In the Local Palate‘s 2023 Restaurants Issue, our state-by-state guide highlights the new restaurants that have emerged since 2022. Here, local writer Lauren Titus highlights new restaurants in Florida.
Like many other Southern cities, Tallahassee’s dining scene is dominated by casual American cuisine. Enter Black Radish, a vegetable-focused concept that has captured the interest of local diners, both vegetarians and meat eaters. “Nontraditional concepts with a focus on vegetables and a beverage program featuring biodynamic wines wouldn’t be out of the norm in large cities with a vibrant food scene,” says chef-owner Matthew Swezey. “But in Tallahassee, that definitely is. Fortunately, it’s evolving, and the reception Black Radish has received is evidence of that change.”
Black Radish comes with a great pedigree: Swezey’s partner is Jesse Edmunds, who leads the prolific team behind the Liberty Bar, the Hawthorn Bistro & Bakery, El Cocinero, and Bar 1903 in the city. “I had been working with Jesse for about five years when he approached me about creating my own concept,” Swezey says. “I had in mind a super-quaint, super-personal restaurant serving food that I liked to eat, which is mainly vegetables and pasta. Jesse found a former restaurant across the street from Liberty Bar that ended up becoming Black Radish. With 90 seats, it’s not quite as small as I envisioned, but with Jesse’s support and expertise, he helped bring everything to life.”
The pricing at Black Radish is not fine dining, but the attention to detail creates an upscale yet approachable atmosphere. “We don’t want this to be just a special occasion destination, and we priced the food accordingly,” Swezey says. “I would rather see you once a week several times a month than every three to six months for a special occasion.”
While the menu is 85 percent vegetables, pasta, and nonmeat dishes, Swezey doesn’t refer to Black Radish as a vegan or vegetarian restaurant. “We want to show people that if you source good products and pay attention to how you treat the ingredients, they can be interesting, fun, and exciting,” he says. “You can eat an entire meal of just veggies and leave full and satiated without having an eight-ounce portion of protein.”
Based on feedback from customers, Swezey may be onto something. “It’s a great feeling when guests come in and tell us, ‘I’m a steak-and-potatoes person, and we didn’t have any meat here. But we enjoyed ourselves and feel full.’ A little less meat, a few more veggies— diners are starting to understand the concept, and we’re happy to be a part of that evolution.” @blackradishtlh
What to Order at Black Radish
The menu at this restaurant in Florida is seasonally driven, and as a result, some dishes come and go according to the time of year, while others have developed a loyal fan base and will be available long-term.
Bubble Potatoes | These have a crispy hash brown exterior and creamy mashed potatoes inside and are served with smoked paprika aïoli and chives. This dish has been on the menu since the beginning. “It will stay because we’re afraid there will be riots in the streets if we take it off,” Swezey says.
Spinach Tortelloni | This spinach-laminated pasta dough is filled with ricotta, parmesan, a little basil, and lemon zest and rests in a butter sauce.
Fried Tofu Wrap | This large-format dish, intended to serve several people, comes with bulgogi barbecue sauce, kimchi, gochujang mayo, and chili peppers.
Whole Chicken Roulade | Another large-format dish to share with the table, this whole-baked, deboned chicken is served with chili-garlic crunch sauce, cilantro, jasmine rice, and bok choy.
6 New Restaurants in Florida
Cider Press Vegan Gastropub | St. Petersburg
An extensive plant-based menu awaits guests at this eatery in the historic Kenwood district. A Southern-Cajun influence is evident. Fried jambalaya balls with a spicy sauce, chili cheez fries, a “shrimp” po’ boy, and other dishes can be savored by vegans and omnivores alike. The craft cocktails, mocktails, and ciders pair perfectly with the pub-inspired food at this new restaurant in Florida.
Lion & The Rambler | Coral Gables
Chef-owner Michael Bolen’s restaurant features a small-plates menu determined by seasonal Florida-grown meats and produce. Everything is done in-house, including milling the wheat for bread and housemade salt. A few can’t-miss dishes include Gratitude Garden maitake, steak tartare, and anything from the dessert menu—some of the best in and around Miami.
Located on Lake Ivanhoe, the name here is a nod to the area that once cultivated Florida’s former top export crop: pineapples. The Pinery is a celebration of the Sunshine State, with a chef-driven seasonal menu inspired by locally available produce, seafood, and other products. Guest favorites include alligator bites, the Florida-raised-beef burger, Cedar Key clams, bison tenderloin, shrimp and grits, and bread offerings that change with the seasons.
Bar Molino | Jacksonville
This intimate neighborhood bar in San Marco specializes in Spanish tapas, conservas, an extensive selection of wine, and sherry cocktails. They’re open for happy hour and dinner, and the menu highlights include patatas bravas, tortilla Española, stuffed piquillo peppers, and Ibérico jamón. Housemade charcuterie from their sister storefront, the Swinerie, is a must.
Gorkhali Kitchen | Tampa
Tampa Bay’s first Himalayan-inspired Nepalese restaurant serving food traditional to Kathmandu offers momo (steamed dumplings) and chatamari, a Nepalese pizza-style dish. Many dishes are based on 80-year-old recipes from the owners’ homeland and seasoned with herbs and spices flown in from Nepal. Try the chicken flavored with jimbu, an herb in the onion family.
1529 Wood-Fired Kitchen and Cocktails | Sarasota
Chefs Alexandre Gosselin and Johnny Zaki hail from Canada, but the menu reflects a Mediterranean influence featuring fresh ingredients sourced close to home. Meat and fish dishes are cooked on a wood-fired grill, imparting robust flavors—the lamb chops are a crowd favorite. Order the Montreal poutine to share.
Soon-to-Open Restaurants in Florida
Boulon Brasserie | Tampa
This self-styled modern French and American brasserie is “laid-back luxury” all day long, according to restaurateur Jeff Gigante—whether you’re there for the restaurant, bar, patisserie, or all three.
In a sophisticated space, executive chef Taek Lee highlights contemporary Chinese iterations in Cantonese, Shanghai, and Szechuan styles, paired with izakaya-inspired cocktails.
The Mexico City-based Zeru Group is opening a Miami location under the direction of chef Israel Aretxiga, who pledges to merge Miami ingredients with the restaurant’s signature Basque and Mediterranean cuisine.
- by TLP Editors
- by Hannah Lee Leidy
- by Amber Chase