The restaurant and club scene in Miami Beach is hip, trendy and glamorous. Miami is a foodie city that has it all with cuisines from Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and one of my favorites, “Floribbean”. It may seem that lithe locals live on white powder and champagne but there is plenty to eat and drink in Miami Beach that doesn’t involve illegal or chemical substances
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It is dizzying to look at all the restaurant options here. I will point out the ones that are worth it with options for all budgets. Warning, Miami Beach is definitely overpriced compared to most cities. You need reservations almost everywhere during the high season and don’t you dare be more than 15 minutes late. At really hot restaurants, they may not seat you until the entire party arrives.
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The Bazaar by Jose Andres
This is a SPECTACLE! Andres is a world-renowned Spanish chef and this restaurant showcases his molecular gastronomy. My fave is his take on a Cuban Sandwich using “air bread” and swiss cheese foam. The croquetas served in a ceramic shoe are a delicious version of a Miami staple. It is small plates so you can share and therefore order many things.
Joe’s Stone Crab
This may be the most well-known and one of most long-standing restaurants in Miami Beach. Founded in 1913, it is older than the city of Miami Beach itself. They don’t take reservations so be prepared to wait. I know people go crazy for Stone Crab claws (a very expensive local delicacy) but I think they are over-rated and way too expensive. However, the other food here is very good. Their key lime pie is the best in the world and the recipe is available online. I have made it and it rocks. They have a take-away place now and I’ve been told their fried chicken is life-changing.
I am not a huge fan of steakhouses, except this one. I don’t go for the steak (but it IS good) but for the best lobster bisque and mac and cheese, I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot. You may wait even though you have a reservation because Lenny Kravitz could be there. Welcome to Miami.
(these are not cheap, but not “Miami-expensive” and most of all, totally worth it)
This was my absolute favorite when I lived here. I couldn’t get enough of this modern Middle Eastern fusion and the service was always great.
This rustic Italian eatery is my fave Italian restaurant IN THE ENTIRE CITY! The staff are friendly, the menu is creative and it will not break the bank. The short rib taleggio cheese lasagna is life changing. A 5-course chef’s tasting menu is only $59 which is an uber-deal in this city!
If you haven’t had Peruvian food, now is the time to try one of the best cuisines in the world. This is a great place to try it. The original restaurant is downtown and was so popular that they opened a 2nd location on the beach. I ALWAYS bring out of town guests here because as far as I’m concerned, everyone needs to try Peruvian food.
I have been a huge fan of this Spanish tapas place since the first week it opened and I have been so many times that I’m pretty sure I’ve tried the entire menu. The ambiance here is cozy. It’s casual, but just fancy enough to make you feel special.
Books and Books Cafe on Lincoln Road
One of my go-to places for lunch on a beautiful day outdoors. I love the fresh menu here. Bonus, it’s also a book store. Book nerds, unite!
The Matador Room at the Edition Hotel *
This is one of my faves because the food is incredible and the views of the ocean simply gorgeous. If you imagine a wispy beachy picture-perfect brunch with ocean and poolside views in Miami Beach, this place looks like that image. Add a wooden pergola with creeping bougainvillea and tropical plants. Oh and did I mention the chef is the world-renowned John-Georges Vongerichten? Minor detail. His food is a fusion of Latin and Caribbean cuisines with fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.
Cecconi’s at The Soho House
Admit it, you like the slightly uppity feeling you get at a member’s only club, such as the famed Soho House. Guess what, you can be a regular slob like the rest of us non-members to eat at Cecconi’s, which is a seriously pretty restaurant in a pergola covered garden. In non-breakfast times, this is an upscale Italian with delicious pizzas and pasta. Your Italian grandmother would definitely give a nod of approval.
Restaurant 27 *
Located at the Freehand Hotel/Hostel, this place has a fun inventive menu and fantastic cocktails. Have you ever heard of Shawarma Fried Chicken Benedict? Or how about Bacon Egg and Cheese Tacos? I don’t know what they are smoking to come up with this stuff but they need to keep smoking it! See the next section to read about the bar!
The Ice Box
This is a South Beach classic and has changed locations a few years ago to the newer Sunset Harbour area and offered locals what they needed…a bigger location. Impossibly popular, there is almost always a wait on a weekend morning but the biscuits are worth it.
