Get to know Miami through food

Arriving in Miami, Florida is almost like landing in a new country. With over 80 languages spoken throughout this cultural hub, English may not be the first language heard. 

Located in southeast Florida, Miami offers some of the best food in the USA due to the Latin-Caribbean culture and its location on the Atlantic Ocean. Wander Little Havana and the blossoming Arts District Wynwood. Dine in Art Deco South Beach, a waterfront beachside location, or snag a table where the yachts pull up on the river. 

Healthy eats, seafood, breweries, Cubanos, and bravado Sunday brunch spots abound. Eat and drink your way around Miami to get to know the “Capital of Latin America.” 

Nikki Beach  

In its 20th year, “rose all day” beach vibes combine music, art, film, dining, and entertainment. Nestled on the ocean South of Fifth, the first luxury beach club originated here in Miami before its worldwide expansion. Lounge in a daybed or cabana while DJs amp the party with live drummers and saxophonists.

Photo credit: Nikki Beach

On Sundays an all-day beachside brunch includes numerous food stations – from waffles and crepes to omelets and pasta. Course your day with a sushi bar, charcuterie or fruit and veggie platters, seafood paella, salt-crusted fish, gourmet bites, a meat carving station, and a dessert café with cookies, macaroons, and pastry bites.  

Kiki on the River

Yachts pull up at this glamorous restaurant on the river for a taste of the Mediterranean. Donned with roses dropping from the ceiling, the mesmerizing romantic location with purple and pink glow lights is complete with Insta-worthy swings, bedazzled chandeliers, and heart-shaped flower walls. Time-honored Greek favorites are made from scratch in-house. For a celebratory extravaganza, share grilled octopus, tomato salad topped with blocks of feta, Greek orzo salad, salmon sashimi, and Saganaki cheese on fire! Split a bottle of Santorini wine while the whole salt-casked Lavraki fish (Mediterranean seabass) is prepared flaming tableside. On Sundays the packed house includes revelers dancing on tables most likely screaming “OPA!!” or “Kiki, do you love me?”  Read about our Valentine’s Day dinner in 2020 that we will never forget at Kiki.

Kiki on the River. Photo credit: Paul Stoppi

Malibu Farm is no longer there but Ocean Social seems to have replaced it in the same alluring beachside spot

Helene Henderson started her farm to table dinners in her backyard in Malibu, California, but her Malibu Farm restaurant dynasty has spread worldwide – ensuring fresh, organic local produce satisfies customers. Located in the Eden Roc Hotel, one of the only beachfront dining options in South Beach is white rustic Malibu Farm. Expect the same laid-back luxury matching the dishes.

Gourmands will rejoice with fresh salads, a Grass-Fed Burger, Avocado Pizza, Corn Pizza with BBQ roasted chicken, Chicken Meatballs, and Vegan Coconut and Tofu. Compliment your meal with a frose slushy or a signature cocktail like Smoke with Mezcal and Shisito chipotle agave or the Coconut with toasted coconut infused rum, coconut agave, and pineapple juice. 

Little Havana

Try Cuban home cooking at 40-year old Versailles. Order a cubano or a medianoche with a café con leche at this iconic Cuban restaurant where foot-long platters arrive stuffed with rice mounds, black beans, and sweet plantains. The Spanish baguette is loaded with slices of chorizo, serrano ham, and Manchego cheese. Pork, beef, and local seafoods are on the menu depending on the season along with garlic Shrimp al Ajillo.

At family-style El Exquisito, dine on Cuban sandwiches with plantains, croquettes, and Cantimpalo (Chorizo style sausage) with a fresh brewed Cuban coffee. Grab a taco at El Santo Taqueria or ice cream at Azucar

Concrete Brewery

‘Drink Art, Make Beer’ is a fitting slogan just steps away from the Wynwood Walls. Visit the neighborhood’s Concrete Beach Brewery for a tasting palette of inventive beers with hints of lemongrass, plantain, rose wine, coffee, chocolate, mango and papaya. Learn about their extensive brewing process with a free tour while drinking Peaches and Dreams, Finkle Black IPA, Deck the Walls, or Tricerveza Hops. We are sad to report this has closed but encourage you to explore this area for similar finds.

Café Roval

On the Upper East Side, book a romantic date in the stunning historical coral building once a former pump house. Start at the bar with a sake cocktail or one of their 80 artisanal wines to complement their Silk Road bar menu before moving out back to their lush garden patio sanctuary for a memorable seasonal local feast reflecting Mediterranean cooking with a modern edge.  We are sad to learn this has closed.

The Savoy Hotel 

Near the tip of the Pointe and off the Miami Beach Boardwalk, pop in the back of the new Savoy Hotel spruced from its 1935 glory with fresh Art Basel paint in bold colored florals around the poolscape. At the tiki-style palapa bar or casual lounge seating in the sand, refresh with a fruit smoothie or chilled coconut water from the real coconut accompanied with a shot of rum. For lunch, fuel up with Savoy’s guacamole and a cheese-y Cubano with McDonalds-style fries. Here are Ten Reasons to Stay at the Savoy, our newest favorite Miami hotel.

Nobu Miami

Don’t have reservations? Snag a seat at Nobu’s sushi bar to watch the chefs in action like Chef Jake Eaton. Practice mindful eating with Miami specialties like Wagyu Foie Gras Gyoza and Lobster Truffle Uni Noodle. For newbies, the omakase menu is a good place to start but guests can also expect Nobu Classics like Miso Eggplant, Baked Miso Cod, Rock Shrimp Tempura, salmon sashimi with truffle oil, Yellowtail Jalapeno, and Miso Braised Short Rib. For a baller vacation, check into a suite above the ocean at the Nobu Miami Beach Hotel.

Isla del Encanto

For a piece of Puerto Rico in Miami with the warm feeling of eating at a casa de mi abuelita, try the Pastelón de Plátano Maduro (plantain lasagna) with white rice and red beans. The owner serves and greets each table. Monday through Friday there is an all you can eat buffet with a drink for $10 and on weekends, try out karaoke.  

Pizza Bar

No matter what time of day it is, a pizza slice with crisp thin crust is always a good idea, especially a slice that is the size of half a pizza. The famed casual bar-like space on South Beach near Collins and Lincoln touts the slogan #Sizedoesmatter. Grab one of the few tables out front to devour a fast $5 slice late night and you might just be soaking up your late-night booze next to a celeb.

Photo credit: jeffeats.com

Dr. Smood

For the health nut looking for juices and smoothies or plant-based, raw, gluten-free food, look no farther than this health company to take home a few products. I took home some spicy powder to put in smoothies. The cafe menu offers Superfood breakfast choices, organic sandwiches, uber-healthy salads and pasta, and many variations on avocado toast.

This article was written in February 2020, a few months before the pandemic shut down and a similar version was supposed to be published on Lonely Planet but due to the ever-changing restaurant landscape, the article was put on hold indefinitely.

leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.