When I’m not studying abroad in Barcelona, I’m a student at the University of Miami (UM) in Miami, Florida. After living there for three years, I’ve made a pretty extensive list of my favorite restaurants to recommend to visitors and I thought I might share this list with you in case you ever find yourself in the Sunshine State.
UM is located in Coral Gables, a residential neighborhood about a thirty minute drive from South Beach – the main entertainment and tourist destination in Miami. The Art Deco style area is home to numerous nightclubs, hotels, stores, and restaurants. You might also recognize South Beach for being the backdrop of Miami Vice. Although I live near UM in Coral Gables, many of my friends have already graduated and live closer to South Beach in Brickell, Miami’s major financial district and upscale high-rise residential neighborhood. Another interesting area in Miami is the Design District, which is characterized by low-rise warehouses converted into art galleries and showrooms. Just south of the Design District is Wynwood, the warehouse-lined, graffiti-covered hipster area. The district has gained international attention from the Wynwood Walls, spectacular mural displays of comendable street art. The area becomes especially busy during Art Basel, an annual global art fair in the first week of December. The last area I will talk about is Bal Harbour, a wealthy community on the northernmost tip of Miami Beach, known for its exclusive beaches, luxury resorts, and the Bal Harbour Shops – one of the most posh outdoor retail shopping centers in the world. Although the upscale village is a long forty-five minute drive from UM, I go there when my parents visit and stay at the St. Regis Bal Harbour. My favorite restaurants in the Miami area are therefore dispersed amongst these regions, and I group them together in my podcast by this geography.
Also keep in mind that if you’re not in the area of a restaurant you like the sounds of, you can use the 24-hour on-demand delivery service Postmates to get the food brought to you in the comfort of your own home or wherever you may be. My friends and I often find ourselves postmates-ing LoKal burgers, Ten Fruits acai bowls, or the Mandolin greek salad, so you’re not alone if you feel lazy one day.
For reference, you can find the restaurants that I mention in the podcast below.
The Biltmore Sunday Champagne Brunch
Sunday brunch at the stunning courtyard of the Biltmore Hotel and Golf Course is one of the most celebrated champagne brunches in Miami. It costs around $85 for person and includes an extravagant buffet of caviar, smoked salmon, shellfish, carved meats, fresh omelets, pastas, sushi, desserts, live entertainment, bottomless Champagne, and Bellinis.
LoKal is not to be mistaken for being low cal. It’s a laid-back, eco-friendly beer and burger restaurant in Coconut Grove. It serves some of the most flavorful hamburgers I’ve ever had, and everything is made with fresh, local, sustainable ingredients.
Threefold Cafe is a new Australian breakfast place near Miracle Mile that quickly became the talk of the town. It uses premium locally sourced produce and serves a delicious smashed avocado toast, Eggs Benedict, banana bread, omelets, French toast, and salads in a bright welcoming space.
Ten Fruits is a healthy juice and coffee bar that has some of the best acai bowls and smoothies in Miami. It had an outpost near Miracle Mile, but rumor has it that this location just closed down and UM students now have to trek Downtown to get their Mr. Green smoothie fix.
Sushi Samba is a chain of slick and vibrant restaurants that serve Japanese–Brazilian–Peruvian fusion food, creative sushi, and cocktails. The Sushi Samba on Miracle Mile is located in the Westin Hotel. I recommend the Viva Samba roll and the sea bass antichuchos with peruvian corn.
Hillstone is another chain restaurant on Miracle Mile. I’m not usually a fan of chains but this upscale yet casual American restaurant chain’s ribs are just too darn good not mention in this. It’s also down the street from Cold Stone Creamery, which makes a pretty deadly combo.
Green Street Cafe
Zuma is a chic Japanese hotspot in the heart of Downtown Miami. It is located in the Epic Hotel, overlooking the Miami River. However, its good looks and views are not things that are going for it. Its incredible Asian-inspired dishes are meant for customers to share but few actually can. Some of most popular dishes are the rice pot, fresh lump crabmeat spinach salad, barley miso corn-fed baby chicken, ribs, and of course the Black Angus skirt steak. The restaurant is also known for its spectacular buffet brunch, though it should be noted that its price tag goes along with its quality ($125 for one entrée, the reputed rice pot, a full spread of sushi and robata dishes, a spectacular dessert platter, and bottomless sangria and Champagne).
