Miami, Florida, where to eat out and be happy
Where to eat out in Miami, Florida? If you’re ready to travel to Florida this is probably one of the first questions you’ve tried to answer: the city is big but not impossible to visit, there are many places and in terms of food you’ll be spoiled for choice. So, how to choose where to eat in Miami without going to touristic places and, above all, without spending a fortune? I’ve put together some advices on places personally tried in Miami, dividing them by zones; it is not a guide on where to eat in Miami on a budget but where to eat in Miami spending a fortune only if under the offer. Small note: usually in the United States, and Miami is no exception, you can spend less during the so-called Early Bird, usually from 5pm to 7pm, where you get to spend even half. Lunches are always cheaper than dinner and also require less “formal attire”.
How to choose what to do and where to eat in Miami
The road plan in Miami, traffic net, is pretty simple: wide roads, bridges, visible signs and possibility to reach every part of the city in about 30 minutes (in Los Angeles you can also take 2 hours to get from one side to ‘ the other, just to say!) so you can easily move and plan a coherent and stress-free visit. Before diving into the greedy hand, here is the official map of Greater Miami and The Beaches to give you an idea of the city and figure out how to get organized to best plan your visits to neighboring districts on the same day and start from breakfast to dinner in a structured way. You can click on the map to enlarge and even print it, if necessary.
Apart from the map, I also recommend a travel guide to have information about attractions and even of history and culture at your hand; I personally have used the Lonely Planet and the National Geographic ones.
Eating in South Beach – Miami Beach
South Beach is not exactly the best place to go to eat, in my opinion. It’s such a touristic place that even the food and wine is adequate to the answer with prices often far higher than average and a quality that is in short supply, under several points of view. Move to the end of Ocean Drive, in the so-called South of Fifth (SOFI), ranging from the Fifth to more or less the first road in the opposite direction from Ocean Drive and includes an area of elegant buildings, discreet and luxurious hotels and beaches frequented only by the locals, especially surfers; among the must-see things in the area, as well as the walk on the road or on the beach to see the famous colored rescue towers (many of which are inaccessible except from afar, as reported by a tape that surrounds them… so be careful!) South Pointe Pier at sunset (despite the presence of many / too many cruise ships that often spoil the view).
In the SOFI quartier, try the food at the Local House in the stylishSense Beach House Hotel. A mix of flavors ranging from Italy (the owner of Sense is Italian) to Spain to Peru for a different cuisine from all that you can find in Ocean Drive area: try the cheese croquettes and since brunch is their specialties, do not miss the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict to accompany one of the many Italian wines on the list.
Also in the area you should you should also try Joe’s Stone Crab in Washington Avenue, a very well known place where you will eat very well, despite the prices won’t be exactly cheap.
Let’s debunk another myth: the coconuts that you see photographed everywhere, filled with water or coconut milk and brought to the beach, are everything but poor quality wise; if I were you, I’d look to taste a coconut filled with milk in another Miami neighborhood.
Eating out in Coral Gables
Coral Gables is not a famous district among the tourists but it’s a neighborhood that I recommend everyone to see to discover a different soul of Miami: next to the Venetian and Spanish houses, trees where the Santeria is still practiced today and an whole area completely voted to good eating and good drinking.
Do not miss the brunch at The Biltmore Hotel which is served every Sunday and includes sweet, savory and champagne, or, again at The Biltmore, the afternoon tea served in the first floor room or also one of the restaurants in the building; I personally recommend Cascade and 19th Hole overlooking the pool and with a la carte menu which is casual and very accessible to everyone.
In the same area, The Local Craft Food & Drink is a great place where to eat something but also for a drink after dinner with its choice of craft beers and cocktails and a huge counter where making friends is a must.
If you are looking for sweets, do not miss the donuts at Honeybee Doughnuts (we are already down to South Beach / Coconut Grove but it is close to Coral Gables), knead by hand and with a long rising.
Excellent choice of places where to eat and drink on the Miracle Mile, just a walk and there is really spoiled for choice.
