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Top 10 Miami

If you had to pick your top 10 restaurants in Miami (all cuisines), what would they be?


1. Matsuri
2. Hiro's Yakko
3. Michael's
4. Joe's
5. Sardinia
6. Michy's
7. Roma's Gelato
8. River Oyster Bar
9. Talula
10. Ortanique

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  1. Matsuri
    Prime 112
    Il Gabbiano
    Bourbon Steak
    21 Toppings/Roasters n Toasters

    2 Replies
    1. re: mikek

      Just out of curiosity, which do you think has better food Il Gabbiano (which I am trying soon) or Osteria?

      1. re: tpigeon

        I have not been to Osteria in a while, so I do not know if a fair comparision is in order. That being said, I truly do not know why. The food there is simply delicious. Il Gabbiano I have been to twice now and it is just great. While trite, the tiramisu at Gabbiano is the best I have had outside of Italy. The pasta is similarly superb. I think it is a somewhat different vibe in the restaurant, with Gabbiano being on the water in a beautiful room with tux-wearing waiters, while Osteria is small, cozy and more casual service with the HUGE specials list being announced. You will really really enjoy Gabbiano, that much I feel comfortable saying.

    2. I have been thinking about this quite a bit - I seem to run out of steam at the end of the list ->

      1. Hiro's Yakko-San
      2. Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
      3. Timo
      4. Talula
      5. Sushi Deli
      6. Michy's
      7. Sardinia
      8. Ortanique
      9. Joe's Stone Crab
      10. ???

      There are several places that are in contention which I either haven't been to recently enough, haven't been to often enough, or are too new for me to commit to ->

      - Matsuri (haven't been for 1 yr +);
      - Mina's Bourbon Steak (too new; only 1 visit);
      - Indomania (only 1 visit);
      - River Oyster Bar (only 1 visit);
      - Mint Leaf (too new; only 1 visit);
      - Red Light (too new; not even really open yet; only 1 visit).

      17 Replies
      1. re: Frodnesor

        and others you have yet to try:

        Osteria del teatro

        Il Gabbiano

        1. re: Frodnesor

          The sad thing is with Miami, when asked this question on the New Orleans board, I could not narrow my list down from 13-15 places from the 5 years I lived there. In Miami, I can come up with 7 or so, but three of them are really "forced" on to my list.

            1. re: Frodnesor

              I am not having the kind of trouble you guys are...

              Prime 112
              Osteria del Teatro
              River Oyster
              Maison D'Azur
              Alta Mar

              I have not even mentioned Nemo or Michael's Genuine.

              That being said, New Orleans is certainly a better food town than we are.

              1. re: tpigeon

                New Orleans was also a crossroads of trade and is almost 200 years older than Miami.

                1. re: lax2mia

                  Yes, but Miami has a much bigger role now. I think Miami has good restaurants, but when people ask me "my friend is comng in town, where should I send them to on South Beach" my answers are limited to Prime 112, Nobu, Joes and Talula. To get to the mainland is a bit of a hassle for tourists. That being said, we are getting much better with each passing year. The point was not to try to compare Miami to NO, as there is no comparision from a foodie perspective, merely to say how limited our options are for a relatively major metropolitan area.

                  1. re: mikek

                    You might want to check out the list I posted then because I have about 10 good places in sobe alone.

                    Lax, I was merely pointing out that I was not trying to argue the case that miami has better food than NO.

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      Post was misdirected. Plus I was trying to make this thread a little more interesting.

                      1. re: tpigeon

                        I have been to a good chunk off the list that I have not found particularly interesting, including Grazie (good Italian but not knock your socks off), Macalusos, Grazianos, Tuscan Grill, Francesco and (to be honest) Michy's. Out of that list, Michy's is the only one I would be excited to try again. There are some perfectly fine restaurants on it, but top 10 in the city level? Top 10 in a given city (to me) should be those special and unforgettable spots or those amazing amazing holes-in-the-wall, not good but not amazing places (like Grazie for example).

                        1. re: mikek

                          Miami is not a real city yet. Until we have professionals in large numbers, we will not have the dining depth found in other cities. That being said, Miami has pretty darn good food and I have impressed many visitors from real cities by taking them to the places I mentioned above.

