The Dutch

Long considered a less-than food city, Miami has recently become a bright destination for high-end restaurants from New York City, Los Angeles, and London. But it’s also increasingly nurturing homegrown talent. Competition, however, is fierce. Many of the eateries, such as the glitzy Kane Steakhouse, don’t even manage six months.

On the contrary, if there’s any one spot that can serve as a model for mastering Miami’s tough foodscape, it’s perennial favorite Prime One Twelve. Owner Myles Chefetz credits a straightforward steakhouse menu and his own 24/7 involvement in front-of-house operations with the restaurant’s eight years of success.

Opening a restaurant—and keeping it open—can be tricky anywhere. In Miami, turnover is particularly high, but the total number of units has actually been steadily increasing. In other words, Miami is hot. Especially Miami Beach: In October 2010 alone, the city received applications for 21 new licenses. Not bad for a barrier island with a population of fewer than 88,000 residents.

“It’s like a revolving door,” says Manny Marquez, revenue manager for Miami Beach’s finance department. According to the most recent Zagat Survey, Magic City diners are eating out more, and prices are up, too. Miami is the third-most-expensive US dining city after New York and Las Vegas. It’s no wonder everybody wants in on the action. But the million-dollar question is, What does it take to thrive in this quirky town? A proven success elsewhere? Celebrity chef? Hot location? Trendy concept? Great food?

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