Predicting Florida's Michelin Stars
Ten picks across three cities: Tampa, Miami, and Orlando, with some assistance from chefs
On June 9, the Michelin Guide will announce the restaurants that will be included in its inaugural Florida guide that will include restaurants from the state’s three major cities: Tampa, Orlando, and Miami. The announcement will take place during a live ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grand Lakes Hotel at 6:30 p.m., revealing the restaurants that have been awarded a Michelin star or Bib Gourmand designation. In addition, the Sommelier of the Year and Exceptional Cocktails awards will be announced at the ceremony.
The Michelin Guide was founded in France in the 1880s and in the United States; only a handful of cities have their own Guides: New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington D.C. In addition, there is a guide for the entire state of California.
With three Florida cities in the running, Broken Palate consulted with chefs in Tampa and Orlando to help come up with a list of ten restaurants that deserve a Michelin star. Though Miami’s food scene has grown exponentially in the past decade, Tampa and Orlando are not far behind. Richard Hales, who owns Blackbrick and Society Barbecue in Miami and is opening Blackbrick Tampa, says that, once a city filled with chain restaurants, “Tampa is really coming into its own,” adding “People in Tampa are also fiercely loyal to their favorite restaurants.”
Here are 10 Florida restaurants likely to be awarded at least a Michelin star on June 6:
Miami is a city with strong Cuban influences, and chef Michael Beltran uses his family memories and Cuban pride to create a menu that melds the traditional and the modern. At Ariete in Coconut Grove, you’ll find foie gras with plantains, a savory mushroom flan, and a rabbit Wellington. Beltran’s dishes tell the story of Miami — a city with deep roots in its past and an eye to a very modern future.
Bern’s is the quintessential steakhouse experience — on steroids: The restaurant boasts a wine cellar that houses nearly 7,000 bottles, it grows its own produce at a nearby farm, and dessert is enjoyed in its own dedicated room. Bern’s has long been the place to celebrate anniversaries, promotions, birthdays, and retirements, and for good reason: The steaks are perfectly seared, a dress code keeps the dining refined, and the wines are simply divine. Bern’s is a reminder that there is a place for old-school fine dining.
The flagship Columbia Restaurant, located in Ybor City in Tampa, is the oldest continuously operated in Florida and the oldest Spanish restaurant in the United States. The restaurant is resplendent with hand-painted tiles, wood floors, and multiple rooms (including a staircase that leads to nowhere). Steeped in history, Columbia could have easily turned into a tourist trap with people coming just for its Flamenco shows, but the restaurant’s food is seriously iconic: Sangria is made tableside, as is a Columbia salad filled with chunks of meat and cheese and smothered in a tangy, oily dressing. Follow with Paella or chicken and rice or simply sit at the bar and order a Cubano sandwich.
Chef Niven Patel and his wife Shivani serve the vegetables they grow on their nearby farm at Ghee. This Indian restaurant — far removed from the glitz of Miami’s beaches and Brickell — is indeed worth the trip for both the food and the hospitality. Patel, who worked behind the burner at Miami’s finest restaurants, opened Ghee as a labor of love with a concept of sharing the flavors of India, sourced with the most sustainable ingredients. As such, you’ll find local fish and mango chutney alongside staples like pork vindaloo.
Itame is a family affair, with father Fernando Chang, daughter Valerie and son Nando working together to turn out Nikkei-inspired dishes that are seafood-focused. The menu changes almost daily, but expect some of the freshest ceviches and nigiri you’ve ever had. The restaurant, which started as a food hall stand, had graduated to a brick and mortar in Miami’s Design District. Still, it’s a humble, casual affair. But at Itame, it’s all about the food. You want posh? Go shop at nearby Dior then come back for some seriously good food.