Small plates are a big hit with Miamians. Something to do with the year-round pressure to be swimsuit-ready, perhaps? Or do tapas just pair better with Miami happy hour deals (another roaring success in this city) than, say, the best burgers in Miami? Whatever motivates locals to nibble at mealtime, the best Spanish restaurants in Miami satisfy cravings for snack-size portions and Spanish-skewed cocktails. Hungry for Iberian classics? Settle in for a night of paella, tortilla and more.
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Best Spanish restaurants in Miami
What is it? A smashing success. Bulla’s bar, dining rooms and upstairs event space have been permanently packed since the Spanish restaurant came on the scene in 2013. It’s since expanded to a second location in Doral.
Why go? Gourmet tapas and craft cocktails served in a buzzy, trendy environment all about sums up Bulla. And who doesn’t like that? Happy hour is quite the scene—brace for a well-dressed crowd spilling out onto the streets of Coral Gables.
What is it? Rustic and inviting, this cozy Downtown spot is owned and operated by two Catalonian expats, so expect nothing but authentic Spanish cuisine. Warm service and Instagrammable food make NIU an easy sell.
Why go? It’s remarkable what chef Deme Lomas can do with a few simple ingredients, like the pa amb tomáquet (toasted bread with tomatoes) or mussels with garlicky sofrito. Even if it seems basic, nothing at NIU ever tastes like it is.
What is it? Celebrated chef, olive enthusiast and occasional Trump troll, José Andrés is the man behind this whimsical Spanish restaurant in South Beach. Dry ice spectacles, tableside presentations and unexpected pairings are hallmarks here.
Why go? Playful tapas taste as good as they’re fun to eat: airy puffs of Cubano sandwiches that ooze with Swiss cheese when you bite into them, crispy croquetas served atop a glass sneaker and bite-size spicy tuna cones is just some of what you can expect.
What is it? Now here’s something you won’t find every day: a full Spanish restaurant located inside a functioning gas station.
Why go? Quality, well-priced wines is why you go to El Carajo, which stocks about 1,5000 bottles. Buy one from them at market value or bring your own from home and pay just $15 to have it uncorked. Use all that cash you saved to order seconds of the restaurant’s delicious croquetas.
What is it? Arson is entirely dedicated to the Josper oven, a kitchen marvel that uses charcoal and allows you to barbecue indoors. You’ll eat all sorts of incredible charred stuff and still won’t leave smelling like smoke. It’s a win, win.
Why go? Whether you’re a vegetarian or go hard in the meat department, food just tastes better—and is arguably healthier—when it’s cooked in a Josper. And since that’s all these guys do, trust that your rib eye, asparagus and oysters are in very capable hands.
What is it? What started in 2001 as a humble deli with wine-barrel tables has grown into this sprawling, two-floor restaurant with a gourmet bodega, a private event space and a courtyard.
Why go? Get the friendly, laid-back service of a Spanish tavern with the wide-ranging options and complex preparations you’d expect from a proper restaurant. Plus, there’s live flamenco guitar on the weekends.
What is it? Tucked away along the banks of the Miami River, Jamon Iberico serves regional Spanish cuisine, plus a wide range of imported meats and cheeses.
Why go? If the thrill of discovering a hidden gem excites you, this one, just off the beaten path, will do the trick. Though once you’ve found it, it’s Jamon’s savory paellas and the popular huevos rotos—served unconventionally as a tower layered eggs and potatoes—that do you in.
What is it? This charming, family-owned restaurant in downtown Coral Gables serves an assortment of traditional tapas, regional Spanish dishes, like paella, and offers hypnotic flamenco shows several nights a week.
Why go? It’s never just dinner at the riotous tavern, where pitchers of made-to-order sangria flow and there’s always someone singing or dancing while you eat.
What is it? This sleek Spanish spot in Coconut Grove delivers on its profound name, serving soulful, elevated dishes.
Why go? Like the restaurant, the menu is small but curated to include classics you’d expect from a casual tapas joint—octopus, tomato-rubbed baguettes, jamón serrano. But you’re really there to taste chef Sergio Chamizo’s flavorful finishes, from glazes and foams to delicious reductions.
What is it? Pubbelly’s foray into tapas is not at all dissimilar to its sister gastropub and sushi restaurants next door: modern, casual and slightly experimental.
Why go? When you’re sick of the same jamón and tortilla, Barceloneta takes you out of your tapas rut with twists on traditional Spanish dishes, like whole grilled squid, bourbon-soaked solomillo and vegan paella, among others.
What is it? This seemingly out-of-place medieval structure in Little Havana is one of the neighborhood’s longest-standing restaurants. Fittingly, the Spanish menu is pretty old-world, too. Why go? Casa Juancho doesn’t veer from tradition, serving classic tapas, paellas and sangria. On weekends, live guitarists serenade you during dinner service.