Dining Ideas in Miami Beach

Dining Ideas in Miami Beach

Our Welcome Center offers recommendations on casual and fine dining in Miami Beach.

We are home to so many delicious restaurants.  It’s hard to go wrong when selecting the right place for a meal in Miami Beach. With that in mind, following are our tips for a delicious dining tour of Miami Beach, but keep in mind that following your heart will not fail your taste buds here.

Roughly 70% of the population of Miami Beach and Miami is many varieties of Latino, so its no wonder Spanish and Portuguese conversations are heard wherever you go in Miami Beach. With such a strong Latin influence, Miami flavors are one-of-a-kind in this country, and many top chefs from around the world have their hand in Miami and Miami Beach playing with Latin and global cuisines.  Our recommendations this season are:

Coffee

Coffee lovers visiting Miami Beach, please set aside Starbucks for a moment, and order a Cuban coffee. For an authentic local experience, this is a must. Cuban coffee is the cheaper, and arguably the most delicious coffee available here, and you find it sold on nearly every block. For around $1.90, you can order the Colada, which is known as the coffee you order to make friends. The truth of the colada is that it is always meant to be shared. It is triple strength Cuban espresso with triple sugar – a luscious and velvety experience that will awaken the senses. One of these will surely get you moving, two of these and you are dancing your way through your day. Pair it up with a guava and cheese pastelito – a Cuban pastry – and you have had a taste of local culture. When local workers go for a coffee break, they go to the nearest Latin diner or restaurant and order a colada – enough coffee for four people. On the go, it is served in little white plastic shot glasses. Even those shy to drink coffee will enjoy dipping their lips in this rich and decadent taste of Cuba-America. The recipe for the coffee roast is super unique.  A few of many places to sample this cultural treasure:

Bella Cuba, 1659 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach; phone (305) 672-7566.

David’s Cafécito, 919 Alton Road, Miami Beach; phone (305) 534-8736.

Exprezo Lincoln Road, 1300 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; phone (305) 532-2166.

Las Olas Café, 644 6th Street, Miami Beach; phone (305) 534-9333.

Lario’s on the Beach, 820 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; phone (305) 532-9577.

Latin Café, 441 41st Street, Miami Beach; phone (305) 531-1057.

Latin Café on the Beach, 7435 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; phone (305) 351-1057.

Munchies Latin Café, 324 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; phone (305) 531-0559.

Playa Café, 1515 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach; (305) 538-1551.

Puerto Sagua, 700 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; phone (305) 673-1115.

Sazon Cuban Cuisine, 7305 Collins Ave, Miami Beach; phone: (305) 861-4727.

Tropical Beach Café, 2891 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; phone (305) 538-0359.

Vitta Café, 1845 Bay Road, Miami Beach; phone (786) 864-2860.

Cuban Cuisine

 The Cubans have been shaping our South Floridian palates for decades with mouth-watering croquetas, decadent empanadasmojo sauces and maduros, refreshing mojitos and rich coladas (Cuban coffee).  A tour of Miami Beach without tasting Cuban cuisine is simply incomplete.  Enter David’s Cafécito – This little establishment is the latest gem to emerge from a family in the restaurant business in Miami Beach for the last several generations. A beloved local spotDavid’s Cafecito offers excellent Cuban cafécitos and is hopping at breakfast and lunch. They have the classic colada-to-go window where you can order in a hurry your cafécito and a pastelito or a variety of award-winning empanadas and croquetas on your way to work or play.  The lunch menu focuses on many different flavorful Cuban sandwiches, prepared to perfection along with the classic Cuban sides. When you stop by this local landmark, you are in for a happy treat of authentic local culture.  (David’s Cafecito is open from 6am to 10pm for breakfast, lunch and dinner, located at 919 Alton Road, Miami Beach; phone (305) 534-8736). $

For an authentic Cuban experience, Bella Cuba is a charming and casual family-owned eatery in the heart of South Beach. At Bella Cuba, a must try is the national dish of Cuba – Ropa Vieja – flank steak simmered in a rich sofrito sauce of tomato, spices, olives and oil of annatto until the meat falls apart, served over black beans and rice and paired with classic maduros – the perfect island balance of sweet and savory.Prepare for it with a classic mojito made from scratch (just $5 at happy hour from 4-7pm daily) and the crispy rich Cuban eggroll as an appetizer. Bella Cuba is open for lunch and dinner 7 days per week and for brunch on weekends. Brunch is served with live music and happy chill vibes. (Bella Cuba is located at 1659 Washington Avenue in Miami Beach; (305) 672-7566). (Photos courtesy of Omar Jiminez) $$

Nuevo Latino Cuisine

 A fab spot in mid-beach is 27 Restaurant in the Freehand Hotel. Joined to the ever-famous Broken Shaker Bar, this little farm-to-table eatery is a marvelous surprise of deliciously fresh and fragrant Miami flavors meets global cuisine. Set in a garden with a focus on communal dining, this charming locale is the perfect combination of good food and chill ambiance. A few recs – the Oyster Mushrooms with tahini and chermoula, and the Smoked Eggplant with tahini, parmesan and la Boîte Shabazi along with the Marinated Tomatoes with cucumber, dried apricot vin and dukkah – mmmm…  (27 Restaurant is located in the Freehand Hotel at 2727 Indian Creek Drive on Miami Beach; phone (305) 531-2727). (Photo courtesy of Justin Namon) $$ 

