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Born and bred in Miami of Cuban descent, Chef Angel Leon’s passion for cooking developed early in life. He learned hard work and discipline while helping out in his grandparents’ bakeries. At 17 Leon began his professional career at Azul at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami, under James Beard award-winner Michelle Bernstein. By his early 20s, Leon was working under his mentor, renowned Chef Pascal Oudin. After a short stint in New York, Leon returned to Miami and was tapped by Timon Balloo as opening Chef de Cuisine for Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill and then was part of the opening team for Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Moderne (re-named Boulud Sud.) In 2014, Leon joined Seaspice Brasserie and Lounge as its Executive Chef.

Dining Out: How did the chefs on your path to Seaspice influence your career?

Chef Angel Leon: I am grateful and honored to have worked with great chefs that influenced my career, each one leaving an imprint in my DNA of cooking: the French technique that Chef Pascal Oudin instilled in me, the burst of flavors that Chef Michelle Bernstein engraved in my taste memory and the passion for learning true ethnic flavors that I learned from Chef Timon Balloo.

DO:  Tell us about the evolution of the menu at Seaspice since you became Executive Chef?

Chef: We have evolved to bring Miami a menu full of globally inspired influences and the highest quality fare. Our team has traveled the world, dined at the finest restaurants, explored cuisines and flavors from around the globe with the intention of producing a menu that truly embraces classic gastronomy with a modern flare. 

We have the highest standards for every ingredient in every dish we prepare. This starts with sourcing the finest organic produce, grass-fed, sustainable, certified Prime meats and Japanese A5 Wagyu beef. As we’re known for our incredible seafood dishes, we source both locally and flown fresh from seas around the world such as the Mediterranean, North Sea and Sea of Japan.

Our menu is at the core of the Seaspice dining experience. Guests may initially come for the ambiance and the views but they return time and time again for the decadent fare. 

DO: What is your one essential tool in the kitchen?

Chef: As a chef we are craftsmen and take our tools seriously. My favorite tool is my rational oven. 

DO: Why do you think Seaspice is a must-dine experience along the Miami River?

Chef: Well, obviously the location, the atmosphere, the wide selection of food, wine, entertainment and the passion that the Seaspice family projects.

DO: As a Miami native, how have you seen the city’s dining scene change?

Chef: It’s fascinating to see how the food culture has evolved and how Miami continues to strive to be a world-class culinary destination for combinations of flavors you can’t find anywhere else.

By Josie Gulliksen, Contributing Writer

If brunching was a sport, Miami would be in the major leagues. Maybe it’s the constant sunshine and summer weather, but we South Floridians just love to spend our Saturdays and Sundays leisurely sipping rose and savoring delicious things. Still new to the whole brunch game? Don’t worry. Even if you haven’t yet started sipping the prosecco, these five Miami brunch spots will definitely make you a believer.


Brunch at Seaspice is an event worth getting excited for. Hosted both Saturdays and Sundays from 12-3:30 p.m., it’s a languid, rose-drenched affair best-enjoyed al fresco. Standouts from the a la carte brunch menu include the Seaspice lobster Benedict, served with potato hash, and chive hollandaise, and the hearty truffle parmesan tagliatelle, prepared with a poached organic egg. If you’re a traditionalist, opt for the shrimp avocado toast — it’s a fan favorite. 

Details: 422 NW N River Drive, Miami; for reservations, call 305-440-4200.

Los Fuegos by Francis Mallman

If you haven’t yet tried Los Fuegos’s legendary Sunday Asado brunch, you’re missing out big time. The key thing to remember here is to pace yourself; brunch at Los Fuegos is larger than life. Think stations where you can pile your plate high with salt-crusted salmon, skirt steak, lamb, and prime filet empanadas — not to mention a seafood ice bar loaded with oysters, snow crab claws and more. And we haven’t even gotten to dessert yet. 

Details: Brunch is priced at $95 per adult and $45 per child; 3201 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; for reservations, call 786-655-5600.

The Deck at Island Gardens

Photo Credit: The Deck at Island Gardens

Michelin starred chef Alfio Longo is the mastermind behind the incredible Med-inspired menu at The Deck at Island Gardens — and Sunday brunch is the perfect way to experience all the magic of this waterfront hot spot. From noon to 4 p.m., kick back and soak up views of mega yachts gently bobbing atop the clear blue waters of the marina while you tuck into delicious offerings from a lavish buffet. We especially love the build-your-own-omelet station and Chef Longo’s BBQ options at the grill station. Make sure to save room for the roasted hazelnut brownie — it’s divine.

Details: Brunch is priced at $65 per person and includes a welcome mimosa or bellini; 888 MacArthur Causeway, Miami; for reservations, call 786-627-4949 or visit here.

LT Steak & Seafood at The Betsy

LT Steak & Seafood is the crowned culinary gem of the iconic Betsy South Beach. The spot is a go-to for romantic date nights, but this month we want to shine the spotlight on their Sunday Jazz Brunch, hosted weekly from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Executive Chef Danny Ganem has curated an a la carte menu of New American cuisine fused with international flavors, like Cuban molletes, crispy black grouper tacos, and a top-rated popover Benedict served with Gruyère cheese and ham. You can pair your meal with tasty libations from the bar, including craft cocktails and traditional brunch sips like bloody Marys and mimosas. It’s all set to the sounds of live jazz by visiting and local performers. 

Details: Unlimited mimosas or bellinis are available for $30 per person; 1440 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; for reservations, call 305-531-6100. 

Via Emilia Garden

Tucked away in Miami’s chic Midtown neighborhood, this lovely gem feels a world away from the bustle of the city. Check out their Italian brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., and make sure you wear your eating pants — priced at just $45, the menu includes unlimited pasta, bottomless mimosas, and antipasti and dessert buffets.

Details: 3500 N Miami Avenue, Miami; for reservations, call 786-359-4990.

