Can National Hotel Chef Gaston Sanchez Match SLS, Delano, Ritz?

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The National Hotel, a Miami Beach landmark, has undergone a $12 million renovation that promises to bring the property up to par with neighbors that include the Delano, SLS, and Ritz-Carlton.

Part of the renovation includes the hiring of Gastón Sánchez as executive chef of the hotel. Sánchez is tasked with overseeing all of the National's culinary operations, including Tamara Bistro, Aqua Bar & Grill, the Blues Bar, and all in-room dining and catering.

See also: Vagabond Hotel Opens Today; Restaurant Coming in October

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Vagabond Hotel Opens Today; Restaurant Coming in October

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Ciara LaVelle
The Vagabond: Fully restored to her MiMo greatness.
The completion of Biscayne Boulevard's Vagabond Hotel culminates with a party this evening to celebrate the MiMo beauty's full restoration.

The Vagabond Restaurant will follow shortly, with an opening slated for sometime in October.

See also: Inside the Vagabond Hotel, Biscayne Boulevard's Restored MiMo Gem (Photos)

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"They Just Didn't Sell:" Richard Hales' Struggle to Keep Blackbrick an Authentic Chinese Eatery

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Courtesy of Richard Hales
Miami, Y U no like stir-fried tripe?
There's little doubt Miami's dining ecosystem has expanded and improved by light years in only a decade or two. Chef-driven concepts and smartly sourced ingredients aren't as pervasive as many would like, but they're here and thriving.

However, gastropubs continue reproducing like rabbits. Miami diners still annoyingly cling to lowest-common-denominator dishes -- salt, fat, and starch bombs -- that people ogle and share on social media.

See also: Blackbrick Named One of Bon Appetit's Top 50 New Restaurants

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Azul's William Crandall Fuses French, Asian Influences With German Heritage on New Menu

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All photos by Carla Torres
Tuna poke appetizer from Chef William Crandall of Azul.
The upscale restaurant inside Brickell Key's Mandarin Oriental, has been helmed by many top toques. Michelle Bernstein, Clay Conley, Joel Huff and Jacob Anaya have all led the kitchen of Azul at some point since its inception. A sudden closure last year during the hotel's renovation period had many speculating whether the fine dining restaurant was going to reopen at all.

But it did so in April with a new look, new menu, and new chef. Previous sous chef William Crandall has stepped up to the plate as executive chef after being with the company for three years. Short Order was invited to get a taste of Crandall's new menu that's steered by French technique and Asian influences.

See also: At La Mar, Peruvian Classics Are Elevated to Haute Cuisine

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IKEA Miami to Open August 27: The Top Ten Items for Foodies to Buy

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Courtesy of Ikea
Miami's new IKEA store. No assembly required.
It's official!

IKEA will open its Miami location Wednesday, August 27. The home-goods giant adjacent to Dolphin Mall will feature 416,000 square feet of stylish, low-cost furniture and home accessories.

But did you know that lurking amid those 10,000 items for sale is a foodie paradise? For tricking out a fantasy custom kitchen and stocking inexpensive pots and pans for your first apartment, IKEA is your best friend when it comes to kitchenware.

The store also features an entire marketplace where you can buy everything from cookies to frozen meatballs. Speaking of meatballs, the Miami IKEA boasts a 600-seat restaurant serving Swedish meatballs and other specialties.

IKEA Miami opens at 9 a.m. Wednesday, August 27, but customers can begin lining up at the store Monday, August 25 -- 48 hours in advance of the doors swinging open. That means you have two whole days to memorize this list of the top ten food-related items you'll want to put in your cart.

See also: Ikea Bringing Cafecito Truck to Miami: Free Coffee and Furniture Previews

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PB Steak to Close in Miami Beach, Plans to Move "Over the Bridge"

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billwisserphoto.com
PB Steak is moving "across the bridge."
It looks like the Pubbelly boys are planning a strategic chess move with one of their concepts.

Pubbelly Restaurant Group founders Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner, and Sergio Navarro announced they are moving their beefy concept, PB Steak, from its Sunset Harbour location to the mainland.

See also: PB Steak in SoBe: The Pubbelly Trio Strikes Again

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Juan Valdez Cafe Opens Wednesday: Private Tastings and Single Origin Coffees

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All photos by Laine Doss
Juan Valdez Cafe opens in Downtown Miami.
Downtown Miami's first Juan Valdez Cafe opens this Wednesday at 101 NE Second Ave. The coffee shop, which stars the fictional coffee grower in pictures and emblazoned on coffee mugs, features both blended and single origin coffees prepared in a variety of ways.

The cafe, one of which is located in Miami International Airport, is the first in the company's major expansion into the Florida market. Another shop is expected to open in a few weeks at 364 NE 1st Ave., with 60 stores planned for the Sunshine State in the next few years. There are currently 270 Juan Valdez Cafes open in 12 countries including Aruba; Bolivia; Chile; Ecuador; El Salvador; Spain; Kuwait; Malaysia; Mexico; Panama; Peru; South Korea, and the U.S.

See also: Panther Coffee to open in Coconut Grove

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Miami Grill: Miami Subs Gets Pitbull-Approved Rebranding

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Courtesy of Miami Subs
In the '90s, no sight was more welcome among angst-ridden suburban teens than the Greek diner disguised in neon and palm fronds known as Miami Subs. For decades, the Magic City has been a Petri dish for successful fast-food franchises to experiment with off-beat concepts to take to mass market. From Burger King to Pollo Tropical, several iconic eateries had their start as local chains. However, Miami Subs' time in the cultural consciousness was cut short long before it hit its prime.

For awhile, like the Metromover and the Seaquarium, Miami Subs seemed to be going the way of other bloated remnants of the town's Reaganite boom years. But ardent fans of all things tzatziki are rejoicing now that the Miami chain is under new management, which plans to inject some life into a franchise chain that used to supply Madonna and friends with wings and Dom Perignon through a drive-thru window conveniently open at 3 a.m.

See also: My Ceviche Opens Today in South Miami

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Shuckers Waterfront Grill Reopens Tomorrow

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Shuckers via Facebook
Shuckers reopens with a new deck tomorrow.
Just in time for an early start to the weekend, Shuckers Waterfront Grill will open tomorrow at noon.

The iconic waterfront bar and grill that saw so many Miamians beat the heat with a cold beer and a breeze over the water, opens its new patio Thursday, July 24, at noon.

See also: Shuckers to Reopen This Summer After Last Year's Deck Collapse

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National Ice Cream Month: Mantecado, Mamey, and Azucar's Miami Flavors

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Courtesy of Azucar
Abuela Maria, AKA perfection.
You know you're in Miami when "Abuela Maria" (vanilla blended with Maria cookies, guava, and cream cheese) is the most popular flavor in an ice-cream shop. And while there's a sprinkling of shops that have been experimenting with local flavors for a while, none of them has embraced Latino/Caribbean culture as heartily as Azucar! in Little Havana.

See also: Milk Gone Nuts: Try the Chocolate Peanutbutterlicious Shake

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