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There exists a place in Miami where in-the-know locals go to enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine; and, no—it’s NOT Chipotle! It’s Cantina La Veinte {495 Brickell Avenue, Brickell; 786.623.6135}, a hidden gem located at the Icon condominium building that’s been taking the Downtown/Brickell restaurant scene by storm.


Helming the restaurant is Executive Chef Santiago Gomez, a Mexico City-born gourmand who brings a playful yet sophisticated approach to traditional Mexican cuisine. The 32-year-old chef spent ample time working at Nobu, a regular of which happened to be Alberto Cinta, CEO and co-founder of Cinbersol Group, Mexico’s largest hospitality group. Over the years, Chef Gomez worked on various restaurant concepts for Cinbersol, which eventually led to the opening of Cantina La Numero 20 in Mexico City. The concept was so popular that it began a multi-city expansion, including its July 2014 opening in Miami.

Chef Santiago Gomez cantina la veinte

DiningOut recently was invited to an exclusive media tasting dinner hosted by Chef Gomez himself along with Don Julio tequila. The food was excellent and the décor and quality of service were equally impressive. We caught up with the chef a few days later to chat.

1. Tell us a bit about your background. What made you decide to be a chef?
My interest for cooking sparked while I was working as a delivery man for a local seafood distributor. Delivering seafood to the restaurants gave me the opportunity to meet the best chefs in town and walk around their kitchens. This eventually inspired me to go to culinary school.

2. How did you end up working with Cinbersol Group?
I was working at Nobu Miami and Cinbersol Group hired the executive pastry chef, who soon brought me to the group. I started working as a sous chef at an Asian restaurant concept and from there, I started creating La Veinte’s concept.

3. Can you explain the overall concept? What made the brand decide to expand to Miami?
Cantina La Veinte is a 100-percent Mexican restaurant, from the owner, the designer, the architect, and the chef. The idea was to re-create the traditional cantina concept from Mexico and bring it to the next level of Mexican cuisine. Miami was a great spot to take it internationally because of all the Latin people who wanted a place with good Mexican food, which included great ambience and, of course, authentic margaritas.

4. How is the restaurant’s concept reflected on the menu?
We use the freshest ingredients from Mexico. We have items on the menu from all around the country and we want to continue to use traditional recipes and flavors—we want people to know the true taste of Mexico! Additionally, we want to show the evolution of Mexican cuisine while trying to reflect what is happening nowadays in Mexico.

5. What are your personal favorite menu items?
The Soft Shell Crab Tacos with jalapeño sauce, the traditional Cochinita Pibil (Yucatán-style), the Sweet Corn (crab, smoked mayo), and the Tuna Tostadas.

6. How does Miami influence the creation of new menu items, ingredients, etc.?
We use a lot of seafood here in Miami. We adapt to the seasons and are always seeking new products to use on our menu. We are constantly looking for trendy dishes in Miami, while giving them our own Mexican twist.

7. What local chefs or celebrity chefs do you admire?
Chef Thomas Buckley (Nobu), Chef Jose Mendin (Pubbelly), and Chef Michelle Bernstein (Cena by Michy).

8. What might surprise visitors about Cantina La Veinte if they are coming for the first time?
The art is amazing, from the high ceilings to the crafts on the walls, to the kitchen having an open space, which is the first thing that customers see—especially while fresh tortillas are being made in the rotary comal!

9. What does the future hold for Cantina La Veinte?
In September 2016, we are opening a high-end taqueria with traditional and creative tacos. It will be called “Farm to Taco” and will be located in the Brickell City Centre. We are also currently looking for spaces in New York and Vegas in hopes of expanding there.

10. Do you have a favorite food or food guilty pleasure?
I can’t get enough of raw fish—however, it’s all about the product!

—Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

raw bar

1. Old Favorite, New Look at the River Seafood & Oyster Bar

Crispy Diablo Squid

2. Crispy Diablo Squid from Morton’s the Steakhouse

PM Fish & Steak House

3. Rotating Art at R House
R House brings art to Wynwood in the form of a restaurant. In fact, some even consider the entire setting an art installation. A large-scale mural greets guests outside, and movable pieces give the feel of an art gallery. R House is always full of fashionable and eccentric guests who come

to view the rotating art by local artists, and the floor plan is often adjusted to give guests a different dynamic each time they visit. The result is a fresh, engaging fine-dining experience every time. 305.576.0201; rhousewynwood.com 

4. The Chef’s Choice at Naoe
If art were food, NAOE would be a museum with Chef Kevin Cory as its sole artist. The room is sparse, like a blank canvas, and soft music plays in the background as Cory creates his masterpieces. The menu is completely original each evening with several courses of the chef’s choosing, and he presents each edible gem one-by-one in a succession fit for an emperor. Two seatings occur each evening and three hours are set aside for this sensory indulgence. Bring your sense of adventure because, as they say, the food here is not just fresh—it’s alive. 305.947.6263; naoemiami.com 

