Miami‘s unique cultural diversity is clearly reflected in the array of culinary creations that dot the Magic City. Yes, perhaps the melting pot metaphors have been used enough, but then again how else would you describe a town where you’re just as likely to discover a Korean-Peruvian-Cuban tapas joint hidden in the suburbs, a popular 24-hour fritanga, a fine dining establishment whose main attraction is the dim sum, and enough burger and craft beer joints to make your head spin?
Ideas thrive in our tropical climate. Chefs thrive here, too. In fact, many of them flock here from colder regions where they’ve made a name for themselves and now simply want to provide quality food without the need of a snow shovel for half of the year.
The flavors found in South Florida are something we locals are all proud of. And in recent years, the cuisine that has been permeating every neighborhood in town, via the restaurant, pop-up, diner, or food truck has simply increased in quality. Plant-based dining has also begun to enjoy a renaissance, with places like Planta at the forefront. There are James Beard Award winners on here, places where you might run into a number of celebs (hello, Nobu), as well as places where you can get a huge meal you can eat outdoors for just $10. Basically, this list is as diverse as the city, and we like it like that.
After a hard night of clubbing or bar-hopping, nothing’s better than a hefty sandwich from this walk-up counter right off Collins Avenue. Crusty French bread is piled high with your choice of meats (from turkey and prosciutto to pate and smoked salmon), cheeses (fresh mozzarella, swiss, brie) and condiments (never skip the cornichons). If you need a veggie fix, opt for a salad, like the French Riviera (lettuce, tomatos, green and hot peppers, black olives, onions, cucumbers, cornichons, carrots, and egg); all are generous, fresh and tasty. Smoothies and frozen yogurt satisfy sweet-tooth urgings, and prices are more than affordable. Expect a line, though, because the place attracts a crowd all day long.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: No frills, but always on point, La Sandwicherie brings folks from all walks of life together en plein aire with the best sandwiches in town.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Delivery is available in the SoBe and Brickell areas which is great when you need a quick and healthy lunch at your desk.
It was only a matter of time for Miami to embrace the sheer beauty of eating tapas. These Spanish-style gastrobars have been slowly popping up around town, but the one folks won’t stop chatting about is Bulla. Pronounced “boo-yah!” (which you know folks love saying), this exciting eatery created by Por Fin’s Carlos Centurion has exploded from a trendy tapas spot for locals into a fast-growing concept now with locations in Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina. But since we’re in the 305, let’s dish a little more on the original locale in downtown Coral Gables. Bulla’s a great place for happy hour cocktails or a chic date night, as ambiance is generally a bit more grown up and smartly dressed. They’ve also got prixe fix lunch menus for under $20, bottomless brunch mimosas, seasonal menus, and of course scrumptious bites. From patatas bravas and albondigas to impressive meat and cheese platters to churrascos and paellas if you’re feeling extra hungry, you’ll find plenty to nosh on here.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Sometimes all you need is fun vibes, flirty drinks, and food that brings you life, and Bulla has all of those in spades.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Tapas are best enjoyed with friends so you can sample a variety of small dishes. Save the solo dining for someplace else.
Matador Room made its debut on the Miami Beach food scene toward the end of 2014, just shortly after the Edition Hotel opened. Run by Michelin-starred Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, you’ll find a Latin-inspired menu, with flavors mainly hailing from the Caribbean, Spain, and South America. Open daily for lunch and dinner (with a killer weekend brunch), you’ll find a spinach and manchego pizza, a roasted turkey, ham, and gruyere Cuban sandwich, and a gourmet arroz con pollo that will change your life. As for the restaurant’s look, it’s all glamour, with warm beige and deep browns plus plenty of mood lighting from golden candlelight and chandeliers setting the ambiance. Opt to sit inside or out, where beautiful hanging gardens and breath-taking ocean views await.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Sit in Matador’s opulent circular dining room and see how Miami staples like red snapper and arroz con pollo are taken to brand new heights.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Consider starting your date here and then moving it down to the Basement, Edition’s impressive nightclub complete with skating rink and bowling alley.
