October 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, including our very own Time Out Market Miami, home to the best chefs of the city. 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
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! marries L.A.’s strip-mall restaurant culture with the M.O. of New York’s hole-in-the-wall culinary successes to yield an intimate, 24-seat eatery that’s unlike any other in Miami—down to the friendly staff who seem to know every detail about the menu and exactly which natural wine goes with what. Chef/owners Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer have built quite the résumé, working in the kitchens of Eleven Madison Park and the Nomad, to name a couple. Their food is a specific type of contemporary New American, one that’s deceptively complex and created with a ton of technique that hides behind familiar ingredients and approachable combinations. Only this duo can compel you to spend nearly double digits on potato skins, and it’s not just because they’ve topped them with caviar.
Why go? Feel like an insider at this tiny restaurant that flies under the radar. Request a seat at the counter and chat up your server about the orange wine, the secret ingredient in the gnocchi and anything else. Everyone there is refreshingly friendly.
What is it? Dark, cozy and bustling, the South of Fifth outpost of Stephen Starr’s contemporary American restaurant in New York City sexes things up for South Beach. The music is turned up cheery, young servers wear crisp white kicks that, although part of the uniform, appears as a nod to the chill neighborhood. You’ll see large groups of all ages slinking into well-appointed booths on any given night. It’s pricey but by all account Upland might be a bargain thanks to generous portions that haven’t yet succumbed to the pervasive tapas-style trend.
Why go? 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? 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? In just two short years, the modern Asian eatery has nabbed a James Beard Award nomination, a Time Out Bar Awards win and asserted itself as one of the best restaurants in town—and the toughest reservation in Wynwood. Its airy, industrial dining room fits right in with the gritty ’hood.
Why go? Chef Michael Lewis elevates Asian comfort food, wielding classics like pork buns, Korean fried chicken and crab fried rice into satisfying, visually arresting dishes. For every tree used in the wood-fired grill, like the mouthwatering wagyu beef brisket, the restaurant plants five more.
What is it? James Beard nominee Niven Patel boosted Indian cuisine in the city with the opening of his Dadeland restaurant. The chef grows a large percentage of the produce and herbs he serves at Ghee at his Homestead farm.
Why go? Unlike the batched, reheated curries you’re used to eating in Miami, Ghee’s made-to-order meals are an explosion of fresh flavors. The cheddar naan, green millet—which Patel ships from a small village in India—and smoked lamb neck are consistent crowd pleasers.
What is it? A casual, diner-themed seafood haunt serving Miami’s best selection of oysters, Connecticut-style lobster rolls (buttered claws, no mayo) and delicious bread pudding.
Why go? The old-school marquee that hangs above the kitchen lists the day’s oysters. There are usually about eight East and West varieties to choose from, though you’ll want to ask your server to pick a dozen of their favorites. The staff here knows their stuff.
What is it? A sexy waterfront terrace and an irresistible Peruvian menu sum up the celebrated Brickell Key restaurant.
Why go? Gifted chef Diego Oka has raised the profile of traditional Latin American cuisine with unexpected ingredients and combinations, like the rare cheese-soaked tiradito bachiche—snapper delicately dressed in aged parmesan. It works. Brunch here is an experience and so worth carving out an entire afternoon to enjoy.
What is it? One of Downtown’s longest-running restaurants is a simple oyster bar, drawing large crowds to its small dining room daily with its fresh oysters and stellar martinis (some of the best in town).
Why go? It’s elbow-to-elbow at the bar during happy hour (daily 4–7pm), but it’s worth shoving your way to the front for the restaurant’s incredible oysters at half price.
What is it? Chef Bas’s ode to his native Thailand is a compact restaurant that serves above-average curries you will most definitely have to stand in line for. But every single one is worth it.
Why go? Part of the schtick here is that you’re allowed to order only once, so make sure the pad see ew with beef and khao soi gai find their way to your table. The former is a stir-fry, the other is a golden curry, and both will blow you away.
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? At once conventional and modern, Michael Mina’s big and bold steak joint serves American fare with an edge—from herb-butter poached meats to organic, wood-fired filets.
