By Brenda from the Whet Palette
Follow this handy guide to find, dine and get inspired for new product concepts with your favorite TV chefs in Miami!
We can’t really blame them for wanting to set up shop in paradise. The year-long balmy weather and endless waterways have lured in the crowds for decades. More importantly, at this very moment, our dining scene happens to be at the top its game. Trending. With a capital T.
Featured for their cooking on Top Chef, Chopped, and Chef’s Table, from South Beach to Fort Lauderdale, the following chef-driven restaurants top our must-do list. No need to pack your knives, just go!
Featured on an episode of Netflix Chef’s Table, Argentine grill master Francis Mallmann takes the viewers on a journey to the South America region of Patagonia, as he showcases his culinary prowess. The food at Los Fuegos, based on the ancient art of live-fire cooking, remains rustic despite the restaurant’s posh and extravagant digs. Visit on a Sunday for lunch, to participate in the weekly four-course Asado Feast.
Must Order: The Lamb Rack. I’ve yet to find a better version in all of Miami-Dade County. Don’t miss the hand-cut prime filet Empanadas. Better than your mami’s version. Promise. End with the dulce de leche-filled, Napoleon dessert. It's not on the menu; just ask!
Before her Chopped victory and stardom, local talent Adrienne Grenier began her career at 3030 Ocean in east Fort Lauderdale’s Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. Many years later, now as a seasoned professional in the industry, she leads the kitchen as the Executive Chef. Grenier's passionate commitment to using only high quality and fresh ingredients sets the bar high. Tourists and in-the-know locals alike repeatedly rank 3030 as one of Broward’s best.
Must Order: Any seafood item listed on the menu and the Jackman Ranch Bone-In Wagyu Ribeye.
PAO by Paul Qui
Matching the Faena Hotel’s glamorous interiors, Damien Hirst’s $6M golden-leafed unicorn sits center stage anchoring the oval-shaped dining room. But it's not all looks at PAO. Serving modern Asian cuisine, Chef Paul Qui (winner of the Best Southwest Chef- James Beard Award 2012 and Season 9’s Top Chef) strikes gold at this Miami Beach venture. His army of hard to resist dishes on the menu can disarm even the most discerning food enthusiast. Delivering outstanding food, service, and ambiance, this one’s a triple threat.
Must Order: Unicorn (think uni + corn) dish (grilled sweet corn pudding, kalamansi, chile de arbor, and lime) and the hot East Side Fried Chicken (sweet chili sauce, roasted banana ketchup, jalapeño).
South Florida’s first Food Network Chopped winner, Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli, also happens to be a devoted local. Choosing to stay in his hometown after winning, he opened Eating House as a pop-up restaurant that thankfully later materialized into a permanent spot. You will be hard-pressed to find another Miami-esque restaurant with as much attitude, soul, and sass than his. Side dish: the annual sold-out 420 Dinner is one for the not-your-usual-restaurant file (and probably your bucket list too). Think stoner-themed. Think munchies. Think mucho fun.
Must Order: Cuban Bread Torrejas with guava, Iron Beer syrup, and cream cheese. It is Miami, after all. The Cap’ N Crunch Pancakes with condensed milk syrup, candied cereal, and vanilla butter must be experienced.
Stiltsville Fish Bar
Chefs Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis found success in New York City after their Top Chef appearances, but the newly opened Stiltstville brings them back home once again. Drawing inspiration off the neighborhood and nearby turquoise coastal waters, they’ve created an approachable yet exciting menu, sourced as close to home as possible.
Must Order: Whatever the Daily Catch happens to be. Also, the addictive Sweet Corn Spoon Bread (top with a Butter Poached Lobster if you are feeling feisty) and the Buffalo Fish Wings with chili lime hot sauce. You are welcome.
After leaving his position at Matador Room by icon Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Season 13 Top Chef winner, Jeremy Ford, is enjoying some much-deserved success in South Beach. The upscale Michelin-worthy dishes contrast nicely with the casual vibe and hip decor. Top Chef fans take note, there’s even a crudo on the menu. Of course there is.
Must order: Splurge for the tasting menu. Close your eyes and let the night take the blame. Ford manages to engage all the senses with each version he delivers, in the most provocative way. The Foie Gras, Lavash, House-Made Pasta, Warm Celery Root, Umami Short Rib are all menu standouts. And no matter how full you think you are, leave room for dessert.