Quality Meats

5. Classic Meets Contemporary Quality Meats

6. The Personal Edge at Fung Ku/Maxine’s/The Tavern
The South Beach Hotel Group owns some of Miami’s funkiest boutique hotels, and they come alive each season witht he official kickoff of Art BAsel. Each property is unique, offering eclectic, hand-picked décor from across the globe. Inspired by Moroccan design, Maxine’s at the Catalina Hotel  boasts chairs from Egypt as well as lamps found in Morocco by Owner Alan Lieberman during his travels there. The teak tables at Fung Ku were all sliced, treated, and glazed by Lieberman himself. The newest addition to the collection is The Tavern at Hotel Croydon, which displays murals by Marcello Ibanez, whom Lieberman discovered on Instagram. It’s the personal attention to detail that gives Fung Ku, Maxine’s, and The Tavern their edge. 305.535.8284; southbeachgroup.com

7. Wasabi Lobster at SOHO Bay
Art is on the menu at SOHO Bay. Japanese delicacies delight at this swanky South Beach restaurant, appearing almost too good to eat. The Wasabi Lobster—with wasabi and lime ice cream, mustard cress, citrus-coriander blooms, and fresh wasabi—is a new favorite. 786.618.2788; sohobayrestaurant.com


8. The Art of Food and Wine Pairing at Uvaggio
You don’t have to look far to find advice about food and wine pairing; there are countless articles and books dispensing the rules and science behind making a good match. Still, some would argue that there’s more art than science involved. The approach at Uvaggio is simple: “If it grows together, it goes together.” In other words, wine and food both have a sense of place, and their origins contribute to their nuanced flavors. For example, food made with ingredients from Tuscany will likely pair well with Tuscan wines. Practice the art at Uvaggio. 305.448.2400; uvaggiowine.com 

9. (Art and) Wine by the Bay
Stefano Campanini started his career as an art dealer many years ago in NYC before opening Etra Gallery in Miami, which he still runs. While he was delivering art pieces to VIP collectors, Campanini noticed that many of them also collected wine. This got him thinking about the synergy of his two passions, and thus, Wine by the Bay was born. Not only does Wine by the Bay serve as a cultural hub, displaying fine art and hosting lectures and tastings, it demonstrates the symbiotic relationship of art and wine. The grape harvest is a blank canvas, and only time will tell what beauty and depth will become of it. 305.455.9791; winebtb.com 

10. Sunsets at The Standard
The Standard has become a staple in South Beach for lazy Sunday afternoons, but the main draw here is the sublime sunset view that paints the sky each evening. The property sits right on the bay, offering the perfect backdrop for nature to paint her colors on the sparkling water. 305.673.1717; standardhotels.com/miami

bagatelle miami

11. The Visual Appeal of Bagatelle
Designed by Celano BAGATELLE Design, Bagatelle Miami Beach is a collection of wondrous sights in keeping with the recognizable design of its sister locations. Inside, you’ll find beige and white furnishings accented with decorative moldings, plush banquettes, numerous crystal chandeliers, fresh flowers, and eye-catching pop art provided by Opera Gallery, the restaurant’s global art curator. Graffiti artist “Seen” is the featured artist behind the exclusive rotating pieces of art in the gallery. 305.704.3900; bagatellemiami.com 

Lobster Salad

12. Lobster Salad from Atrio

13. Roasted Beet Salad at Piripi
This restaurant in the heart of Coral Gables always strives to achieve a vibrant, memorable experience. The colorful Roasted Beet Salad with Sherry vinaigrette, candied almonds, and drunken goat cheese is a dish you’re sure to remember— even if you are a little “piripi.”  305.448.2423; piripimiami.com

14. Naiyara’s Ob Aroi
Ob Aroi is a colorful dish that brings together different elements and textures to create an edible masterpiece. Made with steamed glass noodles, fresh ginger, scallions, baby corn, celery, and sweet soy sesame oil, Ob Aroi is served in a closed pot, then unveiled like a work of art once it arrives at the table. The ingredients include crunchy vegetables, velvety noodles, and light, flaky fish. This is artwork at its tastiest. 305.947.4338; naiyara.com 

blt steak betsy

15. Gorgeous Photography Decking the Walls of The Betsy and BLT Steak
The Betsy Hotel–South Beach is designed to inspire guests to reflect upon the beauty of our world. A clean palette of white, taupe, and black makes the perfect canvas for the artwork displayed within—complemented by the giant chess board in the lobby and the palm trees and floral arrangements scattered throughout. From a photograph of John Lennon in the Bob Bonis Archive, to captivating images of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in their heydays, to the work of Hollywood photographer Robert Zuckerman, the halls of The Betsy and its signature restaurant BLT Steak are veritable art galleries in their own right. One of our favorites? The jellyfish. The surreal photographs of these marine creatures—portrayed in vivid colors as well as black-and-white—spark your imagination and evoke serenity. And during Art Basel, be sure to visit The Betsy to check out a much-anticipated show featuring limited-edition lithographs from South African artists.  305.531.6100; thebetsyhotel.com 

