Crispy rice with caramelized coconut sauce and hash brown nigiri topped with uni, miso aioli and black truffle from ama
Hidden inside Kaido, chef-owner Brad Kilgore’s Japanese fusion whisky lounge, ama is short for ama-kase (a play on omakase). At only eight seats, ama takes prepaid reservations for a 16-course meal of inventive, ever-changing bites, which might offer up beef tartare hand rolls with kimchi capers and avocado or enoki mushroom with Iberico bacon and duck yolk.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Given the collection of whiskies on hand, opt for the vintage pairing, which includes a 1969 Suntory, a 1985 Nikka Tsukuba Expo and Kilgore’s signature 18:75 Maker's Mark Japanese-inspired custom blended bourbon. 151 NE 41st St., Miami, 786.409.5591, kaidomiami.com
Spumoni from The Surf Club Restaurant
2. The Surf Club Restaurant
When a new restaurant is everything you want and need it to be, you feel more than just satisfied in spending time there; you feel justified. Such is the case at superstar Michelin star-winning chef Thomas Keller’s James Beard Award-nominated homage to on-point continental dining. Keller nods to the glamorous past with signature, quality dishes such as tableside Caesar salad, beef Wellington with sauce Périgourdine, lobster thermidor and lemon meringue tart.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Try the Marybelle cocktail, dubbed for tire tycoon Harvey Firestone’s yacht, on which The Surf Club property was first imagined all those many years ago. 9011 Collins Ave., Surfside, 305.768.9440, surfclubrestaurant.com
Cinnamon churros and ice cream from Bakan.
With tostadas that cradle cactus and octopus and queso fundido comprising product from Oaxaca and Chihuahua, Bakan isn’t your average Mexican restaurant. This latest installment from the Jaguar Hospitality Group featuring chef Oscar Del Rivero offers namesake homemade tortillas and artisanal ingredients. With dishes ranging from Alaskan king crab tacos to short rib mole, this contemporary eatery is a highlight of the Wynwood dining scene.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW A comprehensive, 15-page list of 350 mezcals is organized by region. Try them by half-ounce sip or 2-ounce shot. 2801 NW Second Ave., Miami, 305.396.7080, bakanwynwood.com
The interior of Amare Ristorante
4. Amare Ristorante
Miami is starting to see its fair share of Michelin-starred chefs around town, but that doesn’t mean we’re jaded diners who don’t appreciate their output when we taste it. To wit: chef Cosimo Cassano’s yellowfin tuna carpaccio with avocado, pear, lemon and mint, and his prize-winning pasta di Gragnano, which utilizes a 1-pound Maine lobster, datterino tomatoes from Southern Italy and Calabrian chiles. Evoking the Amalfi Coast, the restaurant practically beams with oceanic hues.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Look for the Classici Settimanali, a daily special dish, such as Tiella Frutti di Mare, made with black rice baked with octopus, shrimp, squid, zucchini, onion and potatoes. 1 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 786.598.8622, amareristorante.com
The dessert selection at Root & Bone
5. Root & Bone
Grove Bay Hospitality Group and culinary power couple Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth (Stiltsville) have added Southern pizzazz to the fast-growing South Miami dining scene with their second successful collab. Dishes such as smashed sunchoke tostones topped with buttermilk creme fraiche, caviar and chives showcase their creativity, while their signature classics of sweet tea-brined fried chicken and gooey corn bread bring us back again and again. Add brunch and the equation sums up to awesome.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Spirits are on the move here—a bloody mary cart during brunch and a whiskey and bourbon cart at dinner bring the cocktails tableside. 5958 S. Dixie Highway, South Miami, 786.785.1001, rootnbone.com/miami
Miso broth with organic eggs, kimchi, brown rice, sprout salad and Haas avocado from Traymore by Michael Schwartz
6. Traymore by Michael Schwartz
