By Janet K. Keeler
Food and wine enthusiasts will find even more to love about Florida now that the Michelin Guide has come to town — specifically to Miami, Orlando and Tampa. Travelers can add dozens of Florida restaurants to their must-dine lists, thanks to accolades from the legendary Michelin Guide.
Michelin Guide inspectors have given 118 Florida restaurants representing 35 cuisines their global stamp of approval. Besides bestowing stars on an impressive 15 restaurants, the Michelin Guide also singled out 103 restaurants for Bib Gourmand honors or Michelin Recommended status.
The acclaimed L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Miami received two stars, making the Design District’s 34-seat dining room a top Florida restaurant destination. The remaining 14 Florida restaurants that earned Michelin stars received one each. These Florida restaurants — along with the others cited — are worthy of a special trip, just don’t forget to make reservations.
Florida joins California, New York, Illinois (Chicago) and Washington, D.C. with its own Michelin Guide Florida. The Michelin Guides can be accessed online and there will eventually be a printed Michelin Guide Florida.
Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said Miami, Orlando and Tampa are offering diners international cuisines mixed with Florida flavors and seasonal ingredients. Mise en Place in Tampa, Soseki in Orlando, and Stubborn Seed in Miami Beach are just three of the restaurants that exemplify this.
“Local foodies as well as travelers will enjoy exploring these mesmerizing and rich Florida culinary destinations,” Poullennec said.
A Diversity of Florida Tastes
While Michelin-honored restaurants were once mostly pricey, white-table cloth restaurants steeped in French culinary traditions, you will find wider diversity in the contemporary Michelin Guide. Inspectors looked for quality, chef vision and attention to ingredients and technique at any price point. Interior design and service didn’t figure into the judging. Go figure.
Los Felix in the Coconut Grove neighborhood on the southern edge of Miami, received one star for its authentic take on indigenous Mexican cuisine. Its $12 quesadilla is stuffed with Oaxacan cheese, squash blossoms, pickled onion and the aromatic epazote herb. On the flip side was Knife & Spoon at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando which also received one Michelin star. It has a Euro-feel with its sleek furniture, but still no white table cloths. The rack of lamb costs about $80, sides are extra.
Rooster & The Till in Tampa has plenty of chef-driven vision from Chef Ferrell Alvarez who has been a James Beard semifinalist for best chef in the South. His restaurant has long been a favorite with local diners but it won’t be much of a secret now that it has been awarded a Bib Gourmand. Grab a seat at the bar at this casual restaurant and enjoy a plate of Eggplant Goat Cheese Ravioli and a glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne.
The Michelin Guide, which was started by the French tire company more than 100 years ago, signals to travelers which restaurants are worth a stop. Michelin Guide Florida has given travelers even more reasons to hit the road for Miami, Orlando and Tampa.
The Michelin Guide Ratings Explained
The Michelin Guide gives honors at several levels. According to Michelin, the stars are based on five criteria: quality of the ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in the cuisine, value for money and consistency between visits. Inspectors do not include design or service in their assessments.
Three stars: “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” There are 132 Michelin three-star restaurants in the world, the bulk of them in Japan and France. There are 13 three-star restaurants in the U.S.
Two stars: “Excellent cooking, worth a detour.”
One star: “A very good restaurant in its category.”
Bib Gourmand: You may know him as the Michelin Man but the tire company’s mascot’s name is Bibendum, Bib for short. The “Bibs” are given to restaurants that offer “good quality and good value.” This means that in the U.S., diners can get two courses plus a glass of wine or dessert for less than $50, not including tax and tip. They are judged by the same criteria used for star designation.
Michelin Recommended: The food at the restaurants in this category is above average, typified by quality ingredients that are well-cooked. This category of honors was established in 2017.