Choosing the best seafood restaurants in Miami—a city surrounded by, well, sea—is no easy task. It’s a seafood-lover’s utopia, from the exceptional raw bars you’ll find in South Beach to expertly prepared shellfish served at a number of downtown Miami eateries. After working up an appetite exploring the best Miami attractions, discover Miami’s top spots for stone crabs, oysters, conch fritters and, of course, lobster, with our guide to the city’s best seafood spots.
Best seafood restaurants in Miami
What should a fresh oyster taste like? According to the team at Mignonette, just like kissing a mermaid—salty, delicate and leaving you wanting more. To ensure that the bivalves sold pass the test, servers sample each oyster shipment to taste and study the merroir (like terroir for wine, it reveals how the ocean’s conditions affect the flavor and consistency) before each shift. The downtown and uptown locations of the restaurant each receive eight varieties of West and East Coast oysters daily; customers can look them up via the Pearl App, a digital database of oysters that can be used for a number of Miami restaurants.
It doesn’t get fresher than the raw bar at Bazaar Mar. The seafoodcentric Spanish restaurant in Brickell keeps its own mollusk tank, filled with geoducks, scallops, abalones and other shellfish rare to Miami, sourced from around the world and kept alive until ready to serve. Live sea urchins, shipped from California or Maine, often make an appearance at the raw bar and in several à la carte dishes. Want to keep it simple? Stick with the fish crudo, thinly sliced, delicately dressed and featuring a mix of seasonal catch and classics like Japanese hamachi.
One of the oldest restaurants in downtown Miami remains a favorite for oysters, especially during the daily happy hour (4:30–7pm), when they’re just $1.50 each. While the menu focuses on East Coast varieties, the West Coast’s famous Kumamoto oysters (known for being sweet and meaty) are staples as well. Shellfish platters are available in standard and grand sizes and feature the usual shrimp and oysters as well as lobster and clams.
Just because LoKal and Kush’s littler sister The Spillover is dedicated to seafood, doesn’t mean the Coconut Grove restaurant is a lighter alternative to the two. There’s no holding back here with hearty fried fish and lobster sandwiches, where the chunked meat literally spills over the side of a toasty bun. As if you thought a BLT wasn't already filling enough, there's an entire Maine lobster stuffed inside The Spillover's version. Even the vegetables are decadent, including the popular roasted buffalo heirloom cauliflower smothered in house-made blue cheese dressing.
Little Havana’s shiny new seafood shack will make you crave bivalves the next time you’re in the ’hood. The Miami-style New England–inspired eatery (got that?) offers six varieties of East, West and Gulf Coast oysters daily. From Prince Edward Island’s Cooke’s Cove Malpeque to Florida’s Apalachicola Bay, the day’s selection is written on the chalkboard menu. Plus, Ella’s raw bar is stocked with seasonal favorites like stone crab claws, local fish ceviche and a tostada starter.
South Florida’s most famous restaurant, Joe’s (which turned 100 in 2013) is as much a Miami must-see as Ocean Drive. It attracts locals, tourists and celebs, serving seasonal stone crabs (October–May) with a "secret" sauce, garlic creamed spinach, fried sweet potatoes, coleslaw and hash browns. If you don’t like seafood, try the fried chicken, or the liver and onions. Joe’s doesn’t take reservations, so be prepared for a horrendously long wait, first to register your name, then for a table. Alternatively, if you can’t face that, just go with takeaway from the adjacent shop.
Down by the river, tucked behind a maze of downtown freeways and bridges, this seafood shack is a hidden gem. From the nautical interior and rustic waterfront deck to the fishing boats that chug by, this place oozes character. Conch fritters, gorgeous ceviche and Florida stone crab are warm-ups for the entrées: juicy grilled jumbo shrimp, say, or grilled yellowtail, grouper or lobster, served alongside buttery parsley potatoes, green plantains, Caesar salads or fries. The Key lime pie is one of the best in town. Tricky to find, but worth the effort.
With a separate private entrance and a terrace that overlooks Miami Beach, Lure Fishbar inside the Loews South Beach doesn’t feel like your typical hotel restaurant. Sure, the clientele is mostly guests—albeit beautiful, young well-dressed ones—but the space feels vibrant and authentic, even if you do come across a corporate event or two. The menu is a sampling of classic dishes and a few trendy small plates, like tuna tacos and caviar-topped deviled eggs that bode well with the South Beach crowd.
Even if it didn’t boast one of the city’s most spectacular views—the Miami skyline is laid out in front of you from the 16th floor of the EPIC Hotel—executive chef Wolfgang Birk’s innovative seafood, much of it sourced from the waters you can gaze out upon, would surely be packing in the patrons. The menu changes regularly, but expect fresh ceviche, tartars and crudos. Also in keeping with the restaurant’s dedication to fresh and sustainable seafood is the range of entrées, featuring traditional proteins done up with a Spanish twist. Not to be missed is the swordfish served with a sweet corn chorizo salsa.
Whether dining outside under the Palms at the edge of Biscayne Bay or in the historic coral stone dining room, this restaurant is like nowhere else. It's a slice of Florida that that feels more like the Keys than Miami. But it's a lot more than atmosphere that brings in the locals. The menu is dedicated to fresh local seafood, prepared in a variety of styles—from Asian to Caribbean to Mexican—so there’s something for everyone.