The best new restaurants in Miami 2021

In December 2020, Miamians sent out a collective wish to the universe that the following year would get better. With a promised vaccine, many of us thought that 2021 should simply be improved and that we would go from our “new normal” to just ordinary “normal”.

A year later, despite new varieties of coronavirus, new Miami restaurants continue to open. Some arrive via New York, London and other major cities, while others arrive thanks to locals who have endured their dreams. The result is a diverse list of modest, intimate establishments and high-end buzzworthy destinations. Together they create the fabric of our restaurant scene.

Listed alphabetically below are the ten best restaurants opening in Miami in 2021.

click to enlarge Find the many flavors from Tel Aviv at Chef Sam Gorenstein's Abbalé.  - PHOTO VALID FROM ABBALÉ TELAVIVIAN KITCHEN / SAM GORENSTEIN

Find the many flavors from Tel Aviv at Chef Sam Gorenstein’s Abbalé.

Photo courtesy of Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen / Sam Gorenstein

Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen

864 Commerce St., Miami Beach
abbatlv.com

A partnership between chef Samuel “Sam” Gorenstein and Omer Horev, the founder of Pura Vida Miami, Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen can win points (and hearts) simply for being the most charming restaurant in Miami Beach. The dining area, inside a small house complete with a porch lined with floating plants and cozy pillows, offers a wealth of bright dishes. Start with a few salatim ($ 6 each) such as baba ghanouj, smashed avocado, roasted beets and the “holy grail” of black and white tahini with grated tomato and green harissa (all served with fire-baked pita), before moving on to grilled lamb chops ($ 45), a whole branzino ($ 36) or baby cauliflower ($ 21) – all oven-baked. Gorenstein got his inspiration from the cafes in Tel Aviv, which the chef says are similar to Miami in style and climate. Maybe that’s why the price seems so at home in South Beach.

click to enlarge Chicken Roast Alligator from Barbakoa by Finka at Doral Yard - PHOTO VALID FROM BARBAKOA BY FINKA

Chicken fried alligator from Barbakoa from Finka at Doral Yard

Photo courtesy of Barbecue by Finka

Finca with barbecue

8455 NW 53rd St., Doral
305-351-1546
barbakoamiami.com

Eileen Andrade’s newest restaurant, Barbakoa by Finka, is Doral Yards’ eatery. Here, Andrade continues her love affair with Asian flavors mixed with her youth’s Latino dishes. Andrade has the hospitality industry in her blood (her family owns the iconic Islas Las Canarias) and it can be seen. The restaurant, which leans towards casual, communal dishes, offers something for everyone, whether it’s a light ceviche, alligator bite, a wood-fired pizza or a hearty mac ‘n’ cheese topped with short ribs. Whatever you do, do not forget to order the wok-roasted okra, braised with a kimchee lime sauce – it can just turn anyone into a diehard okra fan. Wash your meal down with one of the restaurant’s cocktails with smart names like “Justin Fever”, “Tequili ‘Me Smalls” and “Britney Libre”.

click to enlarge Chef Mario Carbone says his namesake restaurant rigatoni has become a kind of business card on social media.  - PHOTO OF WORLD RED EYE / SETH BROWARNIK / CARBONE GIVING

Chef Mario Carbone says his namesake restaurant rigatoni has become a kind of business card on social media.

Photo by World Red Eye / Seth Browarnik / Courtesy of Carbone

Carbon

49 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
carbonemiami.com

Yes, you have seen rigatoni alla vodka on your Instagram feed. Yes, it can take weeks to score a reservation. And yes – Carbone is a hyped animal in a restaurant. But for all that, it’s worth a visit. Before you even order, waiters with jackets pick down an abundance of free bites: A cube of parmesan, freshly pickled giardiniera, salumi, and a bread basket filled with crispy garlic bread. And if you play your cards right, you do not have to mortgage your condo to eat at Carbone. A couple can easily share the caesar salad, made for the table ($ 25) and the spicy rigatoni vodka ($ 33) and be quite happy. Strain on a few glasses of wine, fill up on that bread basket and you’ve had a party. Or pick the big night and go all-in with the premium porterhouse for two ($ 195) or the lobster from diavolo. Either way, you get a wonderful meal – and your own Instagram memories.

click to enlarge A meal at Casa Isola - PHOTO ALLOWED FROM CASA ISOLA

A meal at Casa Isola

Photo courtesy of Casa Isola

Isola house

1418 20th St., Miami Beach
786-558-5787
casaisolamiami.com

When the Pubbelly Noodle Bar closed in Miami Beach’s Sunset Harbor neighborhood back in 2019, it left an empty space in the hearts of fans of José Mendín. Fortunately, the chef kept the lease and opened a cozy Italian bistro with longtime business partner Sergio Navarro and former Lucali chef Santo Agnello. The result is a charming place that serves classic red sauce like linguini with white mussels ($ 28) and a rigatoni alla vodka ($ 23) that has a pleasant bite to it. Don’t miss Chef Agnello’s eight-hour Sunday sauce, a hearty meal that includes a meatball with short ribs, pork ribs and Italian sausage ($ 30).

click to enlarge Cerveceria La Tropical offers food by chef Cindy Hutson at its Wynwood Brewery and beer garden.  PHOTO AUTHORIZATION OF CERVECERIA LA TROPICAL

Cerveceria La Tropical offers food by chef Cindy Hutson at its Wynwood Brewery and beer garden.