                          1. re: tpigeon

                            need more people dining on expense accounts?

                            1. re: ankimo

                              Need more people who live here year round who can afford to eat out.

                            2. re: tpigeon

                              *Until we have professionals in large numbers, we will not have the dining depth found in other cities.*

                              I don't think that's it. Just to compare 2000 census data, "management, professional, and related occupations" for Miami-Dade County is 30% of the population; for, say, Cook County IL (Chicago) - by most accounts a more advanced food city than Miami - it's 35%. Los Angeles County is 34%. Though admittedly for New York County (Manhattan) it's a whopping 55% and for San Francisco County it's 48%.

                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                Cook county chicago is not dependent upon tourisim, Miami is. LA is far larger of a city than Miami and has tourisim year round, unlike miami and is also not as reliant on tourisim. Many real businesses operate in chicago and LA. Miami has few.

              2. re: Frodnesor

                Can't come up with 10 either.

                Tops in the country period.

                1. Joe's Stone Crab

                Tops in Miami but would also do quite well in LA or SF.

                2. Michael's
                3. Sardinia

                Tops in Miami, very enjoyable, but would get lost in LA,SF, NYC

                4. Hiro's Yakko-San
                5. Michy's
                6. Su Shin Izakaya
                7. Osteria

                Personal Favorites on South Beach

                8. Puerto Sagua
                9. El Chalan

                1. re: Frodnesor

                  I tend to always follow your recommendations Frod...I highly respect your knowledge of food and the Miami scene, and I usually end up super happy I listened toy your advice, but I have to post a negative on one of your favorites. I had been wanting to try Ortanique for a while and went there for a lunch with my husband this week. It was the biggest disappointment! The service was great, the bread basket amazing, so I prepared myself for a great meal. No luck. While the ceviche was decent, the curried cornish hen was hardly curried, and the sauce reminded me of when I first visited the US with my parents when I was 11, you know when you are introduced to American food by the magic of Disney, Golden Corral and Holiday Inn...It was accompanied by the silliest broccolini and the about two teaspoons worth of "just decent" boniato mash. The sandwich my husband ordered was just salt on a sweet bun. The quality of the manchego was good but that was it. We didn't have dessert, a sure sign that we were unhappy as I am pregnant and NEVER say no to dessert. Now I know one can say: "well it was only one time, and maybe the right items were not ordered" etc, but in my opinion a restaurant of that reputation should never have items like those in the menu if they don't think they are as good as the rest of the menu. Anyway, I rarely post on chow anymore and hate giving bad feedback, but I was very mad at how much I ended paying for that meal! Don't get me wrong I will continue to take your advice...after all...you are the reason we are Michael's fans (and Michy's and Yakko San and Sardinia ;-))

                  1. re: yomyb

                    Yo -

                    I have heard multiple people come away disappointed with the "jerk" cornish hen (described on the menu as a "West Indian Cornish Game Hen marinated in traditional jerked spices ...") and so decided to try it myself a couple weeks ago. And ... I was disappointed as well.

                    If there's one dish people ought to expect to be spicy, it would be anything "jerk spiced." This, sadly, was not - indeed I'd be hard pressed to say that a habanero ever got anywhere near the marinade. Nicely cooked, but not nearly enough flavor, and indeed the whole package is a little reminiscent of a banquet chicken.

                    I suspect it's a matter of catering to the audience - it's been on the menu a while so clearly people are ordering it (and a good part of Ortanique's business is repeat Gables locals, esp. for lunch), but I'm with you, it's nothing to write home about.

                    But that's one miss among many hits that I've had. Indeed all of the lunch sandwiches have generally been hits with anyone I've taken there - the veal sliders, the fried grouper, the burgers (very good), and the "club sandwich espana" (serrano, bacon, manchego, and a fried egg - how can you go wrong with 2 pork products and an egg?).

                    Sorry you had a bad experience there. Also sorry you haven't been posting - come back!