Front Porch Cafe
Another local’s favorite on ocean drive, the food here is just good old breakfast food, done well. What more could you want?
Yard Bird *
This is a farm to table Southern food with a gorgeous interior that really doesn’t look like anything else in Miami. The Bourbon Bar is really fun as well offering flights of bourbon (in case you’ve always wanted to learn more) as well as a place to eat when you didn’t make a reservation but you NEED a pimento BLT. The bloody Mary’s are the best around and the other cocktails not too shabby. The fried chicken is the best I’ve ever had and you won’t be able to eat the rest of the day. And you won’t be angry about that. This is equally good for lunch or dinner or basically, anytime you need to eat something.
Katsuya at the SLS hotel
This restaurant has locations all over the world. You can’t help but feel like you’ve somehow made it in life the second you walk in. The design is SO Miami with Philippe Starck’s legendary influence. The food is fantastic as well but beware, it is a splurge!
Pubbelly Sushi *
Another one of my faves at a slightly more reasonable price then Katsuya for scrumptious sushi that is anything but average. You can get your regular rolls here but so much more like crispy rice with spicy tuna.
Not just a sushi place, this Thai inspired place has delectable rolls and so much more. It is super popular but if you can’t get a reservation, eating at the bar is really fun. The service is fantastic and the bartenders friendly as can be. Also the BRUNCH is to die for. Think Eggs Benedict with Red Curry Hollandaise or Black Sesame Pancakes. Add some bottomless beverages and I think I’ve sold it.
This one is much more budget friendly then the ones above but seriously always yummy. It’s on Lincoln Road which is always a great place for outdoor dining and people watching. The cocktails here are nothing to laugh at either. They have great happy hour food and drink specials but come early because it’s always full!
Suviche *Another more wallet-friendly place for sushi with a twist. This is a combination of Peruvian and Japanese. Yes that is a THING! You can have Peruvian classics here including ceviche, but also fun fusion rolls topped with Peruvian sauces.
This intimate little traditional French restaurant serves up unpretentious and delicious authentic Frnech food at ridiculously good prices for Miami.
La Laconda *
Humble little Italian restaurant with a great selection of homemade pastas and handsome Italian waiters.
Fratelli La Bufula *
This is the best pizza in Miami. The owners are from Naples and it’s the closest thing I’ve had to pizza from Naples outside of Naples. This pizza cannot be delivered because it is too delicate and perfect for delivery.
Really good Brooklyn style pizza. Not sure if I’ve ever had it sober, but I’m pretty sure it’s still good. This is great for delivery or late night munchies.
Spris (for Pizza)
This is on Lincoln Road and another great place for al fresco dining. They have my 2nd favorite pizza in town as the pasta dishes are pretty tasty. Yes, I DO know all the best pizza places everywhere I go. You’re welcome.
Go Go Fresh Food *
Fresh little local cafe that nobody seems to know about. They have fantastic salads (I don’t usually get excited over salads) and their empanadas will rock your world. They have at least 12 different kinds all with dough imported from Argentina!
Huahuas Taqueria *
Tacos! What more do you need to know? Ok, they are super creative extra good tacos. Like fried chicken with jalapeno cornbread crumbles or deep fried avocado. I wish I could have one right now. Make sure to ask for corn tortillas. The non-taco items on the menu are also delectable like the elote corn or the homemade paletas.
If you didn’t have a late night or hungover meal at Big Pink, did you even party in South Beach? This is a south beach ICON! The pink restaurant with the pink VW bug delivery cars has something for anyone. It is upscale diner food, late night food, breakfast food…it is all things to all people. It has the biggest and most diverse menu you’ve ever seen. There aren’t many places out there you can get a massive omelet full of crazy ingredients, waffles as good as cake, polenta fries, a Vietnamese wrap or homestyle Cuban favorites. Just sayin.
La Sandwicherie *
Think fresh-baked baguettes stuffed with high-quality French ingredients like camembert, rare roast beef, cornichons and a vinaigrette so good they sell bottles of it (which I happily bought and then bathed in). Even the chicken salad is something that borders on gourmet. I don’t know what magic is in it. Ask for extra cornichons and extra vinaigrette. You won’t be sorry.
On my most recent visit, I was very impressed with how far Miami Beach has come with vegan and vegetarian choices. It used to be a wasteland for anything healthy.
