MMTM’s Best of 2016!

We’re officially in to Week 2 of 2017, but we’re not quite ready to say goodbye to 2016 just yet and are taking one final chance to reminisce about our “Year in Food” in 2016. In looking back at some of our best bites (and sips) across Miami this past year we’re adding in a few more opinions this time around, with some favorites from our new contributing writers as well. 2016 was a great year of growth for us here at MMTM Headquarters and we couldn’t have done it without them. We’re excited to let you get to know them even better in the year to come. And, of course, we couldn’t do any of this without you… Thanks, as always, for following along on our foodie adventures.

Favorite Appetizer
Mitch: Ceviche is a dime a dozen nowadays in Miami. But Pisco y Nazca’s Ceviche Cremoso is a true standout in my book. This particular version is aided by the addition of emulsified scallops to make a creamy leche de tigre sauce with celery, habanero, and sweet potato. So creamy, so good.

Mel: The vegan (yes vegan) salad I had at the Uvaggio Somm Slamm is the type of appetizer that gives the meal such high expectations that you just end up wanting more of the first item you tried. Has that happened to you before? I still dream about that salad with scattered pistachios.

Monique: You’ve all heard Mitch tell you about his Spanish food snobbery over the years, but I’m giving him a run for his money. Back in it’s second year, La Feria by Mercado San Miguel is my favorite Miami pop-up to look forward to, mostly because there’s nothing better than a simple plate of Jamón Ibérico with a side of crusty bread drizzled with olive oil.

Mahogani: Nine out of 10 restaurants provide bread, rolls, or some type of baked dough as a pre-meal nourishment before you even begin to scope out the venue’s menu. Copper 29 is the exception to that rule. And placing their infamous Jalapeño, Corn, and Cheese Biscuits at the top of the appetizers listing indeed piqued my interest. “Who would drop an Alexander Hamilton for bread?” is a solid question, but the only answer is: me, you, and any other logical human being who wants a true treat! The starter comes as a trio of biscuits stuffed with jalapeños and corn and drizzled with a cheese sauce. Not spicy or overbearing, but a perfect blend of flavors!

Sophia: The Butternut Squash + Goat Cheese Toast from DIRT’s fall menu. What made this toast a piece of heaven? Caramelized butternut squash, whipped goat cheese, spicy mustard greens, local wildflower honey, toasted pumpkin, sunflower and hemp seeds, extra virgin olive oil, and Maldon sea salt all beautifully presented on Zak the Baker toast. A plethora of textures, colors, and flavors all combine to create a true palate party.

Favorite Entrée
Mitch: No round-up would be complete without the inclusion of my favorite place in all of Miami, my home away from home, Lekoké Wine & Bites. The Kokito Tostón may not be intended to be an entrée, but it was my dinner this year more times than I’d like to admit. It’s simple, delicious, homey, and boy does it help to soak up all that wine.

Mel: There’s nothing new about my pick, but it’s a classic entree that withstands the test of time and that’s enough. The Black Cod Miso from Nobu has helped to bring the restaurant to its current notoriety. Food trends may come and go, but this dish will forever be a win.

Mahogani: You will never experience pancakes so massive and mouthwatering as the White Chocolate Strawberry Pancakes at Tap 42. The succulent stack of three come fully loaded with white chocolate chips and topped by strawberries, powdered sugar and whipped cream. Should you dare leave off any ingredient (which I wouldn’t recommend), you would still feast on some of the tastiest flapjacks that are incredibly difficult for just one person to consume in a single sitting. But don’t fret; they are so delightful you would enjoy eating these for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Santi: Gnocchi made correctly is hard to come by, and Barley’s is as perfect as they come. The gnocchi is handmade and impossibly light. Jorgie Ramos likes to make different iterations of it every few days, and any and all of them are pure perfection.

Sophia: The Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper at River Yacht Club from guest chef Alex Chang’s summer menu was ALMOST as good as the daily caught fried fish I eat when I’m on the beaches of Jamaica (after drinking and sun bathing all day at the beach). And that is a VERY big compliment to RYC because a freshly fried fish off the coast of Jamaica is pretty much my favorite dish in the world.

Favorite Dessert
Mitch: The trio of Bacon Pecan Monkey Bread, Peanut Butter Pie, and Beignets at Red, The Steakhouse’s Miami Spice preview dinner. They don’t usually come together (much less after an 800-course meal), but despite my being completely stuffed to the brim, I unbuttoned my pants and went to town. I couldn’t breathe for a week, but it was worth it.

