A guide to Miami for AAD's 71st annual meeting

January 31, 2013

When dermatologists descend on Miami Beach in March for the 71st American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting, they’ll enjoy a global city known for its clear blue waters and white sandy beaches set against a backdrop that includes a unique art deco landscape and a rich cultural mix. Remember to enjoy the show and, even more, enjoy the city.

With so many different cultures in Miami, the influence on flavors is almost overwhelming. Known as the capital of New World Cuisine, the city’s landscape of renowned eateries is constantly evolving. Whatever you're craving, chances are it's being served somewhere. Restaurants around the area represent cuisines from all over the world. Hungry visitors can dine alfresco or indoors, casual or extravagant, international or Caribbean. No matter what you find, your taste buds will thank you.

Azul

500 Brickell Key Drive

Location: At the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

phone: (305) 913-8358

mandarinoriental.com/miami/dining/azul

prices: Main courses $24-$55

Reservations strongly recommended

Azul is one of the most upscale, prettiest and priciest waterfront restaurants in town. The views of the city skyline nearly rival the food. Executive chef Clay Conley creates a tour de force of international cuisine, inspired by Caribbean, French, Argentine, Asian and even American flavors. The restaurant’s décor - with its views, high ceilings, walls burnished in copper and silk-covered chairs - is complemented by sparkling jewels, in this case, the food.

A La Folie

516 Espanola Way

Location: South Beach

phone: (305) 538-4484

alafoliecafe.com

prices:Main courses $5-$10

A La Folie is an authentic French café in which wooden booths and walls full of foreign newspapers and magazines make you double-check your plane ticket to ensure you’re still in Miami. The restaurant features some of the best café fare in the city, including hugely-portioned sandwiches such as the French favorite croque monsieur, salads, crepes and, of course, café au lait and plenty of wine. Indoor and outdoor seating are equally conducive to whiling away many hours sipping coffee.

AltaMar

1223 Lincoln Road

Location: Miami Beach

phone: (305) 532-3061

altamarrestaurant.com

prices:Main courses $32 on average

Reservations accepted

This fabulous seafood house, located between North Miami and Aventura, specializes in home-style cooking featuring fresh sea bass, crabs, lobster and shrimp, all coupled with fresh seasonal vegetable sides. On weekends, expect a long wait.

Caffe Abbracci

318 Aragon Ave.

Location: 1 block north of Miracle Mile, Coral Gables

phone: (305) 441-0700

caffeabbracci.com

prices: Main courses $15-$40

Reservations recommended

You’ll understand why this restaurant’s name translates as “hugs” in Italian the moment you enter the dark, romantic enclave. The homemade black-and-red ravioli filled with lobster in pink sauce, risotto with porcini and portobello mushrooms, and the house specialty - grilled veal chop topped with tricolor salad - are irresistible and perhaps the culinary equivalent of a warm, embracing hug. A cozy bar and lounge were added recently to further encourage the warm and fuzzy feelings.

Cafe Ragazzi

9500 Harding Ave.

Location: Surfside, Miami Beach

phone: (305) 866-4495

caferagazzi.com

prices: Main courses: $10-$25

Reservations accepted

This diminutive Italian café, with its rustic decor and a swift, knowledgeable waitstaff, enjoys great success for its tasty, simple pastas. The spicy puttanesca sauce with a subtle hint of fish is perfectly prepared. Also recommended is the salmon with radicchio. You can choose from many salads and carpacci, too. Ragazzi has a faithful following of regulars, so be prepared for the crowd spilling on the street - especially on weekend nights.

Capital Grille

444 Brickell Ave.

Location: Downtown

phone: (305) 374-4500

thecapitalgrille.com

prices: Main courses $21-$35

Reservations recommended

The best of all the chain steakhouses, Capital Grille is a serious power spot. For an appetizer, start with the lobster and crab cakes. If you’re not in the mood for beef or lobster, try the pan-seared red snapper and asparagus covered with hollandaise. You’re surrounded by wine cellars filled with about 5,000 bottles of wine - too extensive and rare to list. Complimentary valet parking here is another reason to visit this carnivorous location.