By Amanda Mesa, Contributing Writer

If you’re a fan of seafood, you’re in the right city. Miami boasts some of the best seafood restaurants in the country — no wonder, given our status as a major port city and our proximity to prime fishing waters. In addition to that, Miami is home to a great number of incredible chefs from around the world, so you can always count on variety when it comes to choosing where to go eat. To make the decision process easier for you, here are six suggestions on great Miami restaurants to try right now if you’re craving something delicious from the sea. 

BLT Prime Doral

It’s the start of a new decade, and BLT Prime Doral knows how to kick it off right. The famed restaurant has launched an oyster and martini pairing that includes a half dozen oysters paired with a martini (you can choose between Grey Goose vodka or Hendrick’s gin as the base), all for $20.20. Rejoice, oyster lovers, and get in on this special while it lasts — you likely won’t find a deal as good as this in Miami for another ten years.

4400 NW 87th Avenue, Miami

A Fish Called Avalon

This Ocean Drive spot has been around for three decades — a feat that’s incredibly hard to pull off in Miami Beach, so you know the food is good. There’s live music every night on the front porch and great happy hour specials every day from 6-8 p.m., but the real draw here is the menu. Order the crab-crusted grouper in a Chenin blanc butter sauce, or share the orzo seafood paella with someone special — it’s big enough for two and comes with Maine lobster, shrimp, sea scallops, mussels and more.

700 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach.


Gorgeous views of the Miami River and downtown skyline. The sound of the water lapping gently just steps away from your table. The scent of herbs and smoking wood wafting toward you from the kitchen. Welcome to Seaspice. Frequented by celebrities and locals alike, Seaspice serves a globally inspired menu brimming with all kinds of tasty creations, but seafood lovers should definitely try one of the restaurant’s famous platters. There are three options, the most extravagant of which includes two pounds of lobster, eight jumbo prawns, 24 oysters, Alaskan king crab, two ounces of Osetra caviar, sashimi, hamachi, and ceviche. 

422 NW N River Drive, Miami

Seawell Fish N’ Oyster

Come to Seawell for a taste of classic Americana with a twist, all expertly curated by Chef Julian Garriga. You’ll find all the staples here, from creamy clam chowder and lobster rolls, to beer-battered fish n’ chips and a rotating daily catch sourced from day boats — all served in a casual, nautical setting. Pair your seafood pick with one of the restaurant’s amazing cocktails (the Tavern Spritz is our current favorite).

660 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach

Lobster Bar Sea Grille

A go-to for happy hour, brunch and date night, Lobster Bar Sea Grille checks all the boxes for a great seafood restaurant experience: a buzzing atmosphere, upscale design, and a great menu featuring both freshly caught and imported seafood. There’s plenty of fantastic options to choose from here, including a full raw bar menu that ranges from stone crab claws from Key West, to a magnificent shellfish tower. And if you’re a fan of caviar, you’ll find lots of delicious picks — we’re partial to the Siberian Baerii.

404 Washington Ave, Miami Beach

Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market

When Garcia’s opened in 1966, it was initially a fish market and wholesaler. Today, this local institution is repeatedly rated as one of the best places to eat seafood in Miami. Still family-owned, Garcia’s serves fish caught fresh off Florida’s coast every day by its own team. Start with Garcia’s famous fish dip and order some cracked conch fried or grilled. And if you’re having a tough time deciding on an entree, just ask your server for suggestions — everything here is delicious and fresh.

398 NW N River Drive, Miami

Looking for a great place to watch the Super Bowl this year? Fortunately, Miami has no shortage of amazing sports bars, but we’ve got our eye on these local bars and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for the ultimate pre-game brunch (here’s looking at you, Jaya) or a laid-back bar serving up wallet-friendly game-day specials, we’ve got you covered with the best spots to settle in and watch the greatest football match of the year.


Seaspice on the Miami River

The best way to do the Super Bowl right is with the ultimate pregame. Tuck into Seaspice’s signature Sunday brunch, starting at noon, and indulge in bubbly and incredible eats right up until the big game starts. Stay put, though — the restaurant will host a Super Bowl watch party starting at 6 p.m. There will be live music and entertainment to keep the party vibes going as you root your favorite team on. 

422 Northwest North River Drive, Miami 

Pizza & Burger

This Fountainebleau favorite by Michael Mina is hosting a Super Bowl watch party, complete with specials all day from noon until midnight. There’s a $100 minimum for table service, but you’ll get to enjoy deals like your third drink free and two Super Burgers for $60. 

4441 Collins Ave, Miami Beach

Isabelle’s Grill Room & Garden

If you’re looking for a more low-key spot to watch the Super Bowl, Isabelle’s Grill Room & Garden is just the spot. Located at the beautiful Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove, the picturesque, locally-loved restaurant will offer specials from Thursday, January 30 through Sunday, February 2. Guests can look forward to $20 buckets of beer and specially-priced game-day favorites like Loaded in the Grove nachos, BBQ pork Po’ Bois, Sidewinder cheese fries, and the famous Ritz Dog, a footlong Kobe beef hot dog served on a brioche bun. 

3300 SW 27th Avenue, Coconut Grove

Jaya at the Setai

The Jaya Courtyard

Jaya’s Executive Chef Vijay Veena invites football fans to a lavish Super Bowl Sunday brunch. Expect lots of incredible eats, including a raw bar and dessert table, an enhanced carving station spotlighting ingredients and flavors from the competing teams’ regions, a BBQ station loaded with classic game-day dishes, and free-flowing Louis Roederer champagne, bloody marys, mimosas, and beer and wine selections. The brunch is priced at $145 per person and $65 for children ages 5-12. 

2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach

Taurus Beer & Whiskey House

Not your average neighborhood dive bar, Taurus Beer & Whiskey House in Coconut Grove is going all out on Super Bowl Sunday. All day on Sunday, February 2, guests will enjoy $3 Taurus Ale, $18 domestic beer buckets, $5 well drinks, and a menu highlighting the best food from each participating team’s city. Choose between indoor and outdoor seating — there are seven TVs located throughout the restaurant, so you don’t have to worry about missing a single play.

