Friday, June 24, 2016

Best Restaurants Miami 2016

My current Rankings which I posted in December are already outdated.  Good restaurants continue to close and chefs continue to leave.  That does not make me happy.  Miami will miss Michelle Bernstein's Cena by Michy and Alex Chang at the Vagabond.

Fortunately, there have been several new restaurant openings over the past few months to fill the void and some are truly great.

Instead of doing my usual Top 20 or Top 15, I've decided to shine the light on the Five Best Restaurants in town now.  As many of you know, I use an algorithm I co-created with an M.I.T. professor.  It's not perfect but it helps me identify the best of the best.

By now you should know the drill.  This list is chef and food driven. But beverage/wine programs, service, management, ambiance, value and overall experience all play significant roles.

I take this very seriously because I know how hard chefs and restaurants work to serve us great food and provide us with perfect dining experiences.  But it's done as a guide to assist you with dining choices and to pay tribute to the chefs and restaurants that are doing outstanding jobs.

These are the CURRENT TOP FIVE

5. KYU

4. PAO




Thursday, June 23, 2016

C'est Rouge! @ Faena Hotel

I'm going to deviate from my normal programming here to tell you about a fantastic new show that recently made its debut in the intimate 150 seat Faena Theater located inside the impressive Faena Hotel.  No, they do not serve food at C'est Rouge! hence the departure but you can certainly grab a great meal before the show at two of the best restaurants in town, Pao and Los Fuegos by Francis Mallman. Pao apparently is offering a three course pre theater dinner menu but I'm not sure of the price. I'm trying to confirm that now and will update the post.  I recently wrote about both restaurants which you can read about HERE if you weren't paying attention last week.

As I watched the show last week I wondered why it took this long for someone to bring a Vegas style show to Miami Beach. Not all locals and tourists are Space and Liv age appropriate.  Kudos to Alan Faena for bringing something new to Miami and to Blanca Li for directing and choreographing a unique and entertaining show that I highly enjoyed. It truly is a "fantasyland of beauty, mystery and desire." For my stylish followers, Alan and Blanca sourced Juan Gatti for costumes, Fifi Chachnil for lingerie, Oribe for hair, Erik Halley for costume accessories and Christian Louboutin for footwear.

photo via Faena

Be ready to be entertained up close.

photo via Faena

She clearly doesn't have my eating habits.

photo via Faena

One of many impressive acts.

photo via Faena

View from the "cheap" seats. The show currently starts at 9:30 on Friday and Saturday nights with doors opening at 9:00 pm. But may be changing to 10:30 and 10.  Tickets start at $45.00 and are available via Ticketmaster.
Blanca Li
Dani Morla
as Artistic Director,
Rafael Olarra
as Set Designer
Tao Gutierrez
as M
Charles Carcopino
for videos and
Laurent Mercier
. The
collaborations with some of
biggest talents
Juan Gatti
for costumes and
Fifi Chachnil
for lingerie,
for hair,
Erik Halley
for costume accessories and
Christian Louboutin
for footwear.

photo via Faena

Yes Please!

photo via Faena
D Wade in the house with his stylist Calyann Barnett.

Of course, I had to leave you with my pre show dinner shots.  This blurry dish was fantastic. Scallop and Uni - Maine diver scallop tataki, uni, yuzu kosho, brown butter, nasturtium.

Yet another great dish, Sepia- robata grilled Spanish Cuttlefish, ink adobo, jasmine soubise, tomatillo, pickled pearl onion.

Go check out the show, go check out both restaurants and go check out Saxony Bar.  Enjoy!

Faena Hotel
Address: 3201 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140

Monday, June 20, 2016

Tacos & Tequila @ Pawn Broker 6.22.16

Pawn Broker the new lounge from the PubbellyBoys located on the rooftop of the Langford Hotel in downtown Miami will be celebrating the opening of Pubbelly Sushi and Mucho Gusto ‘a mind-blowing farm to taco concept’ from Chef Santiago Gomez of Cantina la Veinte.

