2727 Indian Creek Drive
There’s nothing quite like 27 Restaurant & Bar at the Freehand hostel in Mid-Beach. The Freehand stands out among five-star luxury hotels as the best spot in town to chill by the pool with a craft cocktail from the house bar, the Broken Shaker. And the restaurant is just as much of a mold breaker. No glitz or glam here—rather, this historic two-story house, built by famed architect Russell Pancoast in the 1930s, has a homey feel and low-key vibe, with a mix of old tiles and wood and hipstery prints and patterns. The phenomenal menu melds Middle Eastern and Asian flavors with American and European dishes, such as yogurt-tahini kale and Florida middleneck clams with miso and lemongrass, and at the bar, it’s easy to indulge in citrus cocktails, strong takes on old favorites, and inventive drinks with specialty reductions.
221 Northwest 23rd Street
Alter is one of the most innovative eateries in Miami, with chef Bradley Kilgore bringing as much creativity to Wynwood as the graffiti-clad and mural-covered walls outside do. He has three tasting-course-only menus, and relies on Florida’s fresh produce, meat, and seafood to invent them. You’ll be dining on such unexpected dishes as snapper sashimi with feta, duck breast grilled over pine cones, and his signature, the soft egg, a creamy mixture of egg, sea scallop spume, and truffle pearls. The extensive wine list is from both global and artisanal wine growers.
1395 Brickell Ave, Miami, FL 33131, USA
This Brickell eatery on the 25th floor of the Conrad Miami has panoramic views of Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami. With its warm ambience, the sleek contemporary dining room is the perfect spot for a celebratory dinner or a romantic night out. Fortunately, the food can stand up to the view, with a menu of seafood and prime meats such as lobster salad with mango and avocado, and tender confit pork with roasted beets. The curated wine list leans heavily on New World vintages.
1220 16th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
When you first show up at Bodega, you could easily mistake it for a popular neighborhood taqueria. Between the Airstream trailer serving tacos and the picnic tables, it looks like a low-key spot. It is that, but as you see the Ubers full of models and clubgoers arriving and disappearing into the small taco joint, you get a sense there might be something more going on. Look around for a guy with an earpiece at the back of the room and tell him your friend sent you, and you might just get directed to a back door that looks like an entrance to a Porta Potti. Pass through here and you’ll enter a graffiti-filled men’s washroom. It’s only after passing through yet another door that you will enter one of South Beach’s hot hidden nightclubs. The mixologists have an extensive menu that relies heavily on “illegal” mezcal, and the DJ keeps the room pumping all through the night. It caters to a friendly, slightly older crowd and makes for a good introduction to the South Beach scene minus the cover charge and lineups that you’ll find at clubs closer to the beach.
165 NW 23rd St, Miami, FL 33127, USA
The Butcher Shop in Wynwood is a concept that blends retail, restaurant, and biergarten into a top-notch venue selling and serving quality meats, sausages, and burgers. They have the best craft beer selection in Miami, with 15 permanent taps, a rotating draft lift, and varying styles from IPA to saison to hefeweizen. Bar snacks range from German pretzels to Mongolian duck wings. This is a chance to enjoy a night out trying something new in a relaxed spot.
200 South Pointe Drive
Cibo Wine Bar is a contemporary take on an Italian winery, and presents 3,500 bottles of premium wines in a dramatic two-story wine room. The bar is located in South Beach’s South of Fifth area, and there is a second location in Coral Gables. Alongside selections from Tuscany and Piedmont, lesser-known vintages from Sicily, Umbria, Sardinia, Puglia, and many other provinces are available. Cibo is known for its “wine fairies,” who fly around the racks to select your bottle of choice.
1155 Brickell Bay Dr #101, Miami, FL 33131, USA
The indoor dining room and lounge and outdoor patios surrounded by greenery at this chic waterfront restaurant in Brickell are elegant, and pretty much every table has an paralleled view of downtown Miami and the bay. The menu is Italian-influenced and consistently good, and the service is always on point. Lighter dishes made with quinoa and vegetables are on offer, along with favorites such as fried chicken and beef short ribs.
