Fish and chard at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Miami, Florida.
Miami is more than beaches, buzzing nightlife and sweet and savory Cuban food. The city’s melting pot is vibrant and tilted in one direction: south. The Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern says you have to look in unexpected places for the heart and soul of the city’s food scene.
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
Locale: 130 NE 40th St.
James Beard nominee Michael Schwartz serves as both chef and owner, and he is one of the biggest names in the farm-to-table dining movement. He’s an engaging chef who wears his heart on his sleeve and has the chops to back up his eccentricities.
Since opening Michael’s Genuine in March 2007, Schwartz has maintained his focus on homemade and unpretentious food, using local and organic ingredients. With such fresh components, dishes don’t need a lot of doctoring up; instead, he lets the ingredients speak for themselves. Some of his favorites include locally sourced bacon, tomatoes and cheese. Typical larder fare, but when those types of foods are faultlessly made or harvested, they become ambrosial.
Seafood lovers can opt for a locally caught black grouper. Want a 24-ounce porterhouse? He’s got that, too. Vegetarians will swoon over the beet and heirloom tomato salad, and if you’re just looking for a drink and appetizer, the extensive snack list offers delicious bites at a price point so reasonable ($3 to $15) you can sample away to your heart’s content.
The city of Homestead, just south of Miami, offers some of the best produce in the country. “It’s an agricultural paradise right in our backyard,” Schwartz says. A favorite supplier, Paradise Farms Organic, specializes in the organic fruits, vegetables and greens that often make up the bulk of Schwartz’s menu items.
Miami’s food scene has at times been shallow and too trend-driven, but Schwartz believes Miami’s food world has long deserved recognition as a gastronomic hub: “[People] think it’s all fluff and no substance. Maybe that used to be the case, but it’s changed. Now we have a serious restaurant scene.” Agreed.