16. Edible Art at Milos by Costas Spiliadis 
Estiatorio Milos by Costas Spiliadis is a work of art from start to finish. While some of the fish and seafood on the menu is local, the majority is flown in fresh from the Mediterranean Sea and artfully displayed on ice. Guests are invited to get up from their tables and inspect the presentation as if it really were a work of art. Unlike art, however, here you can pick your favorite component and eat it right off the canvas. 305.604.6800; milos.ca/restaurants/miami 

17.  Liquid Art at Craft Social Club 
Craft cocktails are nothing new, but Craft Social Club takes the liquid art form to a whole new level. Cocktails are handmade tableside in the form of personal libations, shooters, and punch bowls for the whole table to share. The World is Yours, just one of these artistic creations, pays tribute to “Scarface,” blending Don Julio 1942 Tequila, strawberry-infused dry Curacao, Velvet Falernum, lemon-peach cordial, and ginger fizz. 786.216.7719; craftsocialclub.com

18. Godiva Pumpkin Martini from Segafredo
Coat the rim of a martini glass lightly with pumpkin purée and then pumpkin pie spice. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée1 ounce cream, 1 ounce agave nectar, 1 ounce Godiva white chocolate liqueur, and 2 ounces vodka. Shake vigorously for 8 to 10 seconds. Pour into prepared martini glass and garnish with fresh orange zest205.673.0047; sze-originale.com  

19. Art Deco Design at The Oceanaire Seafood Room
Reminiscent of a glamorous 1930s Art Deco ocean liner, The Oceanaire Seafood Room exudes a nautical feel—without fishnets, anchors, or any of that seaside kitsch. Instead, the chandelier- studded restaurant is ornamented with contemporary artwork, stark metal trim, and electric-blue light fixtures that add a soft glow to the restaurant’s dark hardwood floor and white tablecloths. A chic outdoor patio with prime views of bustling Mary Brickell Village makes Oceanaire the perfect setting to enjoy the freshest seafood flown in daily from around the world. Speaking of which, did we mention there’s a custom oyster bar featuring more than 10 varieties of shellfish on ice? 305.372.8862; theoceanaire.com 

Market at Edition

20. The Light-Filled Market at EDITION 
Every Jean-Georges restaurant showcases a certain style: fresh flavors, flawless plating, and clean lines throughout. Market at EDITION is no different. Sunlight filters through tall windows during breakfast and lunch, filling the space with a natural glow that illuminates the restored gold-tiled columns—relics of the 1950s Seville Hotel that used to occupy the space. As you stroll between the “pods” (with options such as a beverage bar, pastry station, charcuterie station, raw bar, and grill), soak up the glimmering warmth and enjoy the marketplace feel. 786.257.4600; editionhotels.com 

21. Villa Azur’s Charming Courtyard
Saturated in French glamour and contemporary elegance, Villa Azur charms the public with one of the most enchanting open-air courtyards in South Beach. Influenced by French-Mediterranean cuisine, guests here enjoy modern fare in a setting like no other. 303.763.8688; villaazurmiami.com 

22. The Art of Brunch at Tamarina Restaurant
Tamarina Restaurant has truly mastered the art of brunch. The Italian eatery recently introduced Sunday brunch to its busy schedule of weekly offerings, and the local brunch scene will never be the same. The restaurant knows that brunch guests are typically looking for a leisurely meal where they can kick back, relax, and enjoy their day off—and it aims to provide its guests such an experience.

Brunch at Tamarina is set up in buffet-style stations, providing an all- you-can-eat array of breakfast and lunch staples to suit even the most discerning brunch-goer. Expect to find live stations offering made- to-order omelettes, pancakes, waffles, and crêpes, in addition to an American station featuring corned beef hash, roast beef, and soups; a salad bar with a delectable variety of greens and dressings; a grill station featuring steak and eggs and pork ribs; an Italian station with frittatas, charcuterie, and homemade pizzas; and a seafood station with oysters, shrimp, and succulent smoked salmon. You can also expect to find various freshly baked pastries, muffins, and scones.

But mastering the art of brunch goes much further than just delicious and creatively presented foods; you must also have the appropriate ambience. Music is a big part of the brunch experience at Tamarina, where you will always be able to enjoy world-class live music. And, of course, what would a successful brunch be without the accompanying liquid refreshments? Various beverage packages are available, many of which offer unlimited drinks of your choosing, including Peach Sorbet Bellinis and the signature Mandarin Sorbet Mimosa, along with power juices and specialty coffee selections. Brunch is currently offered at Tamarina every Sunday, 11am-6pm (buffet open until 3pm). 305.579.1888; tamarinarestaurants.com 

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar

23. The Vibrant Walls of Wynwood Kitchen
Wynwood Kitchen & Bar is a staple in Miami’s Art District, reflecting its diverse nature and multimedia dynamic. Developed along with the Wynwood Walls by Goldman Properties in 2009, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar is the original destination in this art haven. At first glance, WKB might be mistaken for a gallery, as there are sculptures, murals, and other installations on premise. Still, it’s the vibrant art from famed street artists like Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, Kenny Scharf, and Faile & Bast that really put Wynwood Kitchen in a class of its own.

