Over the past year I've visited Miami a bunch (not on expense account). Here are some short reviews on what I've found so far. Thanks to all the South Florida CHers, with a special shout-out to the Frod and Chowfather blogs, for condensing such a big area into a navigable landscape.
Notes: Value matters in my equation so YMMV. For calibration, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area (I learned to trust Frod when he gave a lukewarm - at best - review of Zuni Cafe). The list leans strongly towards the mainland rather than Miami Beach.
Michael's Genuine: Big surprise, I know. Lots of great dishes. The duck confit and chicken for two weren't all that but most are from very good to excellent. My favorite place in Miami hands down. Their crispy pig ears are awesome.
Harry's Pizzeria: Casual, not too pricey, generally easy to get a seat, open late, good food. Polenta fries + salad + a pizza or two is our usual formula.
El Rincon Asturiano: Not all dishes are great, but lots of delicious stuff (especially the seafood but not the paellas), at a reasonable price point. I always order their jamon iberico de bellota platter, which is a good deal given how much it costs even in Spain.
El Palacio de los Jugos: Chicharrones are awesome, even if 1 in 4 is a dud (chewy rather than crisp skin). Not for the faint of fat, however. That plus some fresh fruit juices are the reasons to go. I haven't yet found something else that I was super fond of, though I do keep trying different things each time.
Shake Shack: Their food is better than it probably has any right to be, given their volume and prices. Very happy with the new branch so don't have to deal with South Beach.
Local Craft Food and Drink: Nice beer list (relatively uncommon in Miami, it seems). Food is solidly tasty and reasonably priced. Seems to have become a LOT more popular in the past few months. If there's anyplace where I'm a “regular”, it's here.
Red Light: one meal there so far, but the food was excellent. The booth where we were sat was awfully uncomfortable, though. Will return later in the fall when one can sit outside more comfortably.
Mr. Chu's: Good to very good Taiwanese-style Chinese food on the dinner menu. Their dim sum lunch menu isn't so inspiring.
Sustain & Sra Martinez: had one great meal at each before they closed. The egg yolk carpaccio at the latter was one of the best dishes I've had in the area. RIP.
Sushi Deli: the one time we went, we had to wait an hour and they were sold out of almost everything interesting. I think there's a secret formula of “call ahead on that day” and “show up around opening” or somesuch that increases the odds of securing the good stuff. Will try again.
Sakaya Kitchen: I think the flavors were generally a bit over-the-top, but at that price point it's worth the occasional visit.
Su Shin Izakaya: by Bay Area standards, very average at best. But by Miami standards it seems like a nice neighborhoody place to grab a decent Japanese meal. I'd avoid the ramen though, and I haven't tried their sushi or sashimi.
Barceloneta: one visit during Miami Spice and quite enjoyed it.
Josh's Deli: tasty pastrami sandwich. Super nice guy. A bit of a drive, though. If it were closer to central Miami I'd be there a lot more often.
Gigi: I think Frod's FFT review is pretty spot-on (“solid execution and bright flavors”). The steak looked awesome but I haven't had it yet.
Tropical Chinese: passable dim sum (I'm rather spoiled/picky). I liked it better than Phillip Ho by quite a bit.
NOT CLAMORING TO RETURN:
Michy's: I know I'm in the minority, but the food was not nearly as good as Michael's and a lot more expensive. Plus I found the atmosphere stuffy to the point of feeling a bit uncomfortable.
The Dutch: very good food but expensive for what you get. The GF disagrees (but she didn't pay that day).
Sugarcane: nothing wrong with the meal, but it wasn't all that memorable either.
Yakko San: similar to Sugarcane. I'm not one to generally care about the setting but the enormity of this place is the opposite of what I prefer in an izakaya.
Talavera: Execution is decent but not nearly high enough to warrant the price tag. Doesn't help that I live in California.
Eating House: Maybe we ordered the wrong stuff, but none of the dishes really sang to me. The vibe is great, though, and super-friendly staff.
Garcia's Seafood: pretty decent food. I would consider going back - probably should re-visit, in fact.
El Mago de las Fritas: I love burgers in general, even only decent ones, but the chorizo in the patty didn't really do it for me.
Edge Steak & Bar: Good food but I found it pricey, even with Miami Spice helping to supplement it. It didn't help that it was 95% empty when we were there.
Burger & Beer Joint: Ok, but I'd choose Shake Shack 19 out of 20 times.
TO TRY LIST: NAOE, Bazaar, Joe's Stone Crab (once crab season begins again), Matsuri, Tuyo (tasting menu). I need to spend more time working through some recommended Cuban spots.
Any suggestions on obvious holes in my explorations are welcome!
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