Where We're Eating Now

Tasting Table Miami's Fall 2013 Restaurant Guide

It has started. And it won't stop its frenetic pace until early 2014. It's "The Season."

Visitors returning to Miami ask, "What new restaurants have opened?" Locals want to know, "Where should I take my family for dinner while they're in town?"

You're busy, so let us take this one thing off your plate: We've rounded up the restaurants where we're eating right now–the ones a tourist shouldn't miss out on and the ones where a local can take the discerning best friend from L.A. or the Park Slope cousin with a large brood. Check out the map at the bottom of this post to see where they're all located.

Of course, we've also included a few suggestions for those whose only request is, "Take me to the water!"

Oysters on ice at Macchialina (Photo: David Samayoa)

BRUNCH

Michy's

Michelle Bernstein's epic fried chicken was only available on summer Wednesdays until she launched Sunday brunch at her MiMo restaurant. Have the chicken and waffles with the knockout cheesy grits, crowned with tempura shrimp, a grilled prawn or delicate squash blossoms. Go to Michy's for an elegant meal in a space that's tranquil without being a snooze.

Macchialina

The "Italian toast" at Macchialina's new brunch is basically a happy marriage of panettone and bread pudding. If it's too early for decisions about sweet versus savory, choose the six-course chefs' tasting menu (for a minimum of two people). General manager Jen Chaefsky nixes stereotypical Louis Prima tunes in favor of thrumming Rolling Stones jams.

Striking black and white calamari at Lippi (Photo: Viviana Aviles Garcia Photography)

UPSCALE DINING

Cypress Room

Dine at the only Miami spot so far to have earned our "must-try" rating, and you'll be transported to Michael Schwartz's vision of a refined, Old World French restaurant. Settle into the baby blue banquette for an intimate dinner of royal red shrimp, bone marrow and house-made pasta. Save room for Hedy Goldsmith's fabulous desserts.

Box Park (Ed Note: This restaurant is now closed.)

Chef Matt Hinckley and pastry chef Crystal Cullison's dishes exude energy–from a riotous ancient grains salad to short-rib-and-plantain hash to allspice sorbet. Brickell isn't known as a hotbed of innovative dining, but that's changing now. Go here–even if your friends scoff at the neighborhood. Later you can say, "I told you so."

Lippi

Witness the vibrant parade of Brickell Avenue life from the elevated terrace at Lippi while contemplating the textures and flavors of a life-changing silver weakfish ceviche. Never mind the Brickell magnates or Real Housewives at surrounding tables: Chef Philippe Ruiz's food blasts away any notions that Lippi is only a "scene."

Mina's Mediterraneo | Churrasco at Fiorito

LOW-KEY DINING

Mina's Mediterraneo

Somehow the mash-up of pita and pizza works beautifully at this new Upper East Side restaurant. The menu traipses through Italy, Egypt, Turkey and Greece, but focus on the warm, crusty breads from the brick oven, including cumin-spiced pita bread and an Egyptian pizza. Bonus: There's plenty of on-site parking.

Fiorito

Two young Argentinean brothers, Cristian and Maximiliano Alvarez, preside over this charming little house in Little Haiti. On a cool Miami night, dip a spoon into pumpkin soup dotted with melting provolone cubes, followed by a straightforward but exceptional, churrasco steak.

Lobster ravioli at Area 31 (Photo: Simon Hare)

WATERFRONT

J&G Grill

An exciting young chef, Bradley Kilgore, joined the two-year-old J&G as chef de cuisine this summer. Go to J&G for a sophisticated oceanfront dinner of Kilgore's pan-roasted poussin, followed by desserts by Antonio Bachour, one of Miami's best pastry chefs. Reservations are recommended–and be sure to ask for one of the tables closest to the floor-to-ceiling windows for a spectacular view of the Atlantic.

Area 31

The menu at this downtown restaurant focuses on graceful seafood dishes, such as lobster folded into delicate ravioli and garnished with snap peas. Reservations are highly recommended, especially on Friday evenings when the Brickell happy hour crowd descends. An outdoor terrace overlooks the Miami River and Biscayne Bay.