Planta will rock a non-vegan’s world with how good everything is. It isn’t cheap but fantastic and offers weekend brunches as well. Make a res!
This isn’t exclusively vegetarian but definitely, health-focused little cafe with tons of choices for both vegetarians and vegans.
Pura Vida *
This surf-themed place isn’t just for vegans, but has tons of healthy vegan and vegetarian options. Avocado toast, Acai Bowls, artisanal bagels, juices, and salads. You can definitely detox here after a crazy Miami Beach night.
Plant Theory Botanical Burger Cafe *
This teeny cafe is in the lobby of the adorable Whitelaw Hotel on Collins Ave. The Nachos Libre blew my mind and the entire menu looks like something I want to try!
Lilikoi Organic Living
This is like the others in that it mostly vegan, but has options for carnivores as well. They use organic locally grown products and the menu is awesome!
Greenlife Organic Bistro
Smoothie Bowls for dayzzzz. Enough said. Well maybe not. 90% of their ingredients are organic, local and seasonal. Even the tableware is made from potato starch and plates from sugar cane bagasse which is recyclable and compostable. Their furniture is either reclaimed, recycled or donated from local job sites. Pretty progressive for Miami Beach! Things they are a changin”!
In case you haven’t heard, Cuban coffee is a THING down here. It’s actually really good too. Almost any cafe or coffee shop will have the option cafe con leche on the menu. This is essentially Spanish for “latte” but sooo much better. Cuban coffee is really strong and typically served with hot sweet milk, sometimes even condensed milk. I learned early on how to say poquito azucar por favor (just a little sugar please!) Assume that it will be sweet! If you don’t want sugar, you must say so.
This is THE place for this famous Cuban coffee as well as other Cuban delights. If you don’t want all the milk you can ask for a colada (like espresso) or my personal favorite, a cortadito (colada with a teeny bit of milk). Overall these little coffees are collectively known as cafecito and 3:05 pm (also the area code of Miami) is official cafecito time.
This is great for coffee, breakfast, juices, smoothies, bagels, sandwiches and sweets. It has indoor and outdoor seating along West Avenue on the bayside of South Beach. It’s a local’s favorite.
Panther Coffee *
After the success of the original location in Wynwood, Miami Beach was thrilled to get their bigger shinier location. This place really is all about specialty craft coffee. They have some small bites and pastries but the coffee is definitely the star.
This is also a place to have cocktails, to have a light bite or to people watch! This outdoor Italian cafe on Lincoln Road is a SCENE! It attracts a glam European crowd and always has a great vibe.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t warn you of places to AVOID!
This place calls itself a Greek fish tavern. As someone who has been to Greece 3 times, I find this NOTHING like a cozy Greek fish tavern. This place is overpriced to the point where I felt ROBBED and the service doesn’t match the prices.
Pretentious and snotty with forgettable food. They actually refused entrance to my service pet. The only thing it has going for it is the views.
This is the worst reviewed restaurant on Yelp in Miami Beach. It gets tourist’s attention because The Colony was actually the backdrop for the famous Scarface scene where the dude gets chainsawed to death in a shower.
Again, this place is famous because the Gianni Versace ate here and was murdered soon after. The food is barely edible and like most Ocean Drive establishments, way overpriced.
Miami is famous for its club scene, but if starting your evening at midnight is not your thing, there are plenty of cool places to grab a cocktail and check out the social scene. Many Miami bars are in cool hotels and many restaurants double as a legit place just to have a drink.
High Tide Bar * For a laid-back sand in your feet kind of experience, check out the High Tide Bar at the Surfcomber Hotel. The craft cocktails here are great as well as the food. They offer live music, occasional movie screenings on a giant projection screen, and a beachy dress code.
Smith and Wollensky * Ok, not really a bar. It is a restaurant… a very good restaurant at that but I am a big fan of the outdoor bar on a Friday evening. Or Saturday. Or Sunday. Remember earlier I mentioned the cruise ships? This is a great place to sit and watch the cruise ships leave while having delicious food and cocktails.
Sweet Liberty Located in an up and coming part of the beach near the Bass Art Museum, this modern bar known for both creative cocktails and good food. They have happy hour and Sunday Brunch as well.