3540 Main Highway, Coconut Grove

Malibu Farm

Another great option if you’d rather skip the sports bar scene? Malibu Farm Miami Beach, where you can savor farm-to-table delights (we can’t get enough of their avocado pizza and their “Non” Burger, made with a delicious signature beyond meat blend and served on a brioche bun). Soak up oceanside views, too, as you watch the big game and sip Malibu Farm’s famous cocktails. 

4525 Collins Ave, Miami Beach

The Deck at Island Gardens

For those who want to watch the Super Bowl in the bougiest way possible, The Deck at Island Gardens has you covered. Get there between noon and 4 p.m. to take advantage of a game day-inspired brunch, priced at $65 per person, and watch as super yachts sail across Biscayne Bay. Sparkling Sunset Happy Hour runs from 4-6 p.m., the perfect pre-game to the main event, followed by a themed Super Bowl dinner and party. If you don’t mind splurging, reserve a waterfront cabana. Starting at $4,000, each cabana has its own TV and includes bottle service. In between plays, tuck into to Chef Alfio Longo’s game day specials like sliders, chicken wings, and lobster rolls.

888 MacArthur Causeway, Miami

American Social Bar & Kitchen

A tried-and-true go-to when it comes to viewing any kind of sporting event, American Social Bar & Kitchen is sure to top of lots of Super Bowl watch party lists. This year, the iconic sports bar will offer $15 beer buckets, $6 smoked chicken wings, $4-$6 shots of select liquor and more on game day across all four of its Florida locations, plus 20+ TVs to catch every touchdown.  

690 SW 1st Court, Miami (Brickell) and 721 E Las Olas Boulevard (Fort Lauderdale)

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Photo/Yardbird Southern Table & Bar – Nathan Mikita

Head to Yardbird on February 1 or 2 from 12 p.m. until close and take advantage of the southern hotspot’s “Supper Bowl” specials, which include tailgate bloody marys, game day devilled eggs, an all-American burger and more. In celebration of the big game, Yardbird will also extend its fan-favorite brunch through Monday, February 3. 

1600 Lenox Ave, Miami Beach

The Betsy South Beach

This charming South Beach hotel has curated one of the most robust Super Bowl lineups we’ve seen so far. The Alley, the hotel’s Italian eatery, will serve bottomless Betsy Rosa beer with the purchase of a pizza during lunch. At the rooftop pool, start celebrating early with a beer bucket for just $35. The Carlton room will have plenty of TVs, bottomless beer for $49, and BBQ in the Atrium. And at The Lounge and Lobby Bar, you can watch the entire game while sipping bottomless beer and snacking on endless chicken wings. How’s that for a game-day win?

1440 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach

Veza Sur

Photo/Scott Harris

Want to cheer on your favorite team at one of Miami’s favorite breweries? Veza Sur Brewing Company is hosting a watch party on February 2 starting at 5 p.m. You’ll enjoy $22 buckets of canned beer, half-priced wings, and $50 off your bill if you guess the total number of points. 

55 NW 25th Street, Miami

26 Sushi & Tapas

Karate Kid Roll

If you’re entertaining at home but don’t want to cook, 26 Sushi & Tapas has your back. This neighborhood Nikkei gem in Surfside is offering a special takeout sushi platter for $180 that feeds 10-15 people. All you have to do is place your order before Sunday. Call the restaurant at 305-570-2626 or order on UberEats.

9487 Harding Avenue, Miami

A list of local favorites that just couldn’t let go of the Miami Spice thrill (and we’re certainly not mad about it)

While Miami Spice may be over, we’ve found some spots that have either extended their Spice offerings or created a new menu entirely—leaving your taste buds satisfied and your wallets happy.


Lobster Bar Sea Grille Miami Spice Extended

If you’re a lobster fan, search no further than upscale seafood emporium Lobster Bar Sea Grille—just one of 13 eateries owned by Atlanta-based Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. The Lobster Bar Sea Grille sources fresh fish from around the world and through November, it’s extending its three-course dinner menu filled with everything of your lobster dreams.

For just $39, indulge in favorites like the Grilled Mediterranean Octopus, Whole Lobster Pasta Americaine, Nova Scotia Whole Lobster Stuffed Lobster, or the Twin Beef Tenderloin Medallions Au Poivre. For dessert, there’s the Signature Tropical Pavlova and Classic Profiteroles. Is your mouth watering yet?

Lunch Like a Boss at Seaspice

Long days working hard at the office call for a fine-dining lunch deal at Seaspice. Whether entertaining a client, enjoying a quick power lunch with co-workers, or taking a solo hour getaway, Seaspice’s world-class cuisine and nautical waterfront is reinventing your midday meal with a three-course Executive Lunch menu for just $29.

Tuesday through Friday from 12 to 3:30 p.m., lunch like a boss by indulging in dishes like the Salmon Crudo with white truffle ponzu or Maine Lobster Cappuccino. Entrée choices include Local Yellow Tail Snapper served with a citrus salsa verde, Wagyu Burger topped with smoked Gruyère and truffle aïoli, Shrimp Tagliolini, or, for a light and meatless option, the Vegan Plant Bowl with yellow lentil, curried butternut squash, shaved Brussels sprouts, and Turkish figs. With an Executive Lunch offering like this, you’ll head back to the office with a full belly and a clear mind.

Fi’lia South Beach: Curing Your Post-Spice Blues

Looking to cure your post-Miami Spice blues? Located in the heart of South Beach, Italian eatery Fi’lia South Beach is offering to help by way of a three-course, prix-fixe menu for both lunch and dinner. However, if a wider range of options is what appeals to you, Fi’lia’s all-day menu features delights like Charred Eggplant Spread and Linguine Cacio e Pepe, or dinner favorites like Calamari with lemon and marinara or the creamy Mushroom Risotto. All heavenly menus are available daily—and our hearts (and stomachs) are happy once again.

Taste of Matador

Olé, for a taste of Matador! Experience the culinary treasures of celebrity Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten by exploring his latest five-course prix-fixe menu while lounging in a luxurious, intimately-lit dining room.

