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Miami’s 20 Best Restaurants

Miami’s 20 Best Restaurants

Miami might not be the first place that comes to mind when we think of great dining cities — the beach, the sun, and the sand don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with heavy fine dining. But just because it’s a health-conscious city doesn’t mean that it’s not allowed to have some of the best restaurants in America. And from a sushi restaurant that serves only 16 diners per night to an institution renowned for its stone crab claws, it certainly does.

Miami’s 20 Best Restaurants (Slideshow)

The dining scene in Miami is booming right now, and has been for the past several years. It seems like every week another great restaurant is opening, and people are starting to take notice: chef Michael Schwartz’s The Cypress Room was named one of the 50 best new restaurants in America last year by Food + Wine. The city is a true melting pot of cultures, with not only Latin cuisine playing a large part but also French and Asian influences chiming in as well; while "fusion" might have gone out of style elsewhere, it’s still alive and well — and breaking new ground — in Miami.

From South Beach to Downtown Miami to Wynwood to the Design District, Miami’s restaurant revolution is going strong. And as opposed to most cities, where dinner is a rest stop before the evening really gets going, in Miami the restaurant is often the destination in itself. Stepping into some of Miami’s hottest restaurants is like stepping right into the heart of the city’s nightlife scene, with elaborately designed spaces filled with folks on a mission not only to see and be seen, but to also eat some stellar food.

In order to assemble our list of Miami’s best restaurants, we looked at not only the amount of buzz these restaurants are getting (and some of these restaurants have been buzzed about for years), but the level of critical appraisal, classic status, reliability to deliver a world-class meal, creative ingenuity of the cuisine, and quality of the overall dining experience. We also incorporated selections from our rankings of the 101 Best Restaurants in America, the 50 Best Casual Restaurants in America, America’s Best Steakhouses, and The 101 Best Burgers in America, and supplemented our list with pre-existing rankings in both print and online from some of Miami’s leading authorities, including Miami Herald, The Scene Miami, Miami New-Times, and Miami Living.

20) Tongue & Cheek


A veteran of the Wolfgang Puck organization and former chef at Campanile and Patina in Los Angeles — and former three-month apprentice at The Fat Duck in England — chef Jamie DeRosa loves bold flavors. His menu at this comfortable, casual restaurant, with its white stone walls and elegant feathered wood columns, ranges from chilled peach gazpacho to chicken-skin chicharrones with bacon-sriracha aïoli, from a beef-cheek burger with pimento cheese to Florida grouper cheeks with smoked almonds and wild mushrooms. His side dishes include homemade tater tots with garlic aïoli, and "poutine" of braised brisket with aged cheddar and pastrami-spiced fries. Need we say more?

19) The Dutch

Andrew Carmellini’s hotspot inside the W Hotel has been packing them in since coming onto the scene in 2011, and with good reason: his simple twists on traditional American cuisine are fun, inspired, and delicious. The second outpost of a New York gem, Carmellini is turning out dishes like Florida mahi with berbere spice, stewed red lentils, and lime; Australian lamb saddle with goat cheese polenta, and romesco; and chilled sweet corn soup with ancho chile and piquillo pepper. The oysters and 28-day dry-aged beef are also stellar, as are the pies, made fresh daily.

Want more great Miami content? Find it here. For more great restaurant coverage in other cities, check out our rankings of the best restaurants in New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Austin, New Orleans, and San Francisco.


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Miami is growing by leaps and bounds. It seems the skyline changes every month as yet another high-rise is erected. The same goes for the arts and cultural scenes, with Art Basel morphing into Miami Art Week and world-class museums giving the city serious cultural cred.

When it comes to progress, though, it may be Miami's culinary universe that's gained the most attention. What once was a city dominated by tourist traps and chain restaurants has evolved into a creative hub in its own right. Whether you're hankering for a fancy meal plated by a top-tier chef, planning a pilgrimage to your favorite storefront spot for authentic food like Mom used to make, or grabbing a few croquetas to fuel your afternoon, Miami has you covered.

