In recent months, Miami has continued to welcome highly-anticipated newcomers to its flaming hot culinary scene that’s spreading like wildfire. Just as you’ve polished off your steak frites at Pastis, a slew of other restaurants demand a cut of your appetite and suddenly you never want to look at food again. That is, until you wake up the next morning and your stomach growls in search of its next conquest. The good news is it’s becoming easier than ever to satiate the curious palate in Miami, with unique and delicious offerings popping up faster than you can say “I’m hungry.” Below we’ve rounded up some of the new kids on the block worthy of your resy.
5010 NE 2nd Ave. Unit 201 / Website
An indoor-outdoor master concept devised by MasterChef Israel winner and Israeli culinary sensation Tom Aviv, Branja is everything Miami needed and more. It’s no secret that Middle Eastern cuisine is having its moment in Miami, with MOTEK’s continued expansion, the arrival of Chicago-born Aba in Bal Harbour Shops and longstanding favorite Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen. Branja is another Miami example of an extension of Tel Aviv, wisely located in bohemian-esque Upper Buena Vista where overgrown trees and artisan boutiques outline a mini jungle haven within the city. Creative dishes like “Falafish” and “Brooklyn Heights Sashimi” are some of the main draws of the kosher-style menu that riffs on regional classics and Aviv’s fiery imagination.
268 SW 8th St. / Website
Brickell’s newest food hall is a combination of the three life essentials—eats, drinks and beats. Spanning across three floors, Okeydokey houses six of Miami’s top restaurants, a world class mixologist and an electric DJ and live entertainment. Nurture your belly with ramen and poke at Yoso Ramen, tantalize your senses with Asian fusion cuisine at MAC, savor a three-tier shawarma tower at Jaffa, crunch on crispy chicken at Little Bird, indulge in fresh Italian fare at Dal Plin and refresh your energy with caffeine and pastries at Coffee Break. Okeydokey is the ultimate mecca for the gastronomically indecisive.
380 NW 26th St. / Website
You’ve heard of the Pastis buzz and then some, but we’re not ashamed to refresh your memory once again. The Parisian-style brasserie that captured the attention of New Yorkers for nearly two decades has arrived in Miami to stun the masses with just how “New York” a Miami restaurant can get—without the usual Miami addendums. However, the whimsical al fresco dining option functions as the ultimate Miami stamp of approval, there to remind guests that as New York as Pastis is, Pastis Miami still brings its own flavor found in the enchanted pergola that envelops a lively outdoor bar and patio. If you’re looking to indulge Miami style, order the grand seafood plateau for the table at $195.
3304 Mary St. / Website
The Quijada brothers’ cult-favorite, high-quality sushi concept OMAKAI has launched its second full-service restaurant in charming Coconut Grove, seating approximately 65 guests. Revered for its reasonably-priced omakase offerings that don’t compromise on quality and taste, OMAKAI is slated to be a key growth driver in the booming neighborhood of Coconut Grove. The $50 OMA Deluxe package includes an appetizer, sashimi special, six nigiris and two hand rolls that are brought from the kitchen and served tableside, one of a few omakase experiences on offer. Those who’d rather be in charge of ordering can peruse the a la carte menu.
45 Miracle Mile / Website
Coral Gables just gained a new Israeli restaurant that happened to win the South Beach Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash two years in a row, thanks to the Lebanese-style Arayes Burger that consists of grilled lamb, beef and herbs within a pita. The first MOTEK gained popularity in a quaint space tucked away in the historic Seybold Building in Downtown before it spread its wings in Aventura Mall a few years later (the fast-casual, spin-off concept Yalla shortly followed). Now it’s 7,600-square-feet of glamor on Miracle Mile, complete with a cocktail program spearheaded by Bar Lab and a private Shabbat dining room.
2856 Tigertail Ave. / Website
Presented by the creators of Wynwood’s Bakan, KoKo by Bakan is a new Mexican spot boasting 6,000-square-feet of indoor-outdoor space that was designed with Mexico’s natural landscape in mind (think earthy greens and shades of terracotta that mimic soil). The open-concept kitchen allows guests an intimate view of the menu coming to life, which is centered around the three key elements of nixtamal, wood-fire and mezcal. Nixtamal is the ancient term for the partially cooked corn in KoKo’s tortillas, the wood-fire grill provides the cherry wood flavor to KoKo’s meat and seafood dishes and mezcal characterizes the pairing of 400 mezcals and tequilas with KoKo’s authentic dishes.
1036 SW 8th St. / Website
Calle Dragones is dinner and a show in one, helmed by acclaimed Cuban chef Luis Pous. It’s not just your typical Cuban restaurant on Calle Ocho, however. The cuisine and decor are defined by an Asian-Latin fusion, unique to the Chinese neighborhood of Havana and Cuba’s pre-revolution roots. As a dinner cabaret, Calle Dragones is making its mark on Miami with a robust nightly entertainment program that includes Spanish Fiesta Thursdays, Havana Tropical Nights Fridays and Salsa Disco Fever Saturdays curated by musical director Dayhan Diaz.
112 Alhambra Cir. / Website
This new omakase hotspot in the historic La Palma building of Coral Gables is the brainchild of Shingo Akikuni, former executive chef at Michelin-starred Hiden. That same level of award-winning quality and expertise has been transported to his new restaurant, where fish is sourced locally from Florida or imported from Japan overnight. Guests will delight in an 18-course tasting-style menu of nigiri within a specially woodworked 850-square-foot space shipped from Japan and reconstructed in Miami. At $180 per person excluding tax and gratuity, you could be reveling in the Binchotan-charcoal-grilled eel in one of the 14 seats along the L-shaped counter.
2000 NW 2nd Ave. / Website
Dine at an authentic Lebanese kitchen in Wynwood, newly opened by owners Giovanna Mansi “Gigi” and Farid Lutfi who recently moved from Lebanon to Miami. Named after the official currency of Lebanon, Lira embodies Middle Eastern flair, European elegance and Miami vibrance in both its menu and design (the walls are decorated in art by Lebanese artists and a huge mural of the city of Lebanon spans the outdoors). Their dishes are meant to be shared family-style, ranging from hot and cold mezze to hefty grilled entrees and sides. Lira is a culinary and cultural experience you won’t want to miss.
800 Ocean Dr. / Website
Once South Beach’s 24-hour neighborhood hangout spot in its heyday in the 1980s, News Cafe shuttered during the pandemic. Now, it’s finally back and better than ever after getting a facelift by Vida & Estilo Restaurant Group and Goldman Properties. Henry Hane of B Bistro was tapped to create a new Mediterranean-American menu that still honors the cafe’s legacy and founders, featuring renditions of Tony’s tomato soup, tuna melt and eggs Benedict, as well as playful new items like pina colada pancakes. Gianni Versace, who famously frequented the quaint cafe on the morning of his tragic passing, would be proud of its comeback.
Photography by: Courtesy of Lira Beirut Eatery, Courtesy of Branja, Courtesy of Okeydokey, Joshua Perez, Courtesy of OMAKAI, Courtesy of MOTEK, Courtesy of KoKo, Courtesy of Calle Dragones, Salar Abduaziz, Courtesy of News Cafe