So, you just moved to Miami. Maybe it was for work, or love, or a tax loophole. Regardless, you’re here now. Welcome. This guide is for you. It’s not necessarily a list of the best restaurants in Miami, but it has a bunch of places that speak to Miami’s personality and varied cultural influences. These restaurants are broken up by neighborhood and scattered around different parts of The City of Miami - which is not to be confused with Miami-Dade County, a place you should also make an effort to explore once you can figure out how to drive on I-95 without having a panic attack.
We have more guides you should check out too, like our Hit List, which has Miami’s best new restaurants, and our Greatest Hits, which is our guide to Miami’s most quintessential restaurants. Hopefully, this helps you begin to wrap your head (and stomach) around the sunny enigma that is Miami. And, yes, those roosters are supposed to be here. They were here before you, so show some respect.
Allapattah is a neighborhood full of auto shops, warehouses, and a large percentage of Miami’s Dominican population. It’s sandwiched between Wynwood and Little Havana and is, like so much of Miami, changing fast and facing some pretty serious threats of gentrification. Thankfully Plaza Seafood has remained pretty much the same since 1980. The seafood market/restaurant has outdoor seating, where you’ll almost always find a crowd of people eating excellent fried shrimp, fish, ceviche, and more of the great seafood that comes with living next to an ocean. Get a side of the “pink sauce,” which is the best - and probably only - thing you can buy for 50 cents in Miami anymore.
Brickell is a neighborhood that’s both old and new, like the Star Wars franchise or a re-seasoned cast iron skillet. It was where the earliest inhabitants of Miami, the Tequesta Native Americans, lived. Today, its rapidly growing number of inhabitants are mostly 20 and 30-something business people who are always “down” to “crush” a bottomless brunch. It’s hard to find a building here that wasn’t built five minutes ago, but one of the few old Brickell holdovers happens to also be one of the neighborhood’s best restaurants. River Oyster Bar has been around since 2003 (that’s pretty old in Brickell years) and while they recently moved into a new space, this place is still a reliable pick for a great seafood dinner. Start with the scallop crudo and have your Headspace app at the ready if you’re coming here during rush hour.
One time I was in Coconut Grove and saw a man jogging in sandals and I thought, “Now that’s Coconut Grove.” If he would have been walking two dogs while being chased by a peacock, that really would have been Coconut Grove. This neighborhood used to be a very Bohemian kind of place, full of Miami hippies doing whatever the equivalent of “vibing” was back then, presumably something involving hacky sacks. A.C.’s Icees is one of the last remaining bits of that Coconut Grove. The food truck has been run by longtime Grove resident Allan Cohen since 1978, and serves the hands-down best frozen lemonade in Miami. There is truly nothing better on one of our many obnoxiously hot summer days. Order a large frozen lemonade (maybe a hotdog too), walk through the Grove, pet some dogs, and you might just be jogging here in sandals soon too.
Alright, before the geography police show up and haul me away, it’s worth noting that La Palma isn’t technically in Coral Gables - it’s in West Miami. However, it’s, like, three blocks away from the official Gables border, and that’s walking distance even for Miamians. This place is significant for a couple of reasons. First, it’s one of the few places in town serving the disco volador, a delicious little UFO-shaped sandwich you’ll only find in Miami. This place is also home to another Miami tradition: churros and hot chocolate, which folks will wait hours for during a cold front to order. You’ll quickly learn that Miami has some odd reactions to cold weather, including but not limited to frozen iguanas.
Is the Design District a must-see destination? Not unless you’re really into astronomically expensive retail stores. However, Itamae is a must. The restaurant is the best example of Nikkei (a blend of Peruvian and Japanese) food in Miami. Peruvian cuisine is a pretty big thing in Miami, and you’ll understand why approximately .01 seconds into your first bite of any of the ceviches and tiraditos here.
Downtown Miami is another area that’s changing quicker than a barracuda on cocaine (which, shockingly, is not the official mascot of Miami). But Garcia’s is old school in all our favorite ways: it’s mostly made of wood, has a loyal army of regulars, and basically serves everything that swims in the Atlantic. It’s a great place to drink beer, eat oysters, and watch sketchy boats weave through the Miami River. The Garcia family has been moving Miami seafood since 1966, and we sincerely hope they stick around for another 50 years.
If you’re in a neighborhood that starts with “Little” followed by a country name, chances are there’s going to be some good food from that place around. Little Haiti (which actually isn’t so little at all) is no different. Whether you’re looking for an intro to Haitian food or happen to already be a big fan, I like Piman Bouk. More specifically, I like their griot, a Haitian dish of fried pork chunks. Also good here: fried goat, oxtail, and stewed pork. Sweat Records and Churchill’s, two staples of the Miami music scene, are also just down the street if that interests you.
