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Sushi at Makoto
Photograph: Courtesy Makoto/Laurie Satran

The absolute best restaurants in Miami you have to try

There’s no shortage of fantastic food in this city, but these Miami restaurants made our short list of top eats

By Virginia Gil
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August 2020: It’s been weeks now since Miami restaurants were last allowed to open for indoor dining, and the effects have been devastating for several Eat List entries. Le Sirenuse at the Surf Club recently announced that it would be closing permanently, as did Ghee in the Design District, although its original location in Dadeland remains in operation. The ongoing restrictions also forced other establishments to shutter temporarily, including Bourbon Steak, Balloo and 27 Restaurant & Bar. While we await their return (and keep our fingers crossed they do), we’ve added a few new options to the list. There’s Coconut Grove favorite Ariete that benefits from an expansive patio with plenty of tables for socially distanced outdoor dining. Plus, we’ve reintroduced Lung Yai and Mignonette, which have just killed the takeout game these past few months.

Talk about resilience. The best restaurants in Miami have weathered months of lockdown and come out the other side stronger, more nimble and with a deepened commitment to hospitality. We’ve seen tiny dining rooms pivot to become remarkable takeout operations. We’ve witnessed fine-dining spots lose the white tablecloths and the china in favor of disposable buckets filled with fried chicken. We’ve also come across many chefs and restaurant owners who added new titles and responsibilities to their existing roles—from delivering meals and taking orders to embracing social media as a way to stay connected to customers. Our picks of the top places to eat in the city reflect the current state of affairs, combining notable cheap eats with some pricier spots worth your hard-earned cash plus waterfront restaurants with great views and outdoor dining options for folks seeking some fresh air.

Just as we did before, Time Out’s local experts scour the city every day for great eats, great value and insider info (even if most of our research is done virtually these days). We value fun, flavor, freshness—and value at every price point. While we normally update the EAT List quarterly, plus whenever there’s a truly spectacular new opening, we’ll be making changes monthly. These are extenuating circumstances and we’ll be doing our best to keep you informed as new places open, others close and some of our favorites return. It could be a mega-hyped destination restaurant or a pop-up-turned-permanent spot: if it’s on the list we think it’s awesome and think you will too.

Eaten somewhere on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutEatList

Find out more about how we eat through the city to make the list.

We hope you’re hungry, Miami.

Best restaurants in Miami

Boia De
Photograph: FujifilmGirl

1. Boia De

Restaurants Italian Buena Vista

A cross between an L.A. strip-mall gem and a cozy, narrow Brooklyn dive, Boia De sits on the edge of Little Haiti. Grab a seat outside to experience Michelin-trained chefs Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer doing their thing, which in their case means making dishes that are turned up an extra notch: The beef tartare, for example, is topped with a crunchy shallot-garlic concoction as well as capers, which are fried for a burst of briny flavor, and then the whole thing is smothered in a yummy tonnato sauce, a tuna-based Italian condiment that holds everything together like some kind of fancy picnic salad. Picking up food to-go? Boia De offers eggplant parm and muffuletta sandwiches exclusively for takeout and they’re fantastic.

Jaguar Sun pop-up
Photograph: Virginia Gil

2. Jaguar Sun

Bars Cocktail bars Downtown

The Downtown restaurant with the lively bar jumps from our DRINK List to our EAT List, following a brilliant lockdown pivot that took it from watering hole to a takeout restaurant to an outdoor dining destination. Jaguar Sun is currently popping up in Little Haiti event space Lot 6, where every weekend is a new adventure. Some nights feature tacos, tequila drinks and Parker House rolls reimagined as churros for dessert. Other nights you might find a Peruvian chef doling out sushi. Though a few constants remain: a killer playlist, excellent craft cocktails and a chill, socially distant vibe.

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Lung Yai Thai Tapas
Photograph: @ChatChowTV

3. Lung Yai Thai Tapas

Restaurants Thai East Little Havana

You will most definitely have to stand in line for the curries at chef Bas’s small spot, a delicious ode to his native Thailand. But trust us: Every single one of them is worth it. Part of the schtick here is that you’re only allowed to order your food once, so make sure the pad see ew with beef (a stir-fry with thick rice noodles) and the khao soi gai (a golden curry) find their way to your table. You’ll want to slurp up the latter like a soup to get every last drop.

