A look at Miami’s biggest restaurant openings and closings of 2021

By Geoffrey and Dianne at Miami Food Pug

After a crazy 2020, nobody knew what to expect in 2021. With 2022 now right around the corner, it feels safe to say that things were a little more normal — emphasis on the little part — this year. This was especially true for the restaurant industry, and while we aren’t quite out of the woods just yet, the new year is looking quite appetizing for the South Florida food scene.

But before we say cheers to 2022, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest restaurant openings — and closings — of 2021.


😋 After a successful pandemic run as a home takeout operation, Zitz Sum found a permanent space in Coral Gables for its dumplings and Asian-inspired cuisine.

🇨🇺 Coconut Grove welcomed back Chug’s, the neighborhood’s beloved Cuban diner. This triumphant return was marked by a larger dining area, a bigger menu and lots of café con leche.

🍝 Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli (Eating House) opened Luca Osteria, a pasta paradise bolstered by a negroni selection that’s ::chef’s kiss::. The Giralda Avenue location is just a stone’s throw away from the future Eating House outpost.

🍖 The Finka brand expanded beyond West Kendall with Barbakoa by Finka at The Doral Yard. Among the many highlights at this hot Latin-Asian fusion spot: vaca frita tiffin, Korean chili wings and loaded Spanish boniato fries.

📚 Enjoy books? Enjoy wine? Enjoy both at Paradis Books & Bread — your new favorite hangout in North Miami.

🐄 Pandemic pop-up Sunny’s Steakhouse from the guys at Jaguar Sun took over Lot 6 again. This time around, the Little River favorite has a lot more meats and a lot more cocktails. Say these magic words: “I’ll have the duck.”

🎂 Miami Beach’s iconic Firestone Garage said hello to three food concepts from nightlife mogul and restaurateur David Grutman: Winker’s Diner, Sushi Fly Chicken and Toothfairy. Whether you’re looking for a hefty pastrami sandwich, some delicious sushi or the best cake you’ve had in a long time, they’ve got you covered.

🍷 Downtown Miami has another great wine bar in NIU Wine. The former NIU Kitchen space is now a dedicated wine joint with dozens of wines by the glass and delicious bites like jamon iberico dumplings and an awesome panna cotta.

🌭 Three cheers for beer at Little River’s Off Site. The nano-brewery’s main attraction is obviously the brews, but the food menu is also a winner. It’s full of bar classics like hot dogs and fried chicken sandwiches — but done even better.

🦀 Wynwood’s Jattö is serving up Peruvian, Spanish and Colombian flavors in the former Alter space. The “New World” eatery features delights like ikura arepas, octopus chips, crab causa and coconut miso grouper.


🙏 Coral Gables institution Eating House called it quits over the summer. The stoner-friendly restaurant lasted almost 10 years — an eternity in Miami. Thankfully, it’s slated to come back sometime in 2022.

😮 Downtown’s Arson is no more. In its place: A new and improved NIU Kitchen.

😢 Back in September, Downtown said goodbye to Sparky’s Roadside Barbecue, another victim of the pandemic. We’ll miss that brisket the most.

🐟 Fooq’s shut its doors in February, swapping its Mediterranean cuisine for Eleventh Street Pizza. It’s darn good pizza, but our stomachs long for all that Persian deliciousness.

🍦 Over in South Miami, the closure of Swensen’s off U.S. 1 hit us right in the feels. Nothing lasts forever, and after 44 years this ice cream institution finally closed up shop.

🍻 Pour one out for Boxelder, the go-to beer spot in Wynwood. Shotgunning 4 p.m. beers at home alone doesn’t have quite the same appeal.

🍸 The craft cocktail scene took a big hit with the departure of The Local in Coral Gables. The local — pardon the pun — watering hole was a favorite for neighborhood nightcaps.