Over the past several months, we on New Times' editorial staff set a challenge for ourselves: to identify the Magic City's can't-miss places and share them with our readers. "Required Eating: 100 Miami Restaurants We Can't Live Without" is as it sounds. It's a list of eateries that tell the tale of the 305.


Miami’s 20 Best Restaurants - Recipes

Miami is in its adolescence relative to more established dining cities around the country, but that gives it a certain youthful energy. It's a city that takes its place as a gateway between Latin America, Europe and North America and runs off into the pink-and-purple sunset with it. You can get ceviche renditions that crackle with color or cocktails that evoke a walk through a tropical garden after a rainstorm.

Follow our guide to Miami's bars, restaurants and markets to explore the heat-soaked city's culinary scene, from open-air markets where a guy hacks coconuts open with a machete before your very eyes, to elegant restaurants where you can disappear into the Miami of the 1920s. What else can we say but "Welcome to Miami"?

Stone Crab

Cypress Room

Dining at this restaurant from the The Genuine Hospitality Group is a transporting experience. Royal red shrimp carpaccio, antelope and Florida citrus pie are must-tries. We.

The Bazaar by José Andrés

Many of the exquisite dishes at The Bazaar whimsically evoke Miami's tropical atmosphere. It's great fun to work your way through the wide-ranging menu with a group. Some.

My Ceviche

The tiny window shop serves some the freshest ceviches in town. Order the ceviche bowl and choose your seafood (fresh shrimp, octopus or locally-caught fish), your sauce.

Fiorito

Some nights there are live tango performances in the little wooden house. Other nights, the Alvarez brothers rely on the modern Latin rock playlist on Pandora. No matter what.

Macchialina

Sundays are for panettone French toast and crispy prosciutto at Macchialina. Order the six-course chefs' menu ($35 per person, minimum of two diners) for a balance of sweet.

PB Steak

Find a hot date and make a reservation at PB Steak, one of the restaurants by the Pubbelly team. Seafood selections, like the yellowtail ceviche tacos, are as delicious as the.

Swine Southern Table & Bar

The pork-heavy menu at Swine Southern Table & Bar, a restaurant by the uber-successful 50 Eggs group, is complemented by a large selection of wines from Alsace, whiskeys.

MC Kitchen

The Design District restaurant helmed by chef Dena Marino is sophisticated but welcoming. Try the terrific pastas and "piadenas." Cocktails are quite good and the restaurant.

La Latina

The casual Midtown Venezuelan restaurant offers addicting arepas and empanadas stuffed with combinations like chicken salad and avocado or beef, black beans, plantains and.

Proper Sausages

Buy Berkshire pork, lamb and venison sausages, as well as other specialty meats here. A small selection of wine, local beer, fresh juices and vegetarian salads is also for.

Misha's Market

Misha's is most well known in Miami as a vendor of irresistible, buttery cupcakes, but the South Miami location also houses a wine shop with a terrific selection. Many of the.

Marky's

The twenty-year old store is like a gourmet wonderland. Browse aisles filled with cheese, butter, cream, truffles, olive oil, smoked salmon and a stunning selection of caviar.

Pinecrest Gardens Farmers' Market

Arrive early at the Sunday market to ensure you get Zak the Baker's bread. Also check out the LNB Groves and Miami Smokers stands. During the fall and winter, Redland Organics.

Broken Shaker

This bar is a subtropical poolside paradise. Sit at the small, retro-South-Florida-themed bar inside or better yet, out on the patio. Drink some of Miami's most innovative.

Wynwood Brewing

Miami's first brewery and taproom is now open and serving a range of beers that includes La Rubia Pale Ale, Wynwood IPA and special seasonal creations.

Gramps Bar

Gramps toes a careful line: Despite a divey grittiness (see: the "patio," which is really a dirt lot), the Wynwood bar serves a fine cocktail.

Social Club at the Surfcomber

Drink a frothy, rum-based New Cuban at the bar in the front of the hotel. Outside at Sandbar, order a Pimm's-based God Save the Queen after a swim in the pool.

