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Feb 4, 2008 11:12 AM

Best Food in Miami/Ft Lauderdale Area

We're making the yearly sojourn to Miami in 2 weeks to visit our snow bird parents. Each year we make our pilgrimage to Norman's in Coral Gables. While we still love this place and will probably still have dinner there again on this trip, we want to try something new. Any suggestions of your favorite/best place(s) in the South Florida area between Miami and Ft Lauderdale would be greatly appreciated. Price points are not an issue. Only good 4 star quality food.
Brooklyn, NY

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  1. Sorry to say Norman's is closed. Norman Van Aken has opened a new place down in Key West called Tavern N Town which has - to my surprise - been getting only mixed reviews (sounds like he's having trouble staffing down there).

    "favorite/best place(s) in the South Florida area" is a wee bit broad and obviously there's a ton of commentary already on this board. Here is a list of "best of" lists, many of which focus on South Florida ->

    Maybe you could help focus the request a bit, particularly if you're looking for something new (to you). Other than Norman's, where else in So. Fl. have you been that you've enjoyed (or not enjoyed)? What did you like about Norman's? Any particular part of town you want to be?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor

      Norman's closed? Wow! Bummer...We loved the quality food preparation, ingredients and classy environment. If I had to choose 2 out of 3, it would definitely be the food prep and ingredients. Ambiance is always nice but we've all had great food in seemingly dull and dreary places, haven't we?
      So for a recommendation for a "best place' in Florida, I would want to eat at a place that would be THE place to go to for great food if I could only choose one place to eat in while in FL. We live in NYC so we are exposed to every cuisine under the sun. My only resistance now would be to Japanese food as the recent news about mercury in tuna makes me wary of sushi which I would definitely find hard to resist. (I'm thinking of Marks' Las Olas in Ft Lauderdale.)

      1. re: JeffZee

        I don't know FTL as well as I know Miami and so hesitate to make many recommendations up that way. I've always been a fan of Mark Militello and have liked both his Las Olas place and the one on South Beach in the Nash Hotel. I recall the Las Olas location being a little more bustling, while the South Beach one is more sedate - possibly the closest I can think of, both as to the food and the environment, to something like Norman's.

        Since you were a Norman's fan, I should note that the former head chef at Norman's in Coral Gables, Jeffrey Brana (who briefly had a highly regarded restaurant of his own which did not last long) is now the chef at the Raleigh Hotel on South Beach. I have not been nor heard any reports yet.

        For a restaurant that is really at the top of its game right now, I think my first choice would likely be Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami's Design District. Michael Schwartz was formerly the chef at Nemo on South Beach and then was with a string of other restaurants before opening up his own place. It is not as elegant a place as Norman's and the food is perhaps a bit simpler, but there's a strong focus on local ingredients, great preparations and great flavors. To reach across to the other coast for a reference point, I think the style of cooking is very similar to a place like Chez Panisse or Zuni Cafe in SF.

        Mark's South Beach
        1120 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

        Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
        130 N.E. 40th Street, Miami, FL 33137

        Mark's Las Olas
        1032 E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL

        Raleigh Hotel
        1775 Collins Avenue, Miami, FL

    2. In Ft. Lauderdale, I have had great meals at Trina (Mediterranean style, great flatbreads, interesting/weird drinks), 3030 Ocean (Continental cuisine done very well, extensive wine list), Eduardo de San Angel ("Gourmet" Mexican cuisine) and Cafe Martorano (excellent homestyle Italian food. Go before it turns into a cheesy 90s club. . . I think before 9:00 pm). I'm sure there's others here in the Ft Lauderdale area who could recommend more.

      1. Try Michy's on 6927 Biscayne Blvd, always great, lots of options to try various plates as you can get small portions. IL Gabbiano in downtown Miami has a great view & very good Italian food. If you want to hit Fort Lauderdale, Johnny V's has an interesting menu & awesome cheese selection. I second Michael's & would add North 110 to your list.

        1. JeffZ, are you staying in Miami? I eat regularly in both counties and there are enough great restaurants in Miami that you do not need to travel north. The three current must do's in Miami/Miami Beach are Michy's, Michael's Genuine and Sardinia. I would recommend all three even if you are staying up north. It should be noted that there are some very good restaurants in Ft. Lauderdale as well. I agree with Mark's, Johnny V's, 3030 Ocean, Martorano, and Trina. Let me know if you are staying near Ft Lauderdale and need additional recs or to narrow down the aformentioned recs

          4 Replies
          1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

            In Fort Lauderdale you should try Cero at the St Regis, very high quality food and presentation. Also very nice is Bourbon Steak at Turnberry in Aventura the service and food are both excellent. Also in Aventura Chef Allen's is very solid. Norman's was great but had a long run for Miami standards.

            1. re: newbiefoodieinlaud

              I've had a couple very good meals at Cero. Looks like Chef Allen tweaked his menu. Newbie what would you recommend at Bourbon Steak?

              1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

                If you are trekking up to Ft Lauderdale then I would recomend Johnnie V's, on Las Olas. The food is outstanding, service is great. It has a fairly well priced wine list and it has a cheese course that is fun and not seen very often. My husband and I love to go there for a bit of a get away and then we walk off dinner strolling on Las Olas

                1. re: Miami Foodie Girl

                  Johnnie V's, come on, give me a break. It's a meet and greet place, with ordinary food. Outstanding? I don't think so. Maybe someone bought her a drink