Miami's contemporary restaurant scene is a hit or miss of “sceney” hangouts, Northeast imports, jazzed-up seafood joints, and pimped-out steakhouses. A far cry from the predictable, recognizable chains and strip mall eateries, Florida’s glam revival has ushered in a new wave of more original eating establishments which merit bragging rights for both the food and the clientele. From boutique sushi counters to re-invented steakhouses to high-end Pan-Asian trendsetters that fulfill all your fat-kid fantasies, below are South Florida’s best bets for fabulous sushi, bloody steaks with decadent sides, and show-stopping super-sized portions.
Raw Surf Blue Sea (1685 Collins Ave) – Tucked behind the front lobby of the Delano Hotel, Blue Sea is South Florida’s superlative sushi experience. People watching from a Philippe Starck-designed barstool alongside 18 beautiful strangers will be enough to entertain your wildest sushi and sake needs. You can watch the chefs assemble remarkable creations just an arms length away, like the Wild Coho Salmon Tartare (with olive and soy tapenade and fried ginger), the riceless Smokey Roll (with four types of smoked fish and caviar), the Yakuza Roll (BBQ eel, avocado, and boursin cheese with spicy masago and eel sauce), and California rolls with real Blue or King crab. The team is well skilled at matching your selections with the 18 different sakes (or enormous cocktail list) and providing the most genuine service on South Beach.
Thick Turf The Forge (432 Forty First Street) – Miami’s legendary steakhouse has resurfaced after a prolonged facelift (appropriately timed during the recession), unveiling a vanguard bastion of glamor and elegance. The Forge’s seductive design interior is arguably the city’s fiercest. The whimsical library room, the purple accents to contrast the carved wooden walls and the stained glass ceilings, and the former bank vault that now houses Miami’s largest wine collection all live out the imagination of a storybook fantasy. The new menu matches the ingenuity and caliber of design with items like the grilled shrimp waffle, the lobster PB & J, the local tomato stack, the black and white sesame seared tuna and the full gamut of meats, including the Oak Grilled Super Steak, named the “Best Steak in America” by Wine Spectator magazine. The pick your own pour, automated wine machine spans the perimeter of the restaurant, allowing you to sample several wines across courses.
Xtra Girth Philippe (2305 Collins Ave) – Philippe Chow’s conception of Asian flavors for the American palate has fostered a menu of Chinese-American overindulgence and insane portions. Ironically, come 10pm the trendy restaurant, located below the Gansevoort South, swells with skinny bitches, Muscle Marys, shapely womanizers, Miami’s who’s-who and well camouflaged imposters to sample Phillippe’s award winning lobster tempura, sweet and salty fried seaweed, and the spinach battered wok-fried shrimp while keeping the skin tight couture from expanding. Though the portions and presentation are indeed admired, they are more for show. Dining at Philippe is all about over ordering and sampling tons of rich, innovative dishes, exclaiming “OMG” when you try them, and avoiding eater’s remorse by taking just a few bites (while enticing your frenemies to eat more). The traveling Chinese dragon and accompanying music add an element of panache and fun to the quintessential SoBe stand and pose scene (against a backdrop of all white). Try to save some room for the mouth watering Red Velvet Cake, so far my global favorite in the quest for the ultimate Red Velvet Cake!
–Paul Rubio of AmazingGayTravel.com