For anyone wondering which sit-down restaurants are currently hot in Miami right this second, you have arrived at the right figurative Internet place. What does “hot” mean, you ask? Well it’s safe to say that we put on relatively cute outfits to dine at each restaurant below (possibly even eye makeup and our “good deodorant”). A night out at one of these places - whether it’s for a casual catch-up with a friend or an impressive date night - feels overwhelmingly of the current moment. Many of them are brand spanking new, but there are also old favorites who’ve been exciting from day one.
And, as always, we wouldn’t be recommending any of these restaurants simply for having a memorable scene. We’ve been to each and every spot and loved the food they serve - so you can plan your dinner confidently.
We thoroughly loved Zitz Sum when we first visited back in April, on the restaurant’s second day in business. But now that it has had some time to blossom, it’s turned into an absolutely exceptional restaurant. This is mostly because of the menu, which features Chinese, Korean, and other Asian dishes so outstanding that choosing what to order feels like picking a favorite child. That menu changes often, but offers outstanding dishes like a sheng jian bao brisket bun, chicken wonton in a citrusy pho broth, and a Korean-style handroll you assemble yourself from a bowl of steak tartare beneath a layer of Japanese egg salad. Food aside, Zitz Sum also has more qualities we look for in an exciting dinner: little sippy cups of sake, wonderful service, and a playlist that’ll have you dancing in between bites.
Los Félix Taquería
When we talk about the restaurants on this guide, we usually focus on the most exciting part, whether it be the food, atmosphere, or adorable tableware. But Coconut Grove’s Los Felix makes that approach difficult, because we just love everything about this place. So let’s just list, in no particular order, all the great things about Los Felix: the crispy sweet potato tetela plated with a crown of perfectly grilled oyster mushrooms; the dining room that’s right in the sweet spot between claustrophobic and cavernous; the spiral staircase that takes you to the natural wine shop upstairs; the casual-yet-attentive service; the fresh tortillas, which are thin but never tear and spill the innards of your taco; and (speaking of tacos) the fall-apart-tender pork cheek carnitas. To sum it up, come here next time you want a delicious dinner of interesting Mexican dishes in an environment fun enough to make you want to drink 3/4s of a bottle of wine.
Thanks to a big renovation and expansion, the Coconut Grove Cuban diner Chug’s is better than ever, and feels like a completely new restaurant. It has the DNA of a classic diner, with booths, counter seating, and laminated menus you can flip through on each table. It’s still a great call for breakfast or brunch, but the best part about Chug’s 2.0 is that it’s also lively enough for a really fun weekend dinner (especially since their cocktails are so good). The excellent food is familiar, mostly Cuban dishes and some great sandwiches. But there are plenty of unique twists along the way, like medianoche pierogis filled with ham and lechón, an incredibly flavorful meatloaf, and dessert that should be mandatory to order. Also, right now Chug’s is doing 99 cent martinis (bar seating only) every day from 6-7pm.
Itamae isn’t necessarily a dress-up-and-go-all-out dinner. It’s got a more laid-back personality than that, although it’s still worthy of that very cool shirt you just bought. But what makes this Design District spot so exciting is that you really never know what you’ll be eating when you visit here. The Nikkei menu changes a lot (like on a day-to-day basis) but one guarantee we can make is that you will encounter some form of seafood that’ll make you want to cry. And that’s pretty exciting, in our opinion.
Jaguar Sun has reinvented itself more times in the past year with its pandemic pivots than Martha Stewart has in her entire career. But now, like Martha quietly making a quiche in one of her twelve kitchens, Jaguar Sun has returned to its roots. The excellent Downtown restaurant has finally moved back into its original space in the lobby of an apartment building, where it’s serving the same cocktails and food that made us fall in love with this restaurant in the first place. Their outstanding pastas, raw bar, and Parker House rolls are all back on the menu, and dinner here feels like reuniting with a friend who fled on an eight month road trip to “go find themselves” - only that friend actually got cooler instead of insufferably into crystals. The restaurant (in case you forgot) is tiny, so a reservation isn’t a bad idea.
Cote is one of the few big, buzzy New York restaurants that recently came to Miami and is actually worth the hype. And dinner at this Korean steakhouse (which feels like a futuristic steak nightclub) is basically a performance, except all the actors are beef and you get to eat them when the show is over. The meal works like this: you order meat (because this is a steakhouse) and servers spend the next few minutes overseeing the cuts sizzling away on the grill located in the center of the table. Once done, they remove them, you eat, and everyone is happy. One of the best ways to do Cote is with the Butcher’s Feast, a $58 per person tasting menu that comes with more than enough steak and banchan. And even though you should be focused on steak here, it’s worth getting the ceviche and some cocktails too, which are both excellent.
Ariete has been around for a minute now, and even if you’ve been before, dinner here can feel like an entirely new experience. Especially if you decide to go for their duck press dinner for two, which has been on their menu for a little over a year now. It’s hands-down the best tableside presentation in town. Essentially, they cook a duck for two, but the show really starts when they wheel this medieval-looking machine to the table. The gold contraption is used to compress various parts of the duck into a deep, rich sauce, which they use to smother the absolute best duck you’ll ever taste in your life. The meal, which costs $125 and serves two, also comes with flaky duck pastelitos, pistachio dukkah duck tamale, and a salad. But if you’re not a huge duck fan and looking for another exciting option to try here, go with the seven-course $125 tasting menu.
A formal omakase dinner that serves incredible sushi is always exciting. It can also be prohibitively expensive and a major pain in the butt to reserve. But at $69-$119 per person, Mr. Omakase is not only one of Miami’s more reasonably priced omakases, it’s also one of Miami’s best. Plus, it’s not booked until 2029 so you can probably find a table within a couple days. But, while the convenience of Mr. Omakase is nice, it’s not what makes this place exciting. That’s thanks to the sushi. Each piece of nigiri and sashimi will make you feel like a cat getting its favorite treat, and you’ll appreciate every single grain of rice. At the end of your meal, you’ll have the opportunity to order a piece of sushi a la carte. Get the A5 wagyu (or the A5 wagyu uni if you really want to go for it). Just make sure there’s enough room behind you for a backflip.
Mergers and acquisitions don’t always go smoothly. For example, America Online and Time Warner, which was the first thing that came up when we Googled “bad mergers and acquisitions examples.” However, sometimes things work out beautifully, which is what happened when one of our favorite restaurants in Miami, NIU Kitchen, moved in with its sister restaurant, Arson. Now we’ve got a best-of-both-worlds scenario in Downtown. Many of our favorite NIU dishes, like the cold tomato soup with mustard ice cream, are now mingling with Arson classics like the charbroiled oysters, which are singed with a hot coal tableside. There is also, of course, lots of wine still flowing here. And this place remains our go-to spot for convincing people that we’re much cooler than we actually are.
Uchi is another restaurant from out-of-town we’re glad to have in Miami, mostly because there is not a bad bite of food coming out of the Japanese spot. But also because it’s fun and stylish enough for those fancy clothes that’ve been sitting in your closet for so long they’ve forgotten what the outside world looks like. Expect a series of outstanding bites, ranging from simple nigiri to complex plates of sashimi and outstanding karaage chicken. And Uchi won’t leave you too full to bar hop around Wynwood afterward.
We’ve loved Boia De since the second they opened, back when it was possible to make a reservation within a few days. Getting a table at the little Italian restaurant is a lot harder now, but it’s still not an impossible seat to snag as long as you plan a few weeks in advance. Plus, this is one of those dinners you can look forward to for weeks, counting down the days until you’re sitting in their beautiful, microscopic dining room and eating beef tartare, sweet corn agnolotti, and bone marrow while sipping on a wine you’ll inevitably describe to your friends as “funky.”