21 Restaurants We Can’t Imagine Miami Without

Editor’s Note: Welcome to The Greats, a series on the restaurants around the country that define their cities. Here now, a guide to the Miami Greats.

Miami might be best known for its sun, sand, and gorgeous beaches, but the dining scene in the Magic City is one that’s not to be missed. From James Beard Award-winning chefs to homegrown hot spots, there’s a bevy of cuisines from around the world to be found throughout the city. No matter what the occasion — fancy date night or a casual waterfront lunch with the family, or maybe even a late night need to soak up the night’s debauchery, there’s a spot for it. One of the best parts? Many have al fresco dining that’s perfect for taking in the fabulous South Florida weather all year long.

These are the restaurants that define Miami dining.

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (Design District)

A Miami staple and one of the first restaurants to open in the Design District, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink has been a reliable spot since 2007. James Beard Award-winning chef/owner Michael Schwartz is known for his fresh takes on classic fare using local ingredients and a comfort food approach, with many dishes made in a wood oven. Standout dishes on the global menu are the stracciatella with heirloom tomato, olive oil, basil, and sea salt; and the pan-roasted half chicken served with red onion, potato, and red chimichurri. Don’t overlook the “snacks” section of the menu, especially the kimchi — it’s the menu’s sleeper hit, a non-fermented, non-traditional take on the Korean classic topped with crushed peanuts.

Dining at the restaurant: Dining options include indoor at the large, 24 seat, U-shaped bar or one of its cozy tables, or head outside for a true Design District experience in the 100-seat covered courtyard, where there’s plenty of people watching to do.

Takeout: Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink offers takeout and delivery.

Ghee – Downtown Dadeland (Kendall)

Some of Miami’s freshest food can be found at Ghee Indian Kitchen in Dadeland, where James Beard Awards finalist chef/owner Niven Patel is known for growing a large portion of the restaurant’s menu in his own Homestead backyard, fondly named Rancho Patel. Ghee’s menu includes seasonal takes on traditional Indian dishes available a la carte or as a family-style tasting menu. Highlights include ghost pepper cheddar naan, chana masala, and kerala lamb (roasted lamb in a tomato and coconut milk sauce served with steamed basmati). Stop in for lunch where the tiffin (an Indian lunchbox) special of the day is one of the best deals in the area — under $20 for a three-course meal.

Dining at the restaurant: Ghee is serving lunch and dinner with both indoor and outdoor seating available.

Takeout: Ghee offers takeout and delivery.

Cote Gourmet (Miami Shores)

A modest French restaurant in Miami Shores, Cote Gourmet’s menu is inspired by owner Amina Ly’s travels around the world as a former yacht chef. Her menu showcases classic French dishes with occasional global twists, such as foie gras festivals, escargot with espelette pepper, and duck confit with orange and port wine sauce. Ly’s food combined with the romantic and intimate space, full of French country farmhouse vibes from white tablecloths, sunny yellow walls, and wood furniture, makes Cote Gourmet a date night destination.

Dining at the restaurant: Cote Gourmet is serving dinner Thursday through Saturday with both indoor and outdoor dining.

Takeout: Cote Gourmet offers takeout and delivery.

Gianni’s at the Former Versace Mansion (South Beach)

Dine surrounded by opulence inside the former Versace Mansion. This South Beach hot spot is known for its wild history surrounding the colorful lifestyle of its previous owner, fashion mogul Gianni Versace. The mansion is now an upscale fine dining establishment with an Italian-Mediterranean menu that features a large selection of seafood-focused appetizers including a raw bar, pastas, and an entree section with both land and sea options. A simple but delightful dish is Gianni’s spaghetti pomodoro with housemade pasta, San Marzano tomatoes, basil, and olive oil. Those who choose to dine outside will have a prime view of the iconic pool that’s made with Italian mosaic and 24-karat gold tiles, creating a stunning backdrop for a memorable dining experience.

Dining at the restaurant: Gianni’s at the Former Versace Mansion is serving lunch and dinner seven days a week with both indoor and outdoor dining.

Takeout: Gianni’s at the Former Versace Mansion does not offer takeout or delivery.

Prime 112 (South of Fifth)

Credit: Prime 112

Prime 112 is always one of the busiest restaurants in town with long lines of patrons hoping to snag a table as it’s the place for those who want to see and be seen. The South of Fifth restaurant is as well-known for its rich, indulgent dishes as it is for its celebrity clientele. A classic steakhouse with a bit of a twist, the massive menu has all the greats and a bit more. Feast on large dry-aged steaks paired with truffled lobster mac and cheese, tuna tartare, and lobster or stone crab cocktail. The portions are large, making sharing several dishes with the table a breeze. Save room for dessert as the oversized slices of cake are worth the extra calories.

