Like it or not, Yelp! holds tremendous power in the hospitality industry. Its reviews are touted by restaurants, and many customers check to see how many stars a place has before dining there. In the past few years, it has been revealed that some larger chains pay people or have employees place positive reviews, skewing the numbers somewhat.
However, when it comes to smaller independent eateries, I’ve found the star system to be helpful. Sure, there’s going to be that one disgruntled reviewer, but if a place has 200 five-star reviews and one negative, what are you going to believe?
With that being said, Yelp! has just released the Top 100 Florida restaurants, based on Yelp!’s ratings and reviews. While many of the places on the list are outside our demographic area, quite a few, almost a third of the entries, are in the four counties that comprise our distribution area (West Palm to Key West).
Taking the number one slot is Pla-Tu Sushi, which opened in Miami just over a year ago. Reading through the five-star ratings made me want to jump in the car and head down there immediately. Their innovative take on Southeast Asian, Japanese favorites, and Thai tapas won raves for Pla-Tu from Yelpers. The “Bad Boy,” sushi roll was often cited as the best dish and won its raves for being loaded with soft-shell crab, spicy toro, and truffle sauce.
Pembroke Pines is becoming a dining destination, with two of the top five places. Prosecco22 (#3) was consistently praised for its savory pasta dishes and attentive service, while North South Grill’s (#5) Angus burgers and super-sized American Wagyu steak sandwiches won folks over. Also squeaking in, at number 95 is tiny Tacu Taku and its innovative take on South American cuisine.
The current Broadway musical adaptation of “Some Like It Hot” could also be the theme of this article, as many of the favorites specialize in spicy dishes. One of my favorite restaurants Larb Thai-Isan (#11), showcases the fiery street fare of Thailand. Also taking the spice road are West Palm Beach’s India Grill and Bar (#9) and Homestead’s Yardie Spice (#13) with its flavorful Caribbean cuisine.
Italian is the most popular ethnic food and is well-represented on the list. Pane & Vino La Trattoria (#7) in Miami Beach, Fratellino (#8) in Coral Gables (which has more than 1,500 5-star reviews for its homemade pasta), Napoli 1800 Cucina & Pizzeria (#12) in Miami, and The Etna Rosso (#15) in Fort Lauderdale, are all in the Top 20.
Other local eateries of note include the comfort fare at Fort Lauderdale’s Gilbert’s 17th Street Grill (#6), Colombian Mountains Café (#18) in Fort Lauderdale which was noted for its “mountainous” portions,” the creative vegan barbecue at Pompano Beach’s The Rabbit Hole (19), and Wilton Manor’s own hot spot, Ethos Greek Bistro (#59).
Local dining destinations on the rest of Yelp’s list include:
# 21. Bunbury, Miami
# 23. Intimo, Miami Beach
# 24. Luca Osteria, Coral Gables
# 28. Franky’s Deli Warehouse, Hialeah
# 31. The Modern Rose, Deerfield Beach
# 33. Havana Vieja, Miami Beach
# 34. Ichimora, Fort Lauderdale
# 41. Broad Shoulders Sandwiches, Fort Lauderdale
# 42. Magnolia Caffee (sic), Fort Lauderdale
# 52. Buccan, Palm Beach
# 54. Dry Dock Waterfront Grill, Longboat Key
# 56. Pesto Cafe and Grill, Miami
# 59. Ethos Greek Bistro, Wilton Manors
# 62. Café Prima Pasta, Miami Beach
# 69. Minty Z, Miami
# 71. Aioli, West Palm Beach
# 78. Full Bloom Vegan, Miami Beach
# 79. Dune Dog Cafe, Jupiter
# 83. Pampa Gaucho Churrascaria, Lighthouse Point
# 86. Hobo’s Cafe, Key Largo
# 91. Aguacate Sanctuary of Love, Miami
# 92. La Sandwicherie – Miami Beach, Miami Beach
# 93. Pho Bar Vietnamese Kitchen, Davie
# 94. Niran’s Kitchen, Deerfield Beach
# 95. Tacu Taku, Pembroke Pines
# 97. Dada, Delray Beach
At which local places in the top 100 have you dined? Drop me an email and let me know what you think of any of these places. There are many I haven’t visited and plan to check out.