3 Comfort Food-Forward Miami Restaurants

La Mar by Gaston Acurio, Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Fi’lia South Beach offer sophisticated comfort food staples

La Mar by Gaston Acurio

As if it weren’t already stellar, there’s an all-new menu for lunch and dinner at La Mar by Gaston Acurio. Spearheaded by Executive Chef Diego Oka, La Mar’s new offerings are threefold and introduce a host of new dishes on the main menu and enhancements to existing classics, an innovative fusion on tiki drinks and Peruvian ingredients, and a new dessert concept inspired by the various ecosystems and physical locales in Peru. Some of the highlights you’ll want to try: As a starter, perhaps nothing is as uniquely tantalizing as the Muchame, a house-cured salmon bathed in Leche de Tigre and sprinkled with minced purple onion, avocado and capers. For a new twist on mole, go for the Mole Nikkei, which eschews cocoa for caramelized milk and is seasoned with more than a dozen Peruvian and Japanese spices served with pork belly and homemade blue corn tortillas. Seafood lovers shouldn’t miss Branzino Chifa, a simple but tasty steamed fillet accompanied by vegetables, shiitake mushrooms and chaufa rice, and the Planchaza, a mixed grill of treats from the sea enhanced with anticuchero and chimichurri sauces. La Mar has never disappointed, from the day it opened in the Mandarin Oriental five years ago, and it’s pleasing to see that it continues to change things up and be consistently memorable—in a good way.

In the Mandarin Oriental, 500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami, 305.913.8358; mandarinoriental.com

Yardbird – Southern Table & Bar

It’s been seven years since we first flipped out over Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, braving the throngs inside the eatery’s rustic digs waiting as long as necessary to chug one of their Margarita Honeys before tucking into specialties like Chicken ‘n’ Watermelon ‘n’ Waffles with honey hot sauce and bourbon maple syrup and St. Louis-Style Pork Ribs with housemade barbecue sauce (yes, the bird is the star, but there’s plenty more to enjoy here). And that’s just from the dinner menu. Now this ultra-successful venture by John Kunkel’s 50 Eggs, Inc.—which launched the stellar career of original chef, Top Chef alum Jeff McInnis (he of Root & Bone and Stiltsville Fish Bar, with chef/partner Janine Booth—is celebrating seven years of Southern charm with an upgraded happy hour of $7 cocktails, bites, beer and bourbon. Every weekday from 4 p.m.-7 p.m., Yardbird Miami offers discounted favorites such as the bourbon-infused Old Fashioned, simply mixed with Wild Turkey 81, orange and aromatic bitters for a smoky-sweet twist on the classic cocktail. In addition to the unbeatable happy hour price (especially in the 305), Yardbird is also celebrating the anniversary with a Lucky 7 scratch-off game for all happy hour goers at the bar while supplies last. Scratch off three 7’s in a row to receive an appetizer on the house on your next visit.

1600 Lenox Ave., Miami Beach, 305.538.5220; runchickenrun.com

Fi’lia South Beach

And on and on SBE Entertainment goes: Fi’lia South Beach is open at the Berkeley Shore Hotel, its second location in Miami. This one is the third Fi’lia location, and more will be popping up not just domestically but internationally. Dinner draws guests in with irresistible antipasti, like the Fried Zucchini Flower stuffed with three Italian cheeses, and Polpettine al Sugo, pork meatballs with pomodoro and ricotta. Specialties range from the northern to southern regions of Italy, with Insalata and Panini plates such as Panzanella & Tonno Crudo, a swanky version of the traditional Tuscan dish featuring seared tuna, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, croutons, red wine vinaigrette, basil, capers and black olives. Fresh, daily-made pastas are an integral part of the menu and can be savored with premium Italian ingredients in various forms: Delicate but rich in flavor, the Tagliolini Nero Frutti di Mare is tossed with the freshest mixed seafood. Mains, or Secondi, feature Sicilian Coufresh from the waters between Italy and Africa, enjoyed with caponata, cherry tomato, black olives, capers, mint and extra-virgin olive oil. Highlights from the Beef selections include Bone-In Ribeye Steak with rosemary potatoes, garlic and herb butter. Pizza has pride of place on the menu with perennial favorites like Margherita, featuring the best simple ingredients—San Marzano tomatoes, basil, Di Stefano Fior di Latte, buffalo mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil—and some seriously special ones, such as the Tartufata, which incorporates the delicate ingredient truffle with mozzarella, ricotta, mascarpone, caprino, and mushroom.

In the Berkeley Hotel, 1610 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 786.605.0819; sbe.com

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