Located at the Miami Beach Edition Hotel, The Matador Room offers the chef’s interpretation of Caribbean, Spanish, and Latin and South American cuisines while the ambiance is reminiscent of the glamorous supper clubs of the 1940s and 50s.

For $78 per person, indulge in fan favorites such as the Sweet Pea Guacamole with toasted sunflower seeds, Wild Gulf Shrimp with sizzling garlic and chile oil, or Black Truffle and Fontina Cheese Pizza. If you’ve come with a hard-to-satisfy appetite, the Arroz con Pollo with crackling skin and lemon zest will be sure to do the trick for you. And, to satisfy your sweet tooth, don’t miss out on the Warm Vanilla Fritters and Chocolate Pudding with Mexican chocolate. Can you say, “Olé!”

By Loren Gutentag, Contributing Writer

Three Miami Spice Restaurants with killer views

Looking for a little ambience to go with your Miami Spice meal? Read below for a few of our favorite places to find great food and a great view.

The Rusty Pelican

The Rusty Pelican {3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne; 305.361.3818}

Whether or not you sit inside or outside at The Rusty Pelican, you’ll still be able to see its million-dollar waterfront views. Located right on Biscayne Bay, the restaurant boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, a hot bayfront patio, and a contemporary American menu. If you’re there during Miami Spice, pair those views with Grilled Marinated Octopus, Lamb Ribs with chorizo crumbs and mint pea purée, Roasted Corvina with royal osetra caviar cream, or the six-hour braised Short Rib with truffle orecchiette pasta mac n’ cheese. Order the Florida-inspired Coconut Flan for dessert and trust us: you’re in paradise. 

Seaspice {422 Northwest North River Drive, Miami; 305.440.4200}

Sitting in an airy boathouse on the banks of the Miami River, Seaspice brings a slice of Saint-Tropez to Miami. Grab a seat on the deck at sunset and take it all in—the Miami skyline, yachts anchoring right at the restaurant, and, in true Magic City fashion, beautiful people-watching. When it comes to the food, choose appetizers like Crispy Tempura Squash Blossoms or Cauliflower Soup, and follow it up with Beef Wellington or Pan-Seared Local Black Grouper with leek fondue. End on a sweet note with Affogato with snickerdoodle or Caramelized Peaches with sweet corn ice cream.

Sawa Restaurant & Lounge {360 San Lorenzo Avenue, Suite 1500, Coral Gables; 305.447.6555}

Located in the palm-clad courtyard of the Shops of Merrick Park, Sawa Restaurant & Lounge combines a delicious Mediterranean-Japanese fusion menu with an idyllic setting amongst Merrick Park’s sophisticated shops. Start with appetizers like Vegan Ceviche or the Red is Virtuous/White is Sacred sushi roll. For your main dish, Paella Negra, Achiote-Rubbed Sous-Vide Short Ribs, Duck a la Ble, Salmon Casino, and the IBA 2.0 Roll with eel are all popular Miami Spice options. Finish with a delectable dessert, like the mango and strawberry Panna Cotta Duo, the Mini Cannoli Trio, or the Chocolate Mousse Cake Deluxe, and your palate will be as pleased as your eyes.

By Jennifer Agress, contributing writer

Shrimp Linguine from Seaspice

serves one
5 Jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 oz fresh linguine (dry linguine can be substituted)
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 lemon, zested
1/2 lemon, juiced (plus one squeeze of lemon juice, for garnish)
1 plum tomato, peeled and diced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
3 oz white wine
2 oz olive oil
3 oz shrimp or chicken stock
3 oz butter
Salted boiling water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 oz chives, chopped, for garnish
Salmon roe, for garnish

Add one ounce olive oil to sauté pan and sear shrimp on both sides. Remove shrimp from the pan. Add another ounce of olive oil, along with the garlic, shallot, tomato, crushed red pepper, and lemon zest. Lightly sauté until sauce is translucent. Deglaze the sauce with white wine and let it reduce by half. Add stock and let the sauce reduce by another half. Add salt and pepper. Let it sit.
Cook fresh linguine in salted boiling water for three minutes, or if using dry pasta, for 11 minutes. Drain. Coat the cooked linguine with butter. Add shrimp back to the sauté pan with the sauce, then combine that with the buttered linguine, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese in a serving bowl. Twirl the pasta mixture, adding in excess shrimp and sauce while you do.
To serve: Garnish with chives, a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, and salmon roe. Serve warm.
Seaspice is located at 422 NW North River Drive.


Oysters Rockefeller Benedict at Seaspice

Who doesn’t love brunch? Answer: no one.
Who doesn’t love brunch at Seaspice? Answer: also no one.
Every Saturday and Sunday, head to Seaspice {422 NW North River Drive, Miami; 305.440.4200} for that sexy brunch you think only happens in the movies. The food is already to die for–picture perfect plates like Deviled Eggs with white sturgeon caviar, braised kale Pizzetta with oven dried tomatoes and organic eggs, braised Short Rib Benedict with country toast and truffle hollandaise, Alaskan King Crab Florentine, Oysters Rockefeller Benedict with creamed spinach, and two types of caviar, Kaluga and Osetra. Is your mouth watering yet? But above all, what’s truly special about this place is the ambiance.
While you eat the food (and drink champagne, of course!), you’ll see well-dressed locals donning the latest see-and-be-seen fashions, A-listers pulling up to the restaurant on their yachts, live music from around the world, a celebrity spotting or two, and to tie it all together, those sparkling Miami skyline views. It’s the type of setting that gives meaning to the nickname “Magic City.”
At this sexy hangout, brunch is more than a meal. It’s a party. Don’t miss out!
Brunch at Seaspice takes place every Saturday and Sunday, from Noon to 3 p.m. Reservations are recommended, and can be made by calling the restaurant at 305.440.4200.
Happy dining!
By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor


