As the world returns to normal, it seems there’s always a reason to celebrate — whether it’s seeing family for the first time or that way-overdue girls’ trip. Now that vaccinations are easier to come by and it’s safer to venture out, there’s plenty of catching up to do when it comes to celebrations, and the best way to commemorate a special occasion is always with a standout meal and even better company.
When dining out for a special occasion, there’s a lot to take into consideration. Of course, quality of food is incredibly important, but atmosphere, service, and overall vibe must be considered. From Miami’s glitziest and most glam to cozy family-owned establishments, there’s no shortage of perfect spots for a celebration no matter what your budget or palate is craving.
Here are 15 spots in the Magic City worthy of your next celebration.
Phuc Yea (MiMo)
Located in Miami’s up-and-coming MiMo neighborhood, Phuc Yea has been a source of exciting Vietanamese-Cajun comfort food since 2016 — though it’s credited with being Miami’s first pop-up restaurant back in 2011. The flavorful fusion of these two cultures is expertly curated by owners chef Cesar Zapata and Aniece Meinhold using both their heritage and kitchen experience as inspiration. As ’90s hip-hop plays in the background, diners feast on dishes such as green papaya salad with crispy shallots, dried shrimp, carrots, peanuts, herbs, and nuoc cham dressing; massive bowls of pho; and PY noodles, a signature dish at the restaurant made with oyster sauce, parmesan, and garlic butter, and quickly cooked in a wok with noodles.
Dining at the restaurant: Phuc Yea offers indoor dining throughout its artfully designed, multi-level restaurant and a spacious patio adorned with paper lanterns and mural-filled walls. Between the killer food and delicious cocktails, Phuc Yea is ideal for date night, birthday celebrations, and brunch with a large group.
Takeout: Comfort food that’s sure to soothe after a long week or on a rainy day, the short rib pho is the way to go. Both takeout and delivery are available featuring the restaurant’s full menu.
Red Rooster (Overtown)
A Harlem transplant by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, this Overtown restaurant is filled with soul food and a soulful feel. The menu is a cultural celebration with dishes inspired by not only Samuelsson’s Ethiopian roots, but from the Caribbean and America’s Deep South, too. Start with the cornbread served in a cast iron skillet with spiced rum butter or the deviled eggs topped with chicharron, caviar, and mustard before moving on to entrees such as shrimp and grits or fried chicken. Save room for dessert, as there’s a sister concept next door called The Creamery featuring a selection of locally made ice creams.
Dining at the restaurant: There’s both indoor, covered patio, and terrace with picnic tables offering diners a variety of seating options. Live music is played daily with a different theme each day of the week, including a gospel choir during Sunday brunch — making that a particularly fun time to celebrate.
Takeout: There is no delivery, but takeout is available via the restaurant’s website.
The Deck at Island Gardens (Downtown)
Breathtaking views scream “special occasion” at The Deck at Island Gardens. Located in the city’s only superyacht marina, diners at The Deck enjoy their meals while overlooking Miami’s downtown skyline and some of the world’s most expensive privately owned yachts. The Mediterranean menu includes appetizers such as Skull Island prawns or grilled lamb chops and large entrees like a 4.5-pound salt-crusted Florida snapper or the 32-ounce tomahawk ribeye.
Dining at the restaurant: The Deck is an outdoor restaurant with several covered tables and cabana-style lounge areas. Those looking to dance while they dine will enjoy the Sunday brunch party that starts in the early afternoon and continues through the night.
Takeout: Takeout is available via OpenTable. There is no option for delivery.
Toro Toro (Downtown)
If the special occasion calls for steak, then chef/restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s pan-Latin steakhouse inside the Intercontinental Hotel is the way to go. The restaurant is known for its expansive selection of tableside carved meats served rodizio-style and small plates featuring dishes such as short rib & bone marrow arepas or grilled octopus. Sunday brunch features bottomless mimosas and bloody marys. Toro Toro also features occasional OpenTable experiences like one with a special Macallan-paired menu.
