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5 Great Dining Experiences in Miami

by Robert Adams

The best part of this experience, besides the food, was the opportunity to dine al fresco every night.

(Photo by Mia2you)

As frequent travelers, we appreciate the many dining options available today. From classic comfort food to the latest culinary trends, you will find a wonderful selection of restaurants from which to choose in Miami and Miami Beach. During a recent trip, we had the opportunity to dine at four exceptional venues, and one amazing roadside attraction serving some of the best gelato in South Florida. The best part of this experience, besides the food, was the opportunity to dine al fresco every night. So pack your bags, grab a fork, and join us for dinner and dessert in one of our favorite destinations.

A Fish Called Avalon

Patio Dining

For 30 years, A Fish Called Avalon has set the standard for culinary excellence, celebrated for its award-winning cuisine, impeccable service, and the freshest seafood. Located in the Art Deco Avalon Hotel in the heart of South Beach, A Fish Called Avalon is widely renowned for its innovative menu creations, artistically crafted for the past ten years under the direction of Executive Chef Kal Abdalla.

A native of the Syrian island of Arwad, Chef Kal is truly a culinary artist, and his creations reflect his worldwide travels, with French, Mediterranean, and Asian influences, masterfully adding layers of flavor and texture to modern American dishes.

Crab Crusted Grouper

There are many must-haves on the menu. We started with the grilled Spanish octopus, and spicy tuna tartare, and then moved onto the main dishes. The macadamia crusted snapper and the Orzo Seafood Paella were two of our favorites, as was the filet mignon served with leek potato mash, steamed spinach, Roquefort cheese and a cabernet reduction sauce. Make sure to leave room for dessert; Chef Kal’s pecan crusted key lime pie bested 470 entries to win 1st place at the American Pie Council’s National Pie Championships and it lives up to its accolades.

Key Lime Pie

Enjoy the outdoor patio dining, with views of the beach and live music from a Latin-Caribbean duo. A Fish Called Avalon is also the ideal spot to meet with friends for an informal happy hour seven days a week, with some of their most popular menu items available at the bar, specially priced from 6 P.M. until 11 P.M.. 700 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. Tel:305-532-1727. www.afishcalledavalon.com

Irma’s

Al Fresco Dining at Irma’s

Named after the powerful South Florida hurricane of 2017, Irma’s is a tropical outdoor bar at the epicenter of W South Beach. Serving artisanal tiki style cocktails and light bites, we found this to be an ideal spot to spend the evening enjoying the ocean breezes, palm trees, and some of our favorite comfort food. While Irma’s is officially open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, guests are welcome to sit outside any time and enjoy the ambiance with drinks and menu items from the Living Room Bar.

Poached Gulf Shrimp

Start with their poached gulf shrimp served in a bowl of ice with spicy horseradish sauce and wedges of lemon, or their fresh guacamole with pico de gallo and tortilla chips. We accompanied our appetizers with Ketel One Vodka martini’s that were huge! For our main course that night the choices were simple: a Maine lobster roll with tarragon aioli and mixed greens for me; and the double cheddar burger with aged cheese and their secret sauce on a sesame bun for my husband.

Double Cheddar Burger

If you dream of enjoying delicious classic food outdoors in a tropical setting, this place is for you. Afterwards we walked around the pool area and discovered that their pool is heated and quite inviting. During our next visit to Miami Beach, we may have to book a suite at the W South Beach and dine at Irma’s every night! 2201 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. Tel: 305-938-3000. www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/miaws-w-south-beach 

MILA

If you want a unique place to celebrate with friends, or enjoy a romantic meal with someone special, MILA is the perfect choice. This new rooftop restaurant, located within walking distance of the beach, is a feast for all the senses.

According to the owners, “MILA was created with the intent of giving guests a place to slow down, disconnect from the outside world, and live in the moment with loved ones. MILA appeals to inquisitive people, explorers and experience-seekers who…have an appetite for discovery, newness, and having a good time.”

MILA Rooftop Bar

MILA’s cuisine is inspired by Asian and Mediterranean eating practices. The artfully balanced menu designed by Executive Chef Nicolas Mazier delivers a culinary story that marries health and nutrition with sensorial textures, flavors, and beautifully plated dishes.

