When I discovered I was going to Miami for RE:find, I'll admit I was a little concerned about hunting down the kind of food I generally respond to -- food that is authentic, simple and perhaps most important, "tastes of the place" I am visiting. It was my impression that a great food scene had yet to take off in the city and that while I was in for some great Cuban food (not disappointed on that front, hola Enriqueta's!), my options were either generic fast food or choosing from a handful of overrated, overpriced hotel franchise restaurants. I was sure that when it came to food, Miami wouldn't be able to compete with its art scene, beach or nightlife.
It is here where I am supposed to say that in fact I was wrong, and that I found one of the great food cities in America hiding behind the candy-colored Deco facades. While that wasn't exactly the case, I will say that I was happily surprised. Dining in Miami might not yet be one of the city's longest suits, but for people who want to eat well when they travel, it is no longer a no-go zone, largely due to a handful of great independent restaurateurs.
As I always do, I asked my network about where to eat in the city; everyone, and I mean everyone, put Michael's Genuine in the Design District on their list. Plain-talking chef Michael Schwartz has pioneered a philosophy of eating locally and in season in Miami, a city that had moved a long way from that way of eating. What this means for New Yorkers or those visiting from the frigid Midwest is that a visit to Michael's Genuine might mean great-tasting tomatoes in March and the chance to eat tropically, locally. When I first heard that his restaurant was named Michael's Genuine Food and Drink, I wanted to know why, in this fun-loving city, he had chosen such an earnest name. But once I understood a little of the history of the food scene here and got to know Michael and his restaurants, the answer was clear. He is about real food in a city that has yet to totally embrace it but is definitely on its way, due in no small part to Schwartz's genuine approach.
When in Miami, Michael recommends you eat and drink at Enriqueta's, Panther Coffee, The Cypress Room, Michael's Genuine, The Broken Shaker at Freehand and The Regent Cocktail Club at Gale hotel.