24. Curated Art at Adena Grill & Wine Bar
Adena Grill & Wine Bar has a warm and inviting atmosphere with a blend of Old-World ambience alongside a casual and modern vibe—and it’s one of our favorite new steakhouses in town. You’ll dine in style beneath Swarovski crystal chandeliers dangling from the vaulted ceiling, while large vases of fresh, delicate orchids dot the main dining tables. But it’s the art on the walls that really draws the eye. Highly acclaimed Russian artist Anna Razumovskaya was commissioned to hand-paint the scenic murals. Other elements such as the elegant dark wood tables and striking marble countertop bar were all hand-selected by Owner Frank Stronach himself. 954.464.2333; adenagrill.com 

Causa Cangrejo

Crispy Diablo Squid

Crispy Diablo Squid from Morton’s the Steakhouse
serves two


Diablo Glaze:
4 oz fresh ginger, peeled
2 whole garlic cloves
1 oz sesame oil
1 c orange juice
2 c white vinegar
1/2 c sambal chile paste
3 c sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp orange juice, divided

8 oz calamari squid (including tubes and tentacles)
1 c cold water
1 tsp Cajun spice
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
2-4 qts vegetable oil

For frying:
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt and pepper
4 oz crispy tortilla strips
1 red Fresno chile, thinly sliced

2 oz salsa verde, mild (any brand)
2 Tbsp lime crema (store-bought)
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges


For the Diablo Glaze: In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, add the ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Cook until browned and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add orange juice, vinegar, sambal, and sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook over low heat for 10 minutes until all the sugar is dissolved.

Make a slurry with the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons orange juice, and whisk until smooth. Whisk the slurry into the simmering mixture and allow the glaze to thicken. Continue cooking over low heat for 15 minutes while whisking occasionally until the starch is completely incorporated.

Remove from heat and pass the glaze through a large-holed strainer to catch the ginger and garlic, but allow the crushed chile to come through. Set aside, or store in the refrigerator.

For the calamari: Rinse the calamari under cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the body of the squid into 1/2-inch rings and trim the tentacles as necessary. Combine the water, Cajun spice, and Old Bay in a bowl; mix with a fork. Put the prepared calamari in the water mixture and store in the refrigerator until chilled, about 15 minutes.

Pour about 2-3 inches of oil to a fryer (or large, heavy pot) and heat to 350 degrees. Mix the flour and paprika in a pie dish or plate and season with salt and pepper. Drain the calamari from the seasoned water and toss in the seasoned flour to coat. Shake off the excess.

Carefully add to the hot oil and fry for 1 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried calamari to paper towels to drain.

To serve: In a large bowl, toss the hot fried calamri with tortilla chips, sliced chile, and the Diablo Glaze until lightly coated. Spoon the salsa verde onto a serving platter and top with glazed calamari and tortilla mixture. Drizzle lime crema over the calamari, and garnish with cilantro leaves and lime wedges.


Causa Cangrejo

Causa Cangrejo from Chef Diego Oka of La Mar by Gastón Acurio 
serves two to four


Beet causa:
1 lb Idaho potatoes
salt to taste
2 Tbsp canola oil
4 Tbsp beet purée
2 Tbsp lime juice

1/2 c crabmeat
2 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
salt to taste

Avocado aïoli:
1 avocado, diced
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
salt to taste

Avocado tartare:
1 avocado, diced
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lime juice

1 cherry tomato
1 fried kale leaf
1 quail egg
huancaina sauce (store-bought)


For the beet causa: Boil potatoes. Mash well, then mix with salt and oil. Chill, then mix with beet purée and lime juice.

For the filling: In a small bowl, mix the crabmeat, lime juice, and mayonnaise. Add salt to taste.

For the avocado aïoli: Add avocado, lime juice, olive oil, and mayonnaise to a small bowl. Add to a blender and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt.

For the avocado tartare: Mix together the avocado, mayonnaise, and lime juice.

To serve: Mix the beet causa and filling together. Top with tartare, drizzle with aïoli, and garnish with cherry tomato, fried kale leaf, quail egg, and huancaina sauce, if desired.