Dining at the restaurant: Toro Toro is available for indoor dining on the hotel’s first floor, with multiple options to reserve private dining. Take advantage of the wine room named El Matador for a large group, or for a table of up to 14 people, the even more exclusive chef’s Table 40 located in the center of the bustling kitchen.
Takeout: Takeout is available by calling the restaurant. Delivery is not available.
Swan (Design District)
Those looking to dine in fashion (and maybe catch a celeb sighting or two) should look no further than Swan, located in Miami’s Design District. Owned by nightlife mogul Dave Grutman and musical sensation Pharrell Williams, this glitzy and high-end restaurant is ideal for celebrating a special night out on the town. Popular plates include one featuring corn prepared three ways and caviar pasta made simply with spaghetti, white wine, butter, and lemon that’s topped with a heaping pile of caviar. Dishes are small, but meant to be ordered in abundance and shared.
Dining at the restaurant: The Instagram-worthy restaurant features a spacious indoor bar and cozy pink velvet booth seating, as well as outdoor dining in a lush garden setting.
Takeout: Takeout and delivery are not available at this restaurant.
Jaya at the Setai (South Beach)
Located in the exclusive Setai Miami Beach, Jaya’s menu is a mix of Asian techniques combining the flavors of Thailand, China, Korea, India, and Japan — think everything from Peking duck to pad Thai and Indian curries. While the restaurant is a great place for dinner, the Sunday jazz brunch features a grand buffet (served safely by servers) and bottomless Louis Roederer for $95 per person that’s extra-special for a celebration.
Dining at the restaurant: While the inside of Jaya is sophisticated and elegant, the courtyard is the place to be for those looking for a more al fresco experience. With zen-like water features and a retractable roof, it’s a lovely way to dine outside without worrying about the weather.
Takeout: Takeout is available at the restaurant, but delivery is not.
Fratelli Milano (Downtown)
One step inside Fratelli Milano and it’s easy to see how this family-owned restaurant has stood the test of time for 15 years in Miami’s ever-changing downtown. Twin brothers Roberto and Emanuele Bearzi make everything from pasta to pastry in this classic Italian spot. While Roberto is busy making the fresh pasta, Emanuele is takes charge of the pastries and breads for the restaurant, as Fiorella (Roberto’s wife) greets each diner as they walk in the door. Dishes range from pizzas to pastas to one of the city’s best eggplant parms.
Dining at the restaurant: This cozy restaurant features about just over a dozen tables inside where diners can marvel at the dessert display case and a handful of tables on the sidewalk to allow for interesting people-watching on one of Miami’s busiest downtown streets.
Takeout: Both takeout and delivery are available. Don’t forget to order an extra cannoli to enjoy later.
Stubborn Seed (South of Fifth)
Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford’s first restaurant is known for its incredible chef’s tasting menu featuring seasonal dishes, with many ingredients coming from local farms. Though the menu changes often based on what Ford finds freshest, it’s always sectioned out the same: snacks/rooted/raw, where diners find vegetable-forward dishes and some form of freshly baked bread; and land/sea with a handful of options ranging from wagyu to local fish and poultry. The ever-changing menu means a unique experience every single time, making each visit feel celebratory.
Dining at the restaurant: There are a few tables available outside, but those who dine indoors will be mesmerized by the glass-walled kitchen that adds to the experience as diners are given the opportunity to watch the hustle and bustle in the eternally busy kitchen.
Takeout: Takeout and delivery are available via third-party apps.
Byblos (South Beach)
Dark and cozy in the heart of South Beach, Byblos is a delightful date spot serving Eastern Mediterranean dishes. Most plates are served family-style making it easy to share while getting optimal opportunity to try a plethora of the menu’s popular offerings. Can’t-miss dishes include the grilled whole branzino served with chermoula, saffron toum, and watercress as well as the roasted lamb shoulder with sumac, pickles, and house lavash.
