When you think of Miami, what words come to mind? For most, it’s bright, colorful, energetic, and exciting. But Miami is more than just nightclubs, concerts, and entertainment. It also has a thriving culinary scene – one of the best in the entire region. And whether you’re looking for a casual bite for lunch or a luxurious fine dining experience, there are plenty of options. But as anyone does, we have our favorites!
Criteria for Best Restaurants
Any list of the best restaurants in a specific locale is going to be subjective. But in order to be as transparent as we possibly can, here are the five main factors we’re using to make our list.
Food. The actual food itself is obviously the most important factor. When you push past all of the other bells and whistles, it’s the cuisine that draws people in. Good eats can be served in a food truck or penthouse; it doesn’t matter. Where there’s tasty nosh, people will flock!
Uniqueness. Anyone can serve a slice of pizza or a burger. And while, yes, some are tastier than others, we’re giving bonus points to restaurants that break out of the typical mold and offer unique dishes that engage the senses and make people excited!
Service. Nothing sours good food quite like bad service. So we consider good service and friendly/accommodating wait staff to be a critically important factor in the overall restaurant experience. (Does the wait staff make you want to come back? Or do they leave a bad taste in your mouth?)
Ambiance/vibe. To many people, the ambiance and vibe of a place is just as important as the food. While some people are looking for low light and hushed voices, other people want all the lights and plenty of excitement. The main criteria is that the restaurant has a vibe that compels people to stick around and eventually return.
Popularity. Is it technically possible for a hole-in-the-wall cafe to be one of the best restaurants in the area? Well, yes...but it’s unlikely. Word always gets around. And if a restaurant is truly as good as people say it is, it’ll have a steady flow of people. There’s no keeping secrets here!
Other factors certainly come into play, but the majority of a restaurant’s ranking will be dependent on a combination of these five factors.
The Best Miami Restaurants
Miami has a lot of different cultural influences, which have a direct impact on the types of restaurants you’ll find in the area. Common choices include Cuban and Pan-Latin cuisine, fresh seafood, luxury restaurants, flashy hotel restaurants, and even celebrity chef kitchens.
Here’s a look at our favorites:
Amara at Paraiso. There might not be a better location than the footprint Amara at Paraiso has secured on Biscayne Bay. Located in the Beverly Terrace neighborhood with incredible bay views directly from the waterside patio, this hotspot is worth an evening out. Some of the top delicacies at Amara at Paraiso include yucca cheese puffs, short rib empanadas, and grilled red snapper. They’re also known for having world-class cocktails with heavy pours.
Makoto. This Stephen Starr restaurant is located in Bal Harbour Shops. And though it may not have the views that Amara at Paraiso has, the vibe is unique, sophisticated, and magnetic. The Japanese cuisine is among the best in the country. And as good as it tastes, many would call it an art form, too. Okuwa, one of Miami’s most celebrated chefs, is masterful with his creation of Edomae-style sushi and is known to create delectable plates that all-but beg an Instagram photoshoot.
The Surf Club Restaurant. If you prefer classic to trendy and old-school to new-age, you’ll love The Surf Club Restaurant. This staple of the surfside community is like taking a step back into the 1950s. And while the vibe is good, the food is also exceptional. You’ll find classics like roast chicken, beef wellington, and an ice cream sundae that will make your mom blush.
KYU. Want something unique? There’s nothing like KYU in the entire city. Its Asian-inspired menu has a BBQ twist that brings classic dishes into a totally new light. We’re talking duck “burnt ends,” brisket lettuce, and beef tenderloin with fire-roasted kimchi.
Matador Room. Want to feel like a king or queen? The Matador Room at The Miami Beach Edition has one of the sleekest dining rooms in the city. From the light to the circular shape, it’s an experience unlike any other. In addition to serving delectable lunch and dinner options, the Matador Room is known for its tasty breakfast and brunch menu.
Mignonette. Looking for a place where a fresh t-shirt and pair of dark denim jeans is acceptable? Mignonette is a modern seafood restaurant with some of the best oysters around. And in addition to classic seafood staples, you’ll find options like chicken, prime rib, and a veggie board that packs a serious punch. And with big palladium windows and eclectic light fixtures, it’s easy to escape into a different world.
Joe’s Stone Crab. If you’ve been in Miami for any time at all, then you know about Joe’s Stone Crab. It’s a Miami staple that’s been around for more than a century. Located on the very south side of Miami Beach, you’ll find white table cloths, cozy indoor seating, and even a 1,400-square foot outdoor seating area. The menu is incredible, with creamed spinach, hash-browns, claws, and other classics. And while we’d always recommend dining in to soak up the vibe, there’s a Joe’s Takeaway next door that allows you to grab some claws to go.
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. This is a farm-to-table restaurant that’s equal parts tasty, chic, and wholesome. And while the fresh and eclectic menu is always evolving, we’d recommend the wood oven-roasted grouper or Diavola pizza. Both are can’t-miss-good.
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Posted by Emily Sehres on