Eat This Now: Miami’s 30 Essential Dishes

By Michelle Muslera  |  January 23, 2017
Credit: Danya Henninger

Miami’s dining scene is booming, and it offers something for every palate. To get a taste of the city's best, we’ve compiled the following list of 30 dishes that are must-eats right now.

Lobster roll at Luke’s Lobster 
One of the most exciting arrivals at the Brickell City Centre, Luke's offers juicy hunks of the Maine crustacean topped with warm butter and celery salt and served atop a perfectly toasted buttered roll. For $17, this lobster dish is not only a steal, it's also one of the best in town.

701 S. Miami Ave.; (786) 837-7683

Michelle Muslera

Bagel and lox from Bazaar Mar
This whimsical appetizer at José Andrés’ new seafood entry consists of a crispy, fish-shaped “air bread” filled with cream cheese foam and topped with Russ & Daughters smoked salmon. 

1300 S. Miami Ave.; (305) 615-5859

Courtesy of Antico Pizza

San Gennaro pie at Antico Pizza
In South Beach, this Neapolitan pizza specialist from Atlanta offers a menu of enticing combinations, such as Italian fennel sausage with sweet and spicy red peppers and molten mozzarella. The fiery flavors are backed up by the visually appealing open pizza bar with a flaming oven.

1058 Collins Ave.; (786) 216-7908

Michelle Muslera

Roasted short rib at Upland
There's a reason why chef Justin Smillie's name has become synonymous with this mammoth rib. Crusted in pepper, the incredibly tender showstopper is served on the bone with olives, walnuts and ribbons of shaved celery and horseradish. It's listed as a dish for two, but can easily feed three.

49 Collins Ave.; (305) 602-9998

Courtesy of K Ramen. Burger. Beer.

Lobster ramen at K Ramen. Burger. Beer.
Cooler weather means that a big bowl of noodles is in order, so settle into this underground spot at the Townhouse Hotel in South Beach and order the lobster ramen as your main course. The broth is made with long-simmered chicken and fish stock and kimchi, which gives it a reddish hue. Rich with lobster butter, the soup holds some lobster meat too, plus golden chives, green onion, marinated egg and springy noodles.

150 20th St.; 305-534-7895

Michelle Muslera

Stuffed croissant French toast at Bakehouse Brasserie
Come prepared to dive into a vast menu of French-inspired fare and artisanal baked goods at this hip South of Fifth entry by the Menin Hospitality team. Don't miss the French toast — it's made with the restaurant's own croissant, and stuffed with rum-spiked bananas Foster and cream cheese frosting. 

808 1st St.; (305) 434-8249

Michelle Muslera

Lamb pappardelle at Edge Steakhouse
At the Four Seasons in Brickell, Aussie-born chef Aaron Brooks presents a lighter version of the Italian pasta dish, which gains flavor from shredded lamb, cherry tomatoes and olives with a putanesca sauce. 

1435 Brickell Ave.; (305) 358-3535

Courtesy of Zest

Niman Ranch tomahawk pork chop at Zest 
Cindy Hutson’s latest eatery in Downtown Miami is known for its progressive Caribbean fare, and this tomahawk pork chop lives up to the rep. The meat boasts a simple sea salt, cumin and coriander rub. It's pan-seared and finished in the oven, then topped with a tropical chimichurri (made with seasonal fruit) and accompanied by crispy yuca cakes and sautéed escarole.

200 South Biscayne Blvd.; 305-374-9378

Courtesy of Knaus Berry Farms

Cinnamon buns at Knaus Berry Farms
This family-run farm stand isn’t close to much else — it’s in the middle of the Redlands — but the quality of the cinnamon buns brings crowds so large you can sometimes wait in line for hours before getting your hands on them. Bring cash and come early; the freshly baked rolls go quickly.

15980 SW 248th St.; (305) 247-0668

Michelle Muslera

Chevre cheesecake at Brava by Brad Kilgore
Like the savory dishes, desserts at Brad Kilgore’s new restaurant at the Adrienne Arsht Center are artfully presented and ingredients-focused. For this sumptuous cheesecake, Kilgore’s wife and pastry chef Soraya Kilgore opts for creamy goat cheese splashed with morello cherry and tarragon sorbet, creating an elegant, not-too-sweet ending to the meal.  