Dining at the restaurant: Prime 112 is serving lunch and dinner with both indoor and outdoor dining available.

Takeout: Prime 112 offers takeout and delivery.

Nikki Beach Miami (South of Fifth)

Miami’s first beach club boasts casual boho vibes as one of the city’s most laid-back places to dine. Reserve a cabana table to take in everything this hidden gem has to offer. Known for its Sunday brunch ($65 per person), diners take advantage of a buffet like no other featuring charcuterie, raw bar, sushi, salads, an omelette station, waffles, carving stations, make-your-own pasta, and a full bakery selection — all while basking in the ocean breeze, sipping on mojitos, and taking in the live music and weekly performers.

Dining at the restaurant: Nikki Beach Miami serves brunch and lunch in its outdoor beach club oasis. 

Takeout: Nikki Beach Miami offers takeout.

Komodo (Brickell)

Credit: Komodo

Komodo is one of Miami’s most stylish restaurants, and that’s to be expected as it’s the first opened by nightlife guru Dave Grutman. High-end Southeast Asian cuisine in a luxuriously sexy atmosphere is the deal here. The stunning large bar is a focal point upon arrival, but once diners step a bit further they discover the large open restaurant and its various elements of seating, including the ever-exclusive nests perched above ground floor diners. No visit to Komodo is complete without the Peking duck served traditionally with cucumber, scallion, pancakes, and hoisin. Other popular dishes include the tuna and toro roll, lobster dynamite (spicy lobster piled high on bite-sized pieces of crispy quinoa and topped with scallions), and baked Alaska for dessert.

Dining at the restaurant: Komodo is open for dinner seven days a week with both indoor and outdoor seating in its lush multi-level urban garden.

Takeout: Komodo offers takeout.

Seaspice Brasserie (Downtown Miami)

Diners can take in the passing yachts and gorgeous Miami skyline while at Seaspice Brasserie, located in the heart of the city along the Miami River. Taking a cue from its waterfront surroundings, the Mediterranean menu is heavily focused on fresh seafood. The sea salt-crusted daily fish is a can’t miss staple that’s oven baked and served with black truffle risotto, lemon, capers, and brown butter sauce. Head there for happy hour — Tuesday through Friday from 5 pm to 7 pm — for an array of seafood staples including stone crabs, shrimp cocktail, oysters, and Osetra caviar while watching the sun set over the Magic City.

Dining at the restaurant: Seaspice Brasserie is serving lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch with both indoor and covered waterfront dining options available.

Takeout: Seaspice Brasserie offers takeout, including dockside takeout for those traveling by boat.

Novikov Miami (Downtown Miami)

An upscale Chinese-Japanese restaurant located in Downtown Miami, Novikov has an extensive menu featuring all the greats from dim sum to sushi to Peking duck. The space is beautifully decorated with a bright red accent wall and large cozy booths throughout the dining room, and there’s a fresh fish display case at the center of the dining room highlighting the daily catch. Weekend brunch is especially popular, with bottomless beverages and unlimited access to roughly a dozen appetizers, plus a choice of entrees. Those who want an impressive lunch during the week should check out the business lunch special, with a choice of three courses for $29.

Dining at the restaurant: Novikov is serving lunch and dinner with the option to dine indoors or al fresco on the outside terrace overlooking Biscayne Bay.

Takeout: Novikov offers takeout.

Cafe Prima Pasta (North Miami Beach)

This family-owned cozy Italian restaurant in North Miami Beach is home to some of the city’s most underrated outdoor dining. Nestled outside the restaurant’s main entrance is a charming 40-seat terrace that’s an ideal location for those looking to partake in traditional Italian cuisine with exceptional service in a comfortable outdoor atmosphere. Menu favorites include the carpaccio di manzo, thin slices of filet mignon, virgin olive oil, lemon and fresh parmesan cheese; black linguine seafood, a squid ink pasta with fresh seafood in a creamy lobster sauce; and chicken parmesan topped marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. The wine list features a modest selection of both reds and whites that pair well with both the dishes and cozy atmosphere. 

Dining at the restaurant: Cafe Prima Pasta is serving dinner nightly with indoor and outdoor dining on its romantic outdoor terrace.

Takeout: Cafe Prima Pasta offers takeout and delivery.