Mel: One of my new favorite spots in town is Olla (full brunch review up on Wednesday!) The Torrejas dessert has sweet plantains along with a Mexican version of French Toast and I get chills thinking about it.

Caitlin: I have one word for you… macarons! Who doesn’t love them?! Le Macaron is leading the French pastry expansion across South Florida and recently opened its sixth location in a charming kiosk station in Dolphin Mall’s food court. Le Macaron’s macarons can serve as the perfect gift for any occasion and are beautifully presented in either an elegant gift box in sets of six or impressive tower that can hold anywhere between 30 and 200 macarons. Goodbye, birthday cake. Hello, macaron tower! 

Hamilton Barkley: 2016 was the year of the Salty Donut. They opened a new location, they won the Cooking Channel’s Sugar Showdown, and they created (albeit for a limited time) the Salty Mdough donut, my pick for 2016’s best dessert. A brownie wrapped in a chocolate chip cookie which is then stuffed in a chocolate chip donut? Sweet dreams are made of these!! This 3-in-1 confection is by far the “pawsomest” thing to happen to desserts, pretty much ever!

Favorite Cocktail
Mitch: I recently (as in two weeks ago) took a trip to Paris and discovered the Little Red Door, thanks to a recommendation by our #FoodieFriend, Mr. Miami Marvin. All the drinks were amazing and carefully crafted, but the #7 was out of this world with a combination of LRD Silent Grain, El Jolgorio Wild Espadin, cherry blossom, Dolin bitter, and Verjus. Who knew the Miami food crew would come through all the way in France?!?!?

Mel: The Bebito from Baby Jane. Ilegal Mezcal, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, Luxardo maraschino, green chartreuse, muddled fresh jalapeño, and rosemary. Boom!

Caitlin: Did someone say “Cocktail Tree?” When you have 12 “stems” of up to three different choices of signature cocktails placed in front of you, you can’t go wrong. It’s a great selection for a group outing at SUSHISAMBA and it makes for the perfect picture to snap for your next Instagram upload. The Niña Fresa and Chucumber cocktails were delicious and refreshing, but I was mostly obsessed with the presentation.

Santi: Anything from Barley. Again, Barley takes the cake. The head bartender, Lou, is inventive and playful. He understands classic drinks and knows how to give them a unique twist. His dedication to his craft is inspiring.

Favorite Brunch
Mitch: What’s better than brunch? Brunch on vacation! While it was technically a day-cation, brunch at Burlock Coast brought me out of my Miami-Dade County comfort zone for a delicious and boozy break from my normal routine, followed by a food coma nap some quality time poolside at the Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale. Sunday Funday, indeed.

Mel: I can’t get over the brunch at PINCH. It’s perfection. A close second is Drunken Dragon for its originality.

Caitlin: Fortunately for Miamians, we no longer need a passport or a nine-hour flight to enjoy a little slice of Parisian heaven. If you’re looking for an upscale brunch experience that doesn’t feel like you’re in Miami, make your reservation for next week’s brunch at Le Zoo now. The ambiance is very posh and the service is fantastic. Tucked away at the Bal Harbour Shops, the impeccable décor and intimate ambiance at Le Zoo will make you feel as if you’ve been transported to a charming café on an obscure avenue in the City of Lights.

Mahogani: If you want beach (or potential “bae”) views, Nikki’s got it! With your choice of outdoor dining or cabana beds situated directly on the Miami Beach sand, enjoying beautiful people, an amazing atmosphere and live entertainment is their norm! My fave brunch item is the Deconstructed Eggs Benedict Casserole, but truthfully, everything Nikki Beach serves is worth the all-you-can-eat deal, especially when it’s washed down with their fresh mimosas, house champagne, or a gourmet (yes, gourmet) Bloody Mary.

Monique: See, it’s not often you come across good ol’ traditional New England fare in South Florida. Lucky for us, Izzy’s fills that void by delivering an authentic New England cuisine experience, within a warm, inviting setting. On top of that, the brunch is killer. Warning: Lobster roll-induced coma may occur.

Favorite Lunch
Mitch: A lunch fit for a (fake) Cuban king at Rey’s Pizza: Pizza Mixta, Spaghetti Jamón, Garlic Bread, and a Batido de Mamey. Que rico!

Mel: I’m hopping back on the Nobu bandwagon, but this year they introduced two pre-fix lunches that are affordable options to try out the otherwise swanky restaurant. You can enjoy some of the restaurant’s popular menu items like Spinach Salad Dry Miso and Pan Seared Branzino without breaking the bank.