Eating in Coconut Grove
Coconut Grove has always been considered a bohemian quarter and this is also reflected in the premises where to eat and drink that often also have sea views. Greenstreet Café fully reflects the Coconut Grove lifestyle: a relaxed place to eat from morning to early afternoon, classic American dishes including pancakes (stratospheric the cinnamon roll pancakes), bagels and more.
LoKal is famous for its beers and also to taste the burgers and the alligator meat (a must to taste!) while it’s all about Mexican classic, cooked in an excellent way, El Taquito; I finally point out Grove Bay Grill overlooking the bay of Miami and where you can relax while eating fish dishes.
My advice if you are in Coconut Grove is to explore the area by feet, starting from McFarlane Road and moving along South Bayshore Road to find cool places where to eat and drink in abundance.
Where to eat in Key Biscayne
Key Biscayne is a real experience, and if we add the food part a visit to this part of the city (actually a separate island linked to Miami by a bridge) is more than worth. After a visit to the Bigg Baggs Cape Florida State Park and its beautiful lighthouse overlooking the Ocean, try the beautiful and original Oasis Sandwich Shop from Cuba: empanadas, sugar cane juice, Cuban sandwiches and much more in this unpretentious place, with no tourists around and with tables outside in contact with the geckos.
Treat yourself to a taste of Peru at El Gran Inka while if you want some pizza I suggest Puntino Key Biscayne; a must even just for a coffee is Donut Gallery Diner open from dawn till after lunch with its American breakfast and giant sandwiches filled with everything possible.
Eating out in Little Havana
Little Havana is the place born as a result of the immigrants from Cuba landing in Florida in the early sixties and today it is a bastion of history and tradition where the food really has a lot of importance. A great way to test Cuban food, hear stories and experience the best of Little Havana, is a food and wine tour with the guys of Miami Culinary Tours: about 3 hours, during which you’ll taste everything and in some of the best places in the area (including the great Ball and Chain, known for its mojitos) and even in places where tourists do not come. Three hours to fill your belly with food and the beautiful stories.
A curiosity: in Little Havana you will see the only McDonald’s where you can find theCuban café con leche.
Eating in Wynwood
The Wynwood neighborhood is known for its graffiti born from a 2009 project created to redevelop the area and now all the walls, whether private or public, are covered with beautiful graffiti that make it one of the most beautiful areas of Miami. Alongside the graffiti, the textile and art industry have developed leading to the emergence of craft breweries and places to eat and drink in a conscious way.
Among the many, I suggest you pay a visit to Mister Block Cafe where not only the coffee is great but the selection of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan is really amazing and even to Dr Smood specializing in organic and raw food; do not miss a stop at the Wynwood Brewing Company, local company that produces craft beers that can be sample on site.
In the Wynwood area it is also visit one of the best places to eat donuts in Miami (and throughout the United States): The Salty Donuts. The choice is equally divided between seasonal and evergreen donuts served with a coffee or a drink.
Eating in Brickell and Downtown
One of the emerging areas of Miami, Brickell is enclosed between Downtown and Wynwood and if during the day it seems unattractive because of the high rises and the traffic, in the evening it changes completelt and becomes a true gastronomic mecca not to be missed if you are in search of good food. SuViche is the perfect place where to eat real Peruvian food but if you’re looking for some good meat then try The Capital Grille.
I also suggest you to visit The River Seafood Oyster Bar and Truluck’s, both specialized in fish.
My advice: find a car park (quite hard but you can do it!), explore the area by feet, starting from Brickell Avenue and carved out a nightly visit to the Brickell City Centre to watch the city from a different and spectacular views. With the Metromover, you can move free in the midst of the skyscrapers of Downtown and Brickell then stop and drink something at the Blackbird Ordinary or at the The Corner.
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At this stage I only have to tell you … bon voyage!
[Pics by Giuseppe. The trip to Miami has been sponsored by VisitMiami on whose website you can find all the information you need to plan your trip and choose among the wide array of activities to suit your preferences. Thanks to the amazing The Biltmore Hotel of which we’ve been guests [more to come on that. Their brunch is just WOW!] All the information and experiences during the trip are not influenced in any way by the partnership with the Board]