Where to Eat in Miami

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Miami meets Med at Mandolin.

Eat Like a Local

Notable residents share their favorite Miami spots

Hamachi espuma from the crudo menu at penthouse-level Juvia.
Chefs in action at Juvia.

By Victoria Pesce Elliott   
Photography by Claudia Uribe

Pesce Elliott’s Picks | Miami Herald restaurant critic:
  • Chalan on the Beach: Whenever I eat out off the clock, which is rare, I tend toward hole-in-the-wall spots like South Beach’s Chalan for super-fresh, brightly acidic ceviche, and honestly friendly servers. It’s the most unpretentious restaurant in town and was around well before the Peruvian craze hit. 1580 Washington Avenue; 305/532-8880
  • Mandolin Aegean Bistro: I order the same thing every time at this Turkish-Greek spot in a converted 1940s house: the whole fish—grilled until the skin is charred, then doused in lemon and olive oil with oregano. Co-owners Ahmet Erkaya and Anastasia Koutsioukis are the most gracious hosts in the 305. 4312 NE Second Avenue; 305/749-9140
  • Altamare: Reserve a table here for a diverse selection of fresh local seafood and a low-key bar scene. My go-to is pan-seared golden tilefish with sunchoke puree, cilantro salsa verde, and calabaza flowers. 1233 Lincoln Road; 305/532-3061
Michelle Oka Doner’s Picks | Artist:
  • Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink: Whenever she lands back in Miami, Oka Doner’s car “automatically drives to Michael’s” where she grabs a seat in its courtyard amid the orchids. “There’s nothing better than the fresh burrata with heirloom tomatoes grown in Homestead,” she says. 130 NE 40th Street; 305/573-5550
  • Joe’s Stone Crab: “I always sit in the old dining room, where you can still touch the 1920s,” she says of this 1913 Miami Beach icon. She also confesses that its crispy, golden hashbrowns are “the only potatoes I’ll eat.” 11 Washington Avenue; 305/673-0365
  • Shorty’s: Another historic favorite, Shorty’s has been South Miami’s barbecue king since 1951. “Take that, Kansas City!” she says. She craves the restaurant’s succulent ribs, but also loves its creamy coleslaw and simple baked sweet potato when she’s feeling virtuous. 9200 S. Dixie Highway; 305/670-7732
Mitchell Kaplan’s Picks | Bookstore and café owner, cofounder of Miami Book Fair International:
  • Tuyo: Kaplan calls chef Norman Van Aken’s rooftop restaurant “a real surprise” at Miami Dade College’s culinary institute. “The superb food is complemented by one of the best views of the city anywhere,” he says. One standout: crispy yucca stuffed with shrimp in orange mojo sauce. 415 NE Second Avenue; 305/237-3200
  • Ortanique: “I’m partial to Ortanique’s flair for fresh Caribbean fare,” he says. It’s the mussels steamed in Red Stripe beer that bring him back—and the island decor. 278 Miracle Mile; 305/446-7710
  • The Cafés at Books & Books: Well-earned self-promotion alert: “Even if they weren’t mine, they’d be among my favorite places,” Kaplan says of his cafés. “Books and food—there’s no better combination.” Grab a roasted-pork taco or curried chicken salad with your next beach read. Various locations
Hillary Choo’s Picks | Bartender at SLS Hotel South Beach:
  • Cecconi’s Miami Beach: For Sunday brunch, Choo likes Cecconi’s at the Soho House, a private club with a dining room that’s open to guests: “It’s perfect for food and fun afternoon drinking before hitting the beach. Forty-five dollars includes your first Bellini.”  4385 Collins Avenue; 786/507-7900
  • Juvia: In addition to The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS hotel, Choo says Juvia is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Miami for a cocktail or glass of sparkling wine before sunset. Her suggestion: “Order appetizers at the bar and watch Miami’s lights turn on.” 1111 Lincoln Road; 305/763-8272
  • My Ceviche: On her days off, you’ll find Choo here at the carryout window. “I like taking it to the sand,” she explains. “It’s affordable and always fresh. The ceviches are wonderful and refreshing on a hot day.”  235 Washington Avenue; 305/397-8710
Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, November 2013.

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