Lobster Salad

Lobster Salad from Executive Chef Virgile Brandel of Atrio
serves two


1/2 c salt
1 lemon
1 whole peeled onion
1 lb whole live lobster

2 peeled ripe mangos
1/4 c lime juice
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 vanilla bean

1/2 c Brassica mixed greens
1 tsp crushed candied pecans
1 large avocado, diced
1 grapefruit, cut into segments
2 Tbsp balsamic syrup
micro-greens for garnish


For the lobster: In a large pot over high heat, add about a gallon of water, salt, lemon, and onion and bring to a boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice water. Place the lobster in boiling water for 6 minutes. After lobster is cooked, remove it and plunge it into bowl of ice water until chilled. Split lobster lengthwise with a knife. Carefully remove meat from the tail and claw.

For the dressing: With a mandoline, thinly slice half a mango into about 10 slices. Set aside for plating. Slice the remaining mango and place in a blender with the lime juice and sugar to create a dressing. Add extra virgin olive oil to thin. Split the vanilla bean with the tip of a knife and add the scraped vanilla bean seeds to the sauce. Blend until smooth.

To serve: In a bowl, toss mixed greens, lobster meat, candied pecans, some of the dressing, avocado, and grapefruit segments. Artistically shingle the 10 mango slices onto the serving plate. Assemble combined ingredients over mango slices. Drizzle remaining dressing and balsamic syrup on plate. Garnish with micro-greens.


Why is food presentation so important when it comes to dining? as a chef, how do you ensure a beautiful plate?

Fabrizio Pintus

Executive Chef Fabrizio Pintus of TiramesU
I believe dish presentation is an essential part of the dining experience. First of all—because the visual element is the first impression—sight is the first sense to entice the diner. For this reason, it is just as important as the actual taste of the food.

The way a dish is presented also hints at the type of cuisine and tells the diner what the chef is trying to accomplish. I try to plate in a simple way so the protagonists are the high-quality ingredients, enhanced by Italian influences and our modern twist.

Jason  Pringle

Chef Jason Pringle of db Bistro Moderne
Dining isn’t only about taste. It’s a complete sensory experience. You can “taste” the food just by looking at it. The appearance of the plate prepares your palate for the flavors to come.

We work with amazing products from our purveyors and it’s important to present them in a way that mimics the care and dedication these purveyors put into cultivating them. I strive to create plates that have a variety of different colors and textures to help capture the diner’s attention and draw them into the experience of enjoying the dish.

Chef Juca

Chef Joao “JuCa” Oliveira of Tutto Pizza
I see food as a form of art that plays to our many senses. You see, smell, taste, and sometimes touch food. Sight is the first experience. Most people are visual eaters—if they do not like what they see, chances are, they won’t be too willing to try it. If they do try it, their experience will be influenced by the presentation. To create a beautiful plate, I keep it clean and simple, allowing the vibrant colors and textures of the food to shine.

Quality Meats

Located in a historic former Art Deco hotel, Quality Meats {1501 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.340.3333}—the acclaimed New York-born, meat-centric restaurant—has certainly made an impression on food lovers in Miami. This is Fourth Wall Restaurants’ first venture outside the Big Apple, and it’s electrifying appetites all over town.

Father-and-son team Alan and Michael Stillman—Fourth Wall Restaurant founders—collaborated with AvroKO design to update the space’s worn Art Deco ambience, introducing the family-owned butcher shop feel while preserving the signature Miami look. Here, raw edges and rough textures like leather and canvas give the interior a warm and rustic feel with design elements reminiscent of the inspirational butcher behind the first Quality Meats location.

For instance, the reception desk of the former Miami hotel took on new life as a service bar disguised as a butchery retail counter. A butcher’s tools—cleavers, knives, and meat hooks—still decorate the space as part of this legacy.

Of course, it was important for Quality Meats to take on a personality truly grounded in Miami culture. The iconic fountain situated near the entrance—with integrated lighting and aerodynamic lines—recalls classic Art Deco style, even in its state of mild decay. In the restaurant, it’s used as a planter and cloaked in creeping vines, representing bygone days as well as new life forging ahead.

Charcuterie Bar

The charcuterie bar

Quality Meats also introduces design elements such as stained-glass panel work, a vintage stone fireplace, and iron gates—all of which speak to the influences of classic architecture and colorful outdoor scenery that define the Miami landscape.

Indeed, this contemporary steakhouse combines the original butcher shop-inspired concept with the fresh, vibrant flavors for which Miami is known, resulting in a restaurant that is truly one-of-a-kind. Here, you’ll get a taste of house-cured, smoked, and aged meats with entrées like the Short Ribs for two, Roasted Suckling Pig Confit, and Tomahawk Rib Steak, all courtesy of Executive Chef/Partner Craig Koketsu. Guests will find a lighthearted playfulness in the menu’s rendition of classic dishes like the House-Cured Slab Bacon, served with jalapeño jelly and miso-infused peanut butter, as well as the Steak Tartare, which is hand-cut in-house and served with salt, black pepper, capers, shallots, and Dijon all presented on a wooden spoon. Fresh seafood also has a place on the menu, with enticing items like Pan-Roasted Local Snapper and Halibut with brioche, poached egg, and truffles.

