Joe’s Stonecrab in South Beach is a must! This classic restaurant has been drawing crowds to Miami for years. If you’ve never had a stone crab, you will be pleasantly surprised. Joe’s Stonecrab is the only place to get them at their best! They come in a few different sizes, are sweet & meaty and best tasted cold with Joe’s special mustard sauce. I suggest going before you’re hungry and be prepared to wait, since it’s still, arguably, the most popular restaurant to visit in Miami!
I also recommend trying the conch fritters and ending your meal with a local favorite, their key lime pie. ( P.S.- I’m always cold there, so you may want to bring a sweater or jacket.)
Since we’re already on the subject of seafood, head to Sunset Harbour and check out Stiltsville Fish Bar for lunch. Stiltsville serves the freshest fish and seafood prepared by very talented chefs, including the owner Jeff McInnis( A TOP CHEF finalist). It’s low key and unpretentious. I recommend ordering the catch of the day ( especially if it’s the triple tail), but the shrimp and grits is another favorite. This dish is so unique and yummy even though I have never been a fan grits ! I’d suggest ordering this too and sharing it as an appetizer. It’s really that good.
If you’re looking for the restaurants to ” see and be seen ” , I have a few favorite hot spots to recommend. Papi’s Steak in Southbeach is the new kid on the block! It is the hottest place to be right now. You must have a reservation to get in and be sure and book far enough in advance. The entrance is guarded by a friendly doorman and a red velvet rope. Once your reservation is confirmed, the mini red carpet leads you into this cool new vibe. The bar is packed with celebs that are in town visiting and the restaurant is intimate in size, but big on the scene! There is not a bad seat in the house as you will enjoy the crowd as much as their delicious food. We’ve enjoyed a few favorites here. If you are a fan of Pastrami, you’re going to love their Wagyu Pastrami with housemade mustards. It literally melts in your mouth! I enjoy starting with their crab dip & shrimp crackers or their Monop-Potato Osetra Caviar. They are known for their signature Papi Steak Kosher Ribeye, but also offer Prime Porterhouse, Bone-in dry aged NY Strip, a whole Colorado rack of lamb, etc. Big Papi ( David “Papi ” Einhorn) is usually there making the rounds & snapping pics with the celebs . You will know him when you see him, adorned with big gold chains around his neck and wearing the latest high end sneakers. Visit Papi’s Steakouse for this fun miami vibe!
Prime 112 is another celeb hot spot that’s been one of our favorite restaurants , even before we moved to Miami. It is a much larger restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating in Southbeach. This place is always crowded and you should expect a long wait, even with reservations. This gives you a great excuse to head to the bar before being seated. Why is the bar so great? They give you a glass full of bacon. Yes, big, thick, smoked bacon! The most delicious bacon I have ever tasted, too. It’s quite a unique alternative to cocktail nuts, which makes Prime 112 stand out when choosing which restaurant to book when you’re really hungry! They have wonderful steaks but by the time you’ve had a nice glass of wine or bacon, lol, you may want to choose something other than red meat. They offer a wide variety of all kinds of dishes. You really can’t go wrong with anything on their menu. I particularly enjoy their sea bass, but my husband craves their NY strip topped with lobster and hollandaise sauce. They offer many interesting sides which are all yummy, too. The truffle mac’n’cheese, avocado fries w/ spicy mayo and roasted jalapeño aioli and creamed corn with black truffles are a few of our favorite side dishes. They also offer a variety of salads that could literally feed 4 people. This is the restaurant to choose if you’re entertaining a group or if you’re really hungry for some great food.
Komodo and Swan are 2 more fun choices for a scene and dinner. They are both owned by David Grutman ( Groot Hospitality ) who is also part owner of Papi’s Steak. Komodo used to be our Friday night “go to ” as it is visually stunning with a large bar full of attractive and friendly people. It offers a beautiful indoor and outdoor seating area, as well as, “nests” above the outdoor bar that you can perch yourself on and enjoy dinner. The menu is Asian-Fusion and their cuisine is unique, delicious and presented beautifully. The honey truffle salmon, crab noodles and the pastrami eggrolls are my favorites to share. They are known for their Peking Duck, which you will see cooking through the open kitchen window as you enter the restaurant. Komodo also has a small lounge upstairs if you choose to keep the party going after dinner. This lively restaurant is located in bustling downtown Brickell.
Swan is located in the new and popular Miami Design District. It is beautiful from the moment you walk into this open garden seating area. It’s fun to start with a glass of champagne or drink of your choice upstairs on the small rooftop terrace . We like to meet here while waiting for our guests to arrive or to kick back after walking around and shopping in the Design District. Next, head back downstairs for dinner in the posh indoor seating areas or back outside in the garden entrance. It’s fun to sit outside and observe all of the interesting fashion that sashays through, while dining. If you’re looking for a little more of a nightlife vibe after dinner( but not into the club scene) head inside, upstairs to Bar Bevy.
If Italian food is what you’re craving, the best 2 restaurants that come to mind are Il Gabbiano and Macchialina. They both have great Italian food but very different vibes. Il Gabbiano’s is more fine dining with beautiful ocean views and an older crowd. It’s on Biscayne boulevard near the downtown miami area. It has an outdoor terrace that overlooks the beautiful water and boats going by. It’s a gorgeous place to catch the sunset, too. They offer refined Northern Italian cuisine. I can never choose between their pasta dishes, so they offer splitting them half and half to enjoy !