Photo courtesy of Cerveceria La Tropical

La Tropical Brewery

42 NE 25th St, Miami
305-741-6991
cervecerialatropical.com

The breweries have come a long way in a short time here in Miami. And although there are many places to enjoy a fresh, delicious beer, there are still many breweries missing in the food department. Sure, some have amazing food trucks parking in their seats, and others serve a lousy grill, but only one offers a full menu of items created by one of Miami’s most beloved chefs. Enter Cervecería La Tropical, where Cindy Hutson’s menu features brewery favorites like a Cuban medianoche sandwich, burgers and curry jerk chicken wings – and more. Look for a whole fried fish, a smoked half chicken and some of the freshest ceviche found in Miami. All this and fresh beer from La Tropical’s own brewery!

click to enlarge View from the dining room at Dune - PHOTO: NICK GARCIA PHOTOGRAPHY

Views from the dining room at Dune

Photo by Nick Garcia Photography

Dune by Laurent Tourondel

2200 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
754-900-4059
dunebylt.com

You would be hard pressed to find a nicer place to eat than Dune. Located at the exclusive Auberge Residences on Fort Lauderdale Beach, Dune boasts a massive covered patio overlooking the surf and sand. Even in the evening, the waves crashing gently along the shore act as a calm ambient sound that fits well with master chef Laurent Tourondel’s exquisite cuisine. You can not go wrong with the classic surf and turf menu, but among the prominent ones can be mentioned a crispy parmesan soufflé and lobster from diavolo.

click to enlarge La Traila Barbecue went from truck to brick and mortar in the Miami Lakes.  - PHOTO: ANDREA GRIECO

La Traila Barbecue went from truck to brick and mortar in the Miami Lakes.

Photo by Andrea Grieco

Traila grill

8030 NW 154th St., Miami Lakes
latrailabbq.com

Austin native Mel Rodriguez and Buffalo Bill’s wide receiver (and Miami native) Isaiah McKenzie started hosting barbecues for friends and family over the past year and decided to turn their passion into a business. The two friends quickly grew out of their food truck, so they opened a brick-and-mortar spot in the Miami Lakes, where they now offer smoked breast, pulled pork beef “dino” ribs and more. The most Insta-worthy dish must be brisket sundae ($ 14). The dish is an offering of extremely fair food, and the dish starts with a mac-and-cheese base layered with creamy corn and baked beans, then topped with cotija cheese, smoked breast, house sauce and crema. Vegetarians will be satiated with La Tralia’s “Impossibly Smoked” burger and “All Natural” (smoked pulled jackfruit tossed in a house sauce and topped with onions and pickles).

click to enlarge Grab a super good lager and one "Super good" chicken sandwich on Off Site.  - PHOTO ALLOWED FROM OFF SITE

Grab a super good lager and a “Super Good” chicken sandwich at Off Site.

Photo lent by Off Site

Off Site

8250 NE Second Ave., Miami
786-360-4237
offsite.miami

When Boxelder closed, Wynwood lost one of its OG bars. More than a place for beer, it was an incubator for great casual food. This is where the United States Burger Service started, where Michael Mayta grilled his burgers over the weekend. Taquiza’s Steve Santana also served his fried chicken sandwiches at Boxelder, leading to a partnership between him and Boxelder’s Adam Darnell. Together, they opened the Off Site in Miami’s growing Little River neighborhood. The small in-store restaurant serves a concise menu – one or two beers, hot dogs, french fries, a wedge salad and Santana’s chicken sandwich. The thing is, even with a small menu, it’s almost impossible to decide because practically everything is nirvana. Start with the chicken sandwich, french fries and a beer. You’ll be back for more.

click to enlarge Orno has opened in Coral Gables.  - PHOTO: CHRISTIAN SANTIAGO PHOTOGRAPHY

Orno has opened in Coral Gables.

Photo by Christian Santiago Photography

or no

1350 S. Dixie Hwy., Coral Gables
305-667-6766
ornomiami.com

Chef Niven Patel has returned to his fine-dining roots at Orno. The James Beard-nominated chef, who cut his teeth in 3030 Ocean and Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, opened his first restaurant, Ghee, in 2017. At Orno, dishes are fired in a wood-burning stove, many of them using vegetables from Patel’s own farm. The inspired dishes are served in a lush dining room filled with greenery in tones of blush and gold.

click to enlarge Pork in "phrodo" at Zitz Sum in Coral Gables - PHOTO WITH A FEELING OF ZITZ SUM

Pork in “phrodo” at Zitz Sum in Coral Gables

Photo courtesy of Zitz Sum

Zitz Sum

396 Alhambra Cir., Coral Gables
786-409-6920
zitzsum.com

Zitz Sum chef and co-owner Pablo Zitzmann, best known for his time at No Name Chinese, grew up exploring the many teppanyaki restaurants in Bogotá with his father. This led to a lifelong admiration for Asian cuisine. At Zitz Sum, Zitzmann offers Chinese and Japanese street food with a touch of Miami thrown into the mix. Find dumplings, small plates and desserts from pastry chef and co-owner Natalia Restrepo at this intimate restaurant.

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