Living in Florida, we probably do not address things to do in the state enough. We are typically leaving here to visit some near or far off place and typically report on where we are going or where we have been. But there are some great places to go in Florida including Miami. A fun city, there are some great places to eat.
With near beautiful weather almost year-round, there’s a reason why Florida and Miami are big vacation destinations in the U.S. The city is one of the biggest in the state and is sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Everglades on the other. Miami’s geographic position and history absolutely play into the culinary vibe found around the city. Before the arrival of the railroad, the food here was mostly restricted, and fishing and cultivating crops were the primary food source. By the 1920s and the arrival of the railroad, the city expanded bringing in new arrivals from elsewhere along with the ability to move tropical produce and fish in and out of the state more efficiently and with a lower risk of food rotting. On top of this, it is important to pay attention to Miami’s position on the coast. With the Caribbean and Cuba only being a short boat ride away, the food scene leans a lot towards the Caribbean and tropical dishes both because of its proximity and because of the city’s population of Caribbean immigrants.
The Miami of the current era is vast, very vast when it comes to cuisine and cooking. The landscape of the city changed in the 1980s and with it came even more dining options. Heralded as “New World Cuisine ”, you’d be hard-pressed to find something here you wouldn’t like. The food in Miami runs the gamut of just about everything and while people might consider places like New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles to be America’s best foodie cities, Miami needs to also be considered due to its incredible diversity in international flavors and local specialties. If you find yourself looking to check out the best of Miami’s food scenes, check out these best places to eat in Miami.
The Surf Club Restaurant
The Surf Club Restaurant is a taste of old Miami. Pulling up to the restaurant, you’ll immediately notice and feel like you’re somewhere back in time. The building is reminiscent of 1950s Miami and the entire property simply oozes that charm. Started by Thomas Keller, the menu takes the style of old Miami and along with new and flavorful European sensibilities. Oysters Rockefeller and hand-chopped beef tartare with a side of Caesar Salad harken back 1950s-era menus while modern takes on Fettucini Alfredo with black truffle or veal parmesan with buffalo mozzarella are also delicious options. Top it all off with a cocktail or select a wine paired with your meal from their extensive list of European wines.
Located in a beautiful oceanfront location on Brickell Key, La Mar brings the flavors of the sea straight to your plate. La Mar is a great example of Miami cuisine with flavors and ingredients straight from the sea, while also incorporating South American flair (in this case Peruvian) intended for a modern palate. Headed by Diego Oka, seasonality dictates the menu here with dishes like tiradito bachiche which is a snapper delicately dressed in parmesan cheese. If seafood isn’t doing it for you, the chicha morada brisket is blow-braised beef seasoned with traditional Peruvian spices. This upscale Peruvian spot is one of the best in the area but be prepared to spend a pretty penny, but with the pretty view to go along with the amazing food, it is certainly worth it.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro
Before the Design District was the hotspot it is today, it was a little more of a low-key Miami neighborhood. In 2009, owners Ahmet Erkaya and Anastasia Koutsioukis came across this little bungalow in the area and it reminded them of the little houses and tavernas found along the Aegean coast and it inspired them to open a restaurant representing the very food from there. With a little love and attention to detail, they turned the bungalow into a Greek and Turkish-inspired spot that won’t break the bank. The menu here is divided into sections with mezes, salads, sandwiches, mains, and sides so you can indulge in a little afternoon snack, or bring along some friends for a dinner platter. Mandolin Aegean Bistro leans on a familial vibe and their outdoor seating and free WiFi means that you can come here, order a few plates, and simply just relax and enjoy a night out without feeling you’ll be rushed out after dinner. Finally, it wouldn’t be a taverna-inspired restaurant without the drinks. The wine list is long with a huge selection of great whites, rosés, and sparkling varieties. Or if you’re in the sharing mood, order up a house-made sangria.
No doubt the restaurant is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek name but the word “Phuc” in Vietnamese actually means “blessings” and “prosperity” so you’ll be blessed by the flavors when you eat here. Phuc Yea is one of the restaurants that’s credited with the resurgence of the MiMo district and since they established a permanent location after starting as a pop-up, Phuc Yea has been serving some amazing fusion-inspired dishes. Inspired by the flavors of the Mekong and Louisiana, Phuc Yea brings Cajun and Viet fusion into all their plates. The industrial vibe of the dining space leads to the down-to-earth feeling of the food here. Things like Viet-Cajun fried chicken, Pho with smoked short rib and jalapenos, or crispy pork masitas are familiar dishes and flavors with unique spins.
Move over New York because Miami’s in the bagel game now. Another restaurant that started simply as a pop-up spot has now a brick-and-mortar location because it got so popular. It’s no doubt that Miami’s a party city and party-goers waking up from a night of excessive drinking flocked to this bagel location to grab a quick bagel to cure the hangover, and since then, El Bagel has had a loyal following. The quick and cheap counter service offers hand-rolled bagels with shmears of cream cheese or more filling options such as thick-cut bacon and egg sandwiches. If you’re looking for a more “local” flavor the King Guava is served with guava marmalade, cream cheese, potato stix, and a fried egg. They also have a selection of coffees and drinks as well as some sweet options to go with it. El Bagel is the perfect place to go for a quick snack in the morning.