1300 Biscayne Blvd.; 305-949-6722

Michelle Muslera

Charcuterie platter at Toscana Divino
The charcuterie board at Brickell’s Toscana Divino is a wonderful thing. Everything is made in house, from the ricotta to the prosciutto and porchetta to the preserved vegetables. Then there's the gloriously fluffy focaccia, served warm right out of the oven and finished with Tuscan olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Pair with a glass of Prosecco and call it a day.

900 S. Miami Ave.; (305) 930-6873

Courtesy of NaiYaRa

Thai chicken wings at NaiYaRa
The classic American chicken wing gets a Thai spin at Chef Bee's buzzy eatery in Sunset Harbour, with hints of lemongrass, kaffir lime and coriander. A popular happy-hour item, these mildly spicy wings are cooked on the grill and served with a sweet oyster sauce for dipping.

1854 Bay Road; (786) 275-6005

Michelle Muslera

Tuna tostadas at Cantina La 20 
Chef Santiago Gomez gives traditional Mexican dishes a playful twist at this upscale Brickell eatery. For a pretty presentation that also piques your taste buds, order these tostadas — two thick slices of tuna marinated in a yellow pepper–lime soy sauce, then placed atop a crisp wonton and layer of guacamole.

495 Brickell Ave.; 786-623-6135

Michelle Muslera

Panko-crusted French goat cheese with fig at Adrianne’s Vineyard
There’s a lot to love at this upscale West Kendall eatery, from the innovative, Napa Valley–inspired fare to the vast wine list. Don't leave without trying the flavor-packed goat cheese croquettes, served on a bed of prosciutto, fig jam and balsamic reduction. The panko crust and cured ham keep things salty, while the jam and balsamic sweeten the deal, making it good to the last bite.

11510 SW 147th Ave.; (305) 408-8386

Michelle Muslera

Corn agnolotti with roasted lobster sauce at Fi’lia
One of the highlights of Michael Schwartz’s new Italian eatery in Brickell, this dish brings together pasta and seafood with sweet and smoky flavors. The delicate lobster and corn filling is surrounded by a tender handmade pasta dough and finished with a light, zesty lobster sauce.

1300 S Miami Ave.; 305-912-1729

Michelle Muslera

Cherrywood-smoked shrimp ceviche at GK Bistronomie
Peruvian places already have a strong presence in Miami, but this Wynwood eatery is shaking up the scene with its modern fare. Whatever you do, don’t miss the shrimp ceviche, a colorful dish presented in a bowl filled with cherry-wood smoke, plump Key West shrimp, avocado, mustard seed caviar and a citrus sauce. The result: an intriguing melange of sweet, spicy and smoky flavors.

218 NW 25th St.; 786-477-5151

Michelle Muslera

Pastrami salmon at River Yacht Club
Giacomo Pettinari, the latest chef to helm River Yacht Club’s kitchen, puts a seafood spin on the classic deli dish with this superb salmon creation. The fish is cured for three days with a combination of salt, sugar and spices. It's then lightly brushed with molasses, dusted with pastrami seasoning and artfully folded into the shape of a flower on a bed of potato salad. Look for it on the Sunday brunch menu.

401 SW 3rd Ave.; (305) 200-5716

Courtesy of Palme D'Or

Le Saint-Jacques at Palme D’Or
Innovative French fare is the name of the game at this high-end eatery at the Biltmore hotel. For this dish, seared scallops are served over creamy polenta made with lime and feta cheese, and garnished with salty caramel popcorn. A light vanilla sauce made from white wine, shallots and vanilla bean gets poured over the whole thing at the table.

1200 Anastasia Ave.; (305) 913-3200

Michelle Muslera

Caja China cola duck at Phuc Yeah
Chef and co-owner Cesar Zapata gives duck a Miami twist by slow-roasting it in the “caja China," a technique typically used for pork that allows the meat to remain juicy while creating a delicious crispy skin. After four hours of cooking, it's topped with a sweet and spicy cola-and-lemongrass syrup and served with house pickles and lettuce bundles so you can make your own wrap. 

7100 Biscayne Blvd.; 305-602-3710

Courtesy of Manna Life Food

Avocado arepa at Manna Life Food
At this vegan eatery in Downtown, dine guilt-free with the avocado arepa, accented by spirulina chimichurri and hemp hearts. What really distinguishes the dish, however, is the nutrient-dense arepa, made with organic corn, chia and coconut oil. 