Take a seat in the main dining room, on the lush outdoor patio, or in one of the private rooms, and take in all the design elements that surround you. After all, that’s what makes this place—and the cuisine—so special.


Here are restaurants opening during Winter 2015/2016 in Miami to add to your list.

Thali Platter jaya at setai

The Thali Platter at Jaya at The Setai

Jaya at The Setai, Miami Beach {2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.520.6400}
The award-winning Setai, known for its warm hospitality and landmark historical hotel setting, revealed a new restaurant concept in the fall of 2015: Jaya, a modern Asian-inspired restaurant. Chef Mathias Gervais announced the new concept shortly after winning Food Network’s hit cooking show “Chopped” on the episode entitled, “Viewer’s Choice Baskets.” Jaya is a sure win, too, thanks to its vibrant and exciting flavors centered around Asian spices and regional influences from Japan, China, India, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand. The menu reintroduces favorites from The Setai (Dumplings, Naan, and Peking Duck, to name a few) in artfully plated dishes designed for sharing.

Pléthore & Balthazar {101 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; 305.672.6624}
Located on the first floor of the exclusive Hilton Bentley hotel, Pléthore & Balthazar (P&B) has quickly become one of Miami Beach’s most talked- about new restaurants. The concept is the brainchild of Fabien Chalard, an acclaimed French restaurateur who has successfully opened several restaurants throughout France (including the original P&B in Lyon). For the Miami location, Chalard partnered with Executive Chef Diego Amat Lopez to serve authentic French cuisine with a Spanish touch accompanied by exceptional customer service. Whether visiting for an after-work cocktail, a business power lunch, or a romantic dinner for two, diners can expect a welcoming atmosphere where they feel right at home. Given the hotel’s location on the southernmost tip of South Beach, P&B offers a specialized beach menu to complement the exclusive beach club, which includes cabanas, beach butlers, VIP services, and more.

Elia Gourmet {900 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami; 786.558.3542}
The coming months will be an exciting time for Elia Gourmet, which has been a neighborhood favorite in Downtown Miami for the last three years, serving up excellent Greek food in a casual environment. Drawing on its success, the restaurant has decided to move from its location at 888 Biscayne Boulevard to a larger space in the building just next door. The new location will be just steps from the future Miami Worldcenter and Museum of Science. In addition, Elia Gourmet is in the process of opening a new location in the heart of Key Biscayne, just around the corner from The Ritz-Carlton. The restaurant also expects to open its Coconut Grove location, which has been delayed due to construction, and is in the process of finishing its build-out for a commercial kitchen in the Wynwood, where it will be producing its own line of Mediterranean products.

Cibo Fort Lauderdale

Cibo Fort Lauderdale

Cibo Wine Bar {4100 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; 754.900.2426}
With highly successful locations in Coral Gables and South Beach, it’s only natural that Cibo Wine Bar, created by Toronto-based Liberty Entertainment Group, opens its third South Florida location in the heart of Fort Lauderdale. All Cibo locations have been certified with the “Marchio Ospitalità Italiana,” which is awarded by the Italian government to restaurants outside of Italy that meet the highest standards of Italian authenticity across a number of categories, such as menu options, food quality, and restaurant design. The Fort Lauderdale location will be no exception. The menu emphasizes a traditional homemade approach to Italian cuisine and has been praised for its fresh, made-in-house pastas and signature pizzas, not to mention its extensive award-winning wine selection. Like the dishes themselves, the restaurant has been designed to evoke a sense of unpretentious sophistication and elegant rusticity. The new space will incorporate the design elements that distinguish the Cibo brand, including an open-concept kitchen, a glass-enclosed wine room, and original artwork throughout.

Komodo {801 Brickell Avenue, Miami; 305.534.2211}
In late 2015, Komodo will open its doors in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood. The brainchild of David Grutman—the powerhouse owner behind Miami Beach’s LIV and Story nightclubs—Komodo is a three-story, 17,000-square- foot indoor/outdoor eatery and lounge designed with Grutman’s trademark style and energy. Inspired by the Komodo dragon and its namesake islands, the cuisine features Southeast Asian flavors with a South Florida vibe. Working with restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow (of China Grill fame), Grutman’s goal for Komodo is to re-energize the Miami dining scene. “I’ve spent the last several years looking for the perfect location to create a restaurant in Miami that combines quality dining and a great entertainment experience,” Grutman says. Komodo’s design will highlight five exterior floating bird nests designed by internationally renowned design firm, Dedon, with teak, stone, and bamboo elements for a playful treehouse feel. Whether guests are seated inside or out, Komodo’s warm and welcoming design is meant to stimulate the senses. Komodo will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week, with happy hour starting at 4pm.



