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Apr 5, 2008 12:56 PM

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 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. The original comment has been removed
                  1. 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 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.