Eating House Miami

What started as a pop-up restaurant by Food Network's Chopped winner Giorgio Rapicavoli and Alex Casanova in 2012 has become a Miami mainstay. Originally serving only dinner.

Islas Canarias Restaurant

Known by locals as the best spot for authentic Cuban croquettes (fried breaded rolls filled with anything from ham to fish), this family owned restaurant has been around for.

Little Bread Cuban Sandwich Co.

There are plenty of Cuban restaurants in town, but few pay homage to the art of the culture's iconic sandwiches like this newly opened Little Havana gem. Chef Alberto Cabrera.

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

In 2009, a couple with Greek and Turkish roots opened this Mediterranean-inspired hideaway seating 30 guests inside a small house in the Design District. Mandolin is still a.

Seaspice

Celebrities from Jay Z to Khloe Kardashian have been seen at this always-crowded waterside restaurant. The look is beach luxury that somehow seems effortless, and the menu is.

Zuma is the kind of restaurant that gives Miami its swanky reputation. Housed inside Downtown's Epic Hotel, Rainer Becker's opulent creation is known for perfectly plated.

SLS Hotel South Beach

It's the kind of Miami socializing portrayed on TV that puts SLS at the top of everyone's must-visit list. With natural hotspots like Katsuya, The Bazaar and Hyde Beach.

Joe's Take Away

Upon entering this Miami gem, you might wonder why anyone would ever wait (and dress up) to dine at Joe's Stone Crab (its predecessor). Arranged like an elegant cafeteria but.

Pincho Factory

What began as a neighborhood spot has grown into a nationally recognized meat and burger joint with a Latin twist. Crowned the winner of the 2015 South Beach Wine & Food.

Whisk Gourmet

Tucked away in a residential neighborhood, Whisk was trailblazing the farm-to-table movement in Miami before it was even a thing. Miamians will park several blocks away only.

Ball & Chain

Located in the heart of Little Havana, this iconic nightclub from the mid 1900s remerged in recent years, giving locals and tourists alike a feel for the true essence of the.

El Carajo

If you can look past the fact that this gourmet market is tucked inside a BP gas station, you're in for a real treat. A long-standing hidden gem, El Carajo is a haven for wine.

Cindy Hutson has seen Miami's culinary industry grow from the ground up. She first opened Ortanique on the Mile more than 17 years ago and has now expanded her "Cuisine of the.

Wynwood Diner

This neighborhood spot has Wynwood written all over it, both literally and figuratively. Picture it as an artsier version of your grandma's living room—great food and.

Blue Collar

There's something comforting about this small, hole-in-the-wall gem in Miami's historic MiMo District. Chef/owner and Miami native Daniel Serfer has dreamed up a space where.

Wood Tavern

Bars have come and gone in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood, but Wood Tavern has remained a staple. The stylish space attracts both locals and tourists with a bevy of craft beers.

Coyo Taco

On the outside, this Wynwood joint looks like a no-frills taco shack. Dig a little deeper, and you'll find its secret bar located in the restaurant's back room. Low lights.

The Salty Donut

As Miami's first artisanal doughnut shop, the Wynwood pop-up has successfully brought the frosted craze to the 305's coastline. Open every weekend, it offers an array of.

Serendipity Creamery and Yogurt Café

Miami's heat is not to be underestimated. Cool down with a few scoops of organic, handmade ice cream at this Wynwood scoop spot. The artisanal ice cream shop offers.

José Mendin

"We have an amazing blend of flavors from South America and Europe. I've always said that Miami is where South America and Europe meet."


A standout in a sea of Cuban restaurants on Calle Ocho, start the meal with items to share like yucca fries, pork tamale, and empanadas. Move on to the ropa vieja, which technically translates to dirty clothes, but is actually braised and shredded flank steak stewed in a sofrito and tomato base served over white rice with plantains on the side. Compliment the meal with dessert or a cocktail from the full service bar.