The Miami location of world-famous Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s chain of restaurants was once inside the Shore Club, but now enjoys a permant place within the Nobu Hotel (now part of the renowned Eden Roc). But despite it’s short move a few blocks away, you’ll quickly notice Nobu still retains its reputation top notch cuisine as well as being the preferred sushi spot of local celebs. If it’s your first time, don’t be shy. Ask questions! Servers are happy to guide you through the menu and help you navigate the sushi experience. Or else, feel free to navigate onto new experiences: start with a butter lettuce salad with lobster perhaps, or maybe the eggplant spicy miso is more your style. Nosh on shishito peppers or wagyu tacos before indulging in king crab, japanese eel, spicy tuna, lobster tempura, and so much more. It’s high-quality Japenese-Peruvian fusion cuisine at its best and worth every penny.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Between its celeb clientele, star caliber tasting menu, and superb attention to detail, Nobu remains among the very best.
Priscilla’s expert tip: If it’s your first time (and even if it isn’t), ask for the Omakase tasting menu. With enough courses to leave you satiated, including some off-the-menu choices, you won’t regret it.
Stepping into the outdoor dining area of Ambersweet, one of Mid-beach’s latest offerings, you’re instantly transported to the retro aesthetic of the Magic City. Located inside The Confidante Hotel, it’s the perfect place for guests or visitors to grab a delightfully satisfying breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Named after the fruit by the same name (a citrus fruit that’s part tangerine, part sweet orange, with some grapefruitt thrown in the mix), you’ll certainly find the menu just as light and refreshing. Farm fresh omelets, Calle Ocho avocado toast (served on a crispy tostone), and an ambersweet french toast as just some of the morning options. Try the chickpea chopped salad, shrimp roll, or octopus tacos for a lunch after a swim. Or go with the lobster raviolo or mushroom bolognese come dinner time. Another bonus? Well-labeled gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options on every menu, as well as a slew of cocktails and mocktails to choose from.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: With a menu and dining room that’s as brilliant as its namesake, you and your tastebuds will quickly become enchanted with this newer Mid-beach fixture.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Wine lovers should drop by Ambersweet’s wine room every Wednesday afternoon for a tasting and food pairing with the restaurant’s general manager for just $45 per person.
Vegan and plant-based diets have slowly been gaining popularity around the country, and Miami is no different. While some older establishments in the scene have come and gone, we’re happy that Planta (a fully plant-based restaurant on South Beach) is still making a splash since its opening. The original Planta opened in Toronto several years back, and when hospitality-and-entertainment mogul David Grutman happened upon the vegan Canadian favorite, he decided to bring it back to the 305. The establishment is more than just plant-based; Chef David Lee only uses ingredients from ethical suppliers, making this a vegan’s paradise. What’s even better is the wide variety of foods to try while here: spicy tuna (with watermelon “ahi”), a “meat lover’s pizza” topped with cashew cheese and farro sausage, heart of palm “crab” cakes, coconut ceviche, and of course, a Planta burger, are all on the menu. Bring a group, order everything, and get to tasting!
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Aside from having an unbeatable brunch, this restaurant’s commitment to seasonal and local ingredients makes it a hit with conscious-minded foodies across the 305.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Definitely try their brunch at least once. With dishes like “crab” cake tostadas and land “lox” scrambles, you’re in for a very unique treat. And don’t forget to check out their other nearby locations in the Grove and West Palm Beach!