You’re probably aware that South American, Cuban, and various forms of Latin food are big in Miami. But it’d be a tragic loss if you overlooked our Caribbean options. One of my favorites is Clive’s, a fantastic Jamaican restaurant in Little Haiti. They serve some of the best jerk chicken, curry goat, and oxtail in town. I personally consider a plate of their jerk chicken, mac and cheese, and plantains to be one of the greatest orders in Miami.
Despite having some great Thai and taco options, Cuban food still reigns supreme in Little Havana. And Versailles is easily the most famous Cuban restaurant in North America. But unlike so many “famous” restaurants, it’s not a tourist trap. It’s not an excuse to sell T-shirts or overcharge tourists, but is actually a good, functioning Cuban restaurant plenty of locals still really love. So if you’re new in town, a trip to Versailles is essential. It’s a big menu - but if it’s your first time here, go with one of the classics, like arroz con pollo, imperial rice, or vaca frita. Also, get some fufú con masitas on the table and a mojito or two.
The frita - at least a proper one - is something you’ll really only find in Miami, like Alonzo Mourning or drunk celebrities on jet skis. And my favorite version comes from El Rey De Las Fritas. The frita is often described as a Cuban hamburger, but that doesn’t really do it justice. The combination of spiced beef, potato sticks, and Cuban bread is more like a crunchy, salty, uppercut from a cow wearing a guayabera.
While we’re talking Cuban food, we might as well steer you to the home of the best Cuban sandwich in Miami. If you’re new to the Cuban sandwich, eating here is going to be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you’ll taste the best Cuban sandwich in the world. On the other, you’ll spend the rest of your days comparing every Cuban sandwich you eat to this one, and none of them will come close.
Ever heard of a fritanga? It’s what folks call a restaurant serving Nicaraguan food, and they’re quite the thing here in Miami. There are lots of good ones, but I’m partial to Yambo for a couple of reasons. First, the food is good. They’ve got a solid carne aside, salpicón, and big hunks of fried cheese. But also, just look at this place. Isn’t it magical? It looks like a carnival, a rodeo, and a church had a baby - and every millimeter of wall space inside is covered in various knickknacks. It’s also open 24/7, so there’s truly no excuse for not paying Yambo a visit.
MiMo is a delightful and charming neighborhood that showcases some impressive architectural conservation, and back in the ’50s, it’s where all of our grandparents stayed at. This strip of Biscayne Boulevard from 50th to 77th St. was packed with motels and hotels, most of which look more or less the same today. Blue Collar is a restaurant inside one of those hotels, and it’s also one of the best restaurants in Miami. A lot of people will say something like, “Everything is good here,” when talking about a restaurant. But at Blue Collar, everything actually is good - and most of it is great. They have one of the best cheeseburgers in town, excellent veggie sides, and a spicy oxtail worth eating regardless of how hot it is outside.
Sure, you could spend way too much money at a sceney restaurant that has one of those dumb names like Elixir or The Horny Tortilla. But one of the best things to eat in South Beach also happens to be one of the most casual. La Sandwicherie is an outdoor sandwich stand that serves big, bready sandwiches on baguettes or croissants. I love it here because the sandwiches are great, but also because it happens to be across the street from Miami’s (and the world’s) greatest dive bar, Mac’s Club Deuce. If I’m ever missing, look for me wandering between these two places, with La Sandwicherie’s fantastic vinaigrette all over the front of my shirt.
Joe’s is the oldest restaurant in South Beach. It’s been there for over 100 years, and that alone earns it a ton of respect, even though I think eating here is kind of a pain in the ass on account of the whole no reservations, three-hour wait time thing. Still, Joe’s should be experienced. And if you too don’t feel like waiting three hours for a table, just go next door to Joe’s Take Away for pretty much the same food without the wait. Take it across the street to South Pointe Park for a picnic and an incredible view that doesn’t require slipping a maître d’ $40.
Jackson Soul Food is a restaurant with deep roots in the Overtown community, a historically black neighborhood just west of Downtown Miami. Overtown has a complicated past, full of highs and lows. And it’s a history that’s essential reading for any Miami resident. You can feel a bit of the neighborhood’s past inside Jackson Soul Food, while also enjoying one of the best soul food meals in the city. Just be sure to get at least one order of the fried catfish.
My first job in Miami was in Wynwood, in 2013. The neighborhood wasn’t quite as developed as it is now - but it was getting there. Back then, Wynwood didn’t have a ton of food options, but I remember many of my coworkers walking over to Panther to buy ready-made sandwiches from this dude who called himself Zak the Baker. I thought he sounded like a medieval character, but I also had to admit the sandwiches were great. Flash forward to today and the “arts district” known as Wynwood is now basically a caricature of overdevelopment and gentrification. Still, one undeniably good thing about the neighborhood remains: Zak the Baker. He has his own bakery now, and it still pumps out incredible sandwiches along with an assortment of the best baked goods in Miami.