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Miami's Best for Local Flavors

Every city has its own distinct vibe and flavor. If we were going on a road trip to find the best local specialties around the country, these are the Miami spots we'd make sure to check out. For more celebration of hometown cuisine, check out the new movie Chef, starring Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson and more, in select theaters May 9. And for more stories, check out www.zagat.com/cheffilm.

  • Joe's Stone Crab
    • Seafood
    • South Beach
    Food
    27
    Decor
    22
    Service
    25
    Cost
    $73

    There is perhaps no more quintessentially Miami spot than this legendary SoBe restaurant, which opened in 1913 and has been serving up succulent seafood, prime cuts and Key lime pie ever since. The space is simple but elegant, and there’s a strict dress code – you may be eating crabs, but there’s no beach attire allowed here.

  • Azul (inside Mandarin Oriental)
    • French
    • Brickell Area
    Food
    27
    Decor
    27
    Service
    26
    Cost
    $76

    For unique, Asian-accented fare and spectacular views of the Biscayne Bay, look no further than this sleek, special-occasion crowd-pleaser at Brickell Key’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

  • Prime 112 Restaurant
    • Steakhouse
    • South Beach
    Food
    26
    Decor
    23
    Service
    22
    Cost
    $93

    One of the hottest spots in South Beach, this surf ’n’ turfer prides itself on being the “first modern steakhouse in the United States,” with sexy decor, an inventive menu and a well-heeled crowd of see-and-be-seen types clamoring for tables. It’s a distinctly Miami experience where our commenters note you’ll leave with “a story to tell.”

  • Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
    • American
    • Design District
    Food
    26
    Decor
    21
    Service
    22
    Cost
    $59

    “Fresh, simple, pure” American dishes prepared with local ingredients are the hallmarks of this trendy spot in the Design District, a local favorite since it opened in 2006.

  • Casa Tua Restaurant
    • Italian
    • South Beach
    Food
    24
    Decor
    27
    Service
    22
    Cost
    $87

    This hidden, villalike Northern Italian restaurant in SoBe is a popular spot for anniversaries, proposals and other special occasions, thanks to its elegant menu and romantic courtyard full of flowers and twinkling votives hanging from trees.

  • The Forge
    • American
    • Miami Beach
    Food
    24
    Decor
    26
    Service
    24
    Cost
    $83

    Old-school charm meets new-school cool at this Miami Beach legend, which served as a celebrity-studded casino in the ’30s, then became an opulent fine-dining establishment in the ’60s, and has since been renovated and reinvented to become the trendy hot spot it is today. The over-the-top, Alice in Wonderland–meets-Fellini decor is matched by the inventive menu, which features many different notes of Miami flavor, from stone crabs to chimichurri to ceviche.

  • La Camaronera
    • Seafood
    • Little Havana
    Food
    23
    Decor
    10
    Service
    17
    Cost
    $17

    Some of the freshest fried seafood in Miami can be found at this no-frills Little Havana strip-mall joint, where guests eat their food elbow-to-elbow at stand-up counters.

  • Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop
    • Sandwich Shop
    • Wynwood
    Food
    22
    Decor
    11
    Service
    19
    Cost
    $13

    This bustling Wynwood breakfast and lunch spot attracts a crowd with its cheap but well-executed and authentic Cuban food – in fact, it was rated Miami’s No. 1 Bang for the Buck in our last survey. The Cuban-style pressed sandwiches are particularly popular, especially the Pan Con Bistec Especial, a steak sandwich topped with crispy potato sticks, tomato, onion and cheese.

    • Seafood
    • Downtown
    Food
    22
    Decor
    15
    Service
    20
    Cost
    $32

    This old-school market and restaurant has its own fleet of fishing boats and has been serving some of Miami’s freshest seafood straight from the docks to the tables for over 40 years. No wonder our commenters called it “authentic with a capital A” in our last survey.

  • Versailles
    • Cuban
    • Little Havana
    Food
    21
    Decor
    15
    Service
    20
    Cost
    $22

    One of Miami’s most essential and authentic Cuban dining experiences, this Little Havana institution serves up huge portions of classic island eats, whether you’re sitting down for a meal in the grand, mirror-lined dining room or grabbing a sandwich to go from the walk-up window outside.

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