An Eater’s Guide to Miami

Unofficial, highly opinionated information about the Magic City.


Miami is a city of contrasts. It’s a sun-baked concrete jungle with swaying palm trees, towering skyscrapers, and enviable beaches. It’s also a melting pot of cultures, with a vibrant restaurant scene that reflects its diverse population, with locals showcasing their backgrounds in the meals they create, adding a layer of depth and history to our cuisine that is hard to find elsewhere.

The culinary offerings in South Florida are as diverse as its inhabitants — from Cuban food to Peruvian ceviche to Japanese sushi, Miami has something for everyone. And with our warm weather year-round, there’s no wrong time to visit. Use this guide to find the places that matter the most in Miami.

Welcome to the Melting Pot

It’s hard to deny the Latin American and Caribbean influences found throughout the city. Cuban flavors reign supreme, but influences from all over are making their presence known in the best of ways. Think delicacies from everywhere, from South America to the islands of Haiti and Puerto Rico. The flavor combinations are as refreshing and as vibrant as the city itself.

For a quick Miami culinary snapshot, don’t miss the stone crabs (and sides) at Joe’s Stone Crab, a frita at El Rey de las Fritas, any of the bread or baked goods at Zak the Baker, croquetas from Islas Canarias, and a milkshake from Robert is Here.


Where to Start on Eater Miami’s Best Maps

There is a cornucopia of maps on Eater Miami, detailing everywhere to eat and drink in the Magic City. Below are the top destinations on the site’s most popular maps to help time-starved eaters prioritize which spots to visit.

Hot Restaurant:

Miami loves a good New York City import; newcomer Pastis proves this point. The latest Stephen Starr restaurant is just as popular as its West Village counterpart, serving rustic yet chic French fare. Another French import, Bouchon Bistro from none other than Thomas Keller, is also making waves. If food halls are your thing, Downtown Miami’s behemoth, multi-floor Julia & Henry’s, with more than 25 stalls, has people lining up around the block every weekend to try its range of offerings. For a full breakdown of Miami’s hottest restaurants, updated monthly, check out the Eater Miami Heatmap.

Essential Restaurant: No restaurant on the Eater 38 will disappoint, but when trying to narrow the list, here are some suggestions: the tasting menu at Stubborn Seed, created by a Top Chef winner, is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. Or stop by for a meal at Boia De, tucked away in an unassuming strip mall; it serves up some of the most creative dishes in the Magic City. Local Isreali-Meditterean concept Motek is popping up with gorgeous locations throughout the city, including in Aventura, Downtown Miami, Coral Gables, and Brickell, serving up some of the best hummus and chicken schnitzel in South Florida.

Bar: Miami’s nightlife is known worldwide for a reason. Mainstays like the Broken Shaker and Sweet Liberty are still worth a visit. Late-night hotspots like The CornerMama Tried, and Swizzle are open until 5 a.m. or later most evenings, serving solid cocktails with a side of debauchery. Check out all the essential bars in Miami here while you can find the hot newcomers here.

Brunch: Miami’s all about the brunch life. For something laidback, Blue Collar’s weekend brunch offers well-priced hearty classics, while Threefold Cafe features sweet and simple Aussie-influenced fare that locals love. Looking for a more luxe experience? Brickell’s chic Chinese import, Hutong Miami, offers a high-end dim sum brunch with free-flowing cocktails to boot. For the best brunch newcomers in the city, and there are always many, check out the brunch heatmap here.

Iconic: Miami embraces nostalgia, and the city’s most iconic dishes are iconic for a reason. Longstanding classics are still some of the best places in the city fish sandwich pros La Camaronera, old-school Cuban diner Rio Cristal, and barbecue staple Shorty’s.

Daniel Zalkus


Waterfront: Let’s face it: Miami’s got some killer views, and plenty of restaurants in this city have them. Smith & Wollensky, Michael Schwartz’s Amara at Paraiso, and Rusty Pelican have the most beat. Find the complete list here.

Pizza: Stanzione 87 and Lucali are the standouts on the pizza map. For a quick bite with many flavors, Casola’sFrankie’s, and Steve’s Pizza serve up delicious, classic pies that will satisfy any pizza craving. Check out the best pizza spots in Miami here.


Miami Neighborhoods to Know

Miami’s so much more than the beach nowadays. And while the beach is still worth a culinary visit, neighborhoods off the beach and into the mainland have been booming with delicious activity.