Casa Tua

1700 James Ave.

Location: South Beach

phone: (305) 673-1010

casatualifestyle.com

prices: Main courses $24-$100

Reservations required

The stunning Casa Tua is a sleek and chic, country Italian-style establishment. It has several dining areas, including a resplendent outdoor garden, comfy living room and a communal eat-in kitchen. The lamb chops are high in price ($42) but sublime in taste and a bargain compared to the $50 milk-fed veal chop. Service is, as always with South Beach eateries, inconsistent, ranging from ultra-professional to absurdly lackadaisical.

El Toro Taco

Family Restaurant

1 S. Krome Ave.

Location: Homestead, Coconut Grove

phone: (305) 245-8182

prices: Main courses $2-$12

Fabulous Mexican fare - tacos, enchiladas and burritos drenched with the freshest and zestiest salsa this side of Baja - is what you’ll find in abundance here. It may sound odd to travel from a big city with plenty of restaurants to farm country for Mexican food, but it’s worth the trip.

Escopazzo

1311 Washington Ave.

Location: South Beach

phone: (305) 674-9450

escopazzo.com

prices: Main courses $14-$34

Reservations required

In 2007, Escopazzo added “Organic Italian Restaurant” to its title. Should you be so lucky as to score a table at this romantic local favorite, you’ll have trouble deciding between dishes that will have you swearing off the Olive Garden with your first bite. Standouts are milk and basil dough pasta with baby calamari, chickpeas, tomatoes and arugula; or grass-fed hanger steak with roasted baby organic veggies in a truffle sauce. The hand-rolled pastas and risotto are near perfection.

Forge Restaurant

432 41st St.

Location: Miami Beach

phone: (305) 538-8533

theforge.com

prices: Main courses $25-$60

Reservations recommended

English oak paneling and Tiffany glass suggest high prices and haute cuisine, and that's exactly what you get at The Forge. The atmosphere is elegant, but not too stuffy. Like the rest of the menu, appetizers are mostly classics, from Beluga caviar to baked onion soup to shrimp cocktail and escargot. When they’re in season, order the stone crabs. For the main course, any of the seafood, chicken or veal dishes are recommendable, but The Forge is especially known for its award-winning steaks. Its wine selection is equally lauded - ask for a tour of the cellar. Celeb note: The Forge was known to be one of Michael Jackson’s favorite restaurants.

Grillfish

1444 Collins Ave.

Location: South Beach

phone: (305) 538-9908

grillfish.com

prices: Main courses $20 on average

Reservations accepted

Tempting aromas greet you at the door of this popular seafood restaurant, begging you to come inside and enjoy a hearty meal. Grillfish is a classy establishment - and a South Beach favorite - thanks to its intimate dining area, welcoming ambiance and succulent seafood grilled to perfection in an open kitchen. Try the Mediterranean calamari or the scallop piccata, and wash down your meal with a martini off Grillfish’s extensive list of cocktails.

La Dorado

177 Giralda Ave.

Location: Coral Gables

phone: (305) 446-2002

ladoradarestaurant.com

prices: Main courses $25 on average

Reservations recommended

Located in beautiful Coral Gables, La Dorada is an elegant establishment serving up fresh seafood with Spanish flair. The nautical-themed interior, complete with live plants, portholes and a pianist, evokes the ambiance of an exotic locale. The flavorful dishes on the menu range from fresh tilapia baked in rock salt to seafood-studded paella. Friendly servers are happy to help you make the perfect selection from their extensive wine list.

