Miami is in the thick of one of its biggest dining and drinking renaissances since the mid 1980s. After enjoying (and surviving) one of the busiest summers in years, we're working our way into an equally fruitful fall. And we're excited.
Here's what we're looking forward to most.
Art Basel won't be the only international main attraction: An influx of world-renowned prodigies is making its way into our city. The Pilgrim Chef herself Najat Kaanache (Alinea, The French Laundry, Per Se, Noma and el Bulli) is bringing her impressive pedigree to Coral Gables' Spanish restaurant Piripi, set to open in late October.
The city is also abuzz about the arrival of Top Chef fan favorite Fabio Viviani's Miami outpost of Chicago's Siena Tavern, which has been simmering in the old China Grill space. The chef plans on adapting the traditional Italian menu for our tropical palates come the end of October.
Miami's hotel kitchens continue to house some of the country's top talent, and we're grateful that the Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach is about to open the doors of Masaharu Morimoto's namesake eatery. Michael Mina continues to expand his vast empire as well, colonizing the Fontainebleau with a second outpost, a spinoff of successful Las Vegas steakhouse Stripsteak.
Left: Chef Michelle Bernstein. Top right: Morimoto's angry chicken. Bottom right: Najat Kaanache's scallops
And we can't forget about Miami culinary royalty Michelle Bernstein's new project at the upcoming Thompson Miami Beach hotel, "beach and ocean"-inspired brasserie Seagrape. The Florida-themed resto will have two cocktail lounges as well as a raw bar specializing in crudos and carpaccios, using seafood and produce locally commissioned by the chef herself.
Speaking of legacies, the group behind the swank Villa Azur is launching sister restaurant Brasserie Azur in trendy Midtown. The old Mercadito space will be redesigned by François Frossard and cater to francophiles with a luxe menu of French and Mediterranean dishes.
Nearby artsy Wynwood continues to flourish with two new eateries lining up side by side on the 23rd block of its main street: casual health-food franchise Freshii and Mexican restaurant and lounge Coyo Taco.
A bit north of the hot hub, the historic neighborhood MiMo is also getting a face-lift, catapulted with the recent renovation of kitschy '50s motel The Vagabond. The inauguration will follow with the opening of a restaurant and bar, helmed by newcomer executive chef Alex Chang, whose rise to fame with an underground restaurant was the subject of the documentary Paladar.
Top left: Michael Mina's côte du boeuf. Bottom left: Japanese whiskey collection. Right: Chef Fabio Viviani.
Sushi lovers can rejoice: The chef behind the popular Akashi restaurants, Larry Li, is opening a new Asian fusion venture in Brickell. Hannya will have Vietnamese influences and promises to put an end to the city's pho scarcity.
High-end fusion will also grace the scene in SoFi, with the opening of Asian hybrid Red Ginger. No word on who the "prominent" chef will be yet; however, we do know the restaurant will have the city's first extensive Japanese whisky and sake collections, including new favorites by the Suntory distillery.
And did someone say pizza? If your palate craves something a bit more refined than the usual slice, chef Klime Kovaceski's Crust has been making way on the river, filling its menu with truffled pizzas and homemade pestos.
This fall, a blast from the past resurfaces in Calle Ocho aiming to make it a nightlife destination once again. Historic Ball & Chain in Little Havana will reopen with renowned mixologists Julio Cabrera and Regent Cocktail Club colleague Danny Valdez on deck—they'll be concocting cocktails similar to those showcased during their popular Havana Nights. Live music acts will pay homage to the locale's historic jazz ties.
Another anticipated opening in the craft-cocktail arena is former NYC mixologist Albert Trummer's Drawing Room at The Shelborne as well. Trummer's "cocktail prescription"-style menu promises to provide "medicinal" purposes to its imbibers—we can only hope.
Craft brewing continues to bulldoze through the hipper off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods. Concrete Beach Brewery is laying the last cement blocks in its Wynwood warehouse space, ready to launch in early October, followed closely by neighboring J Wakefield Brewing. MIA Brewing Co. opened earlier this summer as a production brewery in Doral, and it's planning to open a taproom and beer garden in the upcoming months.
Get ready to get lei'd this fall! Tiki is taking over town with tropical stormlike force. We've already had a taste of it at the new Drunken Dragon menu designed by mixologist Gui Jaroschy (Broken Shaker). But he isn't the only tiki expert in town: Trevor Alberts (Orange Blossom) will be launching outdoor luau garden Sweetwater, and Robert Ferrara (Lure Fishbar) is already well on his way to opening his rum-centric patio bar Rum Line.
Speaking of Broken Shaker, word on the wire is that the building next door will open up as an extension to the bar with full eatery, 27. The usual players will man the new establishment, including Bar Lab's Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta, Freehand's Roy Alpert and chef James Seyba in the kitchen.
Our favorite fiery redhead, Adrianne Calvo continues to spread her "maximum flavor" mantra on glossy paper and is currently working on a third book set to publish in late fall. In addition to her most popular recipes, the book will also divulge how her entrepreneurial bone made her West Kendall–based Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar a local favorite and how social media played an integral part in her success.
Mandy Baca's sophomore read is on its way to print as well. Discovering Vintage Miami ($15) takes you to classic restaurants, shops and other establishments that still thrive today and evoke the unique character of the city. A total of 50 establishments are highlighted from the obvious Joe's Stone Crab and Tobacco Road to the not so obvious like Mainzer's German Deli and Coopertown Restaurant.
The Craft Spirits Festival is back for its second year on October 9. The grand tasting event will showcase 100-plus distinct craft small-batch, artisanal, boutique and premium spirits and liqueurs in the iconic New Orleans-inspired Cruz Building of Coconut Grove.
We are also looking forward to Burger Beasts' celebration and homage to the fried local favorite, Croquetapalooza. The celebration will take place on Sunday October 12 at Magic City Casino, and attendees will get to try croquetas and croqueta-inspired dishes from more than 20 restaurants.
Miami takes a huge step toward foreign vegetarian and vegan lands with this first-of-a-kind Seed Food & Wine Fest, the first plant-based food and wine festival in the country. Events include upscale dinners, film screening, garden parties and a Southern brunch, all leading up to the main event on October 18th: a large-scale outdoor festival featuring food, wine, juices, music and everything that celebrates conscious plant-based living.
We asked some of our favorite chefs and restaurateurs what they're excited about this season. Here's what they had to say.
"I'm planning a new fall menu consisting of flights and unique spirits such as eau de vies from Armagnac and grappa infusions. I'm definitely looking forward to traveling to Vegas for the Eighth-Annual GQ and Bombay Sapphire's Most Imaginative Bartender competition as well as Portland Cocktail Week in October."—Philip Khandehrish, head mixologist at The Setai and winner of Miami's regional Bombay Sapphire's Most Imaginative Bartender 2014.
"Fall is always exciting because there are so many events happening in Miami. I'm intrigued to find out which restaurants will be doing pop-ups during this year's Basel. I'll be in New York to catch Sarah Jaffe and Alt-J on my downtime and of course to visit some of my favorite restaurants and bars. Fresh oysters and a proper Sazeracs from Maison Premier will be on my mind until then."—Eileen Andrade, executive chef and owner of FINKA Table & Tap.
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