They call it “comfort food” for a reason, and these top American restaurants in Miami do it like no other. From regional Southern dishes like fried green tomatoes to universal staples like juicy burgers, there’s something for every type of eater. At Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink you’ll find inventive but approachable American cuisine served in a warm, breezy setting. At Yardbird, the fried chicken will blow your mind (and possibly an artery). Heartier fare—like the Not Your Granny’s Pot Pie, on the menu at Federal Drink & Provisions—can also be found throughout the city. Read on for more info on the best American restaurants in Miami.
Best American restaurants in Miami
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.