There’s a reason everyone in Miami flocks to the sun-drenched beaches, why locals’ license plates proudly display the words “Sunshine Shine.” But would you believe us if we told you that this—one of the sunniest major US cities—is about to get even sunnier? And not in the way you might expect.
We’re talking about Sunny’s, a restaurant opening in South Beach, helmed by Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn (also of Good Stuff Eatery and Béarnaise) and named lovingly after his grandfather. The casual, all-day menu is inspired by Spike’s travels around the world, and is served in the courtyard of the neighborhood’s newest boutique hotel, The Hall.
Chef Spike making guarapo, or sugarcane juice (Instagram: @rgoodspeed)
We caught Chef Spike between menu tastings to talk beach culture, favorite ingredients, and more:
What are some of the best local ingredients you’ve discovered in Miami? Did you learn anything unexpected?
SM: I love using all of the local citrus, Florida snapper, and stone crabs. The nice weather down here allows for more ingredients than I am used to cooking with in DC.
What sort of international influences will you infuse at Sunny’s? There’s so much going on in Miami, food-wise… What’s your approach?
The whole concept of Sunny’s is based on my travels to amazing beaches and surf spots all over. The food draws inspiration from my favorite international beach bites. We created a menu that compliments Miami’s sunny days, warm air, and salty ocean.
Which Miami specialties should visitors try (besides Sunny’s, of course)?
Cuban coffee is a must! I would also suggest grabbing a Cuban sandwich and, if it’s in season, some fresh Florida stone crabs.
Give us your five tips for making a burger and fries that won’t be a calorie bomb.
My biggest tip would be to shun the bun, like we do at Good Stuff Eatery. You can also use a leaner meat for the patty and cook your fries in coconut oil.
When you want to relax in DC, what are your go-to great public places (restaurants, parks, markets)? How about in Miami?
In DC, I love heading to Great Falls and hopping in the water with my river surfing buddies. Then, going out to eat with my wife, Cody, to Obelisk or enjoying a picnic by the Washington Monument. When in Miami, I get my water fix by grabbing a board at F1rst Surf Shop and hitting the ocean. I also enjoy exploring the Wynwood area of Miami.
What do you love that Cody makes for dinner or breakfast?
Cody was a vegan when I met her, so she still cooks a lot of vegan dishes, like vegan blueberry pancakes that have the perfect balance of crisp and cake textures. Her turmeric shots are delicious, and help me stay healthy and energized all day. She also makes a mean Spanish tortilla with potatoes and rosemary!
You’ll be spending more time in Miami at Sunny’s. What excites you in the city from a food perspective?
I have been visiting Miami for a long time, and it has been fun to watch the food scene evolve over the years. There is a unique blend of homegrown and international chefs that are bringing some really interesting food to the area. I am proud to be a part of this dynamic food city and look forward to watching it continue to grow.
Describe Sunny’s in three words.
Beachy, delicious, and fun!
Buffalo-style frog legs with creamy ranch polenta and blue cheese crema, coming soon to Sunny’s
Islamorada ceviche with Florida snapper, passion fruit, jicama, avocado, cilantro, yellow pepper, and jalapeño
Fresh juice served poolside (Instagram: seydimejia)