Dining at the restaurant: Opt to sit inside to enjoy the sleek decor and velvet couches where there’s a DJ spinning on the weekends. Those who want some fresh air can sit on the restaurant’s terrace located in front of the restaurant.
Takeout: Diners can order takeout, but delivery is not offered at Byblos.
Drunken Dragon (South Beach)
Located in an unassuming strip mall, it’s easy to miss Drunken Dragon. Home to Korean barbecue and fun tiki-style cocktails, this Asian-inspired gastropub is great for date night or a special celebration with friends. The large menu features plenty of options in its ‘to share’ and appetizer sections, as well as over a dozen types of protein cooked to request (or by the table) each with its own signature sauce. Noodle and rice dishes round out the menu, where the Drunken Dragon fried rice (white rice, gochujang sauce, sour cream sambal, pork, cotija cheese, cashews, and herbs) is a staple.
Dining at the restaurant: The intimate restaurant features a large bar and plenty of tables, with a handful of them featuring grills for those who are looking for a DIY Korean barbecue experience.
Takeout: Feast on Korean barbecue at home by ordering for takeout or delivery. The twice-fried chicken is extra-crispy.
Layla at KAYAK Miami Beach (South Beach)
Located on the ground floor of the first-ever KAYAK hotel — OpenTable’s sibling brand — Layla is an elegantly bohemian restaurant inspired by the love story of Layla and Majun, a Persian folk tale of two star-crossed lovers. Dishes are served tapas-style and meant for sharing, so load up on mezze and appetizer options such as the eggplant toast, flaming saganaki, and Israeli salad before moving on to larger plates like the shawarma grilled chicken with toum, cilantro, and lemon agrumato. The restaurant is already getting recognized for its ultra-cool setting, named one of the seven coolest indoor-outdoor restaurants to Dine at Right Now by Architectural Digest.
Dining at the restaurant: Indoor dining is available in the form of communal tables and intimate booths, but the outdoor patio is where the magic happens. Here, diners are spread out in a Middle Eastern oasis along the often-forgotten Collins Canal.
Takeout: Takeout and delivery are not currently available at Layla.
If the name Mignonette isn’t a clue enough, this spot is known for its array of oysters that are flown in daily. The casual environment is great for a low-key celebration, where diners can down dozens of oysters and a bottle of bubbles before moving on to dishes like lobster rolls and clams casino. Nothing says special occasion more than oysters and Champagne.
Dining at the restaurant: This cozy indoor dining-only spot is reminiscent of an old-school diner with the day’s oyster selection visible on a sign just above where they’re being shucked right in front of you.
Takeout: Both takeout and delivery are available. Don’t skip dessert; the cakes are housemade too.
Scarpetta (Miami Beach)
Celebrity chef Scott Conant’s Italian restaurant at the iconic Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel has all the makings for a spectacular meal, from the sweeping ocean views to the spaghetti that literally melts in your mouth to the expansive wine list. The tasting menu, available for $95 per person, features all of the menu’s most popular dishes, including the spaghetti, the duck and foie gras ravioli, and Conant’s famous creamy polenta.
Dining at the restaurant: The large dining room offers bar seating and multiple areas with varying decor. Depending on the weather and time of year, the large patio windows may be opened for an al fresco dining feel while enjoying the ocean breeze.
Takeout: Takeout and delivery are not available at Scarpetta.
Forte dei Marmi (South of Fifth)
Tucked away in Miami’s South of Fifth neighborhood, Forte dei Marmi prides itself on high-quality organic produce and responsibly sourced meats and seafood. Of course, no Italian spot would be complete without freshly made pastas, like the truffle cacio e pepe that diners go crazy for — it’s served tableside in a massive cheese wheel. Save room for the decadent pistachio ice cream large enough for the entire table.
Dining at the restaurant: The simple indoor dining room and lush outdoor patio both make for ideal spots to celebrate and indulge in copious amounts of pasta.
Takeout: Enjoy the Tuscan-inspired menu from the comfort of home. Both takeout and delivery are available at Forte dei Marmi.
Tried them all? Check out other options here.