Both restaurants will be opening in Brickell City Centre.  Chef Gomez will be making 3 Mucho Gusto originals and Chef Mendin will be cooking 3 Pubbelly Sushi classics.  Guests will be welcomed by a shot of Don Julio Tequila along with a selection of Mezcal, Tequila cocktails and Mexican beer.

Pubbelly's pastry chef Maria Orantes that will be serving pastries throughout the bar.

Pawn Broker
The Langford Hotel, 121 SE 1st Street, Miami, Fl, 33131

8PM - 11 PM

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Old Bay All Day by Jeremiah Bullfrog 6.17.16

New Orleans style SHRIMP Boil with Chef Kurtis Jantz and Jeremiah Bullfrog!

Live music by Uncle Scotchy and friends

shrimp boil and all the fixins! po'boys! beignets! cafe au lait! craft beer!

A little bit of Louisianna comes to Wynwood


Friday, June 17, 2016 from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM (EDT)

168 Northwest 26th Street
Miami, FL 33127

Sunday, June 12, 2016

KYU (Wynwood Miami) 5 Stars

KYU is one of the best new restaurants in town. And that's all you really need to know.  Just review my pictures below and go. Your'e welcome.

KYU is located in a modernized warehouse in the heart of Wynwood with the majority of the renovations completed by the prior occupant Shikany.

Chef Lewis courtesy of KYU

Here is what you need to know going in.  The kitchen is manned by Chef Michael Lewis who spent the past 6 years as executive chef at the popular Zuma.  He's trained under several heavyweight chefs including David Bouley at Bouley Bakery and Eric Ripert at Le Bernadin.  At 25 he was appointed Chef de Cuisine at Jean-Georges restaurant on Central Park West which was  awarded three Michelin Stars. Subsequent to that, he opened restaurants for Jean-Georges in Paris, France, Nassau, Bahamas and London.

At KYU, he partnered with his manager at Zuma, Steven Haigh who runs the front of the house.  They clearly have a good rapport as the front and back of the house have been in synch during my visits resulting in stellar service.

Michael and Steven's vision was to create a wood-fired Asian inspired restaurant and they delivered.   They hit the ground running and haven't looked back.  The restaurant was slammed on a recent weeknight at 6pm.  Refreshing to see.  And well deserved.   

They are open six night a week for dinner (closed Monday) and also offer a solid lunch menu that also packs it in.  Brunch goes down on Sundays plus they offer a nice happy hour deal weeknights from 4:40 - 7:30 with discounted bites and beverages.  It's a great way to get your feet wet without spending your rent money.  Oh and they are also offering a "chefs experience" - make it simple and let us do the work.  $150.00 for 2 and $210.00 with pairing.

Back to the food.  Every dish I've had has been outstanding.  Some may be aggressively seasoned for some palates (older diners who can't read...)but I'm sure the kitchen can tone down some items or steer you in a different direction.  

The menu is broken down into six sections.  Snacky Snacks where prices range from $7-15.  Fresh & Bright (like me) $9-14. Chilled & Refreshing $12-24. Wood Fired $18-29.  Something on the side (yes leave the wife at home) $8-14 and Smoked which is where you want to focus on $32-38.  

Why do I think it's already one of the best restaurants in town? Chef Lewis has created an interesting, unique and  balanced menu and nails it. It's that simple.  Great products, great diverse flavors that enhance each dish along with perfect execution.  Consistency is king and they consistently deliver top caliber cuisine with every dish they serve. 

It should be noted that Michael and Steven are huge proponents of green and sustainable methods.  Thus, for every tree they burn in their wood burning oven, they replant 5 new trees.  They also attempt to reduce waste by using an Orca waste composter and plan on sourcing most food locally.  

smoked Duck breast "burnt ends" 

I had to lead with this dish because it is simply incredible.  Crispy burnt ends, juicy and flavorful duck flawlessly executed.  I've enjoyed a lot of great duck dishes along the way but this may be the best of the best. A must get. Word on the street is that the brisket may be better and i'm a huge brisket fan so stay tuned.  Winner, winner burnt ends dinner.