Established in 1974 by the Coro family, El Exquisito promises patrons a taste of abuela’s cooking. Favorites include the potaje de chicharos (split pea soup), fabada (Spanish bean soup), pounded and grilled chicken breast, and picadillo (think ground beef hash). Most dishes are served with choice of two sides including white rice and beans, the combination moros rice, sweet or fried plantains, fries, yucca, and veggies.


La Ventana, aka the window, where locals gather over a Cuban colada to discuss politics, news, and business while eating our freshly baked empanadas and pastries. Every order includes Sergio's World Famous lightly fried homemade croquetas.

We serve whole balanced Cuban comfort food since 1975. We are the leaders in serving healthy clean Cuban food in South Florida through our La Flaca menu. Compliment each drink with our hand-shaken Mojitos, Sangria and famous Guava Berry Mimosa. The Venue may contain a full service bar and a private dining room for parties and events.


12 Epic Sandwiches in Miami

Sandwiches are one of those universally appealing dishes, where it's hard to come by someone who doesn't love them as it's a dish admired by even the pickiest of eaters.

And while not all subs can be PubSubs (aka the legendary subs from Publix that deserve their own category of greatness) here are 12 tasty options that fit the bill.

Editor’s Note:A number of South Florida restaurants have resumed indoor and outdoor dining services. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for onsite dining, as there are still safety concerns: for updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the Florida Health Department’s website. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines. For those wanting to find the best takeout and dining options throughout Miami, please visit here.


Miami's Must-Try Cuban Restaurants

Sample the best Cuban food at these renowned restaurants in Miami.

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Cuban culture infuses Miami's dining scene in fact, more than 34% of the city's population hails from the Caribbean island. This pervasive – and tasty – presence is a boon for foodies, and means there's stiff competition among Cuban restaurants to dish out the city's best island fare. These Cuban restaurants in Miami will whet your appetite, and leave you craving more delicioso meals.

Puerto Sagua

Puerto Sagua

A far cry from the Latin-infused streets of Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, in the midst of the neon-lit chaos that permeates South Beach, lies one of the city's tastiest Cuban restaurants, Puerto Sagua. This local icon may be more than a bit dated on the interior (hey, who doesn't love three-dimensional wall murals of Old Havana?), and sure, it can get clogged with tourists and unruly club-goers during spring break, but the food is worth the wait.

It's tough to get a bad meal at Puerto – we've been visiting here for a few years and still haven't been disappointed – but there are a few standouts on the menu, most notably, the filete salteado, strips of beef tenderloin sauteed with peppers and a special sauce, and the pernil asado, pork shoulder braised with onions in its own juices and spices. Start your meal with an order of croquetas con jamon, chockfull of ham chunks, and end it with the homemade flan, topped with a decadently rich caramel sauce.

Exquisito Restaurant

Tucked inconspicuously along Calle Ocho, Little Havana's main drag, Exquisito Restaurant's appeal is no secret. For more than 30 years the Coro family has been serving their Cuban cuisine to hungry locals and tourists. The restaurant regularly attracts the attention of media outlets for its tasty, traditional Cuban specialties, while budget-conscious diners flock here to indulge some of the neighborhood's most wallet-friendly meals.

Start your day with one of Exquisito's breakfast deals, like the small steak with two eggs, fries, toast and cafe con leche. If you arrive later in the day, order the vaca frita, and ask for a side of malanga, a type of root vegetable, served with mojo, a tangy uber-garlicky sauce. Consider a visit to Exquisito and Little Havana on the popular Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays), a monthly street festival and arts gallery stroll through the neighborhood.

Best Cuban Joint in the City 02:30

Versailles

Versailles

Photo by: John Hyun, flickr

If you can only eat one Cuban meal in Miami – the horror! – make it a late-night dinner at Versailles on Calle Ocho (8th Street) in the heart of Little Havana. To eat at Versailles is to experience Miami's superlative Cuban restaurant: The sprawling restaurant has been dishing up authentic Cuban food for more than 40 years and has earned its mark as the city's iconic Cuban establishment.

