We met hundreds of new dishes this year during the course of our job. Some were good, some were great, and some were so bad they made us want to hide underneath the table like a chihuahua who just heard thunder. But very few—13, to be exact—stuck out as the hands-down best new dishes of the year. You’ll find those on this guide. They range from pizza to crudo to one hell of a cookie. Some are from new spots and some are just new menu items from restaurants we already loved. But they all made this year so much better, one bite at a time.
Day’s Catch Crudo
We’ve eaten so many crudo dishes this year that we started treating the consumer advisory footnote on menus as a dare to call out of work. But then we tried the day’s catch crudo from Krüs Kitchen, and its picture is now our phone’s lock screen. This dish looks like a priceless Monet painting. Pink and purple wasabi radishes give the impression of water lilies floating in a ponzu pond. Hiding beneath the carefully arranged radishes are square cuts of fresh fish that are so tender, they melt faster than the 1977 Miami snowfall your dad still talks about. Each bite has contradicting tastes and textures. The ponzu is salty and citrusy, the avocado is creamy, and the colorful radishes are crunchy. This crudo is so good, we actually might not make it to work after we glue our hands to Krüs’ table in support of this being the last crudo allowed on Miami menus.
No two words on a menu made us as excited this year as “uni risotto” (although Over Under’s “shell-tini” was a close second). When we first read the menu description of this dish at QP Tapas—Maine uni fondue, smoked trout roe, chili oil—it kind of felt too good to be true. It wasn’t. This dish is not only as good as it sounds, it’s better. The bowl is one velvety spoonful after another of gorgeous risotto with chunks of uni hiding in every third bite like little surprise parties. And the smoked trout roe and chopped scallions sprinkled on top add texture. The new Spanish/izakaya QP Tapas (currently operating Thursday through Saturday) already has one of the best menus in town. But even on such a stacked menu, the uni risotto is a standout.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.
The first time we ordered Frankie & Wally’s, then still operating from a ghost kitchen in Allapattah, we were blindsided. Could a sandwich—one that had been delivered, no less—really be this exceptional? Everything about it had been carefully considered and thoughtfully engineered. The meat was sliced so thin it was practically translucent. Strategic cheese placement ensured the bread was not made even the slightest bit soggy by the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Lettuce was shredded so fine you could floss with it. Frankie & Wally’s treats its sandwiches like NASA treats rockets, and although the Il Padrino—with its layers of ham, salami, and mortadella—is our favorite, we’ve found this to be true of every sandwich we’ve tried so far. The best part? Frankie & Wally’s is in the process of opening up a shop in Coral Gables. In the meantime, find them inside a food truck parked outside Superblue in Allapattah.
Fried Chicken Sandwich
At a certain point in life, you feel like you’ve seen it all. By the time we sat down at Off Site, we had reached this point with the fried chicken sandwich. It’s chicken. It’s a bun. We get it. But then we took a bite of this and realized life still had so much left to teach us. Off Site’s fried chicken sandwich, the crown jewel of a near-flawless menu of bar food, is remarkable in its simplicity. It’s not that it does things we’ve never seen in a fried chicken sandwich before, but it does the basics better than any version we’ve ever had. The bun? The pickles? The shredded lettuce? The chicken thigh encased in a golden crust so jagged that it starts to look like the Grand Canyon if you stare at it long enough? True perfection, at every level. A good fried chicken sandwich can make your day better. But this one makes you recalibrate your perspective of life itself.
Miami Slice has done to pizza in Miami what Jimi Hendrix did to rock in the ‘60s. It’s made everyone pause, mouth agape in disbelief, at the realization that something so familiar could be so mind-blowingly good. This is the reason why there are usually 30 minute (minimum) lines to eat here, and also why we’ll happily stand in one for the pepperoni proper. It’s the perfect pepperoni slice—with cupped pepperonis that aren’t too greasy and a magical crust that somehow stays crispy from edge to edge. You can (and should) order this with the “all kicks” upgrade, which means your slice will come with a few big globs of creamy stracciatella.
