The best American restaurants in Miami

From cutting-edge contemporary to classic homestyle cooking—here’s our guide to Miami’s best American food

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As local as it comes at the Florida Cookery

As local as it comes at the Florida Cookery © Benjamin Rusnak, www.benjaminrusnak.com

Florida Cookery

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 3/4

If it ain’t local, Florida Cookery doesn’t want it. The signature restaurant at the James Royal Palm hotel has a passion for fresh, locally sourced produce, meat and seafood, as demonstrated by Kris Wessel’s impressive menu, which includes old-school favorites such as a 65-year-old conch chowder recipe and cast iron-cooked Sunshine State frogs’ legs. Local culinary hero Lee Brian Schrager, founder of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, even has a burger named after him, made with Vidalia onions and your choice of fontina, white cheddar, bleu or goat’s cheese.

  1. James Royal Palm, 1545 Collins Avenue, (at 15th Street)
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Dutch

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

After wowing critics in Manhattan, Andrew Carmellini has duplicated his popular, roots-inspired American eaterie in Miami by way of the W hotel. Paying tribute to the kind of American culinary traditions you’d witness in neighborhood taverns and roadside cafés, the menu runs the gamut from chicken wings with pickled ramps to crisp lamb belly with couscous and tomato. The vibe is as laidback as the vintage, beach-house decor.

  1. W South Beach, at 22nd Street, (2201 Collins Avenue)
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Yardbird

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

Flashy though it may be, Miami is still a part of the American South: the region that spawned fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, pretty much fried anything. One need only venture a few steps off Lincoln Road to try these comfort food staples, all of them made from scratch and most of it sourced locally. The buzz surrounding Yardbird has been deafening since its birth in 2011 (plans to expand the concept to New York City and Las Vegas are currently in the works). At the center of this publicity maelstrom? Yardbird’s now-famous fried chicken—a recipe that takes 27 hours to prepare and can be ordered up as a slider (Mama’s Chicken Biscuits) or on a plate (Llewellyn’s Fine Fried Chicken). Wash it down with a whiskey-based house cocktail (Blackberry Lemonade—made with lemon juice, organic blackberries, cardamom and sparkling wine—is a customer favorite).

  1. 1600 Lenox Avenue, (at 16th Street)
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Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

This buzzy restaurant is a true star. Decor and menu are classy yet casual, and the service also strikes just the right note. The interior mixes industrial chic—concrete floors, exposed ducts—with warmth (red lamps, flickering candles, modern art and a brick oven glowing from the open kitchen). With an emphasis on local ingredients, the high-end comfort food ticks all the right boxes. Mains change daily but might include a selection of wood-fired pizzas; a whole "poulet rouge" chicken with plumped raisins, toasted pine nuts and rocket; and duck confit with tangerine marmalade and spiced pumpkin seeds. Hedy Goldsmith’s innovative desserts—including bread pudding and weekend pop tarts—are indeed a grand finale.

  1. 130 NE 40th Street, at NE 1st Avenue
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Federal Drink & Provisions

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Go on, play with your food. The folks at the Federal won’t mind. Experimentation is encouraged at this bustling gastropub, located in a not-so-bustling strip mall on the upper part of Biscayne Boulevard. Co-owners Cesar Zapata and Aniece Meinhold treat this gem as if it were their very own nightly dinner party, and in a way it is. Which is why you’ll see the same faces here several nights a week, chowing down on newfangled editions of classic American dishes. Starters include a Jar-o-Duck (a Mason jar full of duck, layered with charred fluff and candied sweet potato) and buffalo-style pig wings. Popular mains include the daily-changing Not Your Granny’s Pot Pie, and a lamb burger served with grilled pickled onions on a pretzel bun.

  1. 5132 Biscayne Boulevard, at NE 52nd Street
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News Café

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4

This place practically invented the sport of South Beach people-watching, and it remains the café king of Ocean Drive. Wait for an outside table to fully appreciate the experience. Service is as slow as ever, but the menu has some good bites and the portions are huge. International newspapers and magazines from the in-house shop might fill the time until the food arrives. The café also has a separate bar, also open 24 hours daily.

  1. 800 Ocean Drive, at 8th Street
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Barton G the Restaurant

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Owned by Barton G Weiss, an A-list caterer, this unique restaurant manages to be both plush and cozy. Fabulous American cuisine is funked up with presentations that include popcorn shrimp in a popcorn box and grilled sea bass in a brown paper bag with laundry clips to keep the steam in. A phenomenal Caesar salad comes complete with mini cheese-grater and, for the grand finale, a plume of cotton candy reminiscent of Dame Edna’s wig. This is one menu that has to be seen and tasted to be believed.

  1. 1427 W Avenue, at 14th Terrace
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Jumbo's

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4

A Miami tradition for more than 60 years, this family-run place is known for its world-famous fried shrimp, fried chicken, catfish fingers and collard greens. Sure, it’s located in what locals call the "ghetto," but it’s open 24/7 and worth slumming it. And there’s history here too: Jumbo’s was the first restaurant in Miami to integrate in 1966 and the first to hire African American employees in 1967.

  1. 7501 NW 7th Avenue, at NW 75th Street
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