Stop by Versailles early in the morning to see older men sipping cortaditos (Cuban coffees), or pop by the busy take-out window at lunchtime to grab a traditional Cubano sandwich, sweet ham, roast pork and Swiss cheese on toasted Cuban bread with mustard and pickles. But really, the highlight of a trip to Versailles is during prime dinner hours, which for the local Cuban population starts sometime after 9pm. As the night rolls on, the place fills up with local Cuban exiles and politicos, chattering together and enjoying traditional meals like vaca frita, shredded beef fried with onions and served with moro, a mix of black beans and white rice.

El Palacio de Los Jugos

El Palacio de Los Jugos

Photo by: Wally Gobetz, flickr

Foodies on the prowl for Miami's best Cuban must pay a visit to El Palacio de Los Jugos, a Cuban institution with multiple locations throughout the city. While all El Palacio's outposts are generally raved about, check out the one on Flagler Street and 57th Avenue for an unforgettable – and delectable – experience. Only caveat? Bring a Hulk-sized appetite.

More outdoor marketplace than sit-down restaurant, El Palacio features a number of hot-food counters with traditional Cuban grub that runs the gamut from fresh juices like papaya and guava (in fact, El Palacio de Los Jugos translates to "Juice Palace") to ropa vieja, shredded beef stewed in tomatoes and spices, and perhaps El Palacio's most popular offering, chicharrones, crispy fried pork rinds.

Head bravely to one of the prepared food counters and order a plato, which is actually a container filled with a solid two pounds of rice, beans, plantains and the entree of your choice (we couldn't get enough shredded pork or ropa vieja). Head to one of the outdoor tables and watch the world go by as you stuff yourself to bursting. Wash that goodness down with a fresh, thick mango juice, and you'll be sated for many hours to come.

Sergio's

Sergio's

Photo by: Josue Goge, flickr

Sergio's opened over 40 years ago as a small sandwich stand started by Cuban exiles. Today it has morphed into a mini-empire with multiple locations and a reputation for serving excellent Cuban meals from the wee hours of the morning into the late evening. Start your day with what may easily be one of the best breakfast deals in Miami - El Mezclado, a platter of two scrambled eggs with ham, served with tostada, Cuban toast and a strong Cuban coffee.

As the lunch and dinner hours approach Sergio's whips up a selection of 20 Cuban-style sandwiches including the classic cubano and the pan con bistec, thinly sliced grilled steak and onions topped with tomatoes, a hearty pile of shoestring fries and served on buttered Cuban toast. Have a late-night craving? Two of Sergio's locations are open 24 hours on weekends. We suggest popping in along with a slew of local Cubans, and satisfying your hunger with a hearty churrasco, a skirt steak grilled to perfection and served with mild or spicy chimichurri sauce. Come on, it's Cuban food – you gotta go spicy!

Filling the hungry bellies of North Miami residents for years, Little Havana serves authentic Cuban delicacies locals continue to rave about. This family-owned restaurant serves an array of traditional Cuban meals and drinks, attracting customers from all cultural backgrounds. Approaching this enormous menu can be pretty overwhelming, so a great way to start is to go with the Taste of Havana, which gives you a literal taste of everything, including pork, chicken, tamal (dough steamed in corn husk), fried yuca, croquettes (fried breadcrumb roll with ground meat, shellfish, fish, ham, cheese, mashed potatoes and vegetables) and mariquitas (plantain chips), and order a Coco Havana, rum and pineapple with a cherry.

Once you’re finished scarfing down that starter and washing it down with the drink, go for the house special bistec con Salsa Chimichurri, their juicy steak served with their homemade Chimichurri sauce, and add a side of their crispy tostones. Not in the mood for meat? Little Havana offers a vegetarian combination dish with white rice, black beans, plantains and mixed vegetables. At this point, you're convinced you don't have room in that belly for anything else, but your eyes take a little stroll to the dessert section of the menu and you must compromise. Order yourself a Crema Catalana, a custard dessert, and their guava cheese flan. You won’t regret it.