Red Sauce at Mignonette
Photograph: @mignonette

4. Mignonette

Restaurants Seafood Midtown

The Edgewater haunt used to dole out more oysters than a Maine fish shack. But these are tough times and people need comfort, not luxury bar snacks. Understandably, Mignonette pivoted to an Italian-American pop-up it’s aptly calling Red Sauce. The takeout and delivery restaurant doles out big bowls of pasta, salads, veal cooked numerous ways and even a French bread pizza. Some of the dishes might be familiar from Danny Serfer’s other restaurant, Blue Collar, especially his crowd-pleasing chicken parm.  

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Chug Burger at Ariete
Photograph: Courtesy Ariete/Blue Shell Media

5. Ariete

Restaurants Contemporary American West Coconut Grove

Few restaurants can execute a burger as well as it does a slice of foie gras but few places are Ariete. The Coconut Grove restaurant helmed by chef Michael Beltran, who draws from his Cuban-American upbringing to inform every aspect of his business—from the name and the decor (photos of his family hang in the dining room) to the tropical-tinged menu that’s equal parts Miami and Havana. 

Joe's Stone Crab, Restaurants and cafes, Miami
Photograph: Alys Tomlinson

6. Joe's Take Away

Restaurants Seafood South Beach

The take-out market next to iconic Joe’s Stone Crab might be the best-kept secret (in terms of value) on the Beach. Though widely known for its insanely inexpensive fried chicken, it also serves the coveted crustacean, lobster sandwiches that’ll put the Maine ones to shame and slices of Joe’s irresistible key lime pie. Most people take their bounty to the nearby South Pointe Park to enjoy but its spacious, shaded courtyard is great for feasting while social distancing.

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Sushi at Makoto
Photograph: Courtesy Makoto/Laurie Satran

7. Makoto

Restaurants Japanese Bal Harbour

One of the classiest Japanese joints in town let loose during the lockdown, introducing takeout for the first time and launching a lovely bento box special that broadened its appeal. With the verdant corridors of the Bal Harbour Shops as the backdrop for its patio and a spicy tuna crispy rice that trumps all other versions of the trendy sushi starter, Makoto wins for its mix of crave-worthy dishes and relaxed, tropical atmosphere.

El Bagel
Photograph: Lauren Cedeño

8. El Bagel

Restaurants Bakeries Little Haiti / Lemon City

Its smash-hit food truck was a favorite among those whose preferred Saturday morning activity was waiting in line for food. Now El Bagel’s brick-and-mortar is the chosen bagel spot of people with incredible patience. Takeout at this small MiMo shop can take up to two hours but no one craving an oversize, NYC-style hand-rolled bagel can resist. The B.E.C. with Proper Sausages bacon, egg, and cheese and the avo smash with a mound of fresh sprouts are day-one favorites you can still get at the shop. 

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Ghee Indian Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Ghee/Diana Garcia

9. Ghee Indian Kitchen

Restaurants Indian Dadeland

At this farm-to-table Southeast Asian restaurant, chef Niven Patel, who was short-listed for a James Beard Award last year and again in 2020, grows about a quarter of his ingredients at his Rancho Patel in Homestead. And the whole operation is a family affair: His mother and mother-in-law can be seen whipping up smoked lamb neck, crispy cauliflower and steamed green millet, and other specialties in the open kitchen. The dishes are seasonal, the curries are made fresh, and the naan is so flavorful, it should really be savored on its own.

KYU
Photograph: Juan Fernando Ayora

10. KYU

Restaurants Barbecue Wynwood

This modern Asian eatery has nabbed a James Beard Award nomination and is still one of Wynwood’s toughest reservations to snag. Chef Michael Lewis elevates comfort-food classics like pork buns, Korean fried chicken and crab-fried rice into uniquely satisfying, visually arresting dishes. Try the crowd-favorite roasted cauliflower: Served over a bright-chartreuse herb vinaigrette, the enormous charred head is tender but still has plenty of bite. Make sure to save room for the spot’s signature dessert: a towering slice of coconut cake (courtesy of a recipe from Lewis’s mother), accompanied by toasted coconut shavings and a scoop of house-made coconut ice cream.