1. Eating Dirt Never Tasted So Good


2. Focaccia col Formaggio at Riviera Focacceria Italiana
Located at the Shops at Midtown Miami, Riviera Focacceria Italiana may very well be Miami’s only Italian restaurant serving up authentic cuisine from Liguria, a crescent-shaped coastal region in northwest Italy that’s known for its focaccia (hence the restaurant’s name). But you haven’t really experienced this specialty bread until you taste the restaurant’s Focaccia col Formaggio, a signature dish hailing from the Ligurian town of Recca, where thin sheets of delicate, flaky dough envelop a layer of melt-in-your-mouth Stracchino cheese, which is air-freighted in weekly from Italy and has an unmistakable velvety texture and tangy finish. When combined with the warm, crispy focaccia casing, it creates a savory flavor that can only be enjoyed at a handful of restaurants nationwide. 786.220.6251; rivierafocacceria.com 

3. Casual Italian at Salumeria 104
Chef Angelo Masarin of Salumeria 104 will be the first to tell you that his restaurant is a very small place. With 50 seats inside and about 25 outside, the restaurant is known for its casual, intimate setting. And yet, what it lacks in size it makes up for in heart. “This is a neighborhood place with a neighborly feel,” says the chef, originally from Treviso, Italy. “This is a restaurant for every day, whether you come dressed as a superstar or dressed in pajamas.” This salumi shop is both restaurant and deli, where you can find both local and imported prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella, salami, and bresaola. Fresh pasta is made in-house, and many of the fish and vegetables are local. Now in its fifth year, the restaurant serves both professionals and casual diners, with dishes like Vitello Formata, Porchetta, and Spaghetti Bottarga—Italian pasta with cured Sardinian fish eggs grated on top—that keep guests returning again and again. 305.424.9588; salumeria104.com

Mare mio

4. Mare Mio’s Seafood Trolley
Miami is unique in that our cuisine can truly be “sea to table,” meaning that seafood is freshly caught and delivered to restaurants each and every day—never frozen! No place does this approach to sourcing hold more true than at Mare Mio, the newest restaurant to grace Miami Beach’s historic Española Way. Over 20 pescadores (fishermen) work with Chef and Owner Claudio Giordano to supply their freshest catches of the day, which are delivered to the restaurant late- afternoon, then laid out on the “Seafood Trolley” for diners to hand-select their main course for the evening. 305.397.8950; maremiorestaurant.com 


5. Shoyu at Naoe
Guests to NAOE will notice one very distinguishing factor: There is no menu. Diners must arrive with an open mind and full trust in Kevin Cory, a lauded Japanese chef who takes to the kitchen every evening to serve a menu of his choosing. Expect plenty of shoyu (soy sauce) whatever the offerings—a unique blend from Cory’s family brewery, Naogen, which has been blending since 1825 in the small town of Oono, Japan. As a region known worldwide for its soy sauce production, Oono is the perfect inspiration for Chef Cory’s Japanese creations. 305.947.6263; naoemiami.com 



6. The Italian Market at Made in Italy Gourmet
True to its name, Made in Italy Gourmet serves up deliciously fresh Italian cuisine daily at its Wynwood location. But you don’t have to dine in to experience this cultural delight. At the restaurant’s onsite Italian market, you can find a wide selection of direct-from-Italy products, including olive oil, tomato sauce, pasta, breads, desserts, and over 20 imported meats and cheeses, so you can take the Italian culinary experience home whenever you choose. 786.360.5671; madeinitalygourmet.com


7. Marinated Wagyu Beef Kebabs at Cleo
We love Cleo for its vibrant, contemporary Mediterranean cuisine; global influences and local ingredients elevate just about every dish on the menu. With award-winning Chef Danny Elmaleh at the helm, you can expect a memorable culinary adventure of shared plates, flatbreads, savory meats, and handcrafted cocktails in an exciting and colorful atmosphere. Here, Chef Elmaleh shares his recipe for marinated Wagyu Beef Kebabs. 305.534.2536; sbe.com/restaurants

Wagyu Beef Kebabs
makes three kebabs
4 oz diced onion
1 tsp peeled and diced ginger
4 oz peeled and diced Fuji apple
3-1/2 oz Coca-Cola
5-3/4 oz brown sugar
6-2/3 oz soy sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp thyme
2 oz Shio Koji seasoning
1 lb Wagyu skirt steak


Prepare marinade by blending first three ingredients to form a loose paste. Then, mix with all remaining marinade ingredients except steak in a large bowl. Set aside.

Slice the skirt steak against the grain, about 1/8-inch thick. Add steak to marinade and mix well. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for about an hour.

Remove meat from refrigerator. Measure about 5 ounces of thinly sliced meat and weave around a 10-inch metal or bamboo skewer. (If using bamboo skewers, make sure they have been submerged in water prior to use in order to avoid burning on the grill.)

Place skewered meat on a hot grill for 6 to 8 minutes, cooking to desired doneness.

Soho Bay Sushi

8. SOHO Ceviche at SOHO Bay
Although Miami Beach’s SOHO Bay is touted for having some of the best Japanese-inspired cuisine in town, the restaurant itself hails from Brazil, where it currently has eight locations throughout the country. It is no surprise, then, that several dishes on the menu have Brazilian influences. The SOHO Ceviche, in particular, is traditionally cut Brazilian-style and is made with biquinho (Brazilian peppers), seafood, spicy citrus cherry tomatoes, and onions. 786.618.2788; sohobayrestaurant.com  


9. Thai Street Food at Naiyara
Growing up on a farm in northern Thailand, Piyarat Potha Arreeratn (aka Chef Bee) learned quickly how to grow and prepare his own food. His grandmother was also a cook, who taught him how to make various Thai street foods that she sold at the local market. “In Thailand, we don’t have the luxury of fully stocked grocery stores. We live off what we find in the local markets,” Chef Bee says. This concept has translated to the menu at NaiYaRa, the chef’s Thai restaurant located in the Sunset Harbour neighborhood of Miami Beach. Front and center on the menu is the Makear Muu. “The vibrant color of the eggplant was always alluring,” Chef Bee says of his signature eggplant dish. “The way it softens while the ground pork provides nice texture, and Thai bird chiles pack the punch. This was a go-to dish for our family.” 786.275.6005; naiyara.com 

cafe des arts

10. Art + Mediterranean + Miami Beach at Café des Arts
The cool, laid-back South of Fifth vibe at Café des Arts sets the perfect tone for guests to sit back, relax, and envision they are dining at a trendy café somewhere along the Mediterranean. Not surprisingly, there is an emphasis on art, with the walls serving as a rotating modern art gallery with the featured artist changing monthly. “Miami has become an international art capital with Art Basel each year, a cosmopolitan city where the art scene is constantly evolving,” says Philippe Carteau, the restaurant’s owner. “We are continuing this synergy year-round, creating a cultural movement with our resident artists, art exhibitions, Mediterranean menu, and the Café des Arts ambience. Our art is chosen based on the incalculable quality of artists living in and around Miami Beach.” 305.534.2555; cafedesartsmiami.com 


