November 2019: Hungry? You’re in luck: Our EAT List, featuring the best restaurants in Miami, just got an update and it is packed with all the top places to eat in the city. We beefed up the list with several new entries, such as pasta darling Macchialina and O.G. contemporary hot spot Michael’s Genuine. Plus, we widened our scope to include a few off-the-beaten-path places deserving of your attention: Sushi Erika and Boia De! serving incredible food in North Bay Village and Little Haiti, respectively. And for those of you who enjoy a nice meal but could do without an uptight dining experience, there are newcomers Upland and La Petite Maison. From fast and cheap to extravagant and indulgent, our EAT List covers the city’s places to feast right now.
Welcome to the Time Out EAT List, our handpicked ‘best of’ Miami’s food scene. These are the tastiest places to eat in this city right now: the freshest, most inventive and most memorable, ranked by expert local editors.
As recently as even a decade ago, the best restaurants in Miami were usually found in swanky South Beach hotel lobbies. Today, the best Miami hotels still offer amazing dining experiences, but good eating has spread throughout the city—from hip Wynwood to Brickell to Little Havana and beyond.
Time Out’s local experts scour the city every day for great eats, great value and insider info (like a certain Italian place’s discounted pasta night). We value fun, flavor, freshness – and value at every price point. We update the EAT List monthly, plus whenever there’s a truly spectacular new opening. 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 reckon you will too.
We should also note that a number of the best chefs, restaurants and concepts in the city have been welcomed into the Time Out Market Miami. Because that is the highest honor we can award, and we now have a tighter relationship with them, establishments related to market vendors have all been included in the EAT List but not ranked alongside other great establishments in the city. You can find those amazing places here.
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Find out more about how we eat through the city to make the list.
Best of the city under one roof
What happens when you send editors out into the city to scout the best restaurants and chefs? Their collective efforts yield Time Out Market, a dining-and-cultural destination in South Beach, featuring some of Miami’s brightest talents and long-time members of the Eat List—including Love Life Café, Coyo Taco, Kush and Azucar. Offshoots of several local favorites are among the 19 kitchens, such as Phuc Yea’s Pho Mo and Ariete’s Leña. While you’re there, try cocktails from Miami’s top bars and catch cool art, old-timey photos of Miami and information on events happening around the city. Our mission is simple (but spelled out here): If we discover something in Miami that’s great, it goes in our media and magazine; if it’s unforgettable, it goes in the market.
Best restaurants in Miami
What is it? Boia De, a cross between an L.A. strip-mall gem and a cozy, narrow Brooklyn dive, sits on the edge of Little Haiti, an immigrant neighborhood on the brink of big change. The retro-designed spot only has 24 seats, so reservations are a must.
Why go? Grab a seat at the black-and-white terrazzo counter to spy 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.
What is it? At this farm-to-table Southeast Asian restaurant, chef Niven Patel, who was short-listed for a James Beard Award last year, grows about a quarter of the ingredients on his Rancho Patel in Homestead. The whole operation is a family affair, too: His wife, mother and mother-in-law can be seen whipping up smoked lamb neck, crispy cauliflower and steamed green millet (which Patel ships from a small village in India), and other specialties in the open kitchen.
Why go? Dishes are seasonal, the curries are made fresh—never frozen—and the naan is so flavorful, it should really be savored on its own.
What is it? In only three short years, this modern Asian eatery has nabbed a James Beard Award nomination and become 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.
Why go? 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.
What is it? 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.)
Why go? 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.
What is it? 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.
Why go? 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.
What is it? Can a restaurant survive the neighborhood’s high-rise boom and still have one of the best fresh-oyster happy hours around? Yes, if it’s this tiny, one-story corner bistro. It beat the odds thanks to its stellar martinis and reliable seafood, most of which is sustainable and locally sourced.
Why go? The wholesome fare includes a bun-less salmon burger served over a stir-fry of bok choy, shiitake mushrooms and carrot, as well as the octopus a la plancha with a gigandes bean salad. Looking to go all out without breaking the bank? Swing by on a Tuesday for Lobster Night: One and a quarter pounds of Maine lobster are prepared five different ways for a low $24.
What is it? 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.
Why go? 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.
What is it? Devotees of Florida stone crabs worship at Joe’s every October through May, the peak season for the coveted crustacean at South Florida’s most famous seafood restaurant.
Why go? You’ve waited all year for Joe’s namesake crustacean, but so has the rest of the city. Queue up and prepare to wait with the swarms of locals and tourists who swarm the joint for the freshest claws in town.
What is it? 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.
Why go? 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.
What is it? This third-wave coffee shop is a pioneer in the local artisanal brew scene. Beyond recasting the humble cup a joe as simply a means to caffeinate, ALL DAY has proven coffee shop grub can also, in fact, be delicious.
Why go? Eat breakfast for lunch or an early dinner. ALL DAY’s variety of egg sandwiches, its fresh spin on avo toast with pickled onions and its Cuban-inspired morning snacks are what keep us coming back for more than lattes (those are great, too).