                2. I'm doing this without looking at any other posts

                  1. Michael's Genuine
                  2. Michy's
                  3. Sardinia
                  4. Yakko-San
                  5. Alta Mar
                  6. Talula
                  7. Bond St. (subject to change due to recent change)
                  8. Nobu
                  9. Macaluso's
                  Timo/Joe's/Chef Allen/Blue Door/Table 8

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

                    In no particular order

                    Alta Mar
                    North 110
                    Michael's Genuine
                    Whisk Gourmet

                    Yakko San

                    1. re: jessierandall

                      Don Pan
                      Pollo Tropical
                      El Palacio de los Jugos #2 9 (on Miller)
                      Papa John's
                      Chicken Kitchen
                      TGI Friday's
                      El Morro Castle
                      Sushi Maki
                      Nexxt (The closed one)
                      Miami Wings

                      I could go on, but these deserve special mention.

                        1. re: jessierandall

                          I'm glad you understand. I forgot Olive Garden, and I should have put Red Lobster and Long John Silver at the top!

                        2. re: taiga

                          don't u think for fast food
                          pollo tropical, chicken kitchen, chicken grill could make it in other cities?

                          OK i can see this thread is boring...how about Top 5 Miami Restaurants that you think Frod might not have tried?

                          1. re: ankimo

                            Frod has not tried Walter's Coffee Shop, Ron's Cuban Cafe, Miami Subs (any location), El Palacio #2 on Miller, and the Rascal House since it imploded.

                            1. re: taiga

                              I've actually frequented (not often nor recently) the Miami Subs N of 71st St. on the Beach and the one at MIA and actually find the chicken pita (if doused in the tzatziki-ish stuff and some hot sauce) reasonably edible and the seasoned french fries disturbingly addictive. I think they spinkle them with crack. Besides, I love the collection of lousy chains (Arthur Treacher's, Kenny Rogers Roasters, etc.) that they've stuffed under one roof. It's like a museum of failed franchises.

                              So there!

                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                We'll allow you to consider retracting that last post.

                                1. re: johnmlinn

                                  Rosendorf: You must be thrilled when you must stop on the Florida Turnpike.
                                  johnmlinn: Agreed.

                              2. re: taiga

                                Please do elaborate on Walter's Coffee Shop and Ron's Cuban Cafe... I'm intrigued now!

                                1. re: mialebven

                                  Way down south on US1 near 174th in a despicably pathetic strip mall -- blood bank, camera repair, consignment, etc. -- one which gives real meaning to stripped, Walter's Coffee Shop is an ethnographer's dream. Here, residents of the Ridge, what Cutler Ridge was before two-bit politicians recast it as Cutler Bay, meet residents of Perrine, a community now sitting in the lap of Palmetto Bay, recently "saved" from the mega developed Palmer Trinity School, who in turn meet movers and shakers from Richmond Heights and South Miami Heights. Wait -- I'm not finished. Here all these folks meet over eggs, grits, old school coffee mugs, amid conversations about Southridge football, cell phone plans, cable versus satellite, and local politics. Lots of gold ropes and teeth are on display, along with bilingual speaking clientele struggling to speak only in English to the English only waitresses, and happy Caucasoids supplying paleness to the demographic. Hanging proudly over all of this is the relentless Nascar theme, a nod to the Homestead south of us. All in all, it is really one of my favorite, real, old-school Miami vibes, open from 5:30-2:30 I think, with a kind of sanely insane balance without any pretense at all. They also have Mickey Mouse pancakes for your kids. Oh yeah, bring a fur stole because the aircon is blasting thanks to a public school system which has yet to teach its first lessons on climate change.

                                  Ron's is just another friendly Cuban joint near South Motors.

                                  1. re: taiga

                                    Now, that sounds like a coffee shop worth checking out!

                      1. How about Cafe Sambal in the Mandarin. I have had some great meals there.

                        1. While I agree with a lot of the choices for Top 10 Miami on this thread, I just don't get the allure of River Oyster Bar and why it would be such a top pick. Aside from the raw oysters (and shooters), I have never had anything exceptional there. Heck, I just went for lunch today and I can't recall my entree. Oh yes it was the crab cake.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: nikklos

                            Nikklos - I had not been to R.O.B. until very recently, went and had the roasted oysters (topped w/ chorizo and manchego cheese) and a pasta w/ crabmeat and sea urchin roe. Both were excellent and quite memorable.