11. COYA’s Bright and Bold Peruvian Tastes
Light, bright, and bold. That’s how COYA describes its Peruvian- inspired cuisine, which incorporates authentic flavors and creative ingredients at the intersection of food and art. COYA began its journey in London and Dubai, serving a menu of global cuisine focused on South American flavors. COYA is considered an art and music collective, wherein the dining experience is just as important as the food itself. All types of artistic and cultural expression are incorporated into COYA’s ambience and entertainment, from the art on the walls to the DJs and bands on stage. What’s more, the restaurant’s design recalls ancient Incan art and architecture, with brightly colored walls and furniture grounded by iron and wood fixtures. Hand-selected relics from South America further embellish this modern interpretation of an ancient empire.

When it comes to dining, COYA is known for its use of exotic cuts of meat, ancient grains, and authentic dishes brightened with modern innovation. Signature dishes include Ceviche de Lubina Clasico (sea bass ceviche), Chuletas de Borrego (lamb chops), and Ox Heart skewers. Furthermore, COYA’s Pisco Bar offers an opportunity for diners to share in the magic of modern mixology, watching as innovative cocktails and classic drinks come together with artisan ice forms, rare pisco varieties, and creative ingredients. COYA has big plans to expand around the U.S., and if it’s anything like what we’ve seen in Miami, we can’t wait. 305.415.9990; coyarestaurant.com/miami 


12. Apeiro Kitchen & Bar’s Expanded Mediterranean Menu
Apeiro Kitchen & Bar has always featured the ingredients and flavors of the Mediterranean. But recently appointed Executive Chef Anthony Sitek revamped the menu to put the Mediterranean influence directly in the spotlight. The expanded menu is so new that even we haven’t tried it all yet, but we do know this: There’s a one-of-a-kind Chicken Firakh that we cannot wait to try. The boneless chicken breast and drumette served with crispy potatoes, charred onions, zucchini, and refreshing tzatziki fits seamlessly with the warm latitudes of the Mediterranean. “It’s very much a ‘hot weather’ dish,” Sitek says. We may not be in the Mediterranean, but here in Miami, it’s an ideal dish for spring. 786.800.5389; apeirorestaurants.com 

A Fish Called Avalon

13. International Sounds and Flavors at A Fish Called Avalon
A Fish Called Avalon—located in the wonderful Art Deco Avalon Hotel—is inspired by the warm ocean breezes, local seafood, and cultural melting pot that is Miami Beach. The cuisine is largely inspired by Chef Kal Abdalla’s travels around the world, with French, Mediterranean, and Asian influences. In particular, the Orzo Seafood Paella and the crabmeat-crusted Grouper are two best-selling selections. But the global flavor extends beyond the food, with live music from international talents almost every night. Enjoy Latin music Tuesday-Saturday and a trio of Spanish rhythm musicians in the late-night lounge Thursday-Saturday. And if you’re looking for something to fill your glass, A Fish Called Avalon will launch its new barrel-aged cocktail program this spring, beginning with a signature Manhattan. 305.532.1727; afishcalledavalon.com

Cafe Avanti

14. Home Away from Home at Cafe Avanti
Cafe Avanti has been operating under the same ownership for more than 26 years. It’s not often you find a restaurant with such staying power, or such an ability to make guests from anywhere feel right at home. Owner Luis Fuentes has run the restaurant since opening it in 1989. His chef has been with him most of that time, starting just six months later. And now, Fuentes’ daughter Jessica has taken on the role of general manager. Over the years, the Veal Meatballs, Chicken Parmesan, and Cannelloni have remained signature dishes for which Cafe Avanti is known. To adjust to the changing times, the current menu now offers fresh Oysters, Tuna Tartare, and Octopus, as well as Snapper and Branzino—fitting additions for a South Florida-based concept. “We focus on quality, so we are able to execute those dishes at the same level as our mainstay Veal Meatballs and Chicken Parmesan,” Jessica says. But more than that, Cafe Avanti is committed to service. “If we don’t know you, we want to get to know you,” she says, adding that guests can come from all over the world and receive the same warm, friendly treatment as a neighborhood local. “We are building relationships, one guest at a time.” 305.538.4400; cafeavanti.com 

French 27

15. Exceptional Creations at French 27
Vibrant, sophisticated, and exceptional. These are words that describe the cuisine at French 27, where influences from all 27 regions of France make their way into the classic and contemporary fine-dining menu. But more than that, French 27 is known for the quality of its cuisine. “We want patrons to know that we source only the freshest products—nothing is frozen. We make sure our produce is sourced from top-tier purveyors nationwide,” says Chef Andreas Trilk. “In Europe, we are accustomed to going to the market in search of the best of the best. It makes sense that we have searched for the best producers in the U.S. to provide us with the freshest products.” Here, all seafood is delivered fresh daily, and seasoning is added with a light hand—never overpowering the delicate flavors of shrimp, oysters, and fillets. Savor the Chilean Sea Bass made with tomato confit, cured shallots, and almonds for a delightful French seafood dish. If you’re craving something more classically French, opt for the Steak Frites prepared with any one of a variety of dry-aged meats, such as the New York or Bone-In Rib-Eye with France’s famous Café de Paris butter. At French 27, French flavors and Miami freshness come together beautifully. 305.764.3948; french27.com 