Caitlin: Burger and Beer Joint has always been a personal favorite of mine for those days when I’m craving a juicy, flavorful burger. The restaurant’s pairing of outrageous burgers in a no-frills, authentic sports bar vibe is perfect for a lunch visit, and B&B’s newest location in Dolphin Mall and it continues to the the perfect spot to rally the troops for an afternoon of enjoying finger lickin’ food, sharing a few pitchers of beer, and cheering on your favorite sports team.

Santi: Pubbelly on a cruise? Do I really need to say anything else? Just give me seven plates of the bacon wrapped dates please from Pubbelly Food Republic on the Norwegian Escape.

Favorite Dinner
Mitch: Before Barley reopened in it’s new, bigger, bolder spot in Downtown Dadeland, dinner at Faith & Pizza was the perfect way to tide me over and curb my hunger pangs. However, Chef Jorgie Ramos’ now-gone pop-up was more than just filler, it was also a philanthropic endeavor. All profits from the restaurant’s run went back to the community in support of three local charities: Live Like Bella, Autism Speaks, and The Miami Project To Cure Paralysis. Dinner with a cause… What’s not to love?

Mel: I’ve long proclaimed my admiration for Chef Diego Oka and his superb dinner experience at La Mar. The elevated Peruvian cuisine makes you swoon. The wine selection is second to none and the restaurant’s views are some of the best in Miami.

Caitlin: I was pleasantly surprised to find such a high-end dining experience available at a moderately affordable price at 1111 Peruvian Bistro. The restaurant offers an intimate location to bring someone who you’re trying to impress without breaking the bank (think client meetings, Friday night date night, etc.), and the innovative twist on traditional Peruvian cuisine is a welcome discovery.

Mahogani: Tamara’s Bistro does a degustation menu better than most. Catering to a chic (yet eclectic) palate, you can’t go wrong with the incomparable bacon wrapped dates, grilled oysters that are doused with confit and creamed spinach, nor your not-so-typical poulet roti served with blueberries, syrup, waffles pomegranate glazed chicken. And getting your bill before ordering the banana crème brûlée is sinful. Overall, the cocktails are tasty; the ambiance is unbelievable; and the dishes are simply divine.

Monique: As cliché as it sounds, Pizza & Burger – Michael’s Backyard Kitchen offers something for every palate. You can design your own salad, graze on an array of yummy snacks and bites, or indulge in some mouthwatering pizzas and burgers. The menu, inspired by Chef Mina’s family summer cookouts, truly embodies all things delicious, and lucky for us, this pop-up is now a permanent establishment at the Fontainebleau Hotel.

Favorite Foodie Event
Mitch: While I love all the pork and burger events that are consistently on the events calendars, it was so nice to change up the protein this time around at Duck Duck Goose. And who gets to eat duck this good, this often? The inaugural event brought together 12 top area chefs showing off their creativity and skill with locally raised and pastured fowl from Lake Meadows Naturals in Ocoee, Florida. I’m still drooling over Ms. Cheezious’ Duck Confit Mac N Cheese.

Mel: It might be trite, but the SOBEWFF is still one of my favorites at heart. Learning how to navigate the events of the festival has been a learning process, but when you hit the jackpot and you attend a really good event, you realize it’s worth all the buzz.

Caitlin: The South Beach Seafood Festival is a pinnacle event in our city, so I was pretty pumped to be invited to attend. Pairing Miami’s finest seafood restaurants with chef showdown demos, plenty of sampling opportunities, and open bar access makes for one awesome event (and a very happy foodie!) I was impressed with the variety of options that were available and the portions were perfectly sized to give you enough space to try a bite from each of your favorite vendors. I had an awesome time stuffing my face that afternoon and already have my calendar marked for this year’s event.

Santi: I’ve been to Lucky Rice three years in a row and it never disappoints. The amount of drinks and food you get is abundant, and there’s always fun things to keep you entertained. Pair it with one of the nicest hotels in the beach, and you have yourself a great foodie event.

Favorite Interview
Mitch: So this wasn’t technically an MMTM interview, but I couldn’t have pulled it together without all of the connections and friends I’ve made through this blog. Over the summer, I took a side-gig with the new video travel magazine, Travelspective, and produced my first-ever video content piece about “Miami’s New Crop” of chef’s and locavores. I’m really proud of this one.

Mel: I loved interviewing Jeff Latulippe. His concept at DIRT is innovation, efficiency, and healthy eating at its best. I think Jeff and the DIRT team are ahead of their time and this concept is the future of “fast food.”

 

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Cheers to a delicious 2017!

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