Best American restaurants in Miami
Chef Justin Smillie brought his California-inspired cuisine to chic South of Fifth by way of Upland in 2016 and today Miami diners are still clamoring to get in. In a modern, unintimidating bistro lined with bottles of wine and lemons and artichokes, Smillie serves up fresh pasta, pizzas, vegetables and wood-fired protein. The restaurant is named for his hometown of Upton, California, and much like his home state, you better believe there’s a wine cellar—an impressive one.
Photograph: Andrew Hektor
In 2007, the Miami Design District was not somewhere you went to hang out. But James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz and his flagship restaurant, MGFD, have played no small part in changing that. The restaurant’s name is an apt descriptor: expect simple, genuinely-good comfort food. It’s all made with local ingredients and an upscale twist. The menu includes a changing roster of daily pizzas and perfectly-cooked proteins. For a sweet ending, check out one of pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith’s sweet endings. Say hi to the crème brûlée with orange pieces and lemon syrup never disappoints for us. (Tell it we miss it so.)
Fried chicken and waffles are an undeniably American combo and this Lincoln Road offshoot has the best in town. While every plate on the Southern-style menu is sure to please (if you have a sweet tooth, please don’t skip the maple bacon doughnuts), the most popular is definitely the Chicken ’N’ Watermelon ’N’ Waffles. Vermont cheddar waffles and Yardbird’s fried chicken (which takes 27 hours to prepare) are doused with honey hot sauce and maple syrup. Pair that with any of Yardbird’s 60-plus bourbons and if your mouth ain’t watering yet check your pulse.
Though some may see American Social as more of a bar (especially on the weekend, when Brickell’s young and restless drink like fish) this Lauderdale import has a kitchen that deserves respect. If the weather’s nice, grab a stars-and-stripes couch on the covered patio and order away: fried chicken and waffles with bourbon mascarpone, salmon burgers, truffle mac and cheese and more filling choices. Wash it all down with one of the dozen craft beers on tap, a cocktail, or—when in Brickell—bottle service.
Is there anything more American than a circus? And is there anything in Miami’s culinary universe that resembles a circus more than Barton G? No, my friends. This upscale, Sunset Harbour spot serves theatrics with a side of food. Your popcorn shrimp will come in a real popcorn machine. A tricycle will deliver your PB&J. Care for a decapitated Marie Antoinette head with pink cotton candy for hair? By dessert, nothing will surprise you. And you’ll leave equal parts confused, impressed and full.
It’s always a blast to scan the Local’s menu when you first take your seat. The fun and undeniably delicious options feel familiar but often come with mouth-watering twists. We’re talking: blue crab hushpuppies, steak tartare with pickled egg and puffed pork rinds, hot fried chicken oysters and—yes—we did save room for the root beer float with bourbon and brown sugar ice cream. True to its name, just about everything is locally-sourced and made fresh.
Blue Collar’s portions are to be both admired and feared. Chef Daniel Serfer’s cozy MiMo spot apparently swore a blood oath to never send a patron home hungry and has been making good on that promise with delicious Caribbean, New Orleans and Jewish comfort food. Order the brisket sandwich on a Portuguese muffin, fried chicken drumsticks with pickled cabbage and homemade berry cobbler—and brag that you lived to tell the tale.
Overlooking Biscayne Bay from the covered deck of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, this simple eatery appears to be nothing more than a museum restaurant with a good view. But sit down and try one of Executive Chef Kaytlin Dangaran’s trendy plates—such as the butternut squash and fig pizza—and you’ll be tempted to stick around long after you’ve perused the art. Verde prides itself on serving seasonal dishes with a local flair, some of which are inspired by the art that hangs on the museum’s walls.
Part of the reopened Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, The Strand Bar & Grill serves dishes that won’t put you in a calorie coma. Grab a table on the oceanfront terrace and start with appetizers like stracciatella with black mission figs and chicory or roasted squash with jalapeño. Mains like sea scallops with Jerusalem artichoke and black truffle are equally as satisfying.
After wowing critics in Manhattan, James Beard winner Andrew Carmellini has duplicated his popular, roots-inspired American eaterie in Miami by way of the W hotel. The restaurant is an ode to local cafes and neighborhood bistros across the country, and the menu runs the gamut from lobster rolls to fried chicken sandwiches and fresh oysters.
Downtown Dadeland is an official foodie hotspot. Owned by lacrosse coach-turned-restaurateur Corey Bousquet, Brick is delightfully unpretentious in the dining room, but all business in the kitchen. Among the light wood furniture and strung lights, expect flavorful American plates that dodge cliches. We can never say no to the hearty plates like turkey wings with homemade buffalo sauce, grass-fed Brick burgers with bacon and fried egg and pan-seared red snapper with lemon fennel and lobster butter.
Owned by a brother/sister duo, this South Miami space has familial vibes. It won’t take long for you to comb through the one-page menu, but deciding what to eat could take a lot longer. Will it be the homemade cornbread with scallion honey butter? But don’t sleep on the fried corn on the cob with cayenne butter. And obviously, save some room for the open-faced fried chicken BLT. But—oh, crap—we forgot about the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with gorgonzola, the low-country shrimp and grits with cremini mushrooms and bacon. Please don’t even mention the lavender panna cotta with blueberry compote. We can’t bare to disappoint it.
Clinging to a minimal aesthetic, Icebox lets the food do the talking. From its humble beginnings as a bakery (Oprah once said its Chocolate Delight cake—formerly The Bomb—was the best in America) Icebox has grown to serve breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch. The star of the show is definitely the cakes. It was owner Robert Siegmann’s award-winning desserts that first launched the eatery to fame.