Clark Bowen

16. db bistro’s New Executive Chef
On top of all of its fabulous French fare, db Bistro Moderne has something else exciting to share: Clark Bowen has been promoted from sous chef to executive chef. Chef Bowen has been with the team for five years and knows the kitchen inside and out. db Bistro’s menu has always had a strong sense of French tradition and flavors imbued by Daniel Boulud, and we’re thrilled that Chef Bowen will be bringing his own creative touch to that menu. Look for lighter dishes, lots of seafood, and bright, vibrant Miami flavors combined with the traditional and impeccable French cuisine for which db Bistro is known. Additionally, the bar team at db Bistro is hard at work on bringing fresh, seasonally inspired cocktails to the menu. Each bartender is given the opportunity to put his or her own unique spin on a classic cocktail, and the result is always outstanding. This spring at db Bistro Moderne promises to be a very exciting one, filled with fresh new flavors and unique spins on French traditions. 305.421.8800; dbbistro.com 

17. Abundant International Flavors at R House
R House’s Chef Rocco Carulli knows a thing or two about international flavors in the kitchen. “A lot of it has to do with my upbringing,” he says. Carulli grew up the son of Italian immigrants, growing fresh vegetables in the backyard garden, canning homemade sauces, eating his mother’s braised lamb, and watching his father make his own wine. “I had a different palate than the other kids on the block,” he laughs. Later, his travels to Japan and Brazil influenced him further. Now at R House, Carulli incorporates international flavors and ingredients on the menu however possible, always adding his own spin. Take the Ceviche, traditionally prepared with hominy and sweet potatoes. While Carulli keeps the lime juice base, he replaces the hominy with an American sweet corn relish to balance the tart citrus notes. Another standout dish is the Brazilian Seafood Moqueca. Carulli uses authentic Brazilian dendê oil (red palm oil) but replaces the more traditional swordfish with fresh local mahi mahi, Florida shrimp, and sea scallops for variety and local flavor. While Carulli’s main objective is freshness, he also loves a bit of spice. “I find myself using a lot of jalapeños,” he says, and mentions his jalapeño-infused tequila—a key ingredient in the Jalapeño-Pineapple Margarita that won Best Margarita in the Miami New Times Best of Miami Awards 2015. We’ll drink to that. 305.576.0201; rhousewynwood.com 


18. Bazi’s Kaiseki Dinners
Miami Beach’s modern Asian-inspired dining destination, Bazi, noted for its exciting takes on traditional Far East cuisine, has introduced an exclusive monthly Kaiseki dinner. Kaiseki traditionally consists of a sequence of small, artistically arranged dishes that foster a harmonious balance of taste, texture, and aesthetic. This one-of-a-kind experience will feature 10-12 courses designed and orchestrated by Michael Pirolo, a critically acclaimed chef and James Beard Award semifinalist, and will showcase seasonal ingredients from the decadent to the exotic. Dishes prepared Kaiseki-style are done so in a way that aims to enhance their flavor and energy. Every course will be paired with unique libations ranging from sake to Asian teas, courtesy of Bazi’s Beverage Director, William Rivas. Hosted monthly at the restaurant’s downstairs bar—an intimate setting limited to eight seats—means that reservations are first come, first served. Priced at $150 (including tax and tip), each Kaiseki dinner promises to be different from the one before, providing a rare curated experience. 305.695.0101; bazimiami.com 

19. Villa Azur’s New Menu
Long have we savored the Mediterranean delights of Villa Azur, Miami’s culinary pride and joy, elevated by the talents of Executive Chef Erwin Mallet. This spring, we’re particularly thrilled about some of the Provençal-style dishes Mallet and his team have created—including the Rack of Lamb with garlic and thyme, as well as the succulent Octopus. If you’re looking to explore more of the Mediterranean, consider the Italian-inspired, toothsome Risotto Carnaroli, best enjoyed in the environs of the château-style dining room. Chef Mallet’s inspiration is his own childhood and the bounty of nearby gardens and waters, so you can be sure that Villa Azur’s new menu is not only fresh, but deliciously authentic. 305.763.8688; villaazurmiami.com 

Old Lisbon

20. 25 Years of Old Lisbon
This year, Old Lisbon is celebrating its 25th anniversary. In January 1991, the restaurant opened its doors in a small space on Coral Way. Twenty-five years later, the brand includes two restaurants, catering services, and, most recently, a Portuguese market and bakery next door to the original restaurant. The secret of success has been simple: quality ingredients, homemade food, and top-notch service. So what should you try when you stop by? A world of delicious Portuguese dishes—from codfish to sardines, Portuguese cheese to Oporto wines. And keep Old Lisbon in mind for breakfast; the bakery offers a delicious medley of pastries, coffee, and simple breakfast dishes. Thank you, Old Lisbon, for reminding us of what it means to be authentically (and deliciously) Old World. oldlisbon.com


21. The Symbiotic Relationship of Design and Cuisine at Seaspice
There are many reasons to love the new Seaspice—not least of all the shimmering waterfront locale and seafood-driven, Old World-inspired menu. But the experience of dining at Seaspice transcends a traditional restaurant meal. Here, the décor flows from the food, and vice-versa. While it’s always best to experience this first-hand, here is a glimpse of the restaurant’s masterfully intentional design. 305.440.4200; seaspicemiami.com

22. Fresh Spring Menu at PAUL
PAUL Bakery is not exactly a new kid on the block; the bakery/restaurant dates back to 1889. That means the concept’s chefs and bakers have had more than a century to perfect their recipes—rooted in certified organic flour, hormone and antibiotic-free proteins, cage-free eggs, and seasonal ingredients. This spring, PAUL is launching a new menu with the same commitment to French tradition and unadulterated quality. From light spring salads to a variety of croque-monsieurs, crêpes to hearty cuts of beef, it will be a universal treat for devotees of French fare. And, as always, keep PAUL at the top of your list for breakfast and brunch spots; nothing beats the rich and delicate layers of their classic French pâtisserie. 305.531.1200; paul-usa.com 

GK Bistronomie

23. Chicken Lo Mein from GK Bistronomie
A delectable meeting of cuisines from all corners of the world, GK Bistronomie’s menu is a showcase of the eminently talented Chef Rafael Perez. This particular dish, a staple in Perez’s repertoire, is a paean to the spice-rich flavors of the East.