Maine Lobster Rosemary Truffle

The night we were there, we tried an assortment of their signature dishes, including a daikon salad crab roll with lobster bisque and Ossetra caviar; seared Wagyu carpaccio with a black garlic emulsion and black truffle; Temaki style nicoise salad with sesame dressing; zucchini flowers and ricotta ravioli in miso truffle broth; and Colorado lamb chops with a shiso cilantro pesto.

Japanese Bouillabaisse Soup

MILA’s bar program is curated by Diageo World Class award-winning mixologists Jennifer Le Nechet and Mido Yahi, who pay homage to the artisans, brewers, distillers, and farmers across the globe that provide beverages and ingredients that fuse the past with the present and evoke the spirit of “Eudaimonia”—the Greek word meaning peace of mind and contented happy state when traveling. Enjoying exceptional food and drinks in a stunning setting doesn’t get much better than this.

 

MILA Crusta

Thanks to owners Gregory and Marine Galy for creating this wonderful culinary experience in Miami Beach. 800 Lincoln Road (entrance on Meridian Avenue), Miami Beach. Tel: 786-706-0744. www.milarestaurant.com

The Deck at Island Gardens

Considered to be Miami’s most exquisite waterfront restaurant and al fresco lounge, The Deck offers endless views of Biscayne Bay and Downtown Miami, with amazing megayachts docked right next door in the harbor. Add to this the culinary creativity of Executive Chef Alfio Longo and you will soon know why this is an exciting new dining experiences not to be missed.

Seafood Tower for Brunch at The Deck

Trained in multiple Michelin-starred restaurants, Chef Longo’s new Mediterranean menu is inspired by his native coastal Italian regions and reflects sun-drenched destinations such as Cote d’Azur, Mykonos, and Costa del Sol. Our choices for dinner included an amazing Faroe Island wild caught salmon a la plancha, with citrus swiss chard and braised fennel; and a mouth-watering Genovese style trofie pasta with basil, pinenuts, and parmigiano reggiano.

Cucumber Avocado Salad

Tuna Tartare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deck truly has something for everyone, including their Sunset Sparkling Happy Hour, Sunday Brunch Buffet, Saturday Lunch, and other signature events. On Thursday nights from 8 P.M. until late is Forget Me Not, their newest event that starts with dinner and transitions into an evening with sultry sounds by resident DJ Vincent Daubas and sexy performances. This al fresco dinner party under the stars is sure to impress your friends and business associates.

We had a fantastic dinner at one of their Forget Me Not events, and enjoyed people watching as much as the food and music. At about 10 P.M. a group of 20 women in little black dresses arrived and took up residence in the front of the dining terrace near the DJ both. As champagne flowed and seafood platters were presented, eight servers with giant sparklers approach the table as the DJ played the theme music from the Godfather movie.

Capri on My Mind

Our host the night we were there was Marco Maccioni from Le Cirque New York. He now lives in Miami and brings to The Deck his appreciation for good food, drink, entertainment, and La Dolce Vita, which you will discover when you visit this one-of-a-kind dining experience in Miami.888 MacArthur Causeway (Watson Island Park) Miami. Tel: 786-627-4949. www.islandgardens.com

Stefano Versace Gelato

Stefano Versace Gelato (photo by Gio Alma)

After having a conversation with friends who owned a gelateria in Urbino, Italy, Stefano Versace decided that he would travel to Miami to try his hand at building a brand that highlights the unique and qualities that makes gelato so special.

With only $133 in cash, but lots of enthusiasm and passion, Stefano opened his first gelateria in 2012 and quickly realized that he had found his calling as a Gelato entrepreneur. Through his commitment, and focusing on unparalleled quality and craftsmanship, Stefano Versace Gelato has grown in a few short years to more than 20 shops throughout Florida. At each of his locations, you can enjoy much more than their world-famous gelato with new breakfast, lunch and happy hour menus.

We discovered Stefano Versace Gelato one afternoon as we were walking back to our hotel, the AxelBeach Miami. Located at 1600 Collins Avenue in the Art Deco Historic District is a small Fiat 500 has been turned into a gelateria that features Stefano Versace’s award-winning gelato “Profumi di Sicilia,” which consists of a unique combination of ingredients such as fresh ricotta, cannolo, caramelized fruit, Bronte pistachio (an original of Sicily and rated best in the world), shredded lemon and orange peel, caramel, chocolate grains, and almonds. All ingredients are completely natural and imported directly from Italy.

As Stefano Versace continues to realize his dream, he invites you to come enjoy this Italian tradition that brings smiles to faces across the world. www.stefanoversacegelato.com

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