80 NE 2nd Ave.; (786) 717-5060

Courtesy of The Spillover

Heirloom Buffalo cauliflower at The Spillover
It’s hard to choose just one standout dish at Matt Kuscher’s new seafood spot in Coconut Grove. From a smoky fish dip to the spicy jambalaya, every plate lures you back for more. Lately, we’ve been crushing on the roasted cauliflower starter drenched in Buffalo sauce and chunky blue cheese dressing, giving the assertively split vegetable a little fire.

2911 Grand Ave.; 305-456-5723

The 305

Guava donut at The Salty Donut
Miami’s love affair with guava inspired this massive, tropical fruit–filled treat. Based on a traditional Cuban flavor combination, this fluffy, 24-hour-raised brioche pastry is filled with slightly tart guava marmalade and cream cheese, then topped with galleta María crumble and a mild cream cheese glaze that balances everything out.

50 NW 24th St.; (305) 925-8126

Michelle Muslera

Octopus at Beachcraft
You could go for flatbread or steak, but seafood dishes are the main reason to dine at Tom Colicchio’s South Beach eatery. One of the best bets is the octopus, braised in a mixture of shallot, garlic and paprika before receiving a final char, then garnished with sliced jicama and served with a heavenly avocado and cilantro purée. It's so good, you might need two orders. 

2395 Collins Ave.; (305) 604-6700

Michelle Muslera

Carrot cake at Bachour Bakery
One of the highlights of pastry chef Antonio Bachour's seasonal, ever-rotating dessert menu is the mini carrot cake with white chocolate and cream cheese mousse. Charming, delicate and low on added sugar, it has just the right amount of sweetness. Pro tip: Pair the dessert with one of Bachour’s fragrant chai teas.

600 Brickell Ave.; (305) 330-6310

Michelle Muslera

Star Luca pizza at Visa O1
This hidden South Beach gem is home to one of the most photographed pizzas in the 305. The edges of the Neapolitan-style pie are folded into the shape of a star and stuffed with ricotta and spicy salami, so it's fantastic inside and out.

1680 Michigan Ave.; 305-397-8189

Courtesy of Yardbird

Smoked brisket biscuit sandwich at Yardbird
You can have biscuit sandwiches two ways here: filled with fried chicken or filled with smoked brisket. Go for the latter, which is smoked for 12 hours. The golden buttermilk biscuits are delivered to your table warm, for a truly Southern snack.

1600 Lenox Ave.; (305) 538-5220

Courtesy of La Mar

Chaufa Aeropuerto at La Mar
What do you get when you cross a shrimp omelet with pork fried rice and egg noodles, all piled into a hot stone? Classic Peruvian comfort food that will rock your world, that’s what. The sweetness of the housemade Chinese sausage and barbecue pork, the saltiness of the soy and oyster sauces, and the heat from the chiles, ginger and garlic make La Mar's Chaufa Aeropuerto one very complex dish. The blending of flavors and textures makes each bite unique, from the soft shrimp omelet on top to the crispy rice at the bottom. 

500 Brickell Key Drive; 305-913-8358

Courtesy of Lokal

LoKal burger at LoKal
LoKal's eponymous burger perfectly represents the guiding principles behind this hip hangout in Coconut Grove, where locally sourced ingredients rule the kitchen. Grass-fed beef from Florida is softened by a honey mustard (made from local honey) and topped with Monterey Jack cheese, red onions, arugula, and Florida tomatoes and avocados. 

3190 Commodore Place; (305) 442-3377

Michelle Muslera

Fish and chips at Dragonfly Izakaya & Fish Market
A Japanese joint for fish and chips? You betcha. A lighter, more delicate rendition of the classic pub dish, the Kirin beer–battered Alaskan halibut comes with thinly sliced fried lotus root chips and a zesty house tartar sauce. 

5241 NW 87th Ave.; 305-222-7447

Courtesy of KYU

Mom’s Coconut Cake at KYU
Save plenty of room for chef Michael Lewis’ take on this Southern staple, which is inspired by the one his mom used to bake for him. It's a hit, with four moist layers of white cake, cream cheese frosting and shaved coconut. 

251 NW 25th St.; (786) 577-0150