KYU (Wynwood)

Credit: KYU

One of Wynwood’s most beloved restaurants and a James Beard Awards semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant in 2017, KYU is an Asian fusion concept that makes use of a large wood-fired grill while being committed to planting five trees for every one tree it burns. The menu of straightforward shareable plates is inspired by several destinations that chef Raheem Sealey visited over the years, including Japan, Korea, Peru, and the Caribbean. Popular dishes include the wood-fired oven roasted cauliflower covered in goat cheese and shishito-herb vinaigrette made and the Korean fried chicken with braised spinach and red chile butter. Save room for dessert, because the coconut cake is one of the most sought-after desserts in town.

Dining at the restaurant: Kyu is serving lunch and dinner with plenty of indoor dining and limited outdoor seating.

Takeout: Kyu offers takeout and delivery.

Versailles (Little Havana)

The self-proclaimed “world’s most famous Cuban restaurant” is a highlight for any visit to Miami. With four decades of history, this classic Cuban restaurant has fed presidents, celebrities, and has been depicted in several films including Jon Favreau’s Chef. The dishes are as traditional as it gets, with mainstays being the pan con bistec, Cuban sandwich, and vaca frita (shredded and fried skirt steak). Those looking to try a bit of everything can’t go wrong with the Criollo plate featuring yellow rice, black beans, ropa vieja (shredded beef in tomato sauce), fried pork chunks, ham croquetas, sweet plantains, tamale, and cassava with Cuban mojo. The ventanita (Spanish for “small window”) is a popular spot that’s often filled with locals looking to grab a quick Cuban coffee fix and a snack.

Dining at the restaurant: Versailles is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with indoor dining and a ventanita for grabbing quick bites.

Takeout: Versailles is available for takeout and delivery.

94th Aero Squadron Restaurant (Blue Lagoon)

Modeled after a WWI French farmhouse, 94th Aero Squadron provides one of the most unique dining experiences in Miami. Situated right along the outskirts of Miami International Airport’s runway, diners are able to enjoy their meal while watching the action on the tarmac. The menu is full of classic American fare influenced by other cultures, created by chef Gabriel Del Valles who pours his heart and soul into every dish he makes. Favorites include mahi mahi either grilled or blackened and topped with shrimp scampi or cowboy ribeye topped with a shiny demi-glace.

Dining at the restaurant: 94th Aero Squadron is serving dinner and weekend brunch.

Takeout: 94th Aero Squadron offers takeout and delivery.

Juvia (South Beach) 

Credit: Juvia

Located in the penthouse of a historic parking garage just off iconic Lincoln Road, Juvia serves up the ultimate rooftop dining experience. The menu combines South American, Asian, and French techniques curated by executive chef Sunny Oh and executive pastry chef Gregory Gourreau, who both have well-established pedigrees in the fine dining world. Standouts include the perigord truffle risotto made with porcini mushrooms, parmesan, and truffle foam; and the short rib “asado negro” served with spiced roasted pineapple. Many of the dishes are garnished with herbs from the restaurant’s rainforest-inspired vertical garden designed by internationally acclaimed botanist Patrick Blanc.

Dining at the restaurant: Juvia is serving dinner and Sunday brunch on its stunning rooftop patio overlooking Miami Beach with both indoor and outdoor seating.

Takeout: Juvia offers takeout and delivery.

Silverlake Bistro (North Miami Beach)

The cozy and romantic atmosphere is what brings diners through the door, but the wine list, welcoming owners, and indulgent dishes are what turn first-timers into regulars at this hidden North Miami Beach gem. Silverlake Bistro serves a small menu of exceptionally well-done dishes influenced by owners Sandy Sanchez and Benoît Rablat’s time in Southern California — where they met and fell in love. Dishes such as the grilled cheese with taleggio, truffle honey, and a fried egg or the gnocchi mac and cheese seared in duck fat with a smoked Gouda sauce topped with pork belly and bread crumbs are great starters for the table. The entrees are equally delicious, and the butterscotch pudding is an ideal way to end the meal. Stop by on Thursdays to take advantage of half off the wine list.

Dining at the restaurant: Silverlake Bistro is serving dinner every day except Monday with both indoor and outdoor seating available.

Takeout: Silverlake Bistro offers takeout and delivery.

Bakan (Wynwood)

Credit: Bakan

In the heart of Miami’s artsy Wynwood neighborhood, people can kick back and cool down while dining in Bakan’s covered outdoor terrace or stunning indoor restaurant complete with a floor-to-ceiling display case of 100-plus tequilas and mezcals. The queso fundido is a notable way to start the meal, served with fresh blue corn masa that’s made to order and can be seen from the open kitchen adjacent to the dining room. Refreshing dishes include the vuelve a la vida, made with crisp shrimp, calamari, octopus, scallops, guajillo and ancho chiles, creamy avocado and a citrusy blend of lemon and orange; or the aguachile de camaron con mango fresco, a combination of shrimp, juicy mango, cool cilantro, lime, celery, and pumpkin seeds. 

