Top Five Seafood Restaurants: Beyond Best of Miami 2011

Categories: Best of Miami
area31.jpg
Area 31 catches our list.
Casablanca Seafood Bar & Grill was Miami New Times' pick for Best Seafood on the River this year. We also honored Blue Door Fish with Best Seafood on the Beach, and my neighbor Sal was thrilled to receive the Best Seafood by Lee's Neighbor award. Still, there are a few other fine fish restaurants -- too few for a coastal city, really -- that are worth mentioning in the same breath. Here are five:

altamare.jpg
AltaMare has been accused of occasional shellfishness.
5. AltaMare: Chef Simon Stojanovic, who honed his craft under Michael Schwartz, presents line-caught fish and free-range, organic comestibles with a bright Mediterranean sensibility. Local fish such as sheepshead or yellow jack swim alongside snapper, grouper, and shellfish on the menu. These pristine specimens are then prepared with an array of light, potent ingredients -- tropical fruits, palm heart shavings, artichokes, cipollini onions, saffron, Meyer lemon, and vivid broths. If you want to pair a wine with your meal, there are more than 200 bottles to choose from. Guess that's why AltaMare has been a hit since 2002 (back then it was called Alta Mar). Guess that's also why we chose it as Best Seafood Restaurant in 2010.

4. Area 31: Chef E. Michael Reidt has smoothly kept up the quality that his predecessor John Critchley established. This means sustainable seafood largely sourced from waters of the Western Central Atlantic (from the Florida coast to the northeast coast of Central and South America). You can start with wahoo crudo or mackerel ceviche or crispy octopus with chorizo, farro, blood orange, and smoked tomato. Entrées include flounder with Maine lobster, green asparagus, grapefruit, and vanilla turnips, or creamed Key West pink shrimp ravioli with uni butter, spinach, and pea sprouts. Chef Reidt creates clean, cutting-edge fish dishes and somehow brings them in -- within the swank confines of the Epic Hotel -- for $30 and under.

garcias.jpg
You can't beat Garcia's locale.
3. Garcia's Seafood Grille & Fish Market: Where are Miami's fish fry joints? Where are the informal grills where you can sit at a counter and get a fresh (affordable) fish fired up right in front of you? There's a real shortage of these for a city situated by water, which makes us appreciate Garcia's that much more. The father-son team of Esteban Jr. and Luis Garcia have been frying and grilling the fresh fish they net for their market since 1966. Grouper and mahi-mahi are two of the local favorites, either plated with sides or plunked into a sandwich. There are chowders, seafood-and-rice dishes, and a wide menu of fish and shellfish preparations. Eating this seafood, perhaps with an ice-cold beer, while sitting outdoors by a wistful stretch of the Miami River is what makes Garcia's an all-time Miami restaurant favorite.

Thumbnail image for riveroysterbar.jpg
The River flows with pristine oysters.
2. The River Oyster Bar: Glistening oysters and other shellfish delectables are packed in ice along a mahogany and slate bar at chef/owner David Bracha's downtown venue. Bracha has been lending contemporary flair to fresh seafood fleshed from the waters of Key West to Trinidad to Alaska (since 2003). The River has kept up with the times, nowadays serving small plates such as fire-roasted oysters with sofrito butter, ancho, queso manchego, and chorizo, or crabcakes with tart cherry-apple slaw and smoked almond tartare. Along, of course with an array of simply prepared (grilled, pan-seared, or steamed) or more creatively plated fish dishes and a well-priced wine list. It most recently copped our Best Raw Bar 2009 award.

1. Captain's Tavern Restaurant: Like Garcia's, the Captain's venue is a Pinecrest -- and by extension, Miami -- institution (since 1971). The market is worth a trip alone -- very wide selection of fish freshly caught in local waters (as well as some specialty fish flown in from the Mediterranean). There are often a dozen or more varieties of oyster and a nice breadth of shellfish in general. Once you've got the fresh goods, the job of the chefs in the restaurant becomes a lot easier. The menu is extremely extensive: Raw bar items, conch fritters, chowders, bisques, fried fish, grilled fish, baked fish, stuffed fish, fish risotto, fish with pasta, lobster variations -- just figure any fish and any preparation you can imagine. Captain's Tavern is an old-style seafood house, not all gussied up (the décor has been described as "seafarin' '70s"). And the menu and prices are such that many first-timers are shocked to learn that the wine list is one of the very best in South Florida. Captain's Tavern was named one of the "50 Great Wine Destinations in America" by Food & Wine magazine. Even more impressive, it copped Best of Miami's Best Wine Selection in a Restaurant in 2004, 2005, and 2008.

Follow Short Order on Facebook and Twitter @Short_Order.

Location Info

Venue

Map

Captain's Tavern

9621 S. Dixie Highway, Pinecrest, FL

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
11 comments
Swordafishing
Swordafishing

I must say this list is a little off.  The fact of the matter is eventhough Florida has over 2,000 miles of coastline, Miami DOES NOT have good seafood.  I can sit here and tell you about the intricacy of the seafood industry in South Florida for days but I will save you the time.  The reason I can do so is that I am a commercial fisherman.  We have established a network of commercial fisherman from Jupiter to Key West in which we deliver the freshest seafood to your door.  What started off as a way for us fisherman to make a few dollars, has turned into a large demand for what South Florida does NOT have. (Fresh Fish).  Follow us on twitter @FRESHFRESHMIAMI for seafood caught by locals for locals.   

Sylvester Gray
Sylvester Gray

I'm quite surprised that Lee failed to mention La Camaronera in Little Havana.  A true locals seafood joint.  I've never been to a more diverse restaurant in Miami.  I know there is a relation between them and Garcia's on the River but their menu's are very different.  The Minuta Sandwich is a must, as well as the fried shrimp. 

Guest
Guest

just because it's popular, doesn't make it good.

Lee
Lee

Agreed: Pilar and La Camaronera deserve honorable mention as well.

Miamigrrl
Miamigrrl

I don't know if you would call "Pilar" in Aventura a seafood restaurant, but I think it sure does have the best seafood in South Florida.  

Don Lorenzo
Don Lorenzo

Garcia's is not bad but not great. Makes me skeptical of the rest of the list, none of which I have tried so far (new in town). I see Area 31 is participating in Miami Spice, I'll have to check it out.  True, Miami does seem to have surprisingly few "fish shacks" to be both on the water and close to good fishing grounds.

Sandybottomshawaii
Sandybottomshawaii

River oyster bar rocks!! Best seafood in Miami

Fish Killer
Fish Killer

you wish surfer head, the true seafood kings were mentioned in the first sentence

guest
guest

whats up there fish hater!!  only royalty you need to know is  king salahm iee!

Walter
Walter

I had such a terrible experience at Garcias that I can't imagine what people see in this ugly, third quality seafood shack.

Karen
Karen

Area 31 are u kiding me!!!!!   What about Red Fish grill and Joe`s stone crab. DO YOUR HOMEWORK LEE.Big Fan of New Times

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...