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Sanguich de Miami
Photograph: Courtesy Sanguich de Miami

11. Sanguich de Miami

Restaurants Sandwich shops East Little Havana

A modern take on a Cuban cafeteria, this Little Havana counter infuses the proud Cubano with house-made ingredients, such as cured ham, brined pork, fresh pickles and artisanal mustard. (Hell, even the doughy bread is made to Sanguich’s strict specifications.) Obviously, the best Cubano in Miami resides here. Plus, its Cuban version of nachos—with fried plantain strips and garlic aioli sauce—is utterly out of this world.

 

Lucali
Photograph: Courtesy Lucali

12. Lucali

Restaurants Pizza South Beach

When it comes to pizza and bagels, Miamians defer to New Yorkers. Brooklyn export Lucali opened its hip, low-key joint in the Sunset Harbour neighborhood six years ago, and there hasn’t been a slow night since. The thin, wood-fired pies are the best-seller, closely followed by the lauded kale Caesar salad and the made-to-order Black Angus meatballs.

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La Mar
Photograph: Courtesy La Mar

13. La Mar

Restaurants Peruvian Brickell Key

Chef Diego Oka’s innovative Peruvian fare has helped to raise the profile of Latin American cuisine in the city. Significant technique is used to craft the seemingly simple ceviches, causas and other traditional fare, such as the cheese-soaked tiradito bachiche with snapper and aged Parmesan. Oka’s full menu is finally available for takeout (and comes packed in a delightful box with a handwritten note and timestamp), though let’s not forget the view when you dine in outdoors: La Mar’s waterfront patio offers diners a 360-degree vista of Downtown and Brickell. Swoon.

Hometown BBQ
Photograph: Virginia Gil

14. Hometown BBQ

Restaurants Barbecue Allapattah

This sprawling New York import made an impression from the onset, wowing Miamians with its expansive dining room, behemoth smoker and dinosaur-sized racks of ribs. You can count on the Allapattah restaurant to serve all the ‘cue classics, like brisket and coleslaw, as well as some more unusual dishes, like pastrami bacon and a veggie yuca bowl. As for drinks, Hometown offers small-batch wines and hand-crafted cocktails to help wash down all those smoked meats.

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La Petite Maison
Photograph: Courtesy La Petite Maison

15. LPM Restaurant and Bar

Restaurants French Brickell

This enchanting import from Nice draws on its Mediterranean origins, serving a medley of seafood plates alongside a smattering of traditional French cuisine. Try the escargot and the french fries, which are made with as much care as the entrées, such as the whole sea bream baked en papillote. In fact, the spuds cook for hours, going from boiling pot to fryer to oven. Staying in these days? LPM will pack your favorite dishes to go in a hand-painted canvas bag and send you home with a Spotify playlist of the restaurant’s soundtrack to help you replicate the dine-in experience at home.

The Surf Club
Photograph: Deborah Jones

16. The Surf Club Restaurant

Restaurants American Surfside

Thomas Keller’s restaurant inside the Four Seasons Surf Club is a shining example of the quality and elegance the chef is known for. From the tightly edited classic American menu to the midcentury stylings to the special moments afforded by the numerous tableside preparations available, it’s all class, baby. It’s not stuffy though, as classic rock and dim lights give the warm space a lounge feel. Go in knowing you’re going to spend a fortune but it’ll all be worth it for shareable dishes like the flaky beef wellington that’s baked and carved to order.

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Mandolin Aegean Bistro
Photograph: Courtesy Mandolin Aegean Bistro

17. Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Restaurants Greek Buena Vista

Styled after the striking white-and-blue paint seen in Cycladic landscapes, Mandolin is a dreamy outdoor eatery shaded by rows of oversize linen umbrellas. A traditional Greek menu comprised of shareable dishes—think mezzes, baskets of freshly baked pita bread and a fresh whole grilled fish for two—helps play up the romantic atmosphere. Mandolin’s satisfying homemade sangria really evokes the feeling of an island vacation, but don’t take too many sips: You might just confuse its whitewashed exterior for Santorini.

