12 Essential Restaurants in the Miami Design DistrictJuliana Accioly
The Miami Design District brings visitors in droves for its designer boutiques, chic galleries, and art-filled showrooms. But it is also a place in which eating is often not something to do between activities, it is the activity. The ultra high-end shopping destination has some of the best places in town to visit for a meal.
From a Cuban food truck to projects from Michelin-caliber chefs, here are the stops to make when hopping around the Design District.
1. Mandolin Aegean Bistro
The menu at Mandolin Aegean Bistro is best described as Greek with Turkish nuances, showcasing classic dishes of baked feta, chicken kebabs, kofte, roasted cauliflower, and olive tapenade. Lamb chops and orzo pilaf are standout entrees and sangria is the perfect drink to sip on in this restored white-washed 1940’s predominately open-air restaurant.
2. Le Jardinier
If anyone can spin a refined vegetable-forward menu is Michelin-starred French chef Alain Verzeroli. A nice stretch of bar, an outdoor dining area done in white and green, and a fancy, light-filled interior provide the setting for preparations à la française such as spelt risotto mixed with ramps and spring radish and a caramelized artichoke and asparagus quiche, enhanced with smoke gouda and dill. Plating at Le Jardinier is as exquisite as is its blend of local, seasonal produce, fresh herbs, and greens, also found in refreshing cocktails and its vegan ic cream or strawberry eclair with Meyer lemon confit.
3. L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
After one meal here it is easy to understand why master chef Joel Robuchon earned a record number of Michelin stars across his restaurant group. Three years after his death, the legacy of his French haute cuisine lives on with its intensity of flavors and precise technique. There’s scallop bathed in cilantro broth and coconut emulsion, and a calamari and beef and foie gras burger accented by multi-colored peppers. Spiced Long Island duck and Dover sole are also excellent options, along with a nine-course seasonal tasting menu. Similar to its counterparts around the world, the 3,400-square-foot interior features dramatic lighting, bold colors, walls outfitted with polished rosewood, custom-made red leather Italian seating, flame-brushed granite flooring, and black painted ceilings.
4. ZZ's Club
Refined seafood from ZZ’s Clam Bar shares the stage with a sushi and a private members club at Major Food Group’s latest local outpost. It’s on two floors, decked out in fun, tropical decor. Central to its menu is a full omakase experience by Sushi Zo veterans Kevin Kim and Masashi (Masa) Ito, served at the 16-seat, custom-marbled sushi bar. An a la carte list of modern Japanese raw and cooked dishes is offered in the indoor-outdoor dining areas, with choices ranging from steamed lobster dumplings to whole crispy snapper to cooked plates of wagyu on custom-built charcoal grill, and toast topped with trout roe and honey.
Designed by Francois Frossard, Okami (whose name is the Japanese word for “wolf”) features outdoor dining, a sushi bar and a second-level lounge overlooking the courtyard. Cuban-American actor William Levy and Pedro Orihuela run the stylish eatery, that features a menu of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines with some Latin-American influences thrown in. A meal here should begin with pulpo anticucho or a tuna tataki appetizer, before progressing to an entree such as wagyu short rib in teriyaki glaze and wasabi gel, or a plate of misoyaki black cod serve with truffled black quinoa, ponzu sauce, hajikame, and yamamomo.
6. Caja Caliente
Mika Leon’s restaurant on wheels whips up stellar Cuban comfort food, a mix of her popular lechon, vaca frita and octopus tacos, sandwiches, tamales, and customizable bowls. Leon’s mom, Lupita, serves her plantain pastelon, a “Cuban Lasagna,” which has layers of fried plantains, picadillo, and cheese, as well as the fan-favorite arroz con pollo.
7. Michael's Genuine
Chef Michael Schwartz opened this cozy bistro in the Design District in 2007 and it is still standing upon its same original foundation of American-style offerings and warm hospitality. It offers crispy pig ears, Korean kimchi, and a list of pizza options, along with dishes of wood-oven roasted fish, stracciatella, and mezze. The lively weekday happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. is a great time to visit and enjoy the outdoor seating.
8. Cote Miami
Restaurateur Simon Kim’s high-brow version of a Korean barbecue steakhouse serves dishes like steak tartare, or a shareable dish of steak and eggs, or even caviar service, but the best way to order is the Butcher’s Feast, a chef’s selection of four cuts of meat, accompanied by savory egg souffle, two stews, rice, and other Korean sides priced at $58 per person. The menu also highlights different prime meat choices, each grilled at the table Korean barbecue-style on tableside smokeless grills, and a 10-course steak omakase, available for $165 per person to pair with wine. Cote’s award-winning beverage program offers hard-to-find vintages, large format bottles, and cocktails inspired by the Magic City.
9. Mia Market Miami
Whether in need a shot of espresso or a Middle Eastern food spread, this food hall makes for a great stop during a shopping spree. Aromas of rotisserie chicken, beef pho, short rib tacos, and other dishes perfume the interior, vying for attention. It’s hard to stick with just one offering, but a few standouts include the comforting dish of Dal Plin’s porcini mushroom fettuccini, Coop’s double cheeseburger, or Sushi Yasu Tanaka’s 10-piece omakase feast, priced at $59. The center bar offers plenty of cocktail options to pair with the food.
The first brother-sister duo to be named as semifinalists for James Beard Award Rising Star Chef of the Year, Valerie and Nando Chang work alongside their father, Fernando “Papa” Chang, to offer a Nikkei-inspired menu of Japanese-Peruvian dishes. The many tiraditos are standouts at this 4,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor eatery, along with inventive ceviches such as La Punta, made with tuna, salsa verde, tostones, and leche de tigre blanca. There are also sushi bar specials, and bañadito rolls, the restaurant’s tiradito and sushi roll mash-up.
11. Pura Vida Design District
Omer and Jennifer Horev’s restaurant is a healthy-food favorite, with diners coming in at all hours of the day looking for a wholesome meal. Walk away energized for another round of shopping after dining on one of the many vegan options, such as empanadas, hummus and pita, dragon fruit acai bowl, a egg sandwich, and a pesto tuna wrap to pair with a superfood smoothie or a juice shot.
12. Harry's Pizzeria
Short rib with caramelized onion and rock shrimp over lemon and manchego are some of thepalate-pleasing options on Michael Schwartz’s thin-crust pizza menu. Diners can also indulge their craving for creamy Caesar salad, crunch pepperoni chips, and hearty meatballs in sauce.ORIGINAL SOURCE