Bazi {1200 Collins Avenue, Miami; 305.695.0101}
It’s a beautiful thing when ingredients come together to create the perfect dish. This is the case with Bazi, where culinary superstars Michael Pirolo and Jen Chaefsky set up shop in the newly revamped Marlin Hotel to create a Far East dining experience like no other. The setting is Asian-themed and cozy, with a bar area at the entrance, romantic fine dining one level down, and a secluded private dining nook on the upper level. The menu spans much of Asia, snatching up the best goodies from every corner. Edamame Dumplings—a good way to start—are sweet and savory with shallots, mushrooms, and pea greens; and Cantonese-style Florida Shrimp bathe in ginger, chives, and Shaoxing wine. Main courses include a Whole Fried Local Snapper, Peking Duck for two, a grass-fed Rib-Eye, and Short Rib Chow Fun with snow peas, red peppers, and pea tendrils. This hotel restaurant is likely to serve equal parts locals and tourists.

GK Bistronomie {218 Northwest 25th Street, Miami; 786.477.5151}
Wynwood’s dining scene is hotter than ever, and it’s no coincidence that the acclaimed Chef Rafael Perez has chosen this neighborhood to showcase his talent. The venue is spacious and lofty with high ceilings, an open kitchen, and walls adorned with art. The menu is Peruvian with global influences and an abundance of fresh seafood dishes. Presented with a whimsical artistic style, tiraditos and ceviches burst with color, flavor, and texture. A bright dish of Cherrywood-Smoked Shrimp is served with heirloom tomatoes, cilantro, and citrus, while Foie Gras is paired with pineapple and scallions. There are many not-to-miss dishes here, including the Pan-Seared Black Grouper with shrimp, octopus, clams, an organic free-range egg, and quinoa in a seafood broth. Supremely elevated world-class cuisine with a casual setting in Miami’s hippest neighborhood? Yes, please.

Ni.Do Caffe & Mozzarella Bar {11052 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami Shores; 786.953.5120}
Imagine you’re at a friend’s home for dinner. Now imagine that home just happens to be somewhere in Italy—Venice perhaps. This is exactly what it’s like to dine at Ni.Do. Caffe in Miami Shores, the second outpost of the acclaimed Italian eatery that has graced Miami’s MiMo district for the past five years. The unassuming new location on the corner of 110th Street and Biscayne Boulevard may seem arbitrary (don’t expect much else within walking distance), but that’s precisely its charm. This cozy restaurant, where flowers adorn the wooden tables and framed photographs of Italy hang on the walls, invites you in to dine as if you were family. Helming the kitchen is the humble Chef Claudio Sandri, who has been recognized by the Italian Culinary Federation as a “Master Chef,” and appeared on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.” Using only the freshest ingredients available, his menu features Italian staples such as pizza and pasta along with hard-to-pass-up offerings from the Mozzarella Bar. Tuesdays are seafood days, when various fish are air-shipped directly from the Mediterranean; your selection will be prepared in the kitchen, then filleted and plated at your table, head intact— just as Nonna might have done.

N BY NAOE {661 Brickell Key Drive, Miami; 305.947.6263}
Acclaimed Chef Kevin Cory has opened the doors to N by NAOE in an intimate space just next door to NAOE. This new reservation-only concept serves lunch and dinner, accommodating two to 16 guests gathered around a community table. The simple, savory cuisine consists of lightly cooked vegetables and thin slices of Japanese beef quickly swished in a hot kelp stock—a practice called “shabu-shabu.” Once again, Chef Cory brings a new dimension to dining in Miami.

Not to Miss


Scenes from the 2015 SOBEFEST

South Beach Wine & Food Festival – February 24-28
For five days only, the culinary world’s most celebrated chefs, restaurateurs, food critics, and TV personalities will descend upon Miami for the 15th annual Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Food & Wine. Recently named the No. 1 food and restaurant industry event in the U.S. by BizBash for the third year in a row, this culinary extravaganza remains one of the city’s most beloved events of the year.

From February 24-28, the SOBEFEST tents will return to the sands of South Beach, welcoming back favorite foodie events such as the Barilla’s Italian Bites on the Beach tasting hosted by Giada De Laurentiis and the mega-popular Amstel Light Burger Bash hosted by Rachael Ray. Other festival staples, including Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best event at the Fontainebleau hotel, will also be taking place throughout the city.

In addition to the classics, this year’s SOBEFEST will introduce a number of brand-new events, including the Taste Fort Lauderdale series, which marks the first time that the festival has expanded into Broward County. Kicking off the series is Seaside Eats, hosted by the star of Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible” and “Chopped: Impossible,” Robert Irvine. The event will feature 15 of South Florida’s best chefs at the historic Bonnet House Museum & Gardens for a walk-around tasting accompanied by pours from Château d’Esclans and Marqués de Riscal.

Other new festival events include the Exploring Israel Dinner hosted by chefs Ashley Christensen, Alon Shaya, Michael Solomonov, and Zak “The Baker” Stern at the Rok Family Shul Chabad Downtown Jewish Center; Fireman Derek’s Midnight Breakfast hosted by Sports Illustrated cover model and soon-to-be cookbook author, Chrissy Teigen; CroquetaMania hosted by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten; and Sweet 15: A Dessert Party hosted by Food Network’s “Ace of Cakes” star Duff Goldman at the iconic Versace Mansion.