11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
Everyone in these parts eagerly awaits the Florida stone crab season, which runs from October through May. As soon as it starts, they flock to Joe’s Stone Crab, a South Beach institution that’s been cracking the sweet crustaceans for more than 100 years. Tuxedo-clad waiters serve claws ranging from medium to colossal, best eaten with a side of mustard sauce (while wearing a bib). Joe’s tangy Key lime pie is the way to end your meal. While the crab, sold at market price, never comes cheap, the fried chicken is a steal at $6.95.
1111 Lincoln Road
Head out for an al fresco dinner when you eat at Juvia, a Japanese-Peruvian fusion hot spot located on the roof of a parking garage above Lincoln Road. The fun part is when you pull into the garage and go right up the elevator to your table. You’ll have panoramic views of South Beach and be away from the hustle and bustle of Lincoln Road from above, plus the living green wall planted with lush vegetation adds to the chill factor. On weekends, Juvia offers a bottomless mimosa option and the scene gets a little heavier.
3425 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137, USA
Get creative at Lagniappe, a homey New Orleans–style wine house with a backyard grill and live music every night. They don’t take reservations, so you’ll wait in line to order simple grilled fish or chicken or the cheese and charcuterie plates, and then head out to the garden oasis for twinkly lights and good vibes. The kitchen staff will cut up your cheese and meats and serve them with olives, bread, and jam for an additional fee (around $4). If it’s too hot, head indoors and sit in the comfy living room where jazz and blues bands perform nightly.
4108, 1440 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
Chef Laurent Tourondel’s LT Steak & Seafood, located inside the historic Betsy Hotel on Ocean Drive, is popular not just with hotel guests but locals as well, who stop in for an afterwork cocktail or a nice night out. The restaurant does what its name indicates, and the menu is evenly divided between prime cuts of porterhouse and rib eye and fresh seafood from local waters and elsewhere, as well as sushi, sashimi, and ceviche. At dinner, there is often live entertainment such as jazz in the conservatory or a performance by an opera singer.
4312 Northeast 2nd Avenue
A Turkish-Greek couple opened Mandolin Aegean Bistro near the Design District, bringing the colors and flavors of the Greek islands to Miami, from the blue-and-white decor to the grilled halloumi and manti dumplings. The outdoor dining area has deep-blue chairs, flowers, and softly lit lanterns, and the edible garden provides seasonal and fresh ingredients for mezes such as chard horta and pickled beets. If it’s on the menu, order the grilled octopus. A small cup of strong Greek coffee is the perfect end to the meal.
915 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
Miami is all about presentation. The heels are higher, the skirts are shorter, the portions are larger, and the drinks are works of art. Meat Market, in Miami Beach, is a steak house that could fool you into thinking it’s more of a nightclub than a restaurant. At the bar, an esteemed team of mixologists create handcrafted cocktails, including the Some Like It Hot: reposado tequila, raspberry, fresh lime juice, and jalapeño-infused agave nectar, served mild, medium, or hot. The menu features a variety of prime cut meats, fresh seafood, and innovative side dishes, and highlights include the super-size wedge salad, the roasted truffle oysters Rockefeller, the creamy lobster mashed potatoes, and the decadant Gouda Tater Tots. To share, try the Waygu beef tomahawk rib eye that weights a good 30 ounces. Bigger is better. That’s just how it goes in Miami.
30205 SW 217th Ave, Homestead, FL 33030, USA
The craft beer scene is here in South Florida with the opening of the Miami Brewing Company—the region’s first craft brewery—at Schnebly Redland’s Winery in Homestead. The family-owned operation uses the tropical fruits and flavors of South Florida to make flavorful flagship and seasonal beers, including Big Rod Coconut Blonde Ale, Miami Vice IPA, and Little Havana Cafe con Leche Milk Stout. Stop in at the brewery for a craft beer tasting or pick up a to-go growler.
