Best restaurants in Miami
What is it? Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford’s intimate, 74-seat restaurant exemplifies Miami’s new wave of fine dining—sophisticated, edgy and with a hint of playfulness. Ford doesn’t take himself or his food too seriously.
Why go? Whether it’s your first or 10th time, the chef’s tasting menu is always a good idea. Combining restaurant staples with seasonal updates, every course builds on the last and offers loads of tasty surprises.
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? 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? Part American, part Cuban and entirely Miami—this Coconut Grove restaurant churns out solid dishes made from scratch. Subway tiles, dim lighting and a notably calm open kitchen keep the vibe casual and relaxed.
Why go? Chef/owner Michael Beltran keeps things weird, in the best way possible. A recent revamp of the menu sees him dress oysters with guarapo granita and pair mangos with stracciatella cheese. Don’t miss pastry chef Devin Braddock’s stuffed oatmeal cookies served in a charming tin container like the kind Cuban grandmothers repurpose to store their sewing kits.
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? Matthew Kuscher’s neighborhood burger joint is popular with people and canines alike (yep, they’ve got a special dog menu, too).
Why go? The Coconut Grove restaurant’s selection of grass-fed beef burgers runs the gamut from traditional to only-in-Miami, like the famous Cuban frita burger and Juan’s Fidy-Fidy—a decadent patty made from 50 percent Florida beef and 50 percent Florida bacon. Brew-loving Kuscher has also made sure to stock an assortment of local beers.
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? 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? Probably the only restaurant in Miami serving Viet-Cajun cuisine, a delicious experiment that’s yielded cajun fried rice, an assortment of soul-soothing pho and pillowy bao buns stuffed with veggies, meat and more.
Why go? Phuc Yea is in a constant state of flux—for good reasons. If it isn’t a pop-up Sunday party or a tasty addition to the brunch menu then it’s a fresh cocktail lineup. There’s always something new and exciting worth coming back for.
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? Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli’s small, rustic eatery at the edge of ritzy Coral Gables. Dishes here veer from the ordinary, like the meaty cauliflower steak or seemingly straightforward mushrooms, which give forth an explosion of earthy flavors.
Why go? You never know what sort of madcap creation Rapivacoli, who’s known for his playful interpretations of the classics, put on the menu next. Though once you try his foie chicken and waffles and Cap’n Crunch pancakes, you’ll never go back to the regular stuff.
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? Miami’s top Mexican joint is a no-frills taqueria doling out imaginative combinations featuring fresh ingredients. Patrons regularly line up for a taste of this place—it’s that good.
Why go? Coyo’s forward-thinking approach to tacos is summed up best with its duck carnitas, marrying traditional Mexican flavors with a modern style of cooking. Honestly, we haven’t thought about pork once since tasting this baby.
What is it? A hip, airy vegan cafe in Wynwood where the walls are as pretty as the food. From pizza and cheeseburgers to cake, every not-so-good-for-you staple you might be craving is on the menu in a decidedly healthier and tastier version.
Why go? The aforementioned prize-winning burger (it was named the best veggie burger in the city by Seed Plant Based Food and Wine Festival) is mind-blowing, and not just for vegans. Its perfectly cooked superfood patty is topped with fresh guac, pickles, plant-based cheddar, kale and cilantro aioli. Got all that?
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? A shining star in Miami’s Japanese culinary scene. Stephen Starr’s Makoto doles out modern Asian fare like yummy veggies grilled on a fancy bincho charcoal robata and sashimi so fresh you’d think it was fished-to-order.
Why go? It’s Stephen Starr. Though beyond the well-known restaurateur, Makoto kills the game with stellar sake-based cocktails and that ever-so-popular crispy rice.
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? The phrase “neighborhood gem”
gets thrown around but Pinch is truly deserving of the epithet. Nestled in Shorecrest and housed in a former pizza joint, this homey, chef-owned-and-operated restaurant borrows from all sorts of cultures to create its compact but solid menu.
Why go? People drive from all over to try Pinch’s juicy burger, though it’s only served at lunchtime and during brunch service. At dinnertime, turn your attention to Pinch’s vegetable-forward dishes made with ingredients sourced exclusively from local farmers.
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.