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.
Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen
864 Commerce St., Miami Beach
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.
Finca with barbecue
8455 NW 53rd St., Doral
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”.
49 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
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.
1418 20th St., Miami Beach
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).
La Tropical Brewery
42 NE 25th St, Miami
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!
Dune by Laurent Tourondel
2200 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
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.
8030 NW 154th St., Miami Lakes
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).
8250 NE Second Ave., 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.
1350 S. Dixie Hwy., Coral Gables
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.
396 Alhambra Cir., Coral Gables
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.