Chicken Lo Mein
serves one

4 oz julienned chicken breast
1 oz vegetable oil
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1 baby head bok choy
4 oz snow peas
8 oz fresh lo mein noodles
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 oz soy sauce
sesame seeds and chopped scallions, for garnish


Heat a sauté pan over high heat. Add chicken, vegetable oil, ginger, and garlic and mix. Add all of the vegetables and cover, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Uncover and add noodles, hoisin sauce, and sesame oil. Mix together, then cover and cook for 2 minutes more. Uncover, add soy sauce, and stir. Garnish with sesame seeds, chopped scallions, and serve. 786.477.5151; gkbistronomie.com 

24. Peruvian Pisco—The Spirit of Spring
We love exploring international cuisines and ingredients, and that includes wine and spirits. As we toast to the Peruvian flavors we love, we cannot forget about the oldest spirit in the Western Hemisphere: pisco, a grape-based spirit which encompasses centuries of history and tradition.

A variation of pisccu, the word pisco comes from the ancient Quechua term for bird. Historically, the word pisco was also the name of a valley and seaport in the Ica region of southern Peru, known for its exotic bird population. Today, the spirit is concocted from Old-World grapes grown on vines that have adapted to the sunny Peruvian coast. Pisco is produced by distilling designated pisco grapes; no other additives or ingredients are permitted—not even water. Pisco is transparent, subtly fragrant, and bold in flavor, making it excellent for sipping on its own and splendid in a cocktail. This spring, savor the flavors of Peru by sipping pisco from a snifter, enjoying it in a traditional Peruvian pisco sour, or by mixing up a vibrant, aromatic “Shot of Love” (recipe at left).

A Shot of Love
In a shaker, muddle 1-1/2 ounces lychee purée with 3 mint leaves. Add 2 ounces Peruvian pisco, 3/4 ounce St-Germain, and a few drops of hibiscus syrup for a bright pink color. Add ice and shake. Strain over ice into a tall glass. Top with ginger ale. Garnish with candied hibiscus flower and lychee fruit.

Mr Chow

25. Noodle Shows at Mr Chow
Mr Chow is as international as they come. First opened in London in 1968, this restaurant has locations in Beverly Hills, New York City, and Las Vegas. It opened in South Beach in August of 2009 as the first Mr Chow to open inside a hotel, bringing its authentic Beijing cuisine and creative new recipes to the W Hotel South Beach. Mr Chow Miami offers luxurious indoor and outdoor private rooms, spacious patio, and stunning décor, like the 123-foot gold leaf Swarovski crystal chandelier in the dining room.

Of course, one of the main attractions here is the authentic Chinese cuisine, the hand-pulled noodles in particular. One of the master pasta chefs at Mr Chow, northern China native Chef Chung Yi Lau, learned the craft of hand-pulling noodles from the Chinese Culinary Art Center. He has pulled noodles every day since then, and considers it an important culinary art in an age when some Chinese restaurants are replacing noodle chefs with machinery. “I feel that the noodles taste different and are not as unique when made by a machine,” Lau says. “Therefore, I strive to keep the craft alive and hope it never fades out.”
Lau is considered an expert noodle chef, and that involves more than just mixing the flour, water, and salt. It also involves performing a “noodle show” at Mr Chow every night, in which Lau kneads the dough by physically twisting, flipping, spinning, and rolling it until it forms thin noodles. The show makes it look effortless, as entertaining as a magic act. “Whenever the clients watch the noodle-pulling performance, the natural reaction is to applaud and it is a great form of acknowledgement,” Lau says. “I hope people understand how much effort goes into a dish of hand-pulled noodles.” Although the process looks easy, years of practice have gone into perfecting the recipe, movements, and techniques needed to make them. The result? Fresh, authentic, toothsome noodles that are delightful served cold, stir-fried with sauce, or Chef Lau’s favorite: in beef soup with spiced beef and scallions. 305.695.1695; mrchow.com

Sea spice Courtyard_Night

We were recently invited to Seaspice {422 Northwest North River Drive, Miami; 305.440.4200} to experience the newly updated menu by Executive Chefs Angel Lèon and Benjamin Goldman and Executive Pastry Chef Jill Montinola.

Entering Seaspice is visually stunning and captivating, as though you have just entered a private villa on the water. The entire space opens to the sparkling river, where private yachts and fishing boats occasionally sail by, adding to the nautical ambience.

We were seated at a table directly next to the water, where we were greeted by our lovely server, who articulated the specials of the evening and her not-to-miss dishes. The serene setting and outstanding service are hard to live up to, but it’s the food here that steals the show.


We started with a special appetizer of Japanese Amberjack served tiradito-style with a spicy amarillo sauce. Each bite was an explosion of flavors and freshness—just enough crunch, just enough kick. We also had a special Salmon Sashimi appetizer (above), which was decadently drizzled with crème fraîche and sprinkled with salmon caviar. Both were exquisitely executed, artfully presented, and divine to taste.

seaspice wagyu

For entrées, we could not pass up the interactive hot stone experience, which is now offered as part of the restaurant’s main menu. As strongly encouraged by our waitress, we opted for the A5 Wagyu Hot Stone (above) with black lava salt. A modest portion of the coveted beef was presented simply sliced and ready for the very hot stone that came along with it. As instructed, we seared the meat briefly on each side, added a pinch of salt, and savored the finest cut of meat imaginable.

The special fish of the night was local Branzino, which was filleted and served with Thai raspberry vinaigrette and sprinkled with peanuts. The end result was a unique, delicately balanced flavor combination, and one of the most beautiful versions of the fish that we have ever experienced.

We had to round out the night with dessert, of course: a delightful plate of fruit, ice cream, and slices of white chocolate. Also worth mentioning is the restaurant’s fine selection of Port wine that complemented our dessert and our overall experience.

 —Erin Lavan | Contributor