crisp Pork Belly steamed bun

beef Short Ribs, sweet soy and garlic 

crispy-spicy Hamachi Tartare

Grilled Octopus, hearts of palm, red onions and sudachi lime

Roasted Cauliflower and goat cheese, shishito-herb vinaigrette

Burrata, yuzu marmalade and toast

Squab & Herbs 

crispy banana and bourbon French Toast, salted butter and maple syrup (brunch menu)


(786) 577-0150

Monday: Closed

Tuesday - Saturday
12pm - 6pm
Tuesday - Wednesday
6pm - 12am
Thursday - Saturday
6pm - 1 am
Sunday Brunch:
Happy Hour:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Faena Hotel Miami Beach - Pao and Los Fuegos

Damien Hirst "Gone but not Forgotten"

I like to talk and write about food and not hotels or developers so I just deleted the four paragraphs I wrote about the Faena hotel. I'll leave you with the nutshell version so we can move on to more important things like food.

It's located at 3201 Collins Ave., on Miami Beach in the old Saxony Hotel. It's owned by Argentine developer Alan Faena and businessman Len Blavatnick. The project a/k/a the Faena District, stretches from 32nd Street to 35th Street between the oceanfront and Indian Creek. In addition to the hotel there is the Faena House condo, home to a record breaking 60 million dollar penthouse plus two restaurants, a theater, lounge and secret bar. There's probably more but I hate to bore (but coming soon shopping fans is the Faena Bazaar, plus a Marina on Indian Creek and a 50-room beach house in the former El Paraiso Apartments).

Oh and there are two excellent restaurants from prestigious chefs.  Francis Mallmann, famous for his open fire cooking style recently opened Los Fuegos which is a solid choice for my meat loving fans.  If you are unfamiliar with chef Mallmann I highly recommend watching his episode of Chef's Table on season one on Netflix.

Restaurant two, Pao features the modern cuisine of James Beard Award winning Paul Qui who you may have seen dominate season nine of Top Chef.

These are easily two of the best restaurants in town and also two of the most expensive restaurants in town.


I'm going to refrain from complaining about the awful tables for two awkwardly placed in the center of the room at Pao and stick to the food. It was a special occasion so I asked to move which I've never done before. Denied.  But the food was outstanding. The menu was interesting and the flavors and execution were top notch.  I'm looking forward to going back and working my way through the rest of the menu.  Hopefully, they will continue to add dishes and/or offer a tasting menu.

Damien Hirst "Golden Myth"

Our first course (above) was wheeled out whole and carved table side. 

Giant Clam, Fennel, Yuzu Mayo, Fresh Wasabi

Smoked Beetroot, hibiscus, dashi crispy sunchoke, hazelnut

Maguro & Olives
Seared Bluefin Tuna Akami, Castelvetrano Olives, Sanbaizu, Crispy Sweet Garlic

Bandera Texas Quail
Cha Lua Vietnamese Sausage, Hen Egg Gnudi, Coconut, Turmeric, Kalamansi. Best non quail quail dish I've had (sold out of the quail so they substituted shrimp). I missed the quail but the flavors of this dish excelled.

Pork Adobo Rice
Ginger Jasmine Rice, Pork Adobo, Fried Duck Egg, Cilantro, Dried Shrimp, Green Mango Pico

Hours of Operation
Dinner Only
6:00pm – 11:00pm (Sunday – Thursday)
6:00pm – 12:00am (Friday & Saturday)

For Information
Phone +1 786 655 5600 / + 1 844 798 9712

Sunday Asado, the traditional Argentine meal shared with family and friends goes down every Sunday at Los Fuegos. For those unfamiliar with a Sunday Asado all you really need to know is that you will eat well and eat a lot.  There will be delicious empanadas, meat, vegetables and sweetbreads cooked on the open fire. And salads too.

This was a very enjoyable meal and a fantastic way to spend a Sunday with family and friends.

I was fortunate to experience a recent Sunday Asado with fellow food lovers and writers as guests of Alan Faena. Evidence of the damage is below.