The best Cuban restaurants in Miami for abuela’s greatest hits

May 2019: Our list of the best Cuba restaurants in Miami just got a refresh with a sparkling new addition: The buzzy Café La Trova (and its wonderful croqueta selection) breaks into the top three.

So you&rsquove come to the 305 and now you want to know where to find the best Cuban restaurants in Miami. Or, maybe you live here and you want to know (because every single person who visits you keeps asking). Either way, it&rsquos a fair&mdashbut deceptively tough&mdashquestion. Miami is a proudly Cuban place. In a wildly diverse city, it&rsquos our most dominant culture. Naturally, this comes with food&mdashand a lot of it. Do we have quantity? Yes. But quality? That&rsquos a little harder to find. Obviously most of the best places are waiting for you among the best Little Havana restaurants. But you&rsquod also be wise to look in the best restaurants in South Beach, in Wynwood and far our west in corners of Miami tourists rarely go. We can make only one promise: it&rsquos going to be worth the trip.


Miami restaurants we’ll always remember

Owning and operating a restaurant is a tough feat and not for the faint of heart. Miami in particular is known for pushing the edge of culinary boundaries, and sometimes that means failures, as well as successes. In a region of this size, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear of closings, but this slow season has seen some major shifts and closings, including the end of some stellar runs that have left nostalgic diners looking for the next restaurant that will live on in Miami’s collective memory.

Historic restaurant trends

Looking at food via the lens of history, you will note that in Miami it is wholly dependent on migratory patterns. The constant influx of new cultures has created waves of trends in the region’s food scene. It all started with the Bahamians of pre-pioneer South Florida, then continued though the days of development between the 1900s and 1930s, followed by an influx of new residents after World War II, who were looking for Americanized versions of international foods like Chinese and Italian. The 1960s brought an influx of Cuban immigrants, and the 1970s and 1980s brought in more Latin Americans, as well immigrants from Haiti and other Caribbean nations.

The late 1980s and 1990s proved a crucial point in our food scene, when the Mango Gang (Allen Susser, Norman Van Aken, and Mark Militello, among others) put Miami cuisine on the international map, launching restaurants that made it a point to incorporate local flavors and ingredients. All but one of these influential restaurants closed, with Chef Allen’s, the last bastion, closing in 2011. In 2006, the opening of Michy’s in the MiMo District started a movement that, along with Michael Schwartz of Michael’s Genuine in 2007 and Kris Wessel of Red Light Little River in 2008, would again catapult Miami into the food spotlight.

Between the old and the new

Miami’s food scene continues to grow in prestige and influence, and it’s pushing the limits for better quality food, better quality palates and better expectations from local consumers. However, that growth coupled with a new real estate boom also has led to historic places closing, making way for newer and edgier concepts. Over the past few years, beloved establishments like Tobacco Road, Wolfie’s Rascal House, David’s Café, Jumbo’s, and Escopazzo have all closed.

Increased quality also means increased competition, between both old and new players. Since the year began, we have seen the closing of newer spots like Porfirio’s, Pi Pizzeria, Campania (sister restaurant to veteran Sardiania), Ted’s at YoungArts, and Gastropod in Aventura Mall, as well as well-known locations like Khong River House, Oolite, Ticety Tea, and Serendipity 3. Nostalgic favorites that have been around for decades have also closed their doors, including Van Dyke Café, which had a 20-year run, and 23-year-old Maiko Sushi.

Whether an establishment has a long run or a brief spark of culinary fame, it takes something special to inspire devotion from Miami’s fickle diners, who are always keen on trying new things. And although they couldn’t be more different, both 69-year-old Fox’s Sherron Inn and 5-year-old De Rodriguez inspired a legion of devoted fans who mourned their closing this year.

Nearly seven decades of history

Fox’s officially opened in 1946 as a sandwich shop and liquor store, though over the years it evolved into a full-service restaurant with a venerable bar. Founder Betty Fox named the iconic establishment for her daughter, Sharon, but a mess-up at the printers led to the Fox’s Sherron Inn. Which, ironically, has never been a hotel. George Andrews, a pilot for Pan Am Airways at the time, bought the restaurant in 1967 and owned it until 2010, when Rene Dahdah took over.