If you think you’re going to have a Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink type of experience at this art deco stunner, located in the COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach, guess again. Chef Michael Schwartz designed the menu here in tribute to COMO’s Asian origins. That explains the tasty fusion dishes such as royal red shrimp with coconut, lime and crispy rice, and wok-charred wild salmon with four-sprout salad, toasted pumpkin seeds and soy-lime vinaigrette—not to mention an interactive Vietnamese coffee sundae dessert.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Because COMO focuses on health and wellness throughout its brand, most of the dishes here are gluten-free and many are vegetarian. 2445 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305.695.3555, comohotels.com
The dining room at Vista
If we could give an award for french fries alone, then this lovely Upper Buena Vista eatery would win solely for the instagrammable, raclette-topped, hand-cut potatoes. But there’s so much more to chef and proprietor Roberto Bearzi’s menu—the artisanal breads, meats and cheeses; the grilled pear salad with arugula, stracciatella and toasted pine nuts; the gnocchetti with poblano peppers, mint and pistachio. Created with organic and prime ingredients, the dishes practically pop with natural flavor.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW A tropically designed rooftop lounge showcases live music or a DJ nightly—yes, even during our punishing summer. 5020 NE Second Ave., Miami, 305.405.7547, vistamiamirestaurant.com
Vegetable sandwich from Isabelle’s
Named for one of the region’s earliest settlers, Isabella Peacock, this gem of an eatery at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove presents classic, elevated cuisine that suits its historic environs. Dishes from chefs Andrea Rainis and Miguel Fajardo include a jumbo crab cake with celeriac, apple remoulade and upland cress, filet mignon with garlic confit, and a Kurobuta pork chop with herbed crushed potatoes, roasted peppers and broccolini.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW If it’s Wednesday, it’s Rosé for the Ladies on the lush garden terrace of the restaurant; if it’s Friday, it’s Surf and Turf—top any steak with complimentary crab meat or a half lobster tail. 3300 SW 27th Ave., Coconut Grove, 305.644.4680, isabellescoconutgrove.com
The first-floor bar at Swan.
Swans mate for life. And if this restaurant’s devotees have anything to do with it, the Ken Fulk-designed Swan, co-owned by Pharrell Williams and David Grutman, will be paired forever with the Design District. This venue’s lush, atmospheric garden is the ideal spot for savory nuggets of ricotta gnudi, seared scallops and Nutella soufflé for dessert. For rainy days, the charming interiors are just as appealing, especially with a smoked salmon tier during Swan’s weekend brunch.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Williams’ favorite dish is the Corn Corn Corn appetizer—a combination of polenta, popcorn and brown butter—because of the mix of mediums and pop of flavor. 90 NE 39th St., Miami, 305.704.0994, swanbevy.com
The bar and dining room at Bellini Restaurant & Bar
10. Bellini Restaurant & Bar
Located at Mr. C, the new hotel from brothers Ignazio and Maggio Cipriani and their legendary family, this rooftop restaurant and lounge has a lot going on: panoramic views of Coconut Grove and Biscayne Bay; a copper pizza oven from which perfect pies come out; and a covered deck upon which to enjoy menu highlights such as branzino with tomato concasse or tagliardi with white truffles.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW The signature Bellini, a blend of white peach puree and Prosecco, was invented by the proprietors’ ancestors at Harry’s Bar in Venice. Also, before dinner or after, be sure to check out Mr. C's newly opened Il Giardino, the hotel's charming garden lounge. 2988 McFarlane Road, Coconut Grove, 305.800.7672, mrccoconutgrove.com
Photography by: ama photo by ruben cabrera; the surf club restaurant photo by michael pisarri; bakan photo by alejandra urquiza; amare photo courtesy of the restaurant; root & Bone photo courtesy of grove bay hospitality group; traymore by michael schwartz photo courtesy of the restaurant; vista photo courtesy of the restaurant; isabelle's photo by rmstudiocorp; swan photo by morelli brothers; bellini restaurant & bar photo by james mcdonald