Dining at the restaurant: Bakan is serving lunch and dinner with both indoor and outdoor dining.

Takeout: Bakan offers takeout.

Stubborn Seed (South of Fifth)

Those looking to be wined and dined by a Top Chef winner should make their way to Stubborn Seed, where chef/owner Jeremy Ford is serving skillfully plated high-end fresh seasonal dishes using as many local products as he can possibly source. The menu at this intimate South of Fifth restaurant rotates regularly based on what produce is available, with a selection of dishes that are available as a chef’s tasting or a la carte. As a protege of famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Ford’s dishes are well-executed and often almost too pretty to eat. Though the menu is rarely the same, there’s always fresh baked bread, handmade pasta, a local fish, and an A5 wagyu dish available.

Dining at the restaurant: Stubborn Seed is serving dinner daily with both indoor and outdoor dining.

Takeout: Stubborn Seed offers takeout and delivery.

Victory (Midtown) 

The brainchild of businessman Ricardo Young, Victory is a restaurant and lounge with a trendy ambiance — white tablecloths and chandeliers mix with a wood beam ceiling and long, prominent bar — and party vibes. Here, the real action occurs during the day parties, which include bottomless mimosas, DJs, and raucous vibes, but late-night visitors can still have plenty of fun with a variety of hookah flavors and specialty cocktails. To eat, the menu consists of elevated comfort food such as lobster fried rice and cilantro lime lamb chops, while brunch has shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles.

Dining at the restaurant: Victory is serving dinner and brunch with both indoor and outdoor dining.

Takeout: Victory offers takeout and delivery.

Mary’s Cafe & Coin Laundry (Coconut Grove)

Mary’s Coin Laundry flew under the radar for over a decade as just a simple cafe window located inside a 24-hour laundromat. But these days, it’s a well-known spot for scoring one of Miami’s best pan con bistec (steak sandwiches). The low-key unassuming window opened in the early 2000s as a way to entice customers to the laundromat in the evenings. At any time of day, visitors will find locals — young and old — stopping by for a quick bite, or in the later hours, for something to soak up the evening’s drinking. The menu consists of casual Cuban fare including a variety of sandwiches, croquetas, empanadas, and, of course, Cuban coffee.

Dining at the restaurant: Mary’s Coin Laundry is open 24 hours with limited outdoor seating.

Takeout: Mary’s Coin Laundry offers takeout and delivery.

Shooters Waterfront (Fort Lauderdale)

Open since 1982, Shooters Waterfront has established itself as one of Fort Lauderdale’s most infamous restaurants. Situated dockside with sweeping views of the Intracoastal Waterway, it’s the perfect spot for laid-back dining. The restaurant consists of three cocktail bars and a chic outdoor lounge where diners can enjoy the waterway breeze, with menu options including everything from raw bar to flatbreads to sushi and large-scale entrees. The baked seafood pasta with rock shrimp, bay scallops, PEI mussels, jumbo lump crab, and torchio pasta in a Champagne alfredo sauce topped with parmesan cheese and toasted goat cheese breadcrumbs is always a winner. Shooters Waterfront has 340 feet of open dockage space and complimentary valet parking allowing diners to arrive by land or sea.

Dining at the restaurant: Shooters Waterfront is serving lunch and dinner daily with expansive indoor and outdoor waterfront seating.

Takeout: Shooter’s Waterfront offers takeout and delivery.

Lona Cocina Tequileria (Fort Lauderdale)

A casual dining hotspot inside the Westin Fort Lauderdale, Lona Cocina Tequileria serves soulful Mexican food by acclaimed chef Pablo Salas. Flavorful entrees include the brisket quesadilla made with slow roasted adobo peppers, white onion, melted Mexican cheese, cilantro, and guacamole or the arroz cremoso con langosta topped with butter-poached lobster and truffle oil. Daily specials such as $5 taco Tuesdays, $7 tequila Thursdays, and bottomless brunch on Sundays make for an appealing case to visit this colorful restaurant every day of the week. Plus, the specialty margaritas and wide variety of tequila selections are the ideal pairing to the chef’s hearty-sized dishes.

Dining at the restaurant: Lona Cocina Tequileria is serving lunch and dinner with indoor and outdoor dining on the restaurant’s expansive oceanfront terrace.

Takeout: Lona Cocina Tequileria offers takeout.

Amber Love Bond is a Miami-based food + beverage writer who can typically be found somewhere delicious with her laptop in tow and a cocktail in hand. See what she’s sipping and follow her adventures on Instagram.

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