1854 Bay Road
Sunset Harbour’s NaiYaRa is helmed by Thai chef Bee, as he’s known, whose previous credits include Nobu and Khong River House, and the restaurant is his ode to the northern Thai cuisine of his grandparents and where he spent summers learning to cook with his grandmother. The menu reflects this with dishes such as Chiang Rai sausage and khao soi (curry noodle soup). His crispy bok choy is something his mother would make for him as a snack when he was a small child. It’s flash fried with sweet sesame oil and topped with garlic chips. The decadent “U” toro tartare is otoro (tuna belly) mixed with wasabi, truffle paste, sesame seed oil, and honey-kimchee sauce, crowned with red caviar, gold flakes, black truffles, and lovely purple flowers.
15 SE 10th St, Miami, FL 33131, USA
In Miami’s trendy Mary Brickell Village, Perricone’s Marketplace & Cafe is the kind of place you can just relax in. The indoor/outdoor patio keeps you out of the blazing Florida sun but still provides a romantic ambience. To start, tear into baked Brie cheese wrapped in puff pastry dough brushed with drawn butter and powdered brown sugar. The top is then sprinkled with shaved almonds and sticky apricot jam. The melty cheese combined with the sweet sugar and jam is a perfect introduction to an unforgettable meal. Continue to the bruschetta bread basket, the lobster ravioli in a pink vodka sauce, and the lamb chops seasoned with rosemary and served perfectly pink atop a bed of couscous and steamed asparagus. Other highlights include the salmon in a lemon-butter sauce. For dessert, sample the house cake, a combination of chocolate and hazelnuts. As rich as a brownie, it’s the kind of dessert that you want to savor and pairs nicely with vanilla bean gelato. There’s an awesome Italian market in the lobby to stock up on pesto, seafood dip, and plenty of to-go truffles. Be sure to try the peanut butter teardrop.
2810, 788 Brickell Plaza, Miami, FL 33131, USA
Quinto La Huella is the second location of arguably Uruguay’s most famous and best restaurant, the Parador La Huella in the tiny resort town of José Ignacio. On the fifth floor of the East, Miami, hotel, the eatery uses a wood-fired parrilla (grill) and oven to cook nearly everything on the menu. The dining room is wrapped in wood, and the outside dining area is a garden oasis with leafy foliage, great music, and a homey vibe. The burrata, served with fresh figs, prosciutto, and walnuts, is a standout starter, and don’t forget to order smashed potatoes, which are served as they are in Uruguay: The potato is grilled over the fire and smashed right before serving, to retain the natural texture of the vegetable.
1222 16th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
If you want to travel back to the 1980s à la Stranger Things but still be able to order a drink, Ricky’s South Beach is the place to go. With air hockey, board games, and arcade games like the Terminator and Dance Dance Revolution, you can relive the unplugged past, or relive college days at the beer pong tables. The impressive whiskey collection is very adult, however, and bands and comedians perform on the large stage. Ricky’s also serves the no-frills bar food of your dreams: waffle mac ’n’ cheese, Korean frog’s legs, stacked chicken nachos, and funnel cakes.
1600 Lenox Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
Looking for some down-home comfort food with an upscale twist? Head to Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, named one of Bon Appétit’s 50 Best New Restaurants and whose fried chicken was declared the best in the South by Southern Living magazine. From start to finish, and despite the hefty servings, each course leaves you wanting just a taste more as they remove your plates. Fried green tomato BLT with tomato jam and house-made pimento cheese, Mama’s Chicken Biscuits with pepper jelly, and a heavenly pasta dish served with duck meatballs are a few of the highlights. Add to it the fun, lively vibe and it’s easy to see how this could quickly become a regular dining spot if you lived in South Beach.
270 Biscayne Blvd Way, Miami, FL 33131, USA
There are more than a dozen Zumas around the world, and Miami’s is located in the Kimpton Epic Hotel, in the up-and-coming River District. The eatery’s bright waterfront dining room, with views of yachts in the marina, is a top spot for brunch and dinner thanks to chef Rainer Becker’s menu of premium sushi, sashimi, and maki, as well as tempura and dishes from the robata grill. Among the highlights: the caterpillar maki (prawn tempura, freshwater eel, and an avocado roll) and the black cod in miso.