If you’ve been out and about in Miami over the past decade, chances are you’ve done so at least once at an establishment run by Bar Lab.
This is the hospitality company born from early 2010s breakout bar Broken Shaker, which opened its doors at Miami Beach’s Freehand hotel in 2012. It was here, at this buzzy bar, that Miami native Jimmy Lebron began to climb the ranks of the Bar Lab universe. While working as chef de partie at the now-shuttered Canyon Ranch wellness hotel, Lebron simultaneously picked up shifts as a busser at Broken Shaker to familiarize himself with front of house operations. In time, Lebron would become sous chef at 27 Restaurant & Bar, Freehand’s other on-site eating and drinking establishment, also run by Bar Lab.
Today, Lebron is the executive chef at several of Bar Lab’s Miami concepts, including the very same Broken Shaker he bussed at (they’ve got a curated menu of creative bar food if you didn’t know), 27 Restaurant & Bar (where Lebron’s menu fuses classic dishes with new flavors — like jerk chicken pot pie), and Hoja Taqueria (a Oaxacan joint known for its heirloom corn tortillas, located inside Miami Beach’s Generator hotel). As if that wasn’t enough to max out his schedule, he’s also a menu consultant at Downtown Miami’s Margot Natural Wine & Aperitivo Bar.
Few people know better where to eat in Miami — so we asked the chef to share where he eats around town when he’s not in the kitchen himself. As we expected, he didn’t disappoint, with a list of both classics and up-and-coming spots that you’ll want to make part of your dining plans, pronto.
El Bagel (MiMo District), Caracas Bakery (various locations), True Loaf (Miami Beach) and Zak the Baker (Wynwood)
“El Bagel has the best bagels hands down, so you have to hurry there in the morning before they sell out. Caracas Bakery, which does Venezuelan-French-inspired bread and pastry, just opened a second location in MiMo, and my favorites are their croissants and pan de jamon. True Loaf is the best hidden secret on the beach, and I’d suggest always trying the special. And last but not least, there’s Miami staple and Bib Gourmand recipient Zak the Baker. You can’t go wrong here — ever.”
Sanguich de Miami (various locations), Wabi Sabi (North Miami Beach), Ghee Indian Kitchen (Dadeland), Joe’s Stone Crab, Take Away (South Beach) and El Palacio de Los Jugos (various locations)
“Sanguich de Miami has the best sandwiches in Miami, including traditional Cuban sandwiches, and they’re all made from scratch. The bowls from Wabi Sabi are also great for lunch, as they’re light and very fresh. Over at Ghee Indian Kitchen, everything is great, but their breads, chutneys and snacks are always highlights. Joe’s Stone Crab is a well-known Miami institution — it can be hard to get a reservation, so I’d recommend grabbing lunch from Joe’s Take Away and walking over to South Point Park to have a picnic. And finally, El Palacio de Los Jugos is simply everything Miami in one spot and great for a fast, casual lunch.”
Mandolin Aegean Bistro (Design District), Macchialina (Miami Beach), Jaguar Sun (Downtown), Lung Yai Thai Tapas (Little Havana) and Zitz Sum (Coral Gables)
“I love Mandolin for its consistency, local ingredients and very creative chefs — they have a Bib Gourmand. I recommend trying the specials. Macchialina is great for Italian comfort food and the wines to pair with it, plus they’ve got the best service. For more pasta and cocktails by the best in the game, I’ll go to Jaguar Sun (they’ve got a Bib Gourmand, too). For Asian flavors, Lung Yai Thai Tapas, a small place in the middle of Calle Ocho, has the best Thai food, and Zitz Sum (yet another Bib Gourmand recipient) does an amazing job with a menu of always-changing, Asian-inspired cuisine.”
Eleventh Street Pizza (Downtown), Flanigan’s Seafood Bar & Grill (various locations), Sweet Liberty (Miami Beach) and La Sandwicherie (various locations)
“Eleventh Street Pizza is my favorite late-night pizza spot. While they serve delicious New York-style sourdough pies and slices, don’t sleep on their sandwiches, either. For a beer and fish — likely something fried — Flanigan’s Seafood Bar & Grill has been a laid-back Miami must since 1959. For very late nights, grab a great cocktail and bar at Sweet Liberty — they’re open until 5 a.m. and are a staple on North America’s 50 Best Bars list. Finally, for delicious French sandwiches, also until 5 a.m., there’s another Miami institution, La Sandwicherie.”
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