Known for its culinary diversity and for hosting the widely acclaimed South Beach Food & Wine Festival, Greater Miami and the Beaches serves up a myriad of options for visitors looking for unique top-notch dining experiences. Here are three restaurants we recently dined at that deliver a great vibe and are highly recommended for your client’s must-try list next time they swing by South Florida.
These 3 Miami Dining Hot Spots Are Guaranteed to Satisfy
For our first recommendation, we’re giving a loud round of applause to Neya in Surfside, known as Miami’s uptown beach community and adjacent to Bal Harbour, with nearby hotels like The Ritz Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami and Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club. This kitchen+bar concept, which opened earlier this year, offers a non-kosher, modern Israeli culinary experience with an open kitchen design (it features a Josper charcoal oven).
Neya’s menu features exquisite dishes that are strongly influenced by the gastronomies of Spain, North Africa and the Middle East; they range from small plates and crudos to mezze and large plates.
The food is spectacular, and one of the reasons for this is that besides using the freshest ingredients, we are told many of the spices come direct from Israel, giving this 99-seat cozy, but contemporary restaurant an authentic flair. While everything we ordered was scrumptious, we highly recommend the Hamachi ceviche made with roasted melon and fennel gazpacho as well as the yellowfin tuna tartare, served with spiced eggplant. Both are accompanied by homemade pita chips. Also exceptional is the roasted eggplant with tahini and feta and the wild mushroom flatbread with truffles and crispy Brussel sprouts coated with a turmeric tahini. Large plates include seafood paella, short rib and grilled branzino. Adding to the ambiance is the low lighting, which gives the restaurant a romantic flair. The bar area—where diners can opt to sit—is quite inviting and signature cocktails include lychee blossom martini and a passion Bellini. neyarestaurant.com
Hiyakawa—Straight from Japan
In the heart of Miami’s arty and trendy Wynwood neighborhood sits the recently opened Hiyakawa, a highly exclusive and truly authentic Japanese restaurant. Here, a modern vibe melds organically with Japanese tradition. Fresh seasonal fish is flown in daily from Japan, giving guests choices that no other restaurant offers in South Florida. Owner Alvaro Perez Miranda, who lived in Japan for 15 years and owned 33 restaurants during his time there, has created a reservation-only, 50-seat dining establishment that delivers on its promise. “My goal for Hiyakawa is to show how things are done in Japan, both the food and the culture,” says Miranda. “There are few restaurants in Miami where you go just for the food. Here we have patience, quiet. The restaurant is not about a scene; it is about having a nice conversation. It’s not loud; it’s a real gastronomic experience. Japan in Miami. We only serve 50 people a day, no more than that. We have a broker in Japan that sends us the highest quality fish, and you will see/taste the difference.” The restaurant takes only small group reservations (max of four per group), so guests can connect with the food. As a Zen student in Japan, Miranda was taught that when you connect with the food, there is a sense of euphoria, where your cells are regenerating, and “that is healthy,” he notes.
“All my staff is Japanese. My partner was born in Okinawa. My idea is to transport you to Japan, to give you a true Japanese experience, not only with the food, but the cultural part, so our service is based on Japanese hospitality, paying close attention to details including the ‘sensei,’ the sensibility.” For instance, soy sauce is served in a cup with brushes—you “paint” the sauce onto your sushi. You are also given your choice of sake cups to drink from. We painted the aforementioned soy sauce onto a varied selection of seasonal/exclusive fish—sashimi and sushi of black throat sea perch, Japanese chum salmon, Japanese horse mackerel, fatty tuna and Hokkaido sea urchin. There is also perfectly prepared shrimp tempura and special saki. Also on the menu are meat selections such as lamp chops and Wagyu beef gyoza, perfectly done! As for the design of the restaurant, Miranda tells us he wanted to create a space that is truly special. And he did just that by working with a designer that created a ceiling of natural curved wood beams accentuated with back lighting—it’s a piece of art. Augmented by concrete floor, it’s a very minimalist ambiance; it’s soothing. hiyakawamiami.com
doma Wynwood—Trendy Vibe
Those who want a vibrant, bustling, music-pumping experience, which we encountered midweek, should try the Italian restaurant doma, also in the heart of Wynwood. This restaurant is not new, but it sports a new menu and an outdoor private enclosed seating area in addition to the inside seating. During our dining experience, the bar area was hopping with people and the restaurant inside and outside was packed. We could observe the chef and team busily preparing dishes in the open kitchen concept. Starting with classic cocktails, we enjoyed a Negroni and lychee martini. The restaurant has a nice selection of wine by the bottle but also by the glass, ranging from Prosecco to sauvignon blanc, rose and brunello di Montalcino and cabernet sauvignon. The menu features a nice variety of pasta, fish and meat dishes but recommend clients try our favorites—fine herbs marinated hamachi crudo to start and then a signature classic pasta dish tagliolini al tartufo nero, which had black truffle, French butter and parmesan cheese. Yes, to die for! I might add that not only was the food delightful to eat, but the artistry of the dishes was also quite creative. Owner Luca Lomonaco is on hand to welcome guests and make sure they are content during their dining experience. domawynwood.com