In the Local Palate’s 2022 Restaurants Issue, our state-by-state guide highlights the new restaurants that have emerged since 2020. Here, contributor Lauren Titus gives an overview of new restaurants in Florida.
Atria Bread + Coffee | Bradenton
When they couldn’t find locally owned dining options where they lived in Lakewood Ranch, Jim and Weyli Angus decided the time was right to open their own place. Thus, Atria Bread+ Coffee was born, a testament to the adage “build it and they will come.”
The cafe features artisan sourdough breads made with whole grains milled in-house, seasonal ingredients, specialty coffee, and other beverages. All of Atria’s breads and pastries are made using Atria’s own sourdough starter. The two main types of bread on the farm-to-table breakfast and lunch menu are a classic rustic sourdough loaf and Hokkaido milk bread, which has a soft, fluffy texture. The egg sandwich and the BLT are crowd favorites. The seasonal menu features twelve standard pastries during the week, with specialty pastries available on weekends. (Go for the buckwheat puff pastry with lingonberry jam and hazelnut!)
The couple is intent on making as much as they can in-house with many of their beverages featuring housemade syrups. Daniel’s buttered rum latte is an excellent choice for brunch, and for non-coffee drinkers, there’s the chrysanthemum tea or indigo lemonade.
The name Atria has two meanings, both aligning with the owners’ philosophy of creating a space for community connections. The restaurant is designed with a glass atrium, allowing guests a bird’s-eye view of the bread-making process in the kitchen; as they sit in the dining room, they can watch the steps, from milled grain to baked loaf. The second aspect of the name is related to how a human heart functions, with one atrium receiving depleted blood and the second pumping out revitalized blood into the body.
After dining at Atria, Jim and Weyli want their customers to feel nourished and refreshed. Dishes like eggplant and beet-cured salmon with smoked grapes, carotene aïoli, shiso furikake, and crispy garlic or the blood orange and radicchio salad with Medjool dates, chèvre buttercream, pickled onions, pecans, and vinaigrette, are sure to delight.
Drinks: A sparkling indigo lemonade or Earl’s Foggy Morning, made with nitro earl gray tea
Pastry: Buckwheat puff pastry with lingonberry jam and the daily scone offering
Mains: If your tastes skew sweet, get the french toast made from Hokkaido bread; for savory, the eggplant and beet-cured salmon topped with crispy garlic
Rising Stars Among New Restaurants in Florida
Buena Onda Cafe | St. Augustine
This plant-based cafe has quickly become a place for people to gather and share a great meal in a relaxed, casual atmosphere. Start with the avocado toast: sourdough bread piled high with almond ricotta spread, smashed avocado, roasted butternut squash, and toasted pepitas and hemp speeds. Community engagement is a top priority for the owners: They source from local farms; coffee comes from a roaster in nearby Jacksonville; and products in their micro market are made by employees and community artisans.
Agapi Bistro and Garden | Pensacola
Mediterranean flavors meet fresh ingredients from Florida’s Gulf Coast at Agapi Bistro + Garden, opened by award-winning chef Gus Silivos. The restaurant draws on the local bounty of sustainable seafoods, meats, and produce as much as possible. Start with shareables, like crispy artichokes and chargrilled calamari souvlaki. For brunch, the flavor-packed bayou crab benedict with jumbo lump crab cakes, creole remoulade, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce is a can’t-miss meal, accompanied by the Agapi bloody mary (organic vodka infused in-house with jalapeño, pepper, and onion).
Ka Papa | Sarasota
This mother-daughter owned-and-operated restaurant will convince naysayers that flavorful gourmet meals can indeed be plant-based. The globally inspired items are sourced locally based on availability. You won’t go wrong by starting with shiitake “escargot” or baked “feta” to share. Entrees include plum-miso glazed eggplant, saffron risotto stuffed tomato, and house-made pasta with walnut pesto. Brunch is served on Sunday with savory and sweet choices to please all palates. T
here’s a robust selection of wine and beer and a mocktail menu to suit all tastes. This small family business was created by Bella and her daughter Kim to honor their their late husband and father; Kā Pāpā is Hawaiian for “Papa’s.
Red Rooster Overtown | Miami
Chef and cookbook author Marcus Samuelsson introduced his popular Southern and African-American influenced comfort food to one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods with this new restaurant. As the pandemic induced delays in opening, the restaurant operated as a community kitchen. Now up and running, it draws guests seeking Samuelsson’s signatures, such as fried yard bird with spicy honey and pigeon peas or bigeye tuna crudo with Cuban coffee ponzu and burnt citrus.
Mesa | Jacksonville
South Indian flavors join Jacksonville’s burgeoning food scene with the opening of chef-owner Saji George’s long-dreamt project. The menu reflects dishes George grew up eating and making for friends and family. Every meal is an expression of her love for cooking. One taste of the sweet potato samosas, chicken curry, lamb burger, or Kerala fried chicken sandwich will have you planning your next visit. Be sure to save room for desserts, including Chaiya semifreddo and salted jaggery brulée, all prepared by George’s nephew.
The Neighbors | Orlando
The Neighbors is a recent addition to this culinary hub and pairs creative cocktails with an experimental food program. The French-Vietnamese food offerings focus on a seven-course chef’s tasting experience by chef Tung Phan of Camille. The colorful cocktail lounge is a perfect backdrop to meet for happy hour. Try the Ivanhoe, a spicy Mezcal margarita made with pineapple. Each month, the Neighbors selects a signature cocktail as part of their Cocktail for a Cause program, with a donation made to a local charity for each drink sold.
JoToro Kitchen & Tequila Bar | Tampa
If you’re looking for a friendly neighborhood taco place with a chef who’s helmed a Michelin-star restaurant, head to Jotoro at Sparkman Wharf. The menu is vibrant and bold from the kitchen to the bar. All the dishes have distinct pops of global flavor, especially Asian elements. Popular menu items include the wood-fired tacos and spinach and mushroom enchiladas, Mexican chorizo fried rice, and ahi poke and crispy wontons. Tequila fans, be sure to try one of their signature flights, like the Fast & Furious, with mi casa, prickly pear, and blue wave margaritas.
No Man’s Land | Fort Lauderdale
Diing at No Man’s Land is bound to be an adventure. This spot is the latest venture from former Big Brother star Memphis Garrett, though not his first foray into hospitality. He’s opened more than forty restaurants and bars in South Florida, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. The cocktail menu offers intriguing selections such as Brine Me, Dine Me (featuring gin, amontillado sherry, caper berry, and celery-cucumber brine) and Disco Nut (rum, pineapple-cinnamon syrup, and coconut water served in a disco ball).On the provisions side of the menu, small shareable plates are designed to pair perfectly with the libations.
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