as well as restaurants that have upped their game, spaces with solid new chef takeovers and old staples that still keep the thrills coming.

  • Credit: Area 31

    Area 31

    This swanky downtown venue revamped its quarters with bold red and wood accents and an impressive wine installation displaying over 300 bottles. Accompanying the redesign, the space also brought in a new chef, Wolfgang Birk, who created a Mediterranean-inspired menu specializing in seafood (think crudo fluke with caviar) and combinations like roasted lamb with watercress salsa verde. 

    270 Biscayne Blvd Wy.; 305-424-5234

  • DiLido Beach Club

    Chef Andres Meraz came to this oceanfront restaurant roughly a year ago, adding Mexican flavors to the upgraded menu. Items include light and fresh options like shrimp ceviche with chipotle and corn nuts, yellow fin tuna tartar with avocado purée and the chef's signature pork “carnitas” slider with pickled red onion.

    One Lincoln Rd.; 786-276-4000

  • Blue Collar

    A staple comfort-food spot in the trendy up-and-coming Upper East Side, this space still continues to impress with its cozy diner interior and hearty yet surprising menu options. For brunch, there are dishes like the duck McMuffin with duck bacon, smoked gouda and duck eggs on a Portuguese muffin, while late-night items include jambalaya made with wild Florida shrimp, sausage and tomato.

    6730 Biscayne Blvd.; 305-756-0366

  • The Cypress Room

    Opened last winter by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, this intimate supper club offers an old-school jazz-bar setting as the backdrop for American dishes such as lamb with wild mushrooms and sweet potato. Drinks include anything from an aperitif to start - the Sippy Cup is splashed with hibiscus bitters and aperol - to the Nicknack, with Death Door Gin, plum and scotch. 

    3620 NE Second Ave.; 305-520-5197

  • Credit: Swine Southern Table & Bar

    Swine Southern Table & Bar

    As the third venture from 50 Eggs restaurant group, this bustling loft-style eatery continues to pack 'em in with its lively vibe and Southern barbecue-focused cuisine. The house burger, a combination of short rib, brisket and smoked-aged pork, is a pleaser any time of day, while the double-chocolate waffle topped with bananas, Nutella and bourbon maple syrup is the way to indulge for Sunday brunch. 

    2415 Ponce de Leon Blvd.; 786-360-6433

  • The District Miami

    A cozy date spot inside a unique Buena Vista historic home, this newly opened space offers a warm ambiance with sophisticated details of custom-made leather booths, exposed brick and a ceiling mural. As for the food, the Pan-American menu is equally inviting, offering items like lamb tartare crostini with pine nuts and mustard oil during happy hour, and cast-iron octopus with eggplant purée for dinner. 

    190 NE 46th St.; (305) 573-4199

  • Credit: Tongue & Cheek

    Tongue & Cheek

    Chef Jamie DeRosa brought this relaxed neighborhood joint to the South of Fifth last spring, mingling a casual vibe with a modern feel. The ingredient-driven menu showcases dishes like chilled oysters with carbonated cucumber mignonette, grilled petit bistro filet and pumpkin-and-pistachio bread pudding.

    431 Washington Ave.; 305-704-2900

  • The Hidden Kitchen

    Miami Heat chef Michael Jacobs opened this underground dining social club inside a local condo building, offering a private dining space for invitation-only diners. Along with alternating guest chefs and surprise menus, there's also the slider pop-up inside the venue, dishing out rich combos like the three-cheese mac 'n' cheese with smoked brisket ends on a brioche bun.

    5255 Collins Ave.; 305-868-7442

  • 3030 Ocean

    This year marked chef Paula DaSilva's departure from Eden Roc's 1500°, allowing her to go back to this oceanfront Fort Lauderdale space, where she used to work back in 2000. The Brazilian chef's American fare puts regional flavors at the forefront in dishes like white-water clams with parsley and orange, curried organic carrot soup with olive oil crumb, and roasted Atlantic cod with housemade pasta and butternut squash.

    3030 Holiday Dr.; 954-765-3030

  • PB Steak

    One of six popular Pubbelly Boy's venues, this rustic steakhouse is a charming go-to for plenty of locals and meat lovers. Expect plates like chilled Madagascar prawns with kimchi and Buffalo sweetbreads with blue cheese dip, along with various cuts of beef, such as a 10-oz. butcher steak and 14-oz. rib-eye.

    1787 Purdy Ave.; 305-695-9577