The Grove has undergone several transformations over the past few years, but no one can deny that one of its improvements came in the form of a gem known as Ariete. This delightful, farmhouse-inspired restaurant nestled behind and beneath the lush greenery on Main Highway opened in 2016 and regularly receives praise from critics and everyday folks alike. Chef Michael Beltran (formerly of Cypress Room) has created a New American dining experience that’s sublime without being stuffy. The establishment itself has wood-paneled and white-tiled walls, a cozy, well-stocked bar, and plenty of seating both indoor and out (they’ve also got a more regal basement room for private occasions). But what you really want to know about is the food, right? If the highly-praised grilled oysters (buttered with bone marrow) doesn’t impress you, go for a safe bet like the Chug Burger or any of their brunch options, or move quickly onto dessert where their tres leches, flan, or churro donuts will certainly win you over.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Ariete’s seasonally changing menu is a celebration of flavors, with a chic ambiance that’s still welcoming to everyday folks seeking quality bites and impressive cocktails.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Happy hour cuts the cost of many beloved dishes nearly in half, so you can totally enjoy Ariete even if you’re on a budget.
No one can deny the majesty of the Andes mountains. They’ve been the inspiration of countless locals, climbers, artists, travelers–”even restaurateurs. At least, that’s the case for Diego D’Alvia, owner of Wayku, one of the hottest new dining concepts to hit Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. D’Alvia, who also owns the chain Rex – Best Chivito in Town as well as La Morocha (both located in Buenos Aires), has created a culinary venture that celebrates Quechua culture in everything from the menu to the decor, while fusing it with additional Latin American styles and flavors. On the menu, you’ll find hot and fresh tapas like ceviche, tuna tataki, and two kinds of bao buns, as well as mains like the Patagonia (rack of lamb served with potatoes and artichokes) and their Octopus In The Coral (served with mashed eggplant and potatoes, kale, and a beetroot “coral”). There are thoughtful options for the vegetarians and vegans as well, including arancini stuffed with goat cheese and burnt aioli, as well as the Kanka Cauliflower (made with a delightful mango and coconut curry sauce).
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Wayku has proven worthy thanks to its posh-but-approachable ambiance and a delectable, varied menu with food and drink offerings for all palates and preferences.
Priscilla’s expert tip: If you’re curious to try a few menu and bar options, drop by for happy hour (at the bar Monday through Fridays from 6 to 8pm), where you can snag snacks like the Pizza Fritta or a refreshing Wayku Spritz (made with prosessco, campari, and dragonfruit) for less than full price.
Once a 1930s-era gas station and later a 1980s diner, this oyster bar has become quite a hit with folks in Edgewater, and the adjacent Midtown and Wynwood neighborhoods. Owned by Blue Collar’s own Danny Serfer and Ryan Roman, it’s the perfect spot to satiate your seafood cravings. Peel-and-eat shrimp, caviar, rainbow trout, seared scallops, crab cakes, and oysters both raw and Rockefeller are all on the menu. But if you’re looking for the freshest catches, you’ll find them listed on the large, retro marquee behind the bar. If your dinner date isn’t big on seafood, there’s also lamb chops, salads, and a whole slew of veggie accompaniments like roasted cauliflower, cheesy polenta, glazed carrots, sauteed artichokes and more.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: This low-key oyster bar continues to be a local’s favorite thanks to its commitment to service, and of course, freshness (a must for seafood lovers!)
Priscilla’s expert tip: Eat for a cause: Make sure to order the Oysters Frank or Oysters Rockefeller while you’re there as Mignonette has promised to donate $1 for every order of these to the general Black Lives Matter fund each month.
Makoto is one of the top Asian restaurants in the area, located in the ritzy Bal Harbour Shops. This modern Japanese spot is the dream-child of James Beard semifinalist Stephen Starr and Iron Chef competitor Makoto Okuwa. Chef Okuwa has over twenty years of experience and was once head chef at Morimoto New York and Philadelphia. You’ll find plenty to write home about at Makoto’s, including traditional and contemporary Japanese flavors enjoyed in a chic-yet-casual ambiance. Opt to dine in the elegant, wood-heavy dining room or enjoy sitting in the lush, green outdoor patio area. You can also grab a quick cocktail at the lively bar.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: James Beard Award-winning Chef Makoto Okuwa maintains one of the most impressive restaurants in town that’s become a must for locals and visitors alike.
Priscilla’s expert tip: If you’ve got a date, try the Chef’s combination sushi platter. You’ll enjoy a number of robust flavors and probably even take home some leftovers.