With so much happening, it’s best to visit the festival’s website where you can search for your favorite restaurant or culinary personality and see the events in which they’ll be participating. Or, you can search for events based on your preference. Do you enjoy grand tasting affairs in the tents on the sand? Do you prefer intimate chef dinners? Maybe you’re looking for some late-night parties—or ones that are kid-friendly? All this and more is right at your fingertips. Tickets are on sale now.

Fontainebleau new years

New Year’s is quickly approaching. Have you made your plans yet?

Whether you’re looking for a happening celebration that continues into the wee hours of the morning or a low-key evening of great food, drinks, and close friends, Fontainebleau Miami Beach {4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.535.3283} has you covered.

The Weekend & KYGO Poolside Party: Tickets are still available for the hippest New Year’s celebration in town, when Fontainebleau welcomes music sensation The Weeknd and EDM superstar KYGO to its incredible pools for a night of drinking and dancing. Tickets start at $325 per person and all packages include premium open bar from 9pm until midnight. Click here for tickets and information.

StripSteak by Michael Mina: Fontainebleau’s newest restaurant by celebrity chef Michael Mina is offering a four-course prix-fixe menu. A vegetarian menu is also available.
First Seating (6-7:30pm): $195 per person
Second Seating (8:30-10pm): $295 per person

Hakkasan: Fontainebleau’s modern Chinese restaurant will be offering a four-course prix-fixe menu that begins with a family-style Dim Sum Platter. A vegetarian menu is also available.
First Seating (6-7:30pm): $195 per person
Second Seating (8-10pm): $295 per person

ScarpettaChef Scott Conant’s AAA Four Diamond award-winning restaurant will be offering a delectable four-course prix-fixe menu. A vegetarian menu is also available.
First Seating (6-7:30pm): $195 per person
Second Seating (8-10pm): $295 per person

Michael Mina 74The chic, yet laid-back contemporary American bistro will be serving a limited football menu from 11am-4pm and offering a three-course prix-fixe menu from 6-11pm for $150 per person.

All prices are exclusive of tax and gratuity.

—Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor


‘Tis the season, Miami. There may not be snow on the ground, but the holidays certainly bring a warm, giving spirit to our lives.

Because we at DiningOut are all about good food and drink, our gift guide centers around indulgences you can really sink your teeth into. Read up on our suggestions below, where you’ll find the perfect host gifts for holiday gatherings or dinner parties, ideas for friends and family, and maybe even a little something for yourself in the new year.

Give the gift of a memorable dinner without the prep work or cleanup! A restaurant gift card is always appreciated, and there are countless fabulous restaurants to choose from in Miami. Simply flip through the restaurant listings in the back section of this magazine to find one that inspires you. A restaurant gift card will encourage your friend to try something new, or let you share the wonder of your own favorite restaurant.

It’s been a long year, and what better way to show you care than with a rejuvenating spa package? Whether it’s for your tireless host, your hard-working colleague, or a loved one in need of a little TLC, The Standard Spa offers services fit for any ailment. From skin care and massages to nails and combination cures—say, a yoga class followed by a Turkish milk scrub—there are many options that allow you to customize your package to fit the recipient. Fitness classes begin at $20; pair a Guided Meditation class and a spa day pass for $75; or purchase a Hot and Cold Stone Massage for $200. A wide range
of scrubs, creams, and books are also available online. Visit standardhotels.com/miami to learn more.

You know The Biltmore for its elegant Palme d’Or and Fontana restaurants, and gift cards to either location are wonderful gestures. Another idea? Give the gift of culinary knowledge with a class at The Biltmore’s Culinary Academy. This sophisticated recreational cooking program (housed in the hotel) is the only one of its kind in the country, and gives participants the chance to be involved in every step of the cooking process. Students learn in a fully equipped professional kitchen, with fun and educational cooking classes, workshops, and team-building events—plus, students finish each class by sitting down to enjoy the meal they created. A class at the Biltmore Culinary Academy makes an exciting gift for aspiring chefs and amateurs of all levels; learn to bake madeleines, macarons, and tuiles in a course on petit fours, or heat things up with a lesson on spicy Thai noodles and honey-Sriracha meatballs. Adult classes are $110 per person. To book a class or learn more, visit biltmorehotel.com/bca, or call 305.913.3131.

Wine is a timeless gift that will never go out of style, and this award-winning bottle makes a great choice. First introduced in 1981, Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay presents consistent quality year after year. The 2012 vintage features intense fruit flavors of Fuji apples, limes, fresh roses, and nectarines with a touch of baking spices. The crisp and citrusy acidity pairs well with a variety of foods, though the long and persistent finish makes it perfect on its own. Find it online at sonomacutrer.com for $28 a bottle.