Another casual hot spot for consistently delicious fresh fare is Café at Books & Books. This landmark restaurant has its origins in the artistic revival of Lincoln Road back in the 80’s and 90’s. The theme of its eclectic menu is Miami Nouvelle Cuisine, and it shaped the foundation for what we call Miami flavors also known as Nuevo Latino. Sourcing from local farms and supporting local and sustainable agriculture, Café at Books & Books attracts locals, tourists and local celebrities. They have a colorful and vibrant vegan and vegetarian section along with tasty fish and meat dishes and a long list of local craft beers. A must try is their secret family recipe for Hummus served with Zak’s artisanal bread and the Brussels Sprouts Shakshuka with heirloom cherry tomatoes, red peppers, chickpeas, cauliflower and toasted cumin & garlic confit. Generous portions and lots of plant food colors make this market fresh dining experience one to remember. Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. (Café at Books and Books was recently bought by Aura, but still offers its beloved menu. It is located at 927 Lincoln Road on Miami Beach; phone (305) 695-8898). $$

For an award-winning fine Latin dining experience with a diverse menu, Ola has been receiving accolades and is perfect for special occasions. Set against one of the little canals cutting through Miami Beach, this elegant gem boasts an eclectic menu of Latin American and Cuban dishes that are frankly works of art. A must try is the Fire & Ice Ceviche (fresh cobia marinated in sour orange, onions, cilantro, jalepeño over Asian pear granite) and the Lobster Empanada (squid ink dough filled with Maine Lobster married with avocado sauce and salsa rosa) and the Kobe beef meatballs in a foie gras sherry sauce, black trumpet chimi and crispy shallots.  They also have delicious vegetarian fare and out-of-this-world gluten-free yuca bread. (Ola is located at 2216 Park Avenue, Miami Beach; phone (305) 695-91255). $$$

A longtime landmark for creative Nuevo Latino cuisine is Y.U.C.A. (Young.Urban.Cuban.American) on historic Lincoln Road. This elegant establishment has been named the “Cuban Corner of Miami Beach” for the last 24 years. Y.U.C.A. defines Nuevo Latino cuisine in its sophisticated play with Cuban tastes in a beautiful menu of imaginative dishes that marry the sweet and savory love of Latin flavors. Among the appetizers are flirtatious tropical dishes like the Watermelon Cuban Gazpacho with Strawberry and the Guava Burrata Caprese with Salmorejo Sauce. The most popular dish in the restaurant is the Lechon Asado – a whole pig roasted to perfection with moro rice, steamed yuca root and a generously citrus mojo sauce. However, the most seductive dish on the menu remains the Tuna-Chino Latino, a light and fragrant play on this traditional Asian dish. Y.U.C.A. is an important cultural experience of Miami Beach. It will delight and enchant with delicious artistic cuisine, attentive service and live music every evening. If salsa is a dance you wish to learn, this upscale eatery offers a lesson upstairs every Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 to 10:30pm – Dinner and dancing – utter romance. (Y.U.C.A. is located at 501 Lincoln Road on Miami Beach; phone (305) 532-9822). $$$

Asian Cuisine

The Faena Hotel tends to wow. Its luminous elegance is now home to a very special chef, Paul Qui, who has created a refined and inspired menu for Pao restaurant. Playing with subtle and rich, earth and fruit, fire and wood, his dishes are an exploration of the fantasy of taste.  A must try is the Fried Chicken with sweet chili and roasted banana ketchup and jalepeño along with the “Unicorn” – sea urchin on a bed of grilled sweet corn pudding, sake aioliChile de árbol peppers and lime. These delectable beginnings followed by the Chef’s favorite Chirashi make for an adventure into the sensation of taste. Pair this unique dining experience with the exquisite Samsara, the cabaret show featured in the Faena Theater on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, for a magical and memorable evening. Whatever the Faena does, it does to perfection. (Pao is located in the Faena Hotel at 3201 Collins Avenue, Faena District in Miami Beach; phone (305) 534-8800). (photo courtesy of the Faena)  $$$

Italian Cuisine

  In addition to the Latin influence, Italians have been sharing their culinary secrets with Miami Beach for years, and we have many delicious Italian restaurants. We want to highlight a newcomer on the block – Andrix Café and Italian Bakery on Española Way. They opened in November of 2017 and have already built a reputation for delicious fare and communal generosity. Open 24 hours a day every day, this Italian eatery is that tasty treasure you can visit after a long night of dancing and revelry.Everything is delicious, light and aromatic, and baked fresh every morning. A must try is the very simple but succulent Bomboloni alla crema with an Italian cappuccino – this is beach food in Tuscany. And, their pizzas and sandwiches are all unforgettable. All ingredients are imported from Italy, and the owners of this bakery come from many generations of bakers in Italy and come sharing their family recipes with us. (Andrix Café is located 1443 Washington Avenue in Miami Beach; phone: (305) 363-1574). (photos courtesy of Ailene Torres) $

