Zagat Miami/So.Florida 2011


I think the general theme is the Miami dining scene is starting to grow up. It still has a ways to go to catch the great dining cities of the country, but it’s heading in the right direction.

Some highlights of 2010 (these are mentioned in the book intro)

“Name” chefs and restaurateurs open in Miami – Daniel Boulud (db Bistro Moderne), Michael Psilikas/Donna Arpaia (Eos), Danny Meyer (Shake Shack), One Group (STK Miami). Local “names” include Norman Van Aken (Norman’s 180), Douglas Rodriguez (De Rodriguez Cuba and Ocean).

Upscale burgers go wild. A second Burger & Beer Joint, Heavy Burger, Shake Shack, Bliss Burgers all opened. Five Napkin Burger opening on Lincoln Road. Local chef Howie “Bulldog” Kleinburg will open burger joint in Aventura. David Manero (DeVito South Beach, Vic & Angelo’s) will open burger joint in Fort Lauderdale. Palm Beach restaurateur Carmine Giardini will open several CG Burgers outlets in the areas around Miami.

Steakhouses remain a very big deal.

The economy and more competition caused some high-profile closings, among them Talula, Grass and Au Pied du Cochon.

Some new stuff. . . trends, coming attractions, etc.

Food trucks went from nothing to the hot new thing. They even have their own informal “food court” off Bird Road. Among the best known: Gastropod, Latin Burger, Yellow Submarine, Rolling Stove, Dim Sum a Go Go.

The hottest local dining destinations are downtown and the Upper East Side, supplanting the Design District, which supplanted South Beach. Hot downtown restaurants are Eos, Area 31, Zuma, Soi Bistro. Hot on the Upper East Side/Wynwood Arts District are Michy’s, Joey’s, Jimmy’z Kitchen, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, Red Light.

The locavore, sustainable, organic, farm to table ethos is taking hold. Michael Schwartz (Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink) is the godfather. Other examples are Sustain, Essensia, 1500 Degrees, Market 17 (Fort Lauderdale), Green Gourmet (Delray Beach).

Inexpensive, Asian-esque restaurants, some with prominent local chefs, are getting popular. Examples: American Noodle Bar (Michael Bloise), Gigi (Jeff McInnis), Soi Asian Bistro.

Miami chefs are looking north. Michelle Bernstein has two restaurants in Omphoy Resort in Palm Beach. Her successor at Azul at the Mandarin Oriental, Clay Conley, will open his own restaurant this month in downtown Palm Beach. Gonzalo Rivera has gone from The Tides SoBe to the Boca Raton Resort.

Coming in 2011 are Jose Andres (Bazaar in the SLS South Beach) and Stephen Starr (Makato in Bal Harbour Shops). Rumor has it Mario Batali and Bobby Flay are looking into coming down.