Cote Miami is East meets west meets Florida. It’s unique and delicious and will have you wanting more. Located in the Design District, Cote Miami is a splurge and worth every penny. Originally starting in New York, the Korean barbecue-inspired restaurant takes all the best elements of a New York steakhouse, the flavors of Korean barbecue, and the ambiance of a high-end Miami restaurant to bring you a unique experience. Cote Miami is a Michelin-starred joint with dishes that include 45-day aged dry beef that you can smell as soon as you walk in. Each table is outfitted with a bespoke, smokeless, charcoal grill where the staff cooks for you right in front of your eyes. If you’re new here, the “Butchers Feast” tasting menu is the best way to experience the very best of the menu in bite-sized increments.
Zak the Baker
What do you get when you combine one-part European patisserie with one-part Jewish Deli? You get Zak the Baker. People line up around the block to get the freshest leaves of bread and goodies from Zak the Baker with crusty sourdough loaves and deliciously sweet chocolate babkas topping the list of the best sellers here. But Zak the Baker is not only about the delicious bread and loaves, but the food counter with made-to-order dishes and plates also offers amazing fresh patisseries like croissants, varieties of coffee, and a host of deli options such as sandwiches, quiche-of-the-day, and homemade empanadas. The large floor-to-ceiling windows provide lots of light for the interior making it a great spot to bring a coffee date that won’t break the bank.
Ghee Indian Kitchen
Bringing a little taste of South Asian cuisine to Miami suburbs, Ghee Indian Kitchen is taking the Indian-style cuisine you know and love and kicking it up a notch. Owner Niven Patel centers his restaurant around homegrown produce and a homey feeling atmosphere. A lot of the food served here is locally sourced, much of which comes from Patel’s own homestead. The large dining room is a large and open space giving it a very airy and relaxed feeling. Standouts at Ghee Indian Kitchen include the vast selection of curry dishes, smoked lamb neck (which takes literal days to prepare), and the savory spicy cheddar naan (which comes with a spice warning!) Ghee Indian Kitchen also prides itself on a spot where a lot of Indian restaurants slack – its dessert option. The sticky date cake is a must-try, topped with ginger ice cream.
With a lot of restaurants in Brickell and Miami Beach charging top dollar because of the location, it’s nice to have some spots where you can pop in, grab a bite, and not have to take out a second mortgage to pay your bill. La Sandwicherie brings you the ease of grabbing a fast bite with the utmost care and savoir-faire of a Parisian bistro. When you arrive at La Sandwicherie, you won’t even know it, mostly because the restaurant is barely even a restaurant and more of a counter where you order a sandwich from. There’s a couple of seats outside which you can claim if you get lucky enough to grab one, but since La Sandwicherie has had a devoted following since 1988, you might need to stand. If you haven’t gathered by the name, La Sandwicherie is a French-inspired sandwich spot, serving gourmet sandwiches or freshly baked French baguettes or buttery, flaky fresh croissants. Whether you need a midday snack after coming from the beach or you need something to soak up the booze from the nearby bars, La Sandwicherie is open until 6 am on Friday and Saturday and their fresh juice and smoothie options will keep you hydrated, energized, and revitalized in the heat of the afternoon sun, or the wee hours of the morning.
Ancient Chinese spices and recipes meet vibrant modern pop-art and colorful motifs at Hutong Miami. For some great dim sum and even better people watching, Hutong Miami brings the flavors of Northern China and Hong Kong right to your dinner table. Don’t sleep on the classics such as their Peking Duck, developed from a 100-year old recipe that was allegedly served to the Emperor. If you’re looking for something a little more unique and contemporary, indulge in their dumplings featuring ingredients like prawn and black truffle and even sparkling rosé.
Cafe La Trova
Cafe La Trova is the brainchild of a James Beard award-winning chef and a professional mixologist. Cafe La Trova is an ode to Miami’s Cuban culture and its location in Little Havana on Calle Ocho makes this a destination restaurant with tons of flair. Cafe La Trova is tons of fun and feels like taking a step back in time to 80s Miami with bartenders and waiters in bow ties and jackets, while 80s jams and Latin beats are played live in-house. The highlight here is all about the expertly crafted cocktails with 80s twists and plenty of rum. While the drinks here are amazing, you’re here for the food and Chef Michelle Bernstein delivers on the flavors. Paella croquettes and steak empanadas make for excellent tasters and finger food, while the catch of the day is served over mango-lime rice and browned butter. Or indulge in a skirt steak ropa vieja with avocado cream are main course staples that will have you drooling.
Our Final Word
Miami is a foodie’s paradise. I cannot think of one type of food that you cannot get. So next time you are in Miami, take a break from the beach and head to a new restaurant. Try something new. Tell us what places you like to go, and we will try to check them out.