The kind of Cuban fare your wise abuela (grandmother) used to make still holds Miami in its loving, sofrito-scented grasp. But now, in addition to the perfectly executed croquetas you’ve come to expect, Peruvian tiraditos (raw fish) and Venezuelan arepas also dominate the dining scene. Meanwhile, chefs greet fishermen at their back doors, grow their own gardens, and forage tropical fruit from their neighbours to create new and noteworthy dishes.

Signature Restaurant Experiences

The Spillover, photo by Camilo Rojas

Stubborn Seed by Jeremy Ford

Technique is not everything at this South Beach establishment, a partnership between chef Jeremy Ford and Grove Bay Hospitality Group, but every dish includes Ford’s hands-on expertise. He brings to Stubborn Seed a palate for concentrated flavours, a nose for superior local supplies and an eye for beauty. The resulting dishes are created with somewhat simple ingredients—such as Warm Celery Root with crackling maitake, creamy mustard, topped with herbs and blossoms—but are complex in presentation and texture. Ford trained under chefs known for their exacting attitudes, such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten, for whom he headed up the Matador Room at The Miami Beach EDITION.

“There are so many talented chefs in the Miami area, and we are gaining more recognition on the national stage, especially with all the [recent] well-deserved James Beard nominations. The dining scene in Miami is well-cultured and driven by the locals.” —Chef Jeremy Ford, Stubborn Seed

The Spillover

While plenty of restaurants in Miami serve regional, sustainable fish, no one does it quite like The Spillover, where dishes are complemented by ciders, meads and craft cocktails. Located in Coconut Grove, this is one of restaurateur Matt “Kush” Kuscher’s places. Kuscher likes to keep the vibe in his restaurants—Kush, Vicky’s Place, LoKal and Stephens Delicatessen est. 1954—casual, so no need to dress up to enjoy his jambalaya cooked with locally caught grouper and sausage from artisanal maker Proper Sausages. For a sweet experience, pair a flight of mead with several courses, starting with the Florida fish dip, which has a sweet and smoky flavour, and ending with Kuscher’s mom’s guava bread pudding.

More Great Restaurants

Photo courtesy Doggi’s Arepa Bar.

Breakfast: Zak the Baker

Wynwood’s Zak the Baker supplies Miami’s finest restaurants with artisanal bread. You can also enjoy it at the source by ordering one of three toasted options at the café: cream and lox, avocado and feta or beet and feta.

Lunch: Doggi’s Arepa Bar

Doggi’s Arepa Bar, in the Upper Eastside’s MiMo District, is a hearty Venezuelan way to fill up. Enjoy South American street food at its finest such as shredded chicken or beef arepas with a side of tequeños—cheese in fried dough.

Dinner: Stiltsville Fish Bar

Regional fish meets Southern cooking at Stiltsville Fish Bar in South Beach. Try dishes such as Buffalo fish “wings” with chili-lime hot sauce and sweet corn spoon bread with the butter-poached lobster.

Sweet Desserts

Café Crème, photo by Felipe Cuevas.

Café Crème

It’s Napoleons, fruit tarts and croissants all day and into the night at Café Crème’s two locations, one in Upper Buena Vista—just north of the Design District—and one in North Miami.


For Cuban pastelitos (pastries) filled with tangy guava paste or savoury empanadas, head to Little Havana, where Pastelmania lives up to its hype.

Guayaba y Chocolate

Visit Guayaba y Chocolate to see why founder and chocolatier Alejandra Bigai chooses to work with Venezuelan single origin cacao. Her beautifully patterned, colourful bonbons feature tropically inspired fillings that range from mango to café con leche.

Wine, Beer and Cocktails

Concrete Beach Brewery, photo by Julia Rose.

For Wine: Lagniappe

Sit in the courtyard at Lagniappe, a Big Easy-inspired wine bar, and sip your favourite vintage. Enjoy the cheeses and charcuterie selection while listening to live music every evening.

For Brews: Concrete Beach Brewery

Craft beer drinkers head to Wynwood’s Concrete Beach Brewery, which offers a rotating selection of beers—including small-batch suds—on tap and by the keg, growler, can or bottle.

For Cocktails: The Anderson

For unique cocktails, such as the gin-based Hey You Guys!, Upper East Side locals gather at The Anderson, sibling to Broken Shaker, located at the Freehand Miami Hotel on Miami Beach.

Must-have Foodie Experience

Photo courtesy La Mar by Gastón Acurio.

Tiraditos with a Twist

At La Mar by Gastón Acurio, located in the Mandarin Oriental, Miami, you’ll find delicious Peruvian tiraditos—raw fish cut like sashimi—designed by chef Gastón Acurio and prepared by executive chef Diego Oka. Tiraditos are available all over Miami, but these are possibly the finest in quality and variety. They include the Nikkei (tuna, chives, sesame butter and pickled vegetables) and the Quemado (snapper, calamari and smoked cherry heirloom tomatoes).


[This story appears in the November 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine]