The old chef from Mandolin sets up in a secluded garden along NW 24th Street, plating Aegean specialties good enough to earn the place a Michelin Bib Gourmand. Doya is one of Miami’s most romantic restaurants not just because of its dreamy, twinkling garden setting. It’s also because eating here is a sharable exploration, where dishes with names like turkey pastrami hummus and pacanga pie beg you to discover what’s next. Doya’s dips stand above any Mediterranean eatery in Miami, with a red-pepper based muhammara that’ll have you begging for the recipe as you leave.
Follow the smells of island spices and savory stews down a colorful alley in Wynwood, and you’ll find this Caribbean counter boasting Haitian classics adapted for the modern palette. You’d have to own a sailboat or have some serious WinAir frequent flier miles to sample the variety of Caribbean cuisines you’ll find and Manjay. While the Haitian staples like Griyo braised pork stew and deep fried pork Kreyol Bib sandwiches are the specialties, the jerk chicken bowls, conch fritters, and vegan roti give you a new appreciation for island cuisine.
How to book: Show up for first come, first served service.
Self-styled “spice detective” Yaniv Cohen debuted a full-scale outpost of his Design District food hall hit, with industrial chic décor accented by throw pillows and live belly dancing on the weekends. There’s a reason you’ll find Jaffa packed with Israelis most nights of the week. The menu goes far beyond the usual falafel-and-hummus and touches all the Holy Land’s cultural influences, with turmeric chicken and short rib tagines as a nod to Moroccan culture, and kofta kebabs inspired by Iraq, Persia, and other points north. We wouldn’t call it Israeli fusion cuisine, per se, but it’s a marked departure from options you’re used to at your neighborhood falafel shack.
Michelle Bernstein tries to make Bayside cool by opening a legitimately-great Cuban restaurant in the notorious tourist trap. Whether she succeeds remains to be seen, but with intricate, Cuban-inspired décor and stunning waterfront views, at the very least she’s given the mall some culinary cred. For visitors looking to try Cuban food during their pre-cruise layover, or locals looking for a decent place to take them, La Canita should be the new default with Cuban classics like arroz con pollo and ropa vieja that are a couple notches above what you’ll find at any Little Havana diner. Lest you let the heft of those dishes slow you down, you can also try the watermelon caprese or ceviche aguachile for something a little more refreshing.
Austin pitmaster Mel Rodriguez teams up with Buffalo Bills’ wideout Isaiah McKenzie to bring Texas-style barbecue to the far-flung suburbs. Don’t fret the drive: If this place were in Wynwood or Brickell the line would take even longer than your trip to Miami Lakes. We’d call Rodriguez the Josh Allen of brisket smoking, but to our knowledge he’s still undefeated against pitmasters from Kansas City. Regardless, he’s slow-smoking his brisket as well as anyone in the game, and has brilliantly layered it with baked beans, creamed corn, and queso fresco for the Instagram sensation Brisket Sundae. He’s also a food waste savant, taking the scraps from his meats, grinding them up, and putting out one of Miami’s best burgers.
How to book: Stop in for first-come, first-served service.
The folks behind Vietnamese smash Benh Mi opened this breezy café and brasserie on Biscayne Blvd., creating an instant go-to for hangover fare and morning-after brunches. MiMi’s splashed on the scene with a BYOB drink menu and a $75 order of chicken tenders. That door-in-the-face has swung back shut, but the tenders—now a reasonable $15, minus the caviar—are still a greasy, booze-soaking relief on a Saturday afternoon. Other brasserie-style standards include the drippy egg sandwich on brioche and burger with sherry caramelized onions and smoked pickle mayo. Though if you’re coming at night, the 12 ounce strip steak frites is perfect for fueling up.