When it came time to compile this year’s Miami Herald Food & Dining special section, I gave myself two options: Find 50 all new South Florida food-and-beverage pros to honor, or piece together a list of the area’s best restaurants.
I went with people over restaurants. People have more interesting stories than restaurants. People have the ability to transform restaurants, breweries, chocolate shops, gas stations and vacant lots into neighborhood hangouts, into homes-away-from-home, into places we have to take visitors.
Much like last year’s South Florida Food 50, the all new 2016 class is full of chefs, restaurateurs, hospitality experts, beverage specialists and power couples who are raising our culinary prominence and making South Florida a better place to eat and drink.
This year’s Food 50 winners share a common thread in that they all make us rethink something we thought we knew.
We thought steakhouse chefs were portly men, until Julia Doyne stepped in as the first woman to lead Miami Beach’s legendary The Forge.
We thought upscale hotel restaurants were stuffy and staid, until Aaron Brooks started roasting pigs caja china-style and having a ball at locals-favorite Edge Steak & Bar.
We thought Thai food in Miami was mostly noodles and grease with a side of sushi, until Phuket “Cake” Thongsodchareondee showed us the real deal.
We thought we had tasted beer before, until Johnathan Wakefield blew our minds with his subtropical sours.
We thought there were no French restaurants in Hialeah, until Sandy Sanchez and Benoit Rablat came (back) to town.
We thought Jewish delis shied away from shellfish and swine, until Joshua Marcus toyed with tradition in the most delicious way.
We thought plant-based food at an open lot sounded like hipster hooey, until Della Heiman and her Della Bowls at Wynwood Yard charmed us with its good flavors and good vibes.
You’ll find their stories and more in this year’s Food 50 profiles. Keep in mind that it’s an unranked list — all winners are equally important.
And for those lists of best restaurants (and ones to avoid)? Check out Miami.com Dining Adviser — dine.miami.com — for the latest Miami Herald restaurant reviews, plus up-to-the-minute health inspections, including emergency shutdowns.
2016 Miami Herald South Florida Food 50
1. Julia Doyne, The Forge
2. Ivan Dorvil, Ivan’s Cookhouse
3. Adri Garcia, Verde Kitchen Café
4. Aaron Brooks, Edge Steak & Bar
5. Gregory Pugin, Palme d’Or
6. Nunzio Fuschillo, Bocce Ristorante
7. Dewey Losasso, RedLander Restaurant
8. Sean Brasel, Meat Market
9. Makoto Okuwa, Makoto
10. Mark Cashier, Hillstone
11. Thomas Connell, Fontainebleau Miami Beach
12. Allen Susser, Books & Books Café
13. Josh Capon, Lure Fishbar
14. Trudy Ellis, The Bahamian Pot
15. Phuket “Cake” Thongsodchareondee, Cake Thai Kitchen
16. Timon Balloo, Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
17. Bradley Kilgore, Alter
18. Joshua Marcus, Josh’s Deli
19. Alejandro “Alex” Rodriguez, Palomilla Grill
20. Cielle Bragin, Eating House
21. Steve Santana and Washington Charles, Taquiza, The Grdn
22. Giovanni Rocchio, Valentino Cucina Italiana
23. Norman Van Aken, In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken, Norman’s, 1921
24. Piyarat Potha “Chef Bee” Arreeratn, Naiyara, Oishi Thai
25. Tonino Doino, Rosinella Trattoria, Sunset Juice Café
26. Abe Ng, Sushi Maki
27. Michael Sullivan, Golden Fig
28. Marc Falsetto and Charles Hazlett, JEY Hospitality
29. Elliot Wolf, Be Nice Restaurants
30. Steven Perricone, Perricone’s Marketplace & Café, Sullivan Street Bakery, Cena by Michy’s
31. Beto DiCarlo and Sergio Tarantini, Fratellino
32. Ed Witte, Joe’s Stone Crab
33. Wayne Eldred, Tarpon Bend
34. Johnathan Wakefield, J. Wakefield Brewing
35. Andrew Mendez and Michael Mendez, Mendez Fuel
36. Jennifer Massolo, The Liquid Projects
37. Eric Larkee, The Genuine Hospitality Group
38. Devonie Nicholas, South Beach Wine & Food Festival
39. Della Heiman, Wynwood Yard
40. Muriel Olivares and Tiffany Noé, Little River Cooperative
41. Maude Eaton and Sara Liss, Saffron Supper Club
42. Susana Garcia and Isabel Garcia, Cacao Art Chocolates
43. Austin Allan, Tio Gazpacho
44. Teresa and Nick Sharp, Threefold Café
45. Anita and Klime Kovaceski, Crust
46. Katie Sullivan and Andrew Gilbert, The Seven Dials
47. Sandy Sanchez and Benoit Rablat, La Fresa Francesa
48. Dena Marino and Marcus Wade, MC Kitchen
49. Anastasia Koutsioukis and Ahmet Erkaya, Mandolin Aegean Bistro, Mandolin Beach
50. Lisa and Julian Siegel, Riverside Market, Riverside Market South, Craft Beer Cartel
Miami.com Dining Adviser: dine.miami.com
South Florida Food 50
Editor: Evan S. Benn
Writers: Evan S. Benn with Linda Bladholm
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