What is it? A steakhouse for nonbelievers, Bourbon keeps things casual with a sleek wraparound bar and a lounge where snug booths and high-top tables are available sans reservations.
Why go? The menu sticks to tried-and-true standards: a crisp wedge salad, a tuna tartare that’s finished tableside, and myriad cuts of prime Angus beef and wagyu. Don’t overlook the burger, which pairs perfectly with the free (and unlimited!) duck-fat fries, served in lieu of the usual bread basket.
What is it? NIU Kitchen Chef Deme Lomas and wine director Karina Iglesias’s compact Catalonian café is located deep in Downtown Miami. Cozy and intimate, NIU is ideal for adventurous eaters: Irreverent tapas—glazed pork cheek, for example—fill the frequently changing, seasonal lineup.
Why go? Go halfsies on delicious pa amb tomàquet (the traditional rustic bread with vine-ripened tomatoes, olive oil and salt) a bottle of rioja and something starring a running yolk like the ous, a creamy bowl of poached eggs, truffled potato foam, jamón ibérico and black truffle. Do you like what you see going down in the open kitchen? Buy the staff a $5 beer to enjoy after-hours to show them your appreciation.
What is it? A sexy waterfront terrace and an irresistible Peruvian menu sum up the celebrated Brickell Key restaurant.
Why go? 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. And then there’s the view: La Mar’s waterfront patio offers diners a 360-degree vista of Downtown and Brickell. Swoon.
What is it? Tasting menus weren’t a thing in Miami until decorated chef Brad Kilgore showed us what we were missing.
Why go? His Wynwood restaurant thrives on prix fixe, guiding diners through up to eight courses, including signature dishes like Kilgore’s famed soft egg with sea scallops espuma, chives, truffle pearls and Gruyère. This is refined American cuisine done in raw, industrial digs for hungry diners with oodles of disposable income.
What is it? 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.
Why go? Beyond doling out naturally leavened bread and handmade pastries, ZTB crafts the city’s best chocolate babka—soft and fluffy, with discernible notes of cinnamon
What is it? 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.
Why go? 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 pours upon pours of that ambrosial French wine that Schwartz keeps in stock.
What is it? An immense open kitchen occupies the first stateside concept from master chef Carlos Garcia, whose previous restaurant in Caracas, Venezuela, was hailed as the best in Latin America.
Why go? Grab a seat at the long, U-shaped counter and bask in the culinary spectacle as Garcia and his sous chefs serenely transform complex ingredients like octopus, uni and snapper into beautiful bowls of pasta, bite-size arepas and other dishes.
What is it? This delightful Nice import draws from the Mediterranean for its menu—serving a medley of seafood dishes alongside a smattering of traditional French cuisine—and from Miami for its party vibe. The loud chatter and upbeat music drown out any hints of ostentation and pretention. While the fresh tomato you’re given to slice at your table for your bread course makes you feel right at home.
Why go? For legit escargot and french fries made with as much care as the entrecôte steak you should be ordering. In fact, the fries here take hours to make, going from boiling pot to fryer to oven, so, whatever you do, don’t skip those.
What is it? Converted from a 1930s gas station, this is a genuine oyster bar, with the marquee to prove it. Find the day’s Atlantic and Pacific bivalves listed on a retro signboard that’s perched above the counter, where you can take a load off and watch all the shucking action.
Why go? The casual space has a definite diner feel, but with much better food: Overflowing with chunks of buttery claw meat, the Connecticut-style lobster roll comes complete with house-made potato chips.
What is it? This charming Little Havana restaurant flawlessly straddles the line between new-wave and old-world Cuban Cuisine.
Why go? La Trova scores high marks in the authenticity department, down to the collection of antiques, posters, old rum advertisements and pre-revolutionary photos that line the walls. Take a minute to soak that in before diving right into the family-style favorites like the golf-ball–size ham croquettes served over a bed of fig jam, and the deliciously traditional arroz con pollo, which is done risotto-style “á la chorrera.”
Rustic and homey, this off-the-beaten-path Italian is full of locals looking to escape the madness of South Beach. Luckily, they’ve found a place to do it where the laid-back vibe is totally authentic and the food is damn good, too. Antipasti include a creamy burrata cheese (locally made) served with pickled aubergine. A small pasta menu ticks all the right flavor notes (the short rib lasagna is a customer favorite). Time Out tip: Macchialina won’t burn a hole in your pocket like other South Beach restaurants, but it doesn’t hurt save when you can. Book your table for Thursdays, when most of the homemade pasta dishes on the menu are priced at just $10 all night long. We won’t judge you for ordering seconds—or thirds.
What is it? Dark, cozy and bustling, the South of Fifth outpost of Stephen Starr’s contemporary American restaurant from New York City sexes things up for South Beach. Still, the well-appointed space is not so over-the-top you should hesitate to take your parents.