Macchialina is a small, family owned Italian restaurant on Alton road in South Beach. If you come here, it’s more for the food, not so much the ambiance. Macchialina is always crowded and can get a bit loud. This is the best Italian food I’ve found in Miami. Chef Mike Pirolo’s spaghetti, as simple as it may look and sound, bursts with so many flavors in your mouth, it will be watering while enjoying this dish! This spaghetti will be the best you’ve ever tasted! You honestly can’t go wrong with anything you order here, It’s the best pasta in town. I suggest trying to get reservations for a Thursday night when they offer $10 pastas so you can try a few varieties. Your tastebuds will thank me for this one !
One of our favorite places for lunch is Malibu Farm in Miami Beach. It offers ocean front seating past the pool area in the back of the Eden Roc / Nobu Hotel. Their food is fresh from farm to table. It is very healthy eating so you won’t find French fries here! Everything is made to order, so enjoy the ocean view while you’re waiting for your food to be prepared. We love the blue nachos as a starter. The B.L.T. Ceaser salad (add shrimp) and the veggie pizza are a few of our other favorite choices. If you are a sushi lover, Nobu is our favorite and you will be passing it in the same location. Nobu is probably the restaurant we frequent most, but I’m not featuring it here as a “miami must ” because you can dine at several Nobu locations all over the country.
Weekend brunches are a big celebration in Miami. Seaspice and Kiki’s on the river are two hot spots that offer a fun vibe, lively crowd and good food, right on the Miami River. It’s a really fun scene. A lot of locals come by boat, dock right in front and jump into brunch, literally! You may find yourself dancing to the D.J. at either bar, once it hits around 3p.m. and the scene begins to pick up. Both restaurants offer indoor seating, as well, but it’s so nice to sit outside on the water and enjoy the view.If you’re lucky you may even spot some cute manatees swimming by!
Cecconi’s is another favorite spot for weekend brunch. It is located in the Soho Beach House but the brunch is open to the public. They offer everything from raw bar items to salads, cheeses and meats, pizzas, pastas, bagels and lox. They have a wonderful carving station usually featuring Prime Rib, Lamb, Chicken or Turkey and some type of Whole Fish, as well as a variety of cooked vegetables and macaroni and cheese. Cecconi’s also has an omelette station with sides of bacon, sausage, etc. Fresh fruit and berries are displayed on the beautiful dessert table and they even have a gelato stand. This brunch pretty much covers any food you might be craving. They have a trio playing inside the lobby seating and a beautiful patio with a retractable rooftop outside. Reservations are highly recommended.
One more suggestion to check out while you’re in Miami is the Faena Hotel. This place is like no other. The lobby looks like a museum with paintings lit with gold that will captivate you. Head back into the Living Room for a drink and some live music. Again, this lounge is stunning with its red velvet couches, exotic animal figurines and a beautiful aesthetic. The Faena also has a few choices for dinner if you’re hungry. Los Fuegos by Francis Mallmann is an Argentinian restaurant right next to The Living Room with an open fire kitchen. You can smell the delicious food grilling on the open flames. Right outside of the restaurant, is a beautiful outdoor bar adorned with seashell coated pillars. When you look back towards the beach, there’s a big surprise…Spoiler alert ! A giant gold Mammoth stands tall at the back of the hotel grounds just before the pool and beach. It’s quite a sight to see in the daytime or lit up at night! Pao by Paul Qui is the dome restaurant upstairs in the Faena, with a large unicorn in the middle. It’s hard to describe this food, a mix of Filipino ,French, Asian & Japanese., if you will. I recommend at least stopping by the Faena Hotel for pictures and a walk through of this beautiful, distinctive hotel in Miami Beach.
And last, but certainly not least, Is The Surf Club. If you’re into more of a fine dining experience, our favorite restaurant is The Surf Club by Chef Thomas Keller. It is a bit north, in Surfside, but worth the uber ride. It is located in the iconic, newly revamped Miami Surf Club ( a Four Seasons Hotel ). It’s a’la carte menu showcases continental cuisine with classic dishes such as Beef Wellington and Lobster Thermidor. They begin by serving you fresh bread and butter which pops up in a fun display. They also bring vegetable crudite’ and dip to share, as well as delicious and crisp cheese breadsticks while you’re perusing the menu. The extensive wine list features a selection of both old and new world wines to complement their amazing dishes. It is fine dining but not stuffy. The beautiful dining room is comfortable and the waitstaff are very friendly and accommodating. They also offer seating in the lounge if you can’t get into the popular dining room. This is a nice experience as well, because you can enjoy the live music they offer. Pictured below is their recently added outdoor dining area near the ocean. I can’t say enough great things about the Surf Club. You’ll have to experience it yourself!
Welcome to Miami and I hope you enjoy your stay! This beautiful city has so much to offer. There are so many different cultures and flavors here, I’m going to have to create several food blogs to really give justice to the variety of restaurants offered in Miami. These are just a few of my top choices that I’ve narrowed down for either their food quality, and/ or scenery to enhance your visit here. Cheers to good food and a good mood, Miami Style!