Another special Italian venue is Gol up in Normandy Isle of North Beach. This hidden treasure lies off the beaten path but boasts a menu that carries traditional Italian fare as well as rare dishes all prepared to perfection. In colorful soccer décor, this casual hotspot has a long history of happy customers. The wood-fired pizzas are delicious, especially the Bufalina pizza with imported fresh buffalo mozzarella. A must try – Spaghetti alla Bottarga and for dessert the Affogato al caffé for an authentic, uncommon Italian experience. (Gol is located at 940 71st Street in Miami Beach; phone (305) 397-8917). $

Healthy Conscious Cuisine

Miami Art Kitchen is a charming neighborhood gem in the heart of breezy Sunset Harbor where you feel the love in the food.  This cozy little nook is a great brunch and early dinner place when you love tasty, delicious food that feels good to your body. The focus is on fresh and “as organic as possible.”  The dishes are colorful and beautiful without breaking the bank, a must try – the Haifa Smorrebrod (see photo) and the Havana Smorrebrod (Smorrebrod  is a hearty homemade Danish rye bread baked fresh daily).Their house-squeezed lemonade with mint is perfectly tart and refreshing.  Make sure to experience their Apéritif of organic wine and rare cheese selections as part of the magical sunsets over the Biscayne Bay. (Miami Art Kitchen is open Tuesday through Friday 11am – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm, Saturday 9am -3pm, 6pm – 10pm and Sunday 9am – 3pm. It is located at 1701 Sunset Harbor Drive on Miami Beach; phone (305) 308-5607).

For delicious gourmet vegan renditions of your favorite Nuevo Latino and Italian dishes, a little stop at the ever-charming Full Bloom restaurant in the boutique Art Deco Crest Hotel & Suites will make you smile. This little plant-based eatery is run by a family of happy loving Italians offering friendly hospitality in a relaxed atmosphere. Guests can eat inside or on the spacious and shaded front porch of the hotel. The lunch and dinner menus offer a variety of light and luscious dishes. Every dish is divine, but very popular are the Burgers, the Ravioli filled with garlic artichoke and cashew nut cream and layered with a fragrant sage sauce, and the Cubanesque Jackfruit Asado with braised fennel au gratin, sautéed spinach, quinoa and roasted potatoes.  Beloved for raw vegans are the Raw Green Tacos – crunchy raw walnut paté, topped with avocado, cilantro and a zesty pepper sauce, and wrapped in a fresh beautiful collard leaf.  Full Bloom – a delicious experience of animal friendliness. (Full Bloom is located in the Crest Hotel & Suites at 1670 James Avenue on Miami Beach; phone (305) 397-8018). (photo courtesy of FBV)  Kosher, $$

Nikki Beach is a memorable destination on Miami Beach you will not want to miss. This wild and wonderful landmark is a large oceanfront complex featuring a beach club, an award-winning restaurant, a cabana bar, a garden area café and second floor nightclub. The menu here is fresh and extensive, but not to miss are the succulent Sexy Salads and Raw Bar – the perfect foods for a sunlit breezy beach day. Very popular is the Sunday brunch. And, you can dance through every meal. (Nikki Beach is located on One Ocean Drive on Miami Beach; phone (305) 538-1111). $$$

The Charter Agency won “Best of the Beach” in 2018. This exclusive company charters private and shared luxury yachts to guests of Miami Beach and Miami who want to love their vacation on the water. They offer what the client wants. The imagination is the limit for this locally loved company. (The Charter Agency is located on Miami Beach; phone (888)552-6162 or email [email protected] ). (photo courtesy of The Charter Agency) $$$

American Cuisine

The oldest restaurant on Miami Beach has a long history of serving up the perfect all-American seafood menuJoe’s Stone Crab opened in 1914 before Miami Beach was even incorporated as a city. Open only during stone crab season – October to May – this long treasured establishment has a large menu of American seafood specialties including the stone crab claws that made them famous; they also serve meat, poultry and lots of vegetable dishes. This is a cultural experience for anyone visiting Miami Beach to place on their bucket list. It has a menu to please with healthy dishes as well as good ole-American comfort food. This landmark eatery takes no reservations, and has a great To-Go menu that will make a picnic in South Pointe Park or at the New World Center’s Soundscape Cinema a perfect evening under the stars. (Joe’s Stone Crab is located at 11 Washington Avenue on Miami Beach; phone (305) 673-0365). $$$

The perfect way to wind down in South Beach is to visit Smith & Wollensky in scenic South Pointe Park. This classic high-end American seafood and steakhouse sits on the government cut waterway leading to the Port of Miami. It is one of only a few waterfront dining experiences you will have on Miami Beach. A recommendation: grab a table in the early evening by the water and enjoy your company and a cocktail as the sun sets over the Miami skyline and the cruise ships pass through on their way out to sea. The scene is romantic, relaxing and sultry. The food is delicious, and the view is worth it. (Smith & Wollensky is located at 1 Washington Avenue in Miami Beach; phone (305) 673-2800). $$$