Why go? It’s priced for the neighborhood but portions are so generous that you’ll forget you’re dining in any notorious for its see-and-be-seen establishments, where leggy celebs push around their meal. Upland’s roasted chicken is the unsung hero of this entire joint. It’s simplicity done at its finest, and a taste alone is worth a visit.
What is it? Like the questionable relationship we just can’t quit, our love for Erika Kushi’s food is impractical and ceaseless. It’s in a strip mall along the 79th Street Causeway (which is, by most accounts, far), opens inconvenient hours and you’ll always have to wait for a table. Yet it’s like amnesia hits the moment sake touches our lips and we take a bite of the signature sweet shrimp and the macadamia roll.
Why go? For traditional Japanese sushi made with heart by local sushi royalty—Kushi is the daughter of the former owner of beloved local eateries Sushi Deli and Japanese Market.
What is it? 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 ever day well into the afternoon.
Why go? Good weather days are best enjoyed here with one of Greenstreet’s signature Bloody Marys in hand and eggs and bacon on the way.
What is it? A homey, bi-level restaurant housed inside a former Art Deco home that serves globally inspired dishes made with fresh ingredients from local farms.
Why go? Hipster home-cooking is the thing here—familiar recipes featuring unexpected ingredients and portioned to share. The kimchi fried rice is a must at brunch or dinner while the arepa platter dominates the appetizer game. And you can’t leave without ordering a cocktail by the famous Bar Lab team.
What is it? This upscale Mexican restaurant doles out fresh, house-made tortillas and authentic eats in swanky environs.
Why go? 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.
What is it? 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.
Why go? 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.
What is it? 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.
Why go? 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.
What is it? 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.
Why go? 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.
Local chefs, restaurants and concepts we love so much that we welcomed them into Time Out Market
Why we selected it? The “new American” food genre can sometimes fall as flat as it sounds, but in the case of Ariete, fresh, local ingredients combined with Chef Michael Beltran’s modern spin on his Cuban roots translates to exciting, bold dishes.
Why go? The cool, brightly lit dining room is punctuated by a commanding wood grill that churns out traditional dishes like burrata, local fish and porterhouse steaks. Find slightly more audacious starters that challenge diners with ingredients like chicken liver mousse, oysters with bone marrow butter.
Why we selected it? 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).
Why go? 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.
Why we selected it? 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.
Why go? For 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.
Why we selected it? 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.
Why go? 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.
Why we selected it? Locally sourced ingredients find their way into artfully presented, whimsical dishes at this low-key gem at the edge of Coral Gables.
Why go? Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli puts a fun twist on upscale dining—and even hosts a special, eight-course 4/20 menu once a year that always sells out. Dishes veer from the ordinary, like the meaty cauliflower steak or seemingly straightforward mushrooms, which give forth an explosion of earthy flavors.
Why we selected it? 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.
Why go? 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.
Why we selected it? 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.
Why go? 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.
Why we selected it? A grilled cheese sandwich done right is a meal for all ages. At Ms. Cheezious, the popular food-truck-turned-brick-and-mortar, the kiddie classic is made especially for grownups.
Why go? There’s the pulled-pork version, with barbecued pork and sharp cheddar; a popular goat-cheese-and-prosciutto on marble rye bread; and a Southern fried chicken sandwiched between two buttermilk waffles—just to name a few. The MiMo outpost boasts a charming outdoor garden with picnic tables and plenty of shaded seating for your dining pleasure.
Why we selected it? 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.
Why go? The restaurant enjoys a prime location on Biscayne Boulevard in a building that once housed the Sir William Hotel. If the outside of Phuc Yea sings old-school glamour, the inside screams a more modern Miami attitude—with dashes of Wynwood industrial chic, Asian flare and a tiki bar aftertaste.
Why we selected it? “Star chefs” can feel like a dime a dozen in showy Miami, but Top Chef Season 13 winner Jeremy Ford truly stands out.
Why go? The eight-course tasting menu is sign of a chef who’s poured over every detail of the culinary experience: small, meticulously plated dishes that surprise (think a Spanish-inspired smoked foie gras paired with quince paste), delight (a warm celery root purée with a crackling maitake mushroom explodes with flavor) and amuse (foam, like the green curry froth beneath Seed’s Maine lobster claws, really makes everything taste better).
Why we selected it? You can tell that chef Shuji Hiyakawa has poured himself into his Upper Eastside restaurant. The passion is evident in the authentic Japanese shop’s subtle but important details: Hand-folded origami cranes hang on the wall (Shuji and his friends folded some themselves).
Why go? The effortless style goes wonderfully with the restaurant’s pared-down menu of simple, satisfying sushi bowls. The bowls—big on flavor and low on ego—don’t skimp on portions. Patrons choose from hearty combinations of fresh tuna, salmon, crab, rice, seaweed and more that will leave you feeling full but not sluggish.
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