It’s impossible to write about where Miami chefs, bartenders, and other restaurant industry insiders go to eat and drink off hours without acknowledging Yakko-San.
From the time May Shigetomi and her husband, chef Hiroshi Shigetomi, opened their first Japanese restaurant in Miami in 1983 until they sold their beloved Yakko-San several years ago and moved onto other projects, their former North Miami Beach strip-mall spot was the late-night hangout for South Florida restaurant pros for years. Open until 3 a.m. most nights — 4 a.m. when the drinks were really flowing — it was the only place where line cooks at Miami Beach’s glitzy hotels could find ice-cold Sapporos and hot salty food after their dinner shifts. Where stir-fried chicken livers, flame-grilled fish collars, and steaming bowls of noodles in pork broth could soften the industry-hardened hearts of food publicists, critics, and chefs alike — often at the same table.
In 2023, many Miami-area restaurants and bars have picked up where Yakko-San left off, providing the kind of casual-cool vibes and comforting food and drink that provide a welcome respite to off-the-clock industry insiders. Here’s a look at 10 of our favorite industry hangouts in Miami.