Michael’s

130 NE 40th St.

Location: Downtown

phone: (305) 573-5550

michaelsgenuine.com

prices: Main courses $4-$39

Reservations recommended

The sleek yet unassuming dining room and serene courtyard seating are constantly abuzz with Design District hipsters and foodies alike. The food is a fresh mix of all organic products. With an emphasis on products sourced from local growers and farmers, the menu, which changes daily, is divided into small, medium, large and extra large plates, all reasonably priced and hard to choose from. There are also excellent pizzas; a roasted Berkshire pork shoulder with Anson Mills cheese grits, pickled onion and parsley sauce; and the $4 bar menu, featuring crispy hominy with chilis and lime, deviled eggs, kimchi and chicken liver crostini. Book early, as it’s always crowded.

Michy’s

6927 Biscayne Blvd.

Location: Downtown

phone: (305) 759-2001

michysmiami.com

prices: Main courses $15-$30

Reservations recommended

If you drive too fast, you’ll miss this small storefront restaurant. Try the zingy ceviche; braised duck with Jerez and peaches; conch escargot style in parsley, butter and garlic; and, for those whose palates can take it, sautéed sweetbread with bacon and orange juice. There’s nothing ordinary about Michy’s, except for the fact that a reservation is nearly impossible to score if not made weeks in advance.

Nobu

1901 Collins Ave.

Location: Shore Club Hotel, South Beach

phone: (305) 695-3232

noburestaurants.com/miami

prices: $26 and up

Reservations required for parties of six or more

When Madonna ate here, no one really noticed. That’s because the real star at Nobu is the sushi. The raw facts: Nobu has been hailed as one of the best sushi restaurants in the world, with always-packed eateries in New York, London and Los Angeles. The Omakase, or Chef’s Choice - a multicourse menu entirely up to the chef for $70 per person and up - gets consistent raves.

Ola

1745 James Ave.

Location: In the Sanctuary Hotel, South Beach

phone: (305) 695-9125

olamiami.com

prices: Main courses $21-$50

Reservations recommended

Ola serves Spanish tapas and ceviches as well as its own inimitable culinary concoctions. Those hooked on the low-carb craze will find several items tailored to this diet. But why bother? Latin food is about flavor and carbs, so indulge here (as your wallet will have to).

Ortanique on the Mile

278 Miracle Mile

Location: Next to Actor’s Playhouse, Coral Gables

phone: (305) 446-7710

cindyhutsoncuisine.com

prices: Main courses $19-$40

Reservations requested

You'll be greeted with soft, spiderlike lights and canopied mosquito netting that will make you wonder whether you're on a secluded island or inside one of King Tut's temples. For starters, don’t miss the pumpkin bisque with a hint of pepper sherry. Afterward, move on to the tropical mango salad with fresh marinated sable hearts of palm, julienne mango, baby field greens, toasted Caribbean candied pecans, and passion-fruit vinaigrette. For an entree, try the pan-sautéed Bahamian black grouper marinated in teriyaki and sesame oil.

Osteria del Teatro

1443 Washington Ave.

Location: South Beach

phone: (305) 538-7850

osteriadelteatromiami.com

prices: Main courses $15-$40

Reservations recommended

Located in an unassuming storefront beneath a nightclub Cameo, it’s hard to believe that Osteria del Teatro is the best Italian bistro on the beach. What may be lacking in decor is not absent in the elaborate cuisine. Regulars concentrate on the enormous changing list of specials on the blackboard. You will be faced with some tough choices: plump chicken breast sautéed with shallots and sun-dried tomatoes in champagne cream sauce; seafood baked with linguine, garlic, fresh tomatoes and olive oil in parchment paper; or homemade ravioli stuffed with scallops and crab in lobster sauce.

The Palm

9650 E. Bay Harbor Drive

Location: Bay Harbor Island, Miami Beach

phone: (305) 868-7256

thepalm.com

prices: Main courses $20-$50

Reservations highly recommended

The Palm is one of the country’s most heralded steakhouses, known for its Jurassic portions and no-nonsense service. Everything here is à la carte, and the prices add up quickly. Both fish and meat are praiseworthy; the blackened swordfish steak is as hearty and massive as the filet mignon. Prime rib and New York strip are full of flavor as well and cooked to perfection. Additionally, the veal and lamb chops are divine. Sharing is encouraged, as the portions are large.

