In South Florida, now more than ever, an upscale meal can be just steps away from a pillow-top mattress and free, fancy toiletries. Whether you chalk it up to quality, service or sheer convenience, the fact of the matter is that hotel dining is on the rise.
An industry study from earlier this year noted that restaurants within hotels and resorts have been trending upward over time. According to Technomic, a global food-service data company, total spending by consumers in hotels totaled to $48.7 billion last year.
And it’s only supposed to go up in 2018. South Florida Sun Sentinel food critic Mike Mayo says that resort dining poses advantages for all parties involved.
“Because the hotels are usually attached to big corporations, the hotels are able to pay well and bring in big-name chefs,” Mayo says. “It also enables them to get better products at lower prices.”
The Technomic report also noted that local and regional offerings are more in demand. It’s something we’d safely bet our South Florida resorts have caught wind of—whether looking at JWB Prime Steak and Seafood’s fresh fish that is literally speared hours before hitting a plate at Margaritaville or Terra Mare’s cold-pressed juices at The Conrad.
To celebrate South Florida’s best fine dining establishments that are connected to luxury resorts, check out the following restaurants.
Flagler Steakhouse • The Breakers
Where: 2 S. County Road, Palm Beach
Kitchen confidential: This warm, comfortable steakhouse features wooden beams and columns, oversized chandeliers and a broad menu that fuses top cuts of meat and American classics alongside some specialty Italian meals. Flagler Steakhouse sits down the road from the resort’s main building on the second floor of its golf club, allowing patrons to overlook the property. This dining option pays tribute to its name with offerings like the dry-aged tomahawk rib chop ($74)—which is so big you might not have room for a side dish—and the bone-in filet mignon ($67).
Don’t-miss dish: Don’t start your meal without ordering a round of the blue crab dumplings ($26). These delicate-yet-rich babies come stuffed with crab, shaved Reggiano cheese, red pepper butter and truffle oil. They’re an airy but filling starter that you won’t want to share.
Contact: 855.435.2053, thebreakers.com/dining/flagler-steakhouse
Pao by Paul Qui • Faena Hotel Miami Beach
Where: 3201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Kitchen confidential: A unicorn is often used to describe that one-in-a-million gem, glistening with uniqueness. And at Pao, you’ll see that—literally, because there’s a giant gold unicorn in the middle of the dining room. A gold-leafed, $6 million Damien Hirst unicorn sculpture to be exact. But the art isn’t the only thing lavish and exciting at this modern Asian restaurant. For many, it’s the pork adobo rice ($25), a ginger-jasmine rice with pork, a fried duck egg, cilantro and a green mango pico. For others, it’s the often-praised service (they’ll debone a whole branzino upon request). And, in a sharp contrast to hotel dining that skews meat-heavy, Pao offers multiple vegetarian and vegan options ready-to-go, including the smoked short rib pictured above.
Don’t-miss dish: After seeing a giant sculpture of one in the middle of this oval-shaped dining room, it’s hard not to order a dish called “Unicorn” ($27). It features a sea urchin placed atop grilled sweet corn pudding, which is flavored with lime, sake aioli and chile de arbol with a puff of foam on top for embellishment.
Contact: 786.655.5630, faena.com/miami-beach/restaurant/pao-by-paul-qui