Starex Smith is The Hungry Black Man



Special to South Florida Times

South Florida is experiencing a black food renaissance in areas where historically there have been few, if any, options for dining. Black chefs are returning to Miami-Dade and Broward and making their marks at these hidden gems that won’t be hidden for long, because the food, service, and ambiance of these eateries are amazing. Each of the top 10 is a full service restaurant, most with full bars, wait staff and superior customer service. The rankings are based on a series of measurements that included service, food source, taste, ambiance, logistical ease and environment.

10) Empty Plates 6820 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33138 Phone: (786) 542-8644

Chef De’Bronya Hodges, famously know as Chef Dee, the incomparable celebrity chef to none other than DJ Khaled, is the creative genius behind Empty Plates’ eclectic, yet humble menu offerings. My favorite here would have to be the incredible Jerk Chicken Pasta ($16.25). Lord Have Mercy! I was prepared to get my deacon’s chair and lead the restaurant’s patrons in a prayer session. Just want to thank you Lord for this pasta! I can’t tell you enough how thankful I am; that is until I tried her Fried Oreos ($7.50)!

9) Awash Ethiopian Restaurant 19934 NW Second Ave., Miami Gardens, FL Phone: (305) 770-5100

Chef Eka Wassel and her husband Fouad, opened this beautifully decorated eatery for the perfect date night! Armed with an exciting coffee ceremony experience and a cuisine packed with exotic and unique flavors from the horn of Africa, there is little not to like about this place. My favorite entrée is the Ethiopian fried fish along with the beef or lentil sambusa ($5). If you’re visiting for the first time, you would want to order the Taste of Awash ($24.99), which gives you a sample of almost everything on the menu.

8) Little Greenhouse Grill 1300 NW 3rd Ave, Miami, FL 33136, Phone: (786) 277-3582

Chef Karim Bryant and his ‘boo thang” (sorry Nicole) Nicole Gates, created the best restaurant in Overtown this year with my favorite dish, the Half BBQ Chicken ($14) with a side of their turkey flavored collard greens, grandma approved mac and cheese, and cabbage that goes so quickly you need to get there when it opens if you want any. Honorable mention goes to the Dream Fire Shrimp and the Smoked BBQ Chicken Wings. Look for big things from Lil Greenhouse in the coming year. Oh, and try their wine cocktails.

7) House of Mac 1216 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139, Phone: (786) 420-5619

Renaissance man Derrick Turton (Chef Teach) went from a music mogul to an amazing chef after a stint in culinary school and humbly brought us the deliciousness found in World Famous House of Mac. His newly opened South Beach location is a true beauty. With a dazzling bar with a creative cocktail menu and huge booth seating throughout the restaurant, this place takes the word comfort in comfort food to a maximum level. My favorite here would be the succulent jerk salmon pasta, Chicken Parmesan Mac and Cheese ($14), and the Seafood Mac. This is truly a spot to come eat, drink and have an amazing time right in the heart of South Beach.

6) KC Healthy Cooking 11900 Biscayne Blvd #103, North Miami, FL 33181, Phone: (786) 502-4193

So, the chef here is literally a wizard off Harry Potter, because there is no other way to explain how he got healthy and vegan food to taste this good. Located across the street from North Miami’s Whole Foods, Chef Jerry Dominque is not afraid to compete with their hot bar, and he is winning! Everything on the menu is healthy, but you wouldn’t know it by the naughty tasting entrees, including my favorite dish, the Double Portobello Black Beans Burger ($16.95), served with lettuce, tomato, avocado and a house made basil pesto. Why did Jerry do this? I have been addicted to this burger.

5) Uber Wings 9570 SW 160th St, Miami, FL 33157 Phone: (786) 701-3377

Husband and wife duo, Kristy and Chef Rashid Ibrahim have given South Dade a long overdue sit down black owned eatery with healthy and delicious options topped with impeccable customer service and speediness. Chef Rashid is serious about providing fine dining style cuisine with his secret menu. My favorite entrée was his rosemary marinated lamb chops with a balsamic and olive oil drizzle and the nostalgic Grilled Cheese Waffle Croissant ($9.79), comprised of Havarti cheese, caramelized onions, fresh tomato and a turkey bacon with just the right amount of salt.

4) Zest Miami Southeast Financial Center, 200 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131, Phone: (305) 374-9378

Owner Delius Shirley knows good and well that this food should be illegal and categorized as a

controlled substance. He has truly outdone himself with this beautiful downtown Miami gem. The legendary Chef Cindy Hutson has created a menu that captures Miami’s diversity with a Caribbean inspired menu boasting flavors that will have you weak in the knees! My favorite was the Jerk Chicken Pappardelle ($21), which is a house made jerk marinated chicken breast, vine ripe tomatoes and scallion creamy corn polenta, with sautéed baby arugula tossed in an aromatic spiced piquant brown stew gravy.

3) Southern Spice 1920 Tyler Street Hollywood, FL 33020 Phone: (954) 674-2919

Chef Malcolm Prude infuses the sophistication of over 300 years of African-American cuisine into this Hollywood eatery. Southern Spice uses the freshest ingredients, free of hormones through sourcing organic and cage free chicken, grass fed beef and wild caught fish. Owner Natasha Gonzales embraces her African-American and Trinidadian heritage with a menu that takes soul food for a wild ride! My favorite entrée is the Chili Rubbed Pork Chop ($23), severed with smashed baby potatoes, cauliflower, gremolata, and a red wine jus.

2) D’vine by 9701 9125 NW 22nd Avenue Miami, FL 33147, Phone: (786) 366-9075

Chef Ingrid Bayoro brings a trio of culinary culture to this Liberty City restaurant with AfricanAmerican, Nigerian, and Haitian food pathways that create a deliciously unique fusion. My favorite dish is the unique and incomparable Griot Plantain Sandwich ($10.00). You can get the sandwich with seafood or make it completely vegan! The fired Snapper is another amazing entrée as well. Wash it all down with a glass of their homemade Haitian lemonade!

1) Swirl Wine Bistro 1435 Lyons Rd, Coconut Creek, FL 33063 Phone: (954) 458-5407

Someone needs to deal with Chef Judith Able, because she is completely out of control. How am I going to afford that new iPhone if she keeps cooking and carrying on like this? I don’t think I’m going to make it honestly. Her newly opened concept, Swirl Wine Bistro has taken fusion to a whole new level! This place has one of the best sliders in the nation! Yes, the Smoked Brisket or Aged Beef or Crab Best in the Country ($13.99). Chef has some notable mentions in her Snapper Escoveitch ($18.99) served with Cassava cake, pickled vegetable, mango drizzle $18.99 and for your vegetarian folk please don’t sleep on the Vegetarian Tart – Wild forest mushrooms and goat cheese mouse, that thing is amazing. Finally, the Oxtail Ravioli is legendary.