Why go? You won’t have to worry about filling up on rolls here, but spoiling your appetite with the free (!) trio of duck-fat fries served in lieu of a bread basket is dangerous—and the reason we make the trip to Aventura for a steak dinner.
What is it? James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz’s buzzy restaurant is a true star. Decor and menu are classy yet casual, and the service also strikes just the right note.
Why go? This is the restaurant that put the prolific chef and his high-end comfort food on the map. With an emphasis on local ingredients, specials change daily and might include duck confit with brussels sprouts or steak au poivre. Pick any and prepare to be impressed.
What is it? Chef Brad Kilgore helms the modern, minimalist restaurant in Wynwood. Nominated for James Beards three times over, Kilgore took his previous fine-dining experiences and channeled it into the delicious, refined American cuisine he and partners Javier Ramirez and Leo Monterrey put forth at Alter.
Why go? The progressive menu is a treat from start to finish. There’s a $65 tasting menu for those needing a little guidance but a la carte works too—just make sure to order Kilgore’s soft egg with sea scallop espuma, chive, truffle pearls and Gruyere. You’re bound to get asked about it.
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.”
What is it? The cozy, urban bistro serves the closest thing to authentic Catalan cuisine in Miami—even the names of dishes are written in the ancient Spanish language.
Why go? Small and hidden, touting a menu of mostly shareable plates, NIU is ideal for couples. 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.
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? The first stateside concept from master chef Carlos Garcia, whose previous Caracas restaurant was ranked among the best in Latin America, serves elevated Venezuelan cuisine in a laid-back environment.
Why go? Grab a seat along the massive counter, sit back and enjoy the culinary show. Watch as Garcia as his sous chefs placidly wield ingredients such as octopus, uni and snapper into beautiful bowls of pasta, bite-size arepas and more.
What is it? This Sunset Harbour outpost of the popular Brooklyn pizza joint is just as trendy and crowded as the NYC original.
Why go? New York knows good pizza and Lucali delivers on its home state’s best export, serving large pies (no slices here) topped with all sorts of fresh ingredients (basil is free to add). Diet or not, the kale caesar salad makes for an excellent starter.
What is it? Sanguich is a quaint, 25-seat restaurant with an edited menu of classic Cuban sandwiches and made-to-order batidos (Cuban milkshakes, for the uninitiated).
Why go? The best Cubano in Miami resides here. It consists of mostly house-made ingredients—cured ham, brined pork, fresh pickles and artisanal mustard—plus crusty Cuban bread made specifically to Sanguich’s specifications. They’ve also got a Cuban version of nachos with fried plantain strips that’s out of this world.
What is it? Zak Stern’s Wynwood spot—which is certified kosher—serves intricate breakfast sandwiches with ingredients like alfalfa sprouts and heirloom tomatoes, spectacular bagel platters, classic deli-style sandwiches and a daily vegan soup.
Why go? Beyond doling out naturally leavened bread and pastries made by hand, ZTB makes the best chocolate babka in Miami—soft, fluffy and with discernable notes of cinnamon.
What is it? This 24/7 spot is as authentic Miami as it comes. Yes, it’s a laundromat. But it’s also so much more. Whether you need to fuel up after a long night or find yourself in the area during lunchtime, it’s the perfect pitstop for a strong cortadito, hot Cuban classics and creamy fruit smoothies served from a ventanita.
Why go? We’re keen on the medianoche sandwich (like a Cuban but on sweet, challah-like loaf) and the Aruba smoothie made with mango, banana and papaya. Whatever you choose, sit down at one of the tables on the small patio, catch up with friends and watch the world go by.
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? 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 charming Greek spot tucked away in a quiet corner of the Design District. Sip too many glasses of Mandolin’s delicious housemade sangria and you might just confuse the Mandolin’s whitewashed exterior for the Cycladic islands.
Why go? For a meal that doubles as a staycation. Tuck into traditional mezzes, grilled octopus and warm, toasted pita bread fresh out of the oven.
What is it? Opened in 1913, South Florida’s most famous seafood restaurant opens October through May for stone crabs season.
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? 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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