Surely you’ve heard and read the news that dining rooms have gotten the green light to open back up (at fifty-percent capacity) throughout Miami-Dade. And surely you’re as stoked as we are.
That said, you might also feel a little weird/anxious and prefer an expansive alfresco culinary experience where you can chill and delight in delectable fare and refreshing cocktails without thinking about the reality of what’s going on. We feel you, hard.
Good thing one of the country’s fanciest shopping malls—where there’s a waitlist for luxury rental space and koi fish ponds adorn the open space—is in our very backyard. Besides being a haven for celebrities like Sofia Vergara, Leo DiCaprio, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West (among many others), that very same outdoor shopping mall is home to some of our favorite places to eat and drink.
If you haven’t already figured out we’re talking about Bal Harbour Shops, we’re talking about Bal Harbour Shops! And if you’re plotting your next Bang Bang (that’s foodie slang for when you hit up two places back-to-back) and not sure of where to go, we’re here to tell you to move Bal Harbour Shops to the top of your list.
Here, our best tips for navigating this gastronomic paradise with gusto:
There’s a reason this place has been around for a quarter century, and it has to do with the copious carpaccio (hence the name). Think four filet mignon varieties (opt for the hearts of palm ) and three fish (tuna, avocado, and gamberi; salmon, orange, pink peppercorn; and salmon, arugula, and parmesan). All the usual Italian suspects round out the extensive menu including our favorite, the Lombata Milanese, aka flattened veal chop lightly breaded and sautéed, topped with diced tomatoes, arugula, lemon, radicchio, balsamic vinegar & EVOO. Wash down with a perfect Negroni.
It’s no secret we love Hillstone, a lot. Bon Appetit ranked it one of America’s favorite restaurants (and we concur). What’s not to love? Service is impeccable. Tables are nailed to the floor so you’ll never have to deal with the old wobble. And the food is consistent. Every. Single. Time. Plus they make an Old Cuban the proper way—with aged Bacardi 8 rum, sparkling wine, and freshly muddled mint and lime. Soak up your Old Cuban with a French Dip Au Jus. Pro tip: Press it at home like a Cuban sandwich (I use a heavy skillet on top) and prepárate to have your mind blown!
Other standbys include the spinach and artichoke dip, caesar salad, and veggie burger. And of course, you can’t really go to Hillstone and not have the legendary Tres Leches. #AbuelaApproved
Chef Makoto Okuwa is a master of Edomae-style sushi. Translation: fish is marinated and preserved for a few days rather than served fresh. Can you say gamechanger? You will be, after savoring what Makoto is dishing.
We recommend surrendering your sushi decisions and putting your trust in the Sushi and Sashimi sampler…because we are at Makoto where the Tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelette) is branded and perfectly layered. If wagyu is your thing, the wagyu hot stone (cooked tableside), wagyu robata short rib with chili sesame ponzu, and frosty wagyu fried rice with a sunny side up egg and xo sauce will fulfill your fix and then some.
On the cocktail front, classics you know and love have been elevated. Be it the Asian inspired Thai Mojito, Piña Margarita, Passion Pisco, or classic Aperol Spritz, you simply can’t go wrong. In fact, imbibe them all.
Stephen Starr needs no introduction. He loves Miami and Miami loves him. With over 30 restaurants worldwide, the restaurateur can do no wrong and neither can you at his French outpost celebrating the cooking of Provence. French Onion Soup is a must. Followed by a Seafood Tower (or any fruits de mer for that matter). But perhaps the most wonderfully French comestibles you can get here are the steak frites and moules frites—cause too much frites is never enough frites. The Romarin, a potion of Grey Goose La Poire, St. Germain, Rosemary and Pear is a perfect pair (ha!).
Whether it’s Italian, French, Japanese, or American your palate fancies, Bal Harbour Shops is your one stop shop.