Wood Oven Empanada, hand cut prime filet, llagua sauce

Pink Grapefruit Salad, avocado, arugula, parmigiano-reggiano, roasted hazelnuts

Heirloom Tomato Salad, stracciatella di bufala, basil

Provoleta Parrillera, Argentine provolone cheese, fresh oregano, extra virgin olive oil

Grilled Vegetables

Crispy Polenta, watercress

Sweetbreads a la Parilla, chimichurri, burnt lemons

Chimichurri & Salsa Criolla

Parrillada - lechonito (marinated young pig, confit with fine herbs), entrana de ternera (lived skirt steak), ojo de bife (hanging slow cooked rib-eye), hanging chicken (wood smoked & slowly roasted), chorizo & morcilla, branzino, wild salmon.

No dessert for me.  We had sitter issues and had to leave before dessert so I did not get to try the famous dulce de leech pancakes.  Another reason to go back.

Hours of Operation
Lunch 12:00pm – 5:00pm
Dinner 6:00pm – 11:00pm (Sunday – Thursday)
6:00pm – 12:00am (Friday & Saturday)

More information
Phone +1 786 655 5600 / +1 844 798 9712

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Cartagena - Food Booze and a Wedding

The streets were colorful and so were the local fruits.  The fruit I sampled were packed with bursts of juicy flavors.  The street vendors provided an ample selection for your pre/post afternoon siesta snack.

The Granadilla is cut in half and the pulp and seeds are consumed directly.  The strained juice is used in drinks and durofrio. Lulu was another winner.

An Arepa stand on the streets.   

Cuba 1940 was a bar located near our hotel.  

El Baron was a fantastic recommendation by Gabriel Orta of Broken Shaker fame who happens to be a Colombian native.  This should be on your must do list. 

Puro - Ron Dictador 12, caramelized onion syrup, blend of bitters, cigar smoke.  

Rubicon - Tanqueray, green chartreuse, rosemary, orgeat, cherry bitters, lime juice.

Bartenders working hard.

The Puro was more my speed but I really enjoyed the spicy kick this provided.  I think it was called a Jalisco, Don Julio Blanco, cointreau, white port, blend of bitters, lime juice and a flaming jalapeƱo.


Our first meal was at Restaurante Don Juan  which is run by Chef Juan Felipe Camacho who cooked at Spain’s Michelin-starred Arzak.

Pulpo a la brasa con tocino (bacon), papas confitadas, tomates secos y crema agria.

Jumbo shrimp risotto with fresh tomatoes, mascarpone and parmesan cheese.

My second meal was a late solo lunch at El Boliche Cebicheria.  This was number one on my to do list and I was really looking forward to their fresh fish and local flavors.  And it did not disappoint.  Oscar Colmenares resume includes stops at the three Michelin-Star kitchen of Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian and Astrid & Gaston and Rafael Osterling in Bogota.

El Boliche was so good that I had to take down three ceviches and almost four.   

A La Piedra -  langostinos, butifarra parrillades, huevo de codorniz con sal de Jamaica, sobre una piedra caliente en la cual se vierte el caldo marino, para aromatizar el cebiche, rollos de maiz.  

Coco - pescado blanco, calamar, camaron, pulpo, caracol, leche de coco, cebolla roja, cilantro, aji dulce, aji amarillo, coco natural, y deshidratado.

Tamarindo - pescado blanco, calamar, camaron, pulpo, caracol, cebolla roja, cilantro, aji dulce, pepino  y salsa de tamarindo.


La Cevicheria was conveniently located across the street from my hotel so I had to pop in for more ceviche.

I had the best seat in the house, one of two located adjacent to the ceviche counter.

Ceviche de Langosta en zumo de mandarina y limon.

I really wanted the arroz negro tinta de calamar (squid ink) BUT minimo dos personas.  Hola!!! I eat for two all the time.  I blame the language  barrier for that fumble.

Instead I went with Paella Tropical Mulata, heche en zumo de coco con sabres de vegetables y mariscos frescos unidos en un arroz absolutamente caribeno.

Desayuno de championes - Desayuno Costeno, una arepa de huevo con carne, un patacon, queso costeno, casabe (galleta de yuca)

The Wedding.  The Groom. And some hardcore Wedding Crashers.  Awesome night.

Down goes Berry!!!!!!