Our city is full of hotels, but we have more than our share of ho-hum hotel restaurants.
You know the deal. Too many places that cater to tourists with unadventurous palates and a love of bland food (broiled salmon and chicken alfredo anyone?).
But then there are those hotel restaurants that go the extra mile, with chefs that take an interest in the local food scene and dishes that continue to impress visitors and locals alike. Here are our favorite hotel restaurants – just in time to entertain all those out-of-town guests.
The plush downtown outpost of celeb chef Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro underwent a full transformation last year to become this temple of Mediterranean cooking. Executive Chef Clark Bowen helms the kitchen and churns out dishes featuring flavors from France’s Côte d’Azur, Spain, Italy, Greece, North Africa and Turkey.
Start off with a cocktail, maybe the St. Tropez Gin and Tonic (made with Lillet Blanc and lemon verbena) in the spacious lounge, which is outfitted in blue and white couches flanking the marble sunken bar. Then move on to feast on a platter of mezze that includes spicy hummus, petite falafel balls and baba ganoush.
The Arabic Lamb Flatbread is topped with eggplant, pine nuts and drizzled with labneh yogurt to cool some of the heat from the spicy meat. Larger plates – like the seared branzino over a bed of freekah with apricot sauce – play with Middle-Eastern flavors balancing spicy and sweet. The chicken Tagine is a bowl of Moroccan comfort food.
Pastry Chef Saeko Nemoto keeps the momentum going with the Grapefruit Givre made from a hollowed-out fruit filled with rose loukoum, grapefruit sorbet and topped with threads of sesame halva.
Almost the entire menu at this oceanfront oasis in the iconic Eden Roc and its shared Nobu Hotel Miami Beach is designed with health in mind. It’s an outpost of the West Coast original. Expect California-style dishes of cauliflower crust pizza topped with pesto and heirloom tomatoes, a chicken ricotta burger and spaghetti squash lasagna.
Malibu Farms is also one of the only oceanfront restaurants on Miami Beach, with ample outdoor seating overlooking the beach and boardwalk. And if you’re craving a bit of vice, there’s frose on tap in addition to a full cocktail menu that incorporates infused organic agaves and local produce.
Four years ago Peruvian top toque Gaston Acurio planted his flag at the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key and placed young chef Diego Oka in charge. Since then Oka has risen to the challenge at the helm of this contemporary Peruvian restaurant. His creative tweaks keep locals and hotel guests coming back for colorful dishes and a legendary brunch.
The menu is epic with lists of tiraditos, ceviches, causas, anticuchos, hot dishes and larger “Peruvian Specialties.” Gratis pre-dinner bites include a cone of yucca chips and a creamy tari (Peruvian pepper) sauce. The ceviche sampler bursts with fresh flavors from the nikkei (tuna, red onions, and tamarind leche de tigre), to the classic (fluke, cilantro, lima pepper, choclo and classic tiger’s milk), to the criollo brimming with calamari and scallops. The “Chaufa Aeropuerto” is a must-order heaping plate of fried rice with Chinese sausage, shrimp omelet and nikkei sauce.
LT Steak & Seafood
What used to be BLT Steak at the Betsy is now LT Steak & Seafood, still a concept by French Chef Laurent Tourondel, but with more of a seafood focus. Start with crispy calamari and move on to your choice of steak or local snapper. Chef Danny Ganem keeps the menu sophisticated and inventive with specials like grilled Korean melon salad with avocado and brassica greens and double duck terrine with pistachios and black Mission figs.
Another plus: The Betsy Hotel is still one of the handsomest properties on Ocean Drive, with dark woods and cozy velvet banquettes that pair perfectly with all that rich food.
Stunning decor, top-notch service and one of the most interesting menus in the city keep this hotel restaurant ahead of the pack in South Beach.
We can’t get enough of such “Middleterranean” eats as Turkish pide topped with truffles to the classic baked-tomato and egg shakshuka dish to glazed lamb ribs and Persian wedding rice. Go with a big group and order half the menu. You won’t be sorry.