Il Gabbiano is an elegant Italian restaurant by the same creators as Il Mulino New York. On a waterfront terrace with views of Biscayne Bay, the attentive staff will load your plate with complimentary antipasti. Try not to get too full because the main dishes are phenomenal (but are priced accordingly).
Sugarcane is an eclectic Midtown restaurant from the Sushi Samba team with a great atmosphere and cozy outdoor patio. The trendy spot offers great drinks and small plates, including sushi and robata-grill items.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro
Mandolin Aegean Bistro is an incredible Greek and Turkish restaurant with a stunning outdoor patio. It has a great energy and is perfect for group meals. I suggest the greek salad, mussels, chicken kebab, and lamb chops – but everything’s good here!
Gigi is a modern loft-like Asian fusion restaurant in Midtown. It serves tasty tapas until the wee hours of the morning (5 am Thursday-Saturday), making it the perfect place to go after a night out at Bardot.
Michael’s Genuine is a modern and imaginative American eatery that serves high-quality, locally sourced comfort food. The Design District restaurant attracts celebrities and foodies alike. Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, for instance, sat at the table next to me last time I went.
The Morgan’s Restaurant
The Morgans Restaurant is located in a refurbished old house with a bright covered porch in Midtown Miami. It serves delectable new takes on homey American staples and is one of the best and most reasonable brunches in Miami.
Casa Tua is one of the most beautiful restaurants I have ever been to. The restaurant is set inside a boutique inn enveloped in lush greenery. The interior is stylish and posh, and the exterior is a stunning lantern-lit garden. In addition to its tasteful decor, Casa Tua serves outstanding Northern Italian food, making its high costs worth it.
Katsuya is an upscale Japanese restaurant with extremely modern decor at the SLS Hotel. Its mouthwatering sushi attracts the trendy guests who flock to the hotel. I highly recommend the spicy tuna rice cake, baked crab hand roll, yellowtail jalapeño, brussels sprouts, miso cod, albacore crispy onion, and rock shrimp.
Joe’s Stone Crab
Joe’s Stone Crab a traditional style seafood restaurant that’s only open October-May. The classic restaurant is always bustling with people who come for its famous crab and key lime pie. If you don’t want to wait for a table, there’s also a to-go outpost of it next door called Joe’s Take Away.
Baoli is a high-end Mediterranean restaurant and nightclub in a trendy garden atmosphere. It’s definitely the place to go if you’re looking for a loud and fun restaurant – perfect for birthday dinners if you have a deep pocket! It serves massive cocktails that can be shared with the entire table.
Scarpetta is celebrate chef Scott Conant’s deluxe Italian eatery at the Fountainbleau Miami Beach resort – the resort that is also home to well-known nightclub Liv. Excellent service, glamorous nautical decor, and exquisite modern Italian fare make it the perfect place for a fancy dinner with parents.
Nobu is one of the most recognized upscale and minimalist Japanese restaurants in the world. Though the Nobu in Miami lacks the stunning atmosphere as say the Nobu in Malibu, it still has the same high-quality crowd favorite dishes, including the yellowtail jalapeño, spicy tuna rice cake, artichoke salad, and mini tacos.
Prime Italian is the Italian steakhouse located at the Hilton Bentley across the street from its popular sister restaurant Prime 112 – which it shares many menu items with. Its incredible Kobe meatball and fried Oreo dessert help the small restaurant attract a lively scene.
Late night: Big Pink, La Sandwicherie
Hungry after a late night out in Miami? Check out Big Pink or La Sandwicherie. Big Pink is a retro diner owned by the Myles Restaurant Group, the same owners as Prime 112 and Prime Italian. You will definitely not miss the “big” and “pink” restaurant across the street from Story Nightclub, nor will you have trouble finding something you like from its over 200 menu options.
If you’re craving more of a make-your-own Bo de B style sub in Miami, La Sandwicherie is the place for you. There’s two locations of this late-night sandwich stop, one in Brickell to go after dancing up an appetite at Blackbird Ordinary, and one in South Beach to go after the big South Beach clubs. Both places are open until 5 am on weekends.
Makoto is a sleek, classy, and modern Japanese restaurant in the Bal Harbour Shops. Their sushi, Japanese entrees, and robata dishes are all phenomenal. I recommend the spicy tuna crispy rice, dynamite hand roll, japanese eggplant, short ribs, and miso sea bass.