This unique artsy neighborhood is on everyone’s radar. While exploring the graffiti-filled walls, grab a freshly made pastry at Zak the Baker, a cup of coffee at the original Panther Coffee, a Cuban sandwich at Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop, a slice of pie at Fireman Derek’s or a doughnut at The Salty. Choose chic French brasserie Pastis or Doya for a heartier meal, serving shareable Mediterranean dishes perfect for a big group. Asian cuisine is now dominating the neighborhood with options for pristine sushi from UchiHidenOMAKAIB-Side, or Hiyakawa; ramen from Iron Chef Morimoto’s Momosan; a variety of fare from the Wynwood’s Asian food hall, 1-800-LUCKY or outdoor food hall and entertainment spot Oasis; Keep up with the most exciting new restaurants in the neighborhood with this map.

Sunset Harbour:

After falling prey to the tourism gods in the 2000s, Miami Beach has pockets of new areas created by locals and tourists alike. Sunset Harbour started the locals-friendly trend thanks to the Spanish tapas restaurant Barceloneta alongside NYC import Lucali, whose Miami pies are just as good as its Big Apple counterpart’s. Sunset Harbour also serves as a breakfast hub with True Loaf BakeryPanther Coffee, and Icebox Cafe, featuring Oprah-loved cakes, all solid choices in the neighborhood.

yellow and orange striped lifeguard area overlooking a beach
South Beach in all its glory
Alexander Demyanenko/Shutterstock


South Beach:

Yes, there are tourist traps aplenty in the neighborhood that started it all. Do yourself a favor and avoid restaurants on Ocean Drive, which will charge about double for mediocre food and sugary drinks. Instead, locally-owned and operated restaurants are the way to go. For a quick bite, sandwich masters La Sandwicherie won’t disappoint and stay open well into the night. For a sit-down experience, check out pasta kings Macchialina, chic Greek spot Milos, much buzzed about Carbone or HaSalon by Major Food Group, or opt for a cocktail and Mexican fare at Serena’s rooftop patio. If wandering South of Fifth and wary of the wait at Joe’s Stone Crab, the laid-back ceviche shack My Ceviche will satisfy a craving for stone crabs and ceviche. Find all of the top picks in South Beach here.


Coconut Grove:

This is probably Miami’s fastest-growing culinary neighborhood. The area was overrun with chain restaurants for years, but the tides have turned with plenty of local restauranteurs popping up all over the ‘hood. Local favorites include Michelin-starred Ariete, serving high-end American fare with a Cuban twist, and Los Felix, a Mexico City-inspired restaurant have brought plenty of attention to the area. Breakfast is a favorite meal of the neighborhood with options like New York-style outpost Sadelle’s, Cuban diner Chug’s, and brunch go-to Greenstreet Cafe. But plenty of tried-and-true staples remain, like, intimate French brasserie Le Bouchon du Grove and perfect lunch spot Jaguar Ceviche. If in a rush, go for the al pastor tacos at El Taquito or the red curry at Asian Thai Kitchen, hidden inside a local Kwik Stop. And don’t forget to grab a waterfront drink at Monty’s or Regatta Grove, both equipped with excellent marina views. You can find a comprehensive guide here.

road with a bright ice cream decorated building
Azucar ice cream shop in Little Havana 
Naomi tamar/Unsplash


Little Havana:

This is the epicenter of Cuban cuisine in Miami, where many Miami-adopted specialties can be found. The most famous Cuban eatery is Versailles, with a Cuban sandwich that is still one of the best in town, but if you are in the market for a more modern take on the classic sandwich, stop at Sanguich de Miami. Spending a day eating and drinking a path through the area is easy. Start with a frita at El Rey, then grab some tongue tacos at Viva Mexico, and finish on a sweet note at Azucar Ice Cream with a cup of its famous Abuela Maria ice cream. Then end it all with a nightcap at a “hidden” cocktail bar on top of Taquerias el Mexicano, Los Altos, or, with an expertly poured Cuban cocktail at Cafe La Trova. Check out the comprehensive guide here.


Downtown Miami + Brickell:

In the land of banks and steakhouses, plenty of unique meals remain to be had. For those enjoying an expense account dinner, perpetual sushi hot spot Zuma and Peruvian mecca La Mar will impress the bosses, while LPM’s chic Mediterranean flare is perfect for date night. For a more low-key option, the gazpacho at the modern Spanish restaurant NIU is always a winner, or check out the vibrant Vietnamese flavors at cozy Tam Tam. Finish the day off with a drink at popular rooftop Sugar or one of the area’s watering holes like American Southwest-influenced drinking den Lost Boy, oenophile hub Margot, hip hangout Over Under, or local favorite Jaguar Sun. For a comprehensive guide to dining in Downtown Miami, visit here, and for your guide on Brickell dining, visit here.


Reservations to Make in Advance

Yellow two story building with greenery edge Prime 112/Facebook

CarboneCoteUchiNAOEPrime 112Boia DeMandolinSadelle’s. But, unlike other major metropolitan cities, Miami is very much a last-minute town — meaning with even some light planning ahead, you’re likely to score a restaurant reservation anywhere you desire.

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