Firmly established in an unassuming corner of South Miami, it is off the traditional tourist route, yet it became an institution for both tourists and local alike. “It is one of the few places around here that existed in the fifties, and it was known to be a clandestine spot for its underground ambiance, providing a one-stop shop for wheelings and dealings,” says former general manager Ricardo Gutierrez.

After the closing of Tobacco Road, Fox’s became the oldest restaurant on the mainland, as well as the oldest with a dual liquor license, capable of operating a liquor store and bar at the same time. For locals, the clandestine nature, the grit and grime of the place, was part of its charm, a go-to spot for underage liquor purchases and fuzzy memories of many fun nights. Even more famous than its clandestine dealings was its prime rib night on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But above all, it held a dear spot in the heart of generations upon generations of Miamians.

In the end, Fox’s fell prey to one of the scourges faced by everyone in Miami — skyrocketing property values. Ultimately, Dahdah decided keeping the venerable restaurant open made less financial sense than razing the property and turning the space into a mixed-use commercial/residential property.

Making a bright, bold splash on the culinary scene

Of course, property values aren’t the only reason why seemingly popular restaurants close. Sometimes it’s simply time to move on. Such is the case with Douglas Rodriguez, part of the aforementioned Mango Gang. He may have grown up in New York, but the “Godfather of Nuevo Latino Cuisine” has a spirit that is all Cuban. His parents came from Cuba in 1955, before the Revolution, and moved to Miami when he was 14. That’s when the cooking magic began.

To non-Miamians, he is best known for Philadelphia’s Alma de Cuba and formerly New York’s Patria. To us, he is the chef behind places like the Wet Paint Café with Bernie Matz on Lincoln Road, where got his big break in the 󈨔s, and YUCA, an acronym for Young Urban Cuban Americans, where he highlighted a different side of Cuban cuisine. He also helped launch OLA, first on Biscayne Boulevard, then in the Savoy Hotel, before making its last stop at the Sanctuary Hotel.

He’s launched various incarnations of D. Rodriguez and De Rodriguez, first at the Astor Hotel and then the Bentley.

Starting in his early days at the Wet Paint Café, he gained a love for experimenting with Latin ingredients in nontraditional ways. He honed his style and in the process became part of the Mango Gang. After that, it has been a non-stop culinary rollercoaster, including a James Beard award.

While he also dabbles in cuisines of other Latin American countries, he doesn’t stray far from his Cuban roots. His menus are Cuban-centric with some twists and turns along the way. What’s so important about Rodriguez is that he not only helped place Cuban food in the national spotlight, but he refined it so that it was no longer seen as just inexpensive quick food served in cafeterias and restaurant-front ventanitas.

De Rodriguez may be shuttered, but the chef is on his most important adventure yet. He is currently part of a culinary adventure program that takes travelers on a tour through Cuba, helping to finally merge the two worlds. It’s only a matter of time before we see where that leads. And as we return to more vintage allure, what all diehard fans are waiting for may just happen — the relaunch of his original and acclaimed OLA on Biscayne Boulevard.

The ebb and flow of Miami’s culinary scene means not just navigating a crowded marketplace, but being prepared to pivot as necessary, to stay abreast of trends and know when to move on and start something fresh. That’s one of the interesting things about Miami’s transitory nature. It’s not always certain what will become the next new place people will spark nostalgia and fond food memories for decades to come.


Latest Eating

“You will see Bazaar Mar again! Don’t worry!” Andres tweeted Wednesday.

“We are in active planning for additional [Bazaar Mar] locations worldwide, but nothing ready to announce yet,” Doneff wrote.

Andres recently opened Mercado Little Spain, a Spanish food hall, at New York’s massive Hudson Yards complex, and his World Central Kitchen nonprofit has been aiding Venezuelans caught in that country’s political and economic crisis. Andres, who last year wrote a book about his hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico, has been nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.