Miami is now home to many Michelin stars.
On Thursday, the world’s most famous international restaurant rating guide bestowed its coveted stars on restaurants in Florida for the first time, focusing on three cities: Miami, Orlando and Tampa.
Miami emerged with 10 one-star restaurants and one with a two-star rating, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in the Design District. The French restaurant is led by Chef Alain Verzeroli and a team of protégés of the late Joël Robuchon, who held 31 Michelin stars at the time of his death in 2018.
“It was clear to us that the consistency and strength of execution at this location was indicative of a two-star rating,” said an anonymous chief inspector for Michelin. Reviewers, called inspectors, eat at restaurants around the world and go to great lengths to remain anonymous.
The inspectors judge the restaurants on five main criteria, he said, regardless of where they are: quality of the product; each dish’s “harmony of flavor”; mastery of cooking techniques; personality of the chef; and consistency between visits (if one inspector has a great meal and another doesn’t, that’s taken into consideration).
He also praised the diversity of Miami’s culinary scene.
“The Miami scene was a real exploration,” he said. “We knew the high profile names like Thomas Keller [The Surf Club] and Joël Robuchon, but as we dug in we discovered places run by local talent, like Michael Beltran of Ariete and Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer of Boia De, and we were really happy to highlight them. … We knew the Miami scene would be interesting, but I have to say, 11 stars are quite impressive. Everyone knows Miami is a global superstar. Everyone wants to set up shop there.”
No three-star restaurants were named in Florida. Only 13 US restaurants have been awarded three stars: six in California, five in New York and one each in Washington, DC, and Chicago.
But Michelin did name 29 “Bib Gourmand” restaurants in the state, a designation that recognizes great food at a great value. These are spots where a diner can eat two courses and have a glass of wine or dessert for under $49. Miami had 19 restaurants in this category.
Visit Florida, the state tourism and marketing agency, and local tourism agencies in Miami, Orlando and Tampa are paying the Michelin Guide an estimated $1.5 million over the next three years to rate Florida’s restaurants. The restaurants will be listed in a printed guide that Michelin sells and puts online.
Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said he expects to see more starred restaurants in Miami in the years to come. The guide is “open-minded,” he said, and has no quota or set number of stars that must be given (or withheld).
“We’re always working,” he said. “We have inspectors constantly in the field. It’s a great beginning. Miami will be recognized as a global culinary hot spot.”
Here are the local winners of Michelin stars, along with notes from the inspectors:
Two star restaurant
Joel Robuchon’s work shop: The tasting notes on the French restaurant advise diners to order the seasonal fixed price. “The bread basket is a lovely opener, arriving in advance of such thrilling bites as a seared sea scallop with toasted spices. The Design District setting bears all the beloved hallmarks with its counter and open kitchen.” 151 NE 41st St., Suite 235, Miami; latelier-miami.com
One star restaurants
Ariete: Chef Michael Beltran’s Coconut Grove spot “is immediately welcoming with a menu that weaves together Cuban and French influences to dazzling effect.” 3540 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove; 786-615-3747; arietecoconutgrove.com
From: The pink exclamation mark above the front door drew the attention of Michelin inspectors: “Surprising is certainly an apt descriptor for Chefs Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer’s distinctive and impressive menu.” 5205 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-967-8866; boiaderestaurant.com
Miami Rating: There was high praise for this Design District spot and owner Simon Kim: The Korean steakhouse “almost feels like a temple to beautifully marbled and aged beef, much of it on display in a nearby room.” Cote New York also has one Michelin star. 3900 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-434-4668; cotemiami.com
The Den at Sushi Azabu Miami: This hidden omakase room in the Stanton South Beach hotel is an “intimate temple to sushi. Fish flown in a few times a week is treated and dressed minimally, often with just a single brush of nikiri.” Sushi Azabu in New York has one Michelin star. 161 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 786-276-0520; theden.miami.azabuglobal.com
Elcielo Miami: With locations in Washington, DC, Bogota and Medellin, this restaurant helmed by internationally famous Colombian-born chef Juan Manuel Barrientos offers “a taste of Colombian cuisine presented in a modern and dramatic manner.” 31 SE Fifth St., Miami; 305-874-7867; elcielorestaurant.com
Hiden: Wynwood’s Chef Shingo Akikuni “sticks to tradition, sourcing most of his product from Japan — beautiful slabs of tuna, sweet botan ebi and generous portions of uni are highlights in a tasting menu that never feels stuffy or overly reverent.” 313 NW 25th St., Miami; hidenmiami.com
The gardener: Michelin inspectors called this French spot in the Design District “stylish from head to toe,” adding that the menu “is a study of vibrant tastes and smart compositions that pack big flavor minus the heaviness.” 151 NE 41st St., Suite 135, Miami; lejardinier-miami.com
Los Felix: The servers at this Mexican restaurant in Coconut Grove come “armed with ample information about the provenance of each ingredient.” Highlights include “hearty pork cheek carnitas with myriad salsas and snapper crudo topped with shavings of jicama and avocado aioli.” 3413 Main Hwy., Miami; losfelixmiami.com
Stubborn Seed: Chef Jeremy Ford’s restaurant is “sexy and sleek with its industrial chic decor and glass-fronted display kitchen,” the notes say, adding that “his ambitious and brashly creative cooking” is highlighted best in the tasting menu. 101 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 786-899-2726; stubbornseed.com
The Surf Club Restaurant: Thomas Keller’s first Florida venture is praised for its sauces, “what this team does best, starting with the scallop crudo with buttermilk-basil dressing; followed by the brilliantly reimagined Maine lobster Thermidor with American sauce.” Chef Thomas Keller now has seven Michelin stars, including three at Per Se and three at French Laundry. 9011 Collins Ave., Surfside; 305-768-9440; thesurfclub.com
Chefs were delighted with — and humbled by — the awards.
“It is a true honor to be included in the prestigious Michelin Guide in the company of some of the best restaurants in the world,” said Atsushi Okaware, head sushi chef at The Den at Sushi Azabu, which features an 18-seat sushi counter made from a Hinoki Cypress tree. “When I took over the leadership at The Den late last year, my intention was always to maintain the restaurant’s highly regarded reputation while incorporating new elements to showcase Japan’s culinary arts and rich and natural bounties with the freshest ingredients.”
Thomas Keller of The Surf Club said he was proud to see Florida talent recognized.
“It is an honor to be recognized by Michelin in my home state, where I first became interested in cooking,” he said. “This recognition would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of our restaurant team in Surfside and our committed partners and loyal guests.”
Here are the Miami-area restaurants recognized for offering great value:
Bachour; Chug’s Diner; Doya; El Turco; Ghee Indian Kitchen; Hometown Barbeque Miami; Itamae; Krus Kitchen; The Natural; Lucali; Lung Ya Thai Tapas; Mandolin Aegean Bistro; Michael’s Genuine; Phuc Yea; Red Rooster Overtown; Sanguich of Miami; Tinta y Cafe; Zak the Baker; Zitz Sum
The Michelin Guide also announced two special awards for the Miami area. Victoria James of Cote Miami was named Sommelier of the Year and Ruben Roion of L’Atelier and Jardinier won the Exceptional Cocktail Award.
Four restaurants in Orlando earned one Michelin star each: Capa (a steakhouse at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World); Soseki (melting/sushi); Kadence (Japanese/sushi); and Knife & Spoon (a steakhouse at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando). No Tampa restaurants received a star.
Orlando had seven Bib Gourmand restaurants, and Tampa had three.
This story was originally published June 9, 2022 8:30 PM.