Demon Pig Boy
This guide could have easily been 50% pizza thanks to all the great new pizza spots that opened in Miami this year. However, we tried to limit it to just two. And Fratessi Pizza, the Sunday-only pizza pop-up from the Over Under team, makes this guide because it not only gave Miami another outstanding pizza, but introduced the city to an entirely new style of pizza. Fratesi makes bar pies, a very close relative of Chicago’s tavern-style pizza: ultra thin, super crispy pies, and with cheese that nearly covers the entire surface. These are the best—if not only—style of this pizza in town, and the spicy demon pig boy (great name, by the way) is the one to get. It’s topped with pickled hot peppers, charred pepperoni, Calabrian chili oil, and three types of cheese, which is the correct amount of cheese.
Smoked Salmon Bagel With Preserved Lemon & Calabrian Chili Schmear
The pizza revolution has arrived in Miami. But the bagel revolution? Not quite yet. This is why we were happy to see Sour Seed make a promising debut this year—if only to take a bit of the pressure off our beloved El Bagel. The Midtown spot makes great sourdough bagels with crispy exteriors. But where Sour Seed really excels is in the schmear game, particularly their preserved lemon and Calabrian chili schmear. It has a lingering burn and reddish color from the Calabrian chili, but also a sour bite from the preserved lemon. It’s excellent, and goes so well with the smoked salmon on an everything bagel, our go-to order here.
Tamal En Cazuela
On our list of Things We Never Thought We’d Be Eating At A Casual Bar On Coral Way, this tamal en cazuela with roasted foie gras is high up there. But that’s also why we love Gibson Room: it feels like a fun bar that snuck off and stole the menu of a fine-dining restaurant a la Plankton from SpongeBob. This tamal is the most impressive thing on that menu, and the best version of this classic dish we’ve ever come across. The little foie gras island that rests in the center of the cazuela is rich and buttery. The crispy duck chicharron adds a salty crunch. If we ever go missing on a rainy day, look for us at The Gibson Room’s bar, hunched over a bowl of this with a rum cocktail within arm’s reach.
Thursday Night Ramen
The Zits Sum team, who are almost always adding or subtracting a dish from their phenomenal menu, decided to dip their toes into the ramen world this year—on Thursdays only, from 5:30 until sold out. It’s a tight window of opportunity, but the bowls they serve here are worth rescheduling your Thursdays over. Ramen options change each week, when a different kitchen member gets to create their own bowl. When we went, it was spicy shrimp ramen night (the one pictured above is a pozole ramen, inspired by the traditional Mexican stew). And every element of the bowl—the shio broth, jammy egg, mushrooms, tender shrimp, and perfectly cooked noodles—was screaming the same thing to us: this might be the very best ramen in all of Miami.
Morcilla Spring Rolls
Vinya probably didn’t invent the morcilla spring roll, but this is the first time we’ve seen them on a menu in Miami. And when we bit into it, we felt that jolt of an unexpectedly great combination. It’s probably what the first person to bring a cold beer into a hot shower must’ve felt. You obviously have to like morcilla to get behind this dish, but if you do, brace yourself for a revelation. The crispy outer shell gives way to a rich morcilla filling that honestly might be a bit much if it wasn’t for the sweet onion marmalade that makes each bite as balanced as identical twins on a seesaw.
Chicken Caesar Hoagie
We first went to Old Greg’s for the pizza (good) but kept going back for the hoagies (astounding). Another unexpectedly excellent thing on Old Greg’s menu is a caesar salad. And we’re immensely thankful that these two sleeper hits have collided to form one of our favorite sandwiches in Miami. Old Greg’s excellent housemade bread hugs two crispy chicken cutlets and a caesar salad that’s essentially used as a condiment, spread liberally over the cutlets with a little shower of shaved parm. This was the thing that showed us Old Greg’s is actually a sandwich shop disguised as a pizza shop. We have since made it our mission to disseminate this information to Miami.
Yoo-Hoo Tres Leches
Chug’s occasionally takes foods you haven’t thought about since you were seven and does creative, fun, delicious things with them. These dishes always end up being our favorite things to get here, and the latest example from the Coconut Grove Cuban diner is the Yoo-hoo tres leches. They don’t actually use Yoo-hoo in this. They use a housemade chocolate milk, which is best case scenario because Yoo-hoo is almost certainly not as good as you remember and Chug’s creamy version does a much better job of soaking into the cake. They sprinkle some caramelia pearls on top for crunch and hot fudge sauce because, well, hot fudge sauce.