                              1. re: tpigeon

                                Frodnesor, I have tried the Fire Roasted Oysters and do agree that they are tasty. I just find them a little off-puttingly watery - which I guess is unfair of me since they are oysters after all! I will give the pasta with crabmeat and sea urchin a shot next time I go. Tpigeon, thanks for the BBQ suggestion - just never thought to order BBQ there.

                                1. re: nikklos

                                  It is better than their seafood

                          2. 1. Azul...#1 hands down
                            2. Ortanique
                            3. Michy's
                            4. Macalusos
                            5. Sardinia
                            6. Casa Juancho
                            7. Old Lisbon
                            8. Michaels
                            9. Mr. Chu's...probably my #2
                            10. Vix

                            1. I agree with a lot of the postings in the Top 10 and my list would probably be a little of each one. I havent tried a lot of restaurants taht Im sure would end up in my Top 10 though (Sardinia, Talula, Gabbiano, Bourbon Steak, to name a few). I guess my list is incomplete until then. One that I would add is Jaguar. I love that place for the ceviche spoons and the shrimp 3-ways.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: Blind Mind

                                1.Bourbon Steak
                                2.Cafe Boulud
                                3.Little Palm Island restaurant
                                6.North One 10 (most nights)
                                7.Michael's Genuine
                                maybe Il Gabbiano
                                Norman's RIP

                                Joe's, best in the country!?! I have to admit, that really made me laugh. Nemo's is probably better on most nights
                                I would rather go to Joe Allen than Sardinia. That joint wouldn't make it anywhere further north than Atlanta.
                                Prime Blue Grille and Tuscan Steak are probably better than Prime 112 at this point.

                                not the best food town, but improving

                                1. re: drmtk674

                                  Prime blue is not even close to Prime 112 (for dishes other than steak). Tuscan is closer but still not as good (but has better steak than both).

                                  Joes is quite a bit better than Nemo.

                                  Sardinia vs Joe Allen? You have got to be kidding.

                                  1. re: tpigeon

                                    prime 112 is now basically a tourist trap. and honestly, Sardinia really sucks. i have been there too many times and it always dissapoints (same with Cafe Sambal). very average. at least Joe Allen's has that date pudding dessert thing that is ridiculous.
                                    and Nemo's IS a better restaurant than Joe's (another tourist trap... unless you're eating stone crabs which you may as well just take out).

                                    1. re: drmtk674

                                      Completely disagree about Prime 112. Their steaks are mediocre, but their fish dishes are excellent, as are their appetizers, sides and desserts. Is it popular amongst tourists and celebrities? Absolutely. However, that does not mean tourist trap. Same as Joe's. It is very popular among tourists but they still put out a great product. Great salads, fish, side dishes and key lime pie. Sorry but I think that is totally off-base.

                                      1. re: mikek

                                        I recently went to Prime for dinner and took home a doggie bag full of my fish entree and sides from the table. (Terribly gauche, I know). When I woke up the next morning and tore into the food, I noticed an inch thick layer of fat on everything. I realize oil and butter are dee-lish-ous but whoa! I hadn't noticed why everything was so fantastic at the restaurant. I should pack a defibrillator in my handbag next time I go to Prime.

                                        1. re: jessierandall

                                          You must be fribbin' about the oil.

                                          1. re: jessierandall

                                            This is particularly true with the mac n cheese, creamed corn, etc.

                                        2. re: drmtk674

                                          Sardinia is at least as reliable as Joe Allen's. Both do their respective bases very well. Joe Allen's has just been doing it longer. And yeah, that date pudding is insane.

                                          And there's no way Nemo's is a better restaurant than Joe's. Last time I went was for brunch which was the same brunch they've been serving since I got to Miami. Joe's can get away with serving the same food because of it's cache and age. Nemo's has no business still serving duck confit hash and wok fried salmon with pumpkin seeds.

                                          1. re: lax2mia

                                            Does anyone know what's in that date pudding? And yes, it is truly insanely good!

                                          2. re: drmtk674

                                            In bizarro world you would be right but we live on earth where superman is the good guy.

                                    2. 1. Ortanique
                                      2. Prime 112
                                      3. Table 8
                                      4. Mo's Bagels
                                      5. Pacific Time (re-opened)
                                      6. Nemo (brunch)
                                      7. Rigazzi
                                      8. Soyka (lunch)
                                      9. Captain Jim's
                                      10. Islas Canarias