Zak the Baker
Photograph: Zak the Baker/Platonic Studios

18. Zak the Baker

Restaurants Delis Wynwood

The eponymous baker’s sourdough is a well-known team player in sandwiches and toasts at countless other restaurants. But Zak Stern’s certified-kosher Wynwood eatery has intricate breakfast sammies of its own, with ingredients like alfalfa sprouts and heirloom tomatoes, as well as spectacular bagel platters, classic deli-style food and a daily vegan soup. Beyond doling out naturally leavened bread and handmade pastries, ZTB launched a popular falafel pop-up featuring sandwiches and crispy french fries. Delivery and takeout are available as is dine-in service at its newly built patio.

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ALL DAY
Photograph: Courtesy ALL DAY/Julian Cousins

19. ALL DAY

Restaurants Coffee shops Park West

This third-wave coffee shop is a pioneer in the artisanal brew scene. Beyond celebrating the humble cup of joe and its powers of caffeination, ALL DAY is proving that café grub can be absolutely delish. We love the lattes, but we keep coming back for the assorted Cuban snacks and breakfast staples (served till 5pm), such as the Runny & Everything egg sandwich or the avocado toast topped with pickled onions.

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
Photograph: Courtesy Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

20. Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

Restaurants Contemporary American Design District

James Beard Award–winning chef Michael Schwartz’s premier restaurant is one of those iconic Miami institutions that you’re supposed to like. But even putting buzz, accolades, celebrity sightings and longevity aside, the Design District staple still wows us 12 years later. The food and atmosphere walks the
line between casual and showy, making it the perfect standby for a quick happy-hour cocktail, a business lunch of grilled escarole and a short-rib–and-fontina panini, or a date- night dinner of oysters, wood-oven snapper and pour upon pour of that ambrosial French wine that Schwartz keeps in stock.

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Taquiza
Photograph: Anthony Nader/52 Chefs

21. Taquiza North Beach

Restaurants Mexican North Beach

Dubbed the “Casa de Masa,” Taquiza has quickly grown a following across Miami for its signature blue masa tortillas, which serve as the base for a variety of street-style tacos, from traditional asada and pastor to more adventurous lengua (beef tongue) and chapulines (toasted adobo-seasoned grasshopper) options. The tacos are simple and well seasoned and the corn tortilla is soft yet durable. The main attraction, though, are the totopos, a style of corn tortilla chips that originates in Mexico’s Oaxaca region. Crispy yet chewy, salty and fresh from the fryer, they pair perfectly with a side of guac and a refreshing michelada. Taquiza nearly doubled its outdoor seating recently in case you’d rather enjoy that beer cocktail in the sunshine.

Cantina La Veinte
Photograph: Courtesy Cantina La Veinte/Rodrigo Moreno

22. Cantina La Veinte

Restaurants Mexican Brickell

This upscale Mexican restaurant doles out fresh, house-made tortillas and authentic eats in swanky environs. Proving there’s more to the country’s cuisine than tacos, Cantina serves an extensive assortment of regional dishes and the best margaritas in Miami—even though each sets you back $16. Stop in on Friday and Saturday nights to be serenaded by live mariachis.  

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Mary's Cafe
Photograph: Vanessa Rogers

23. Mary’s Cafe

Restaurants Cuban Shenandoah / Silver Bluff

This 24-hour walk-up window is attached to a laundromat, but it's so much more than a place to grab a snack while you do your laundry. Fuel up after a night out with a scrumptious pan con bistec—tender steak, lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup and crispy potato sticks—or a tasty medianoche sandwich (like a Cuban but on sweet, challah-like loaf). Round-the-clock hours make it the ideal pitstop for a strong cafecito, an afternoon smoothie or a late-night Cubano.

Versailles
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Wally Gobetz

24. Versailles

Restaurants Cuban West Little Havana

Versailles bills itself as Miami’s most famous Cuban restaurant—and they’re not lying. This place is slammed at all hours of the day (now outdoors under a widespread tent). If you’re visiting, tick off every Cuban thing from your Miami bucket list—coffee, sandwich and pastelito. If you live here, you’re probably well acquainted with the ventanita dispensing thimbles of addictive cafecito. 

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Green Street Cafe
Photograph: Courtesy Green Street Cafe

25. Greenstreet Cafe

Restaurants Snacks Coconut Grove

The Grove’s command central for people-watching and dog ogling has long occupied the same bustling corner. There’s a small indoor dining room, though few would know it by the throngs of people who spill out onto the street waiting for a coveted table on the sidewalk. It’s a trusted breakfast and brunch spot, which is why you can get omelettes and pancakes every day well into the afternoon. Good weather days are best enjoyed here with one of Greenstreet’s signature Bloody Marys in hand and eggs and bacon on the way.

