Homestead and Redland aside, Miami isn’t exactly the most rural of cities, but that doesn’t mean it’s deprived of the finest and freshest of the farm-to-table movement. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Some of the best restaurants in Miami are so farm-tastic that you’d almost expect the chef to emerge from the kitchen on a tractor, wearing overalls and chewing on a piece of hay. Thanks to the following three restaurants, you can enjoy farm-fresh fare along with ocean views and palm trees:
Although Semilla’s chef hails from Paris, this unpretentious and cozy yet industrial gastropub doesn’t have to go that far for ingredients, tapping into local purveyors and Florida farms for the ingredients in its well-rounded menu of tapas and small plates. Fusing farm with Florida, the offerings include a savory dish of asparagus served with summer truffle and organic fried eggs; a jar of Vermont goat cheese and bacon croquettas; and a tartare of branzino, avocado, and cilantro that all taste so Miami—tropical, Latin, and international, with a pinch of Americana.
Hailing from impressive stints with lauded culinary leaders, including the Michelin-starred Guy Savoy, Semilla’s chef, Frederic Joulin, is all about Miami bistro fare with a farm-to-table twist. If local South Florida breweries were considered farms, even the beer here would be considered farm-to-table, with an impressive selection of craft brews on tap at all times. A daily happy hour pleases any crowd with $6 well drinks, wines by the glass, and Florida-brewed beers, as well as $6 Blue Point oysters and braised short rib pot stickers. A large, repurposed wooden bar is command central for a mostly local bar scene that’s anything but wooden or rural.
As far away from a farm as you can imagine is the bustling Brickell area where Golden Fig, one of the best restaurants in Miami, is located. In spite of its location in the hub of Miami’s metropolis, its wooden tables, white metal chairs, and murals from hip Wynwood galleries combine to give it both a rustic and modern mood. The cuisine, on the other hand, doesn’t send any mixed messages. Chef Tomas Prado likes to let you know from which farm his fare is sourced, be it the Hudson Valley foie gras used in his parfait, or a salad of greens and veggies hailing from just down the road in Homestead.
Ingredients here are indeed seasonal, unlike the clientele, who comprise a steady mix of food fans, hipsters, and traveling businesspeople. Prado, who once worked with Daniel Boulud, is a prodigy with a panache for pumping up protein in the form of, say, house-cured lardo from Florida pigs and duck prosciutto from New York. The New York duck is a star menu item, but there’s also a good, old-fashioned hamburger whose origin isn’t as important as its accompaniments of Vermont cheddar and Miami-made pickles. And then there’s the cauliflower steak, which could turn any carnivore into a veggie fan.
Alter has sprouted in Miami’s artsy Wynwood district, and some say the food within is also art. The hyper-modern, unadulterated warehouse space is loud and reminiscent of an unfinished sound stage, but the food is anything but incomplete. It’s quirky, yes, but finely tuned and full of local ingredients, from seafood and fruits to meats and vegetables. Chef Brad Kilgore calls the place casual, but its food certainly isn’t. Just a few appetizers and fewer than 10 entrees make up the brief menu, whose descriptions of the dishes are even briefer. Kilgore wants you to eat, not read. For instance, there’s the “Soft Egg,” which is described simply as “sea scallop espuma, chive, truffle pearls, gruyere.” And then there are the “Grouper Cheeks,” with “black rice, shoyu hollandaise, sea lettuces.”
There’s also blue crab, served with Japanese puffed rice in an aji amarillo (the Sriracha of Peru) sauce. Like the wording on the menu, portions are also a bit minimalist, but the flavors are effusive. If you groan at the words “foam” or “gel,” don’t knock it before you’ve tried it. As far from a farm as you can get, Alter is definitely a place to pay homage to some of the freshest, funkiest Florida flavors and one of the best restaurants in Miami.