Miami is a huge melting pot of diverse cultures, nationalities and ethnicities; you only need to watch The Real Housewives of Miami to hear the different accents and see the varying traditions. The strong influence of Latin American and Caribbean culture has been fused with American cooking to create a whole new kind of cuisine, which also has strong Asian influences. Throughout our time in Miami the strong emphasis on fresh produce, spice, seafood (yay!), and citrus flavour became abundantly clear.
Over the last few years the Miami dining scene has seen a huge surge with new and exciting restaurants, an influx of well-known or celebrity chefs, and innovative cuisines. Though the food scene doesn’t quite rival San Francisco or New York, there are certainly exciting things happening and Mr S and I had some truly fabulous meals. In fact we tried so many wonderful restaurants that I decided to write this guide in two parts…so I don’t bore you too much ;).
I’ve presented the guide in style which I hope helps to find the ideal restaurant for what you need.
Best For Fresh Produce…Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink
Talking of celebrity chefs, Michael Schwarz’s is one of Miami’s top culinary talents and based on several recommendations, Mr S and I visited his flagship restaurant, Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink.Visiting the restaurant meant venturing out of South Beach and into Miami’s Design District, but when I saw not one, but two Christian Louboutin shops, I knew it had to be a good place to be.
The restaurant interior doesn’t have quite the glitz and glamour of some of the other restaurants that we visited but it was relaxed and unpretentious. Basically somewhere not trying to hard to be stylish, but with an emphasis on great, fresh local ingredients.
We started with one of our favourites; steamed mussels with tomato harissa, preserved lemons and grilled sourdough. We both love tucking into a hearty pot of mussels and soaking up all the delicious juices with a thick hunk of toasted bread.
Our other starter was chosen from the restaurant’s raw bar: a kingfish ceviche with Florida tangerine, red peppers and avocado. As I mentioned, there is a strong South American influence on the cuisine in Miami so the signature Peruvian cured fish dish is common on many menus.
Mr S chose a rather large strip steak with peppercorn sauce for his main course
And I chose a beautifully cooked red snapper.
Both were simple dishes, cooked to perfection, and part of that great taste was due to the freshness of the dishes. Michael Schwarz espouses the ‘Farm to Table’ concept and has strong relationships with local farms and fisheries so that often it’s a only a few hours ago that the ingredients were in the ground, field or water.
These were definitely the best fries of the holiday!
And you may already know of my love for Brussel sprouts…and the restaurant’s were deliciously charred and served with pancetta.
Michael’s Genuine is great…and one to visit if you’re just looking for really, really good food!
Best for Romance….Cecconis
Last time Mr S and I visited Miami we had a wonderfully romantic dinner at Cecconi’s located in Soho House, Miami Beach.
Here’s a photo of the young Mr S and I. As you can see the indoor / outdoor location and the pretty twinkly lights on the Silver Buttonwood trees make a very romantic atmosphere.
When we visited this time, we decided to see what it was like for lunch.
As you can see the green tiled floor and a tangling trees make you feel like you’re in secret garden. It’s really very pretty and definitely my favourite restaurant in South Beach. Though it’s located in a private members clubs it’s completely open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you want to try the food from Cecconi’s in a location closer to home, there’s one in London and Venice.
The menu is Italian and you can chose a few plates of cicchetti as well as some larger dishes.
We chose octopus with capers and lemon…I’ve finally persuaded Mr S of the joys of octopus…
…and seared tuna with avocado for some tapas sized dishes.
A lobster and chilli pasta, which I was glad to see wasn’t a ridiculously huge portion…
Along with a whole sea bream. All very simple dishes, but very fresh ingredients and cooked very beautifully.
I totally love Cecconi’s it isn’t somewhere to come simply for a beautiful setting, the food is totally fabulous too! To experience it at it’s most romantic I would definitely say go in the evening and sit outside under those starry trees.
Ok, I think you know about SushiSamba by now, I’ve blogged about the one in London
, New York
and Las Vegas,
so you don’t need me to tell you again that it’s Japanese and South American fusion food.
We sat inside to enjoy our food and admired the cool graffiti that lines the cafe but you can also enjoy the sun on the outdoor patio before strolling among the shops on Lincoln road.
We enjoyed a few of our favourites including yellow tail tacos, ceviche, sashimi and of course….
Some of SushiSamba fantastic sushi rolls.
When I asked fellow blogger and native Floridian, Melanie from Sunny in London
, where the coolest restaurant in Miami was she answered immediately:
‘You have to go to Prime 112, it’s where all the celebrities go’
Well, ever the avid Heat watcher and reality TV addict….I was sold!
Apparently Prime 112 is the first modern American steakhouse and it’s housed in Browns Hotel, Miami Beach’s first ever hotel, built in 1915.
It was certainly historical.
The interior was super sexy with low lighting, exposed brickwork, wooden beams and leather seats.
An assortment of bread rolls were placed on our table…
…which I have to say were rather heavy. Though I couldn’t help nibbling on one that bore a strong resemblance to a cheese scone.
The concept of Prime 112 is ‘classic menu items made better.’
And I have to say this was certainly true of the tuna tartar that we tasted which contained big jewelled, ruby red hunks of raw tuna. The waiter also convinced us that we should try a local Miami Stone Crab claw, which are only available to harvest from October to May, so we’d missed out on trying them on our first visit. Sorry to sound like a heathen but I’m still not quite sure of the difference between a stone crab and an ordinary crab… if you know, tell me in the comment section!
As Prime 112 is known for it’s steak, Mr Silver went ahead and ordered one. As you can see the portion was huge…but this was nothing compared to my lobster…
To be honest, I found this huge portion over-whelming and I wasn’t actually able to eat very much of it, leaving me feeling pretty guilt-ridden! In the US, it’s obviously not uncommon to take leftovers home…I’m not a fan of doing this myself, but this was one time I wish I could have done. However, sadly we had nowhere to store it in our hotel room.
We chose similar side dishes as we’d had previously at Michael’s Genuine but I thought the quality at the former was much better. And to be honest the huge portions of the main course filled us up so much that we barely scratched the surface of the side dishes.
Now for the big question. Did I see any celebrities? Well actually, we saw Jonathan Cheban, Kimmy K’s BFF. He arrived at about 11pm just as we were finishing, yes he’s that cool…Now I tried to take a photo of him very subtly so I could show you, but he must have an eagle eye as he spotted my little lenses zooming in on him and he frowned at me. With a sheepish grin, I put the camera away and let him enjoy his dinner…now wasn’t that good of me ;)?
To sum up Prime 112, the atmosphere was certainly charged but the food for me didn’t have the quality of cooking that we saw elsewhere in Miami. I would still urge you to go if you’re visiting as it’s certainly a place to see and be seen!!
Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink
130 Northeast 40th Street
Soho Beach House Miami
4385 Collins Avenue
600 Lincoln Road
112 Ocean Drive