Local chefs, restaurants and concepts we love so much that we welcomed them into Time Out Market

Azucar Ice Cream Company
Photograph: Courtesy Azucar Ice Cream Company

Azucar Ice Cream Company

Restaurants Ice cream parlors East Little Havana

If Azúcar was just your average ol’ scoop shop, it would still be hard to pass up thanks to its prime Calle Ocho location, but this place serves varieties that could come only from a Miami mind (which, in this case, is founder Suzy Battle). The flavors are ridiculously tasty and desserts double as an education in famous Cuban-American dishes. Azúcar’s super-popular Abuela Maria scoop features ribbons of sweet guava paste, chunks of cream cheese and crumbled Maria cookies—a classic Cuban combination.

Bachour
Photograph: Courtesy Bachour

Bachour

Restaurants Cafés Coral Gables

Bachour could probably charge admission just for folks to come in and stare at its artful pastries through the sleek display cases. Thankfully, it doesn’t. Also, unlike a museum, guests are encouraged to taste the works of art—which are as satisfying to eat as they are to look at. Don’t leave without sampling the red velvet croissant or the hypnotizing tulip confection (you can practically see your reflection in the red glaze). Other tempting options include the veggie burger topped with perfectly symmetrical slices of avocado and a tartine piled high with bright, fresh ingredients.

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Coyo Taco
Photograph: Wei Shi

Coyo Taco

Restaurants Mexican Wynwood

You don’t even have to step inside Coyo Taco to see that it’s special: A quick glance at the outdoor picnic benches, crammed with people tearing into tacos, burritos and other Mexican plates, makes that obvious. They’re all either smiling or chewing. The attention to authentic, fresh Mexican flavors and ingredients—including the hand-pressed corn tortillas. It also helps that Coyo Taco is just plain cool, with an aesthetic and a secret back-room speakeasy as hip as the neighborhood it calls home.

Eating House
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Brenda Benoît

Eating House

Restaurants Contemporary American Little Gables

Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli puts a fun twist on upscale dining at Eating House, the low-key gem that sits at the edge of Coral Gables. He sources locally and plates artfully, presenting whimsical dishes with substance. Plates veer from the ordinary, like the meaty cauliflower steak or seemingly straightforward mushrooms, which give forth an explosion of earthy flavors.

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Kush
Photograph: Courtesy Kush/Hernan Corredor

Kush

Restaurants Midtown

Matthew Kuscher’s neighborhood burger joint is popular with people and canines alike (yep, they’ve got a special dog menu, too). Its selection of grass-fed beef burgers runs the gamut from traditional to only-in-Miami, like the famous Cuban frita burger with guava jelly. Most of what you’ll find on the menu is made from locally sourced ingredients (including the tender gator bites) and produced in-house. Brew-loving Kuscher has also made sure to stock an assortment of local beers.

Love Life Cafe
Photograph: Diego Tosoni

Love Life Cafe

Restaurants Vegan Wynwood

The Wynwood spot has been quietly (until we started shout-singing its praises) serving the best vegan food in town at prices that are decidedly un-vegan. Cofounder Veronica Menin is one of the OGs of Miami’s plant-based scene: She has owned a healthy dessert company, established the vegan dinner series Conscious Bite Out and holds multiple degrees in nutrition. Love Life Cafe, though, is her magnum opus. Need proof? Order the veggie burger, cooked to perfection by Menin’s chef and partner, Diego Tosoni.

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Phuc Yea new brunch
Photograph: Courtesy Phuc Yea

Phuc Yea

Restaurants Vietnamese Little Haiti / Lemon City

Cesar Zapata’s great Viet-Cajun experiment began as a pop-up in 2011. The response? More, please. And so Phuc Yea was born in Miami’s MiMo District, an area that has thankfully ballooned with culinary talent over recent years. Phuc Yea is no small part of that balloon. The restaurant enjoys a prime location on Biscayne Boulevard and a large, shaded courtyard awash in crimson accents and eye-catching lanterns. If the outside of Phuc Yea sings old-school glamour, the inside screams a more modern Miami attitude—with dashes of industrial chic and Asian flare with a tiki-bar aftertaste.

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