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The 30 best restaurants in Miami

The best restaurants in Miami for luxe South Beach dining, fantastic cheap eats, and trendy cafes and diner fare

Photograph: Noah Fecks
The Dutch Miami

Choosing a restaurant in Miami can be as challenging as choosing the right spot to park yourself on the beach (and hey, choosing which of our great Miami beaches hit up isn’t too easy, either). But that wasn’t always so. 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 miracle city—from hip Wynwood to Brickell to Little Havana and beyond. For the new breed of best restaurants in Miami, you've come to the right place.

Best restaurants in Miami

1

Zuma

Critics' pick

Scoring a reservation at Zuma is a small victory worth working for. The London transplant’s acclaimed Japanese izakaya, an increasingly popular style of informal dining, is anything but casual (see: no shorts or beachwear allowed). The riverfront restaurant is filled—day and night—with stunning people who know they’re as much a part of the show as the orchestrated action in the spacious open kitchen. Expect a massive selection of modern Japanese bites, from sea bass sashimi with yuzu, salmon roe and truffle oil to tiger prawn tempura. Zuma also has one of the best brunches in town. It’s a baikingu (buffet) set-up, meaning you have access to a generous spread of the menu’s most talked about items. Short on time during the workday? Opt for the set lunch that aims to serve guests in less than one hour.    

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Downtown
2

Macchialina

Critics' pick

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 includes 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). Pizza, too, is dependably delicious and well thought out, with fried eggs, meatballs and mushroom fricassée as toppings.

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South Beach
3

The Bazaar by José Andrés

Critics' pick

Everything about the SLS is painfully hip, including The Bazaar, its house restaurant. Opened in 2012 by culinary giant José Andrés, The Bazaar has already risen to the top of local foodies’ must-visit list, earning it the distinction of being the second most-booked restaurant in the city, according to online reservation site OpenTable.com. Perhaps that’s because the food and overall vibe of the place are an experiment in decadence, bringing a playful spirit to the old-world glamor that defined the city’s art deco era. The menu is lively, combining elements of Spain and Latin America to wind up with dishes like Papas a la Huancaína (Peruvian potatoes with sea urchin) and Cuban coffee-rubbed churrasco with passionfruit. If you can snag a reservation, strap on your seatbelt and get ready for a wild ride.

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South Beach
4

NIU Kitchen

When famed Spanish chefs Ferran Adrià and José Andrés were in town together, they dined at NIU Kitchen in downtown Miami. It’s a small eatery where guests can get the closest thing to Catalan cuisine in South Florida. The Basque-style tapas are downright delicious. Take the Llamàntol for a spin: It’s a layered cake of sorts with fresh Maine lobster, smashed avocado, a runny five-minute egg and trout roe on top. For brunch, we love the Arròs, a hearty portion of baby back ribs served with Catalan rice and spinach (commonly mistaken for paella. If you’re sticking with seafood, the dinner menu has Arròs Caldós, or soupy rice with fish. And no meal here is complete without plenty of pa amb tomàquet, the traditional rustic bread with vine-ripened tomatoes, olive oil and salt.

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Downtown
5

Blue Collar

Diehard fans of Danny Serfer’s Blue Collar know to arrive early to avoid a long wait for a table. The tiny three-year-old restaurant in an old-school motel in Miami’s Upper East Side/historic MiMo District is consistently packed, and it wasn’t until recently that it started accepting reservations for lunch, dinner and brunch service. Blue Collar’s allure stems from the chef/owner’s unpretentious approach to American classics and comfort food in dishes like conch fritters with spicy tartar sauce, fried green tomatoes with buttermilk dressing and a braised brisket sandwich on Portuguese muffins with Dijon mustard, jus and latkes and apple sauce. The veggie-only chalkboard boasts a selection of more than 20 plates for side dishes or a vegetarian smorgasbord; pair the curried cauliflower puree and the sauteed kale with crushed red pepper, shallots and white butter. A rave-worthy chocolate cake made by the lead cook’s mother (it’s literally homemade!) is the restaurant’s secret weapon. Margaret uses Valrhona chocolate from France, and one slice is oftentimes not enough.  

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Little Haiti
6

Harry's Pizzeria

Harry’s Pizzeria is on the west side of the Design District, just a few blocks from chef/owner Michael Schwartz’s two other acclaimed restaurants, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and The Cypress Room. At Harry’s, a casual spot with a wood-burning oven, the thin-crust pizzas are made using fresh dough and wheat flours (though a gluten-free option is also available). Go to town on the rock shrimp pizza with grilled lemon, buttery Manchego, scallions and ribbons of cilantro. The meatballs are a must-order side, along with the polenta fries with spicy ketchup. Look out for daily specials listed on the chalkboard and consider pairing your meal with Michael’s Genuine Home Brew beer, Schwartz’s classic American pale ale. 

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Design District
7

Il Gabbiano

One of the few restaurants in Miami with an actual view of the water, this pricey pasta joint is ideal for fans of garlic, truffles and homemade pasta that’s a far cry from Ragu. Spaghetti alla carbonara will set you back $27, while risotto with porcini mushrooms is a divine culinary creation with an ungodly price tag of $37. If you really want to splurge, there’s a filet of beef with sautéed foie gras for $55. Service is old school, verging on stuffy, but what you’re paying for here is the view. Considering Miami’s volatile real estate market, it makes sense.

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Downtown
8

The Forge

Local legend has it that Al Capone is alive and well and living in this steakhouse’s acclaimed wine cellar. The place itself is a rococo-lover’s fantasy: multi-chambered, ornately decorated (and priced) and completely OTT. Although it stands as a monument to decadent wines, steak and fish, there are plenty of options for calorie-conscious diners. You can tour and dine in the 300,000-bottle wine cellar if you wish.  

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Mid Beach
9

Cecconi's

Critics' pick

If you’re hoping for a star sighting, your chances will be greatly improved by taking in a meal—and the gorgeous decor—at Cecconi’s, the open-to-the-public Italian restaurant on the ground floor of the members-only Soho Beach House. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Miami outpost of the Venetian original serves up the same inspired dishes, from braised lamb ravioli with peas and pecorino to veal saltimbocca with sautéed spinach.

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Mid Beach
10

Whisk Gourmet

The brother-sister duo behind Whisk Gourmet has been serving organic and seasonal Southern-style comfort food in South Miami for nearly a decade (and in the charming restaurant’s current location since 2011). Indulge in chef Brendan Connor’s warm house-made cornbread with scallion honey butter; fried corn on the cob with cayenne butter; and shrimp and grits with cremini mushrooms, bacon, Anson Mills grits and scallions. The pulled pork burritos stuffed with jasmine rice, black beans, shredded muenster cheese, pico de gallo, avocado and peppadew cream (sweet piquanté peppers from South Africa) are also irresistible. Locals pack the place Thursday through Saturday and the wait for a table is typically around 45 minutes. To beat the rush, go earlier in the week or early in the day or evening: Lunch service begins at noon, dinner starts around 7pm and Sunday brunch is from 10:30am to 4pm (hello, fried green tomatoes!). The most popular seats in the house are at the bar or among other regulars at the lively community tables in front of the kitchen.

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South Miami
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Comments

1 comments
Jtom J
Jtom J

You may get 10 or 11 good meals from that list of 30.  Way off and too nostalgic on the other 20 and too hypnotized by flash without good food.  Neither writer could live in Miami and make this list.