Miami’s Best Dining
Where to Eat in Miami: South Beach and Beyond
By Alyssa Pinsker
Miami always provides a cornucopia of experiences for the senses. The Atlantic Ocean provides the backdrop, the pastel-colored Art Deco architecture, and the welcome humidity enhances your walking pleasures.
Listen and dance to the city’s unique Latin and mash-up beats, interspersed with bird songs, palm trees, red carpets, hookahs street high fashion and art, and especially the savory flavors.
There are hundreds of foodie paradise spots in South Beach from James Beard award winners to food-hall gems. This August, we were lucky enough to get a taste.
Breakfast in Miami
Cortadito Coffee House
1656 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
Cortadito Coffee House, like most breakfast spots in South Beach, is open from 7 am-9 pm. Their signature dish is the Cuban Sandwich: roasted pork, swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles on Cuban bread.
The dish which actually originated in South Florida was the best I’ve tasted. Their coffee is straight from Havana. I ordered a café bombón which is espresso with sweetened condensed milk.
They also have Coladas (larger Cuban espressos with sugar), a customized “Ms. Eva”: espresso and evaporated milk, cortaditos (the Cuban classic: or a “Ms. Eva” with sugar!), and cafe con Leche (coffee with milk.)
Their guava and cheese empanada is quite popular as are their savory fried croquetas. They also have healthy options like the Florida fresh smoothies and the completa bowl with quinoa and protein of your choice far into the evening.
Miami European Breakfast
Miami Beach: 1601 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Crema Gourmet Espresso Bar has a sleek Milan-like café interior and outside seating for people watching and serves the wonderful Illy Italian espresso in all its incantations.
They also have an all-day breakfast from 8 am to 9 pm for in-house fresh-baked pastries, like the pain au chocolate that honestly was the best I’ve had outside of Paris in years and made me rethink ordering chocolate croissants. Along with my strong almond milk decaf latte, it was a perfect breakfast.
They also have healthy smoothies, lovely, fresh acai bowls and juices and dinner options like sandwiches, pastas, salads and wine and beer for evening drinks.
Miami’s Sunset Harbor for Lunch or Dinner
Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante
1801 Purdy Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida 33139
Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante is an establishment in South Beach’s Sunset Harbor. Sardinian Chef Vardeu has been invited to cook for the James Beard Foundation three times.
He serves pure, authentic Sardinian cuisine with ultra-fresh ingredients and imports from the island. Something as simple as in-house baked bread, or flatbread imported from Sardinia with top-shelf olive oil and salt.
Their famous in-house pecorino cheese spread made with sheep cheese and yogurt is divine, a taste of Italy due to the purity of the ingredients. The restaurant is also