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Photograph: Courtesy Planta

The best restaurants in South Beach that locals and tourists adore

Skip the touristy options and head to these restaurants in South Beach that won’t overcharge and underwhelm your palate

By Liana Lozada and Ryan Pfeffer

Eating your way through the best restaurants in South Beach can take some trial and error. Most of us have fallen prey to the South Beach bait-and-switch before. The area is ripe with places that are, to say the least, sketchy. But the chunk of Miami Beach south of 23rd Street doesn’t deserve the bad reputation it’s gotten. Away from Ocean Drive, you’ll find a blooming culinary community quickly transforming South Beach into the tastiest neighborhood in Miami, where you’ll find one of the best bakeries in Miami, some of the best bars in Miami and some of the straight-up best restaurants in Miami. It’s about time South Beach got some serious culinary contenders. Allow us to introduce you to them.

Best of the city under one roof

Time Out Market Miami
Photograph: Arévalo Photography

Time Out Market Miami

Restaurants South Beach

What is it? The best restaurants and chefs in Miami are all huddled together under the same roof at Time Out Market Miami.

Why go? Drive and park once (a victory in South Beach, especially when ample spots are available above the market) to reach 18 different eateries serving all kinds of cuisine—from Mexican and Vietnamese to Cuban.

Best South Beach restaurants

Warm celery root at Stubborn Seed
Photograph: Courtesy Grove Bay Hospitality

1. Stubborn Seed

Restaurants American creative South of Fifth

What is it? This South of Fifth restaurant (run by Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford) executes an exquisite balance between relaxed comfort and culinary ambition. The menu changes with the seasons and ingredient availability, but expect regionally inspired dishes like JoJo Tea-cured cobia and the awesome warm celery root with crackling maitake. Can’t decide what to order? Opt for the tasting menu and let Ford lead the way.

Why go? Because it’s, well, the best restaurant in South Beach. And just in case you can’t snag a table for dinner, Sunday brunch is your chance for redemption.

Upland Miami
Photograph: Courtesy Upland Miami

2. Upland Miami

Restaurants American South of Fifth

What is it? A New York City-import that has brought California-style cooking to South of Fifth. There’s beauty in simplicity here—from the crispy squash blossoms to the Norwich Meadows carrots, which our editor Virginia Gil says she often “dreams about.”

Why go? Happy hour is daily (weekends too!) from 4pm to 7pm. Grab cocktails and wine for less than $10 as well as some delicious small plates (no shame in ordering the mozzarella sticks).

LUCALI basil pizza
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

3. Lucali

Restaurants Pizza South Beach

What is it? A name cherished by pizza nerds all over the country. Thankfully the Sunset Harbour location of this place isn’t nearly as tough to get into as the original Brooklyn outpost. But the pies are every bit as tasty. Lucali ain’t a casual by-the-slice joint (only one large size is available too). It’s more for those looking to sit and savor.

Why go? There is a Nutella dessert pie, which are basically our three favorite words.

4. The Bazaar by José Andrés

Restaurants South Beach

What is it? If, by now, you still don’t know about the culinary powerhouse that is José Andrés, Google him. And if you’ve never eaten at one of his many excellent restaurants, The Bazaar is a great choice. Just try not to smile when you bite into the fish-shaped salmon and lox or the playfully delicious foie gras PB&J. It’s impossible. 

Why go? We’re a sucker for the tableside LN2 caipirinha, which looks more like a science experiment than a cocktail.

Photograph: Courtesy Planta

5. Planta

Restaurants Vegan South of Fifth

What is it? Vegan food so good you won’t even care it’s vegan. Just in case the burger doesn’t knock your socks off, the queso dip will do the job. The pizzas, particularly the Frenchie topped with arugula and mushrooms, are at once doughy and crispy but won’t bloat you like regular pies. Don’t skip the fresh-pressed juice cocktails either.

Why go? The veggie sushi replaces salmon with thinly sliced watermelon and—yes—it works.

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

6. Joe’s Stone Crab

Restaurants South of Fifth

What is it? It’s been said a million times, and we’re going to say it again—Joe’s Stone Crab is the holy land for stone crabs. Dripping in old school charm (it’s been cracking claws since 1913), Joe’s notoriously long wait is actually worth it.

Why go? Locals in a rush know the adjacent Joe’s Takeaway is perfect for grabbing some claws or fried chicken to-go. Pro tip: take it across the street for a pretty picnic in South Pointe Park.

Red, the Steakhouse
Photograph: Courtesy Red, the Steakhouse

7. Red, the Steakhouse

Restaurants Steakhouse South of Fifth

What is it? Ron Swanson sure would love Red, the Steakhouse, a no-nonsense meat mecca serving perfect and classic steaks. You can’t really go wrong with any cut of beef alongside addicting sides like mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.

Why go? Red’s not easy on your wallet, but do remember that they offer one of the best—if not the best—rotating Miami Spice menus in town.

Cleo at the Redbury
Photograph: Courtesy Cleo

8. Cleo at the Redbury

Restaurants Greek South Beach

What is it? A Mediterranean restaurant people really seem to love. Located inside the Redbury South Beach, the menu focuses on mezze: sharable plates such as baba ghanoush, falafel, watermelon and feta salad and more. Really hungry? Grab one of the meaty main dishes like the apricot lamb tagine or the grilled branzino.

Why go? The $55 per person mezze dinner is a pretty sweet deal: two mezze plates, one signature dish and one shared main plate.

Photograph: Adam DelGuidice

9. Macchialina

Restaurants South Beach

What is it? Loved by locals, visitors and industry vets alike, this rustic Italian restaurant sits in an unassuming space off Alton Road. Mouthwatering pastas and charred salads are carefully paired with beverage director Jacqueline Pirolo’s expert wine selections.

Why go? Stop by on Thursdays when the delicious pastas are just $10 (cue Lionel Richie voice) all night long.

Stiltsville Fish Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Stiltsville Fish Bar/Grove Bay Hospitality

10. Stiltsville Fish Bar

Restaurants Seafood South Beach

What is it? It’s all about Floridian coastal cooking at the Sunset Harbour hotspot a la local blue crab cakes, buffalo fish wings and crispy whole snapper. The sweet corn spoon bread is a winning way to start an evening sit-down and it can be served with butter poached lobster.

Why go? Stiltsville offers a special “Skinny Mermaid” menu full of vegan and veggie options for lunch just in case you’re not in a fried mood. 

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