Regent Cocktail Club at the Gale Hotel This sophisticated art-deco themed joint evokes a 1940’s cocktail bar vibe. With dark leather furniture and mahogany walls this may be the closest thing Miami has to a speakeasy, although nobody will be arresting you for drinking too much here. It’s practically the law. They also have a beautiful rooftop bar.
Broken Shaker * The courtyard bar at the Freehand hostel has a delightfully casual atmosphere, almost like being in your neighbor’s backyard. An oasis of palm and banyan trees, they serve up some of the best cocktails in Miami made with herbal infusions grown in this very courtyard. They also have a pool table, tree lights and mismatched outdoor furniture, just like your crazy neighbor.
Cibo Wine Bar Sipping wine on a quiet rooftop more your speed? South Beach has that too. Along with food if you want it.
The Playwright Because sometimes you just need a cozy Irish Pub
Employees Only This bar came to Miami just a year ago after it’s NYC counterpart’s success. They have prohibition style drinks, upscale bar food and an in house psychic. Just because you may need to find out if that guy in the corner is your soul mate. Located in the Washington Park Hotel
Basement In the Edition Hotel, this club was developed by legendary Ian Schrager of Studio 54. There are super cool bowling lanes, an Ice Skating Rink and a night club. Bowling is $50 and includes a drink and shoe rentals (bring socks ladies). You can make reservations for bowling and the nightclub.
Mangos Tropical Cafe This is the opposite of a local’s place. This is tourist hell or heaven depending on who you are. This the place that bachelor parties and my brother love. It has Caribbean and Latin beats and women in tight skimpy clothing gyrating on the bar. It’s dinner with a show and also a nightclub. Whatever it is, it’s a practically legendary place to eat and drink in Miami Beach. I’m not actually endorsing this place, for the record, just letting you know that it exists.
LIV Consistently rated as one of the top clubs in the world, this club exemplifies Miami excess and glamour. Located in the fancy Fountainebleu hotel, it is 18,000 sq feet of models and bottles, promoters and pretentiousness. David Guetta, Calvin Harris and many other greats have DJ’d here. Celebs often make appearances. Getting in is quite a feat, as the line can be worse than Disney. Your best bet is to reserve bottle service because you don’t have to wait and you will definitely get in, but it will cost you. If you want to tackle the line, go at 11:30pm since it opens at midnight. If you wait too much longer, the line may be hours long. You can always just hang at the Bleau Bar in the Lobby instead. Oh and there is $50 dollar cover. Welcome to Miami…bitch.
Story Owned by the same peeps who own LIV, this offers a bigger dance floor and some would say better music. I personally like the decor and floor plan here better and it feels less pretentious. Again, this is a bottle service place. Otherwise, unless you are a troop of 5 scantily clad hot females, you may not get in. Wait time can be 30 min to an hour and the cover is $20 to $40 depending on the DJ. Another tip for Miami Clubs, dress to impress. Miami clubs run a strict door policy, with guys expected to wear a button down shirt, dress pants or dark jeans and shoes. No ripped jeans, shorts, polo shirts, T-shirts or tennis shoes are allowed.
Mac’s Club Deuce The ultimate dive bar and oldest bar in Miami Beach. It is the only place open in the height of a hurricane and starting happy hour at 8 am if that tells you anything. It’s barely lit and more than a little dingy. Stop by, have a cheap drink and get some local flavor. The last time I went there, I saw a man with an eye patch and pirate-like bandana with a cat sitting on his shoulder. Can’t make this up. Apparently, this place sees its fair share of celebs, that’s if you can see through the smoky haze. Be prepared to wash your hair at least twice when you leave to get the Deuce out.
Twist Wanna check out the famous South Beach Gay Scene. Twist may be the gayest bar ever.
Monty’s South Beach If you’re looking for an ultra laid back Florida kind of place where you can have some drinks outside while gazing at the bay and maybe indulge in a raw bar, this is it. Shockingly, given that this is an island surrounded by water, Monty’s one of the very few places where you can actually eat and drink ON the water in Miami Beach! Also, it is one of the few west-facing places so you can view a sunset designed to make your friends on social media jealous. There are no mixologists or craft cocktails here but they do have “pain-killers”, a fruity cocktail where you choose your level of pain (i.e. the number of rum shots dumped into it).
I don’t know about you but I get hungry after a big night out on the town and if you’re wondering where to eat at odd hours, I gotchu.
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I hope you find this helpful in your quest to eat and drink your way around Miami Beach.