Pascal’s on Ponce

2611 Ponce de Leon Blvd.

Location: Coral Gables

phone: (305) 444-2024

pascalmiami.com

prices: Main courses $26-$36

Reservations recommended

Chef Pascal Oudin has established himself at his very own restaurant that takes French food to another level. Diver sea scallops topped with beef short rib, young fennel, carrot Vichy, and fava beans; and filet mignon with escargot provencal are just a few outstanding examples of how Oudin combines classical French techniques with the ingredients of the Americas.

Prime One Twelve

112 Ocean Drive

Location: In the Browns Hotel, South Beach

phone: (305) 532-8112

prices: Main courses $20-$88

Reservations recommended

At Prime One Twelve, the celebrity-saturated sleek ambience and bustling bar play second fiddle to the beef, arguably the best in the entire city. The 12-ounce filet mignon is seared to perfection and can be enhanced with optional dipping sauces. A powerhouse crowd gathers here for lunch and dinner, and reservations are more rare than the yellowfin tuna tartare appetizer, but should you be lucky enough to score such a “prime” reservation, take it without hesitation.

Safi Restaurant and  Gourmet Market

20 Biscayne Blvd.

Location: Downtown

phone: (305) 375-0055

safirestaurant.com

prices: Main courses $9-$40

Reservations recommended

Whether it’s a cocktail or a large dinner party, what you’ll find here is a seasonally-inspired menu of European and Mediterranean fusion cuisine complemented by an award-winning international wine list. Sit back in a casually-sophisticated setting and enjoy live music from artists around the world in one of four bars.

Sardinia

1801 Purdy Ave.

Location: South Beach

phone: (305) 531-2228

sardinia-ristorante.com

prices: Main courses $14-$38

Reservations required for parties of six or more

This is a quiet sensation in South Beach terms. For starters, the cheese and salami plates will transport your palate to Italy, as will the rest of the innovative menu, consisting of oriechette with wild boar; crunchy fried sweetbreads with Brussels sprouts; and rabbit with Brussels sprouts and beets.

Spiga

1228 Collins Ave.

Location: Hotel Impala, South Beach

phone: (305) 534-0079

spigarestaurant.com

prices: Main courses $7-$20

Reservations accepted

This place is so low-key that many in South Beach have never even heard of it. The complimentary bruschetta with grilled eggplant is the first of many culinary treats. The simple gnocchi with tomato and basil is a garlicky sensation. The red snapper with kalamata olives, fresh tomatoes, capers and onions is a refreshingly simple departure from the fusion variety at other restaurants.

 

Timo

17624 Collins Ave. 

Location: Miami Beach

phone: (305) 936-1008

timorestaurant.com

prices: Main courses $11-$27

Reservations required

Timo is a stylish Italian Mediterranean restaurant catering to North Miami Beach. Among the specialties, try the handcrafted pastas, including semolina gnocchi with braised oxtail; a traditional Sicilian pasta pie consisting of thin slices of eggplant wrapped around macaroni with crushed red pepper and buffalo mozzarella; and a phenomenal veal scaloppini. At Timo, a cool bistro-meets-lounge atmosphere gives way to a decidedly cool vibe.

Versailles

3555 SW 8th St.

Location: Little Havana

phone: (305) 444-0240

prices: Main courses $5-$20

A glorified diner, this place sparkles with glass, chandeliers, murals and mirrors meant to evoke the French palace. The menu is a veritable survey of Cuban cooking and includes specialties such as Moors and Christians (flavorful black beans with white rice), ropa vieja (shredded beef stew), and fried whole fish. Versailles is the place to come for mucho helpings of Cuban kitsch. With its late hours, it’s also the perfect place to come after spending your night in Little Havana.