Miami Herald critics reviewed 46 restaurants so far in 2015. The average rating was 2.58 stars out of 4 (scale: 1 Poor, 1.5 Subpar, 2 OK, 2.5 Good, 3 Very Good, 3.5 Excellent, 4 Exceptional), down slightly from last year’s average of 2.61 stars.
These are the 10 new restaurants — all open fewer than 15 months — in Miami and Miami Beach that received the best critical reviews in 2015 and continue to maintain consistently high quality food, drinks and service. (Click here to see Miami’s best restaurant dishes of the year.)
1. Alter (Restaurant of the Year)
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“This is not comfort food. Quite the opposite. [Chef Bradley Kilgore, a] Kansas City native who cheffed alongside Laurent Gras, Grant Achatz and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, creates dishes that are exacting, stunningly beautiful, disciplined and, for some, challenging. Indicative of Kilgore’s style is a deceptively simple soft egg coddled to just warmed through and served in a shallow bowl. Spoon through the ethereal scallop foam to a disc of crisp Gruyere and tiny tapioca-like truffle pearls.” Reviewed in July; 4 stars. Victoria Pesce Elliott.
223 NW 23rd St., Miami; altermiami.com
2. 27 Restaurant & Bar
“The food at 27 Restaurant & Bar flashes with flavors and inspiration from the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East; the decor is Old Florida Americana; the music is salsa and reggae and ’90s hip-hop. It is easily the most Miami restaurant in greater Miami. And it is one of the very best. Its dining room reflects a sense of place that’s rare among Miami’s glitz and glam, and its cooking shows a local commitment that’s often reduced to empty buzzwords. Eating here is pure Miami, pure joy.” Reviewed in February; 3.5 stars. Evan S. Benn.
2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach; thefreehand.com
“Don’t leave here without trying a meat dish cooked in the Josper, an oven that leaves pork ribs tender and smoky with bones that have already slipped out. The rib-eye served sliced on a platter with a magazine-cover char and a ruby interior excels in its primitive rusticity. It’s served on a platter with an array of baby zucchini, asparagus, shallots and smoky red peppers marching across the plate.” Reviewed in May; 3.5 stars. VPE.
210 23rd St., Miami Beach; klimamiami.com
4. Proof Pizza & Pasta
“Sourdough-based pizzas, thrown from 00 Caputo brand Italian flour, are scorched to bubbly black in a 900-degree oven that burns cherry and oak logs. The toppings, including fennel sausage and broccoli rabe along with housemade mozzarella cheese, are pristine. Shredded oxtail pizza with caramelized onions and black garlic is the stuff cravings are made of. The classic red, green and white Neapolitan Margherita is lovely, too.” Reviewed in January; 3.5 stars. VPE.
3328 N. Miami Ave., Miami; proofpizza.com
“This beauty boasts some exceptional food and a fantastic cocktail program. Even the international wine list with affordable and unexpected by-the-glass options enchants. Fresh muddled juices and inventive combinations elevate the cocktails. The menu is a South American version of the informal Japanese izakaya. For those who do not like the dizzying pace of a small-plate experience, this may not be for you. Yes, dishes come out fast. Portions are small. But all the better for sharing.” Reviewed in May; 3.5 stars. VPE.
999 Brickell Ave., Miami; coyarestaurant.com
“Michael Mina knows what people want. And at his new StripSteak in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, the prolific, San Francisco-based restaurateur gives it to them with a side of fries. The menu includes not only burly cuts of dry-aged beef, tender lamb chops, foie gras and truffles but also an assortment of local and seasonal vegetables and seafare. It’s all executed with fine technique thanks to seasoned chef de cuisine Derrick Roberts.” Reviewed in February; 3.5 stars. VPE.
4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; fontainebleau.com
7. Cena by Michy
“After closing Michy’s in the same space, chef Michelle Bernstein has replaced the cobalt blue and orange accents and croquetas with sophisticated mid-century modern furniture, terrazzo floors and sputnik chandeliers. Waitstaff in lumberjack plaid shirts politely weave through tightly packed tables. It feels like a party in somebody’s 1965 living room. With Cena, Bernstein has created the neighborhood restaurant everybody wants in their neighborhood.” Reviewed in June; 3.5 stars. Jodi Mailander Farrell.
6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; cenabymichy.com
“Chef-owner Michael Pirolo is putting his ingredient-first philosophy to work at Bazi, his modern Asian spot in the renovated Marlin Hotel. Starting with a dedicated fishing boat in Islamorada that hauls in the catch of the day, Bazi is a showcase for locally sourced, high-quality seafood as well as grass-fed beef and farm-fresh produce. From Italian to the Far East, nothing is lost in translation. Pirolo’s menu exploits Asian flavors in line with a new trend, eschewing Eastern-cuisine purism in favor of creative mash-ups that delight with their textural variety and surprising ingredients.” Reviewed in November; 3.5 stars. Kendall Hamersly.
1200 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; bazimiami.com
9. Quality Meats
“Well-sourced, aggressively seasoned beef is cooked to requested temperature. Marinated bavette comes off the grill impressively tender, served with chunks of sour orange and onion in a nod to Miami, while the table-denting rib steak sports a deep salt-and-pepper crust and a smattering of tempura onion rings. This isn’t South Florida’s first steakhouse, and it sure won’t be the last. But in a town where the steakhouse is king, Quality Meats is worthy of its throne.” Reviewed in April; 3 stars. ESB.
1501 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; qualitymeatsmiami.com
“Calling Byblos a Mediterranean restaurant doesn’t do it justice. People hear Mediterranean, and they think Greek salads and gyros, of which Byblos serves neither. For its cuisine, this South Beach newcomer reaches across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to Greece to the Middle East. And what the kitchen has come up with is some of the best and most exciting food anywhere in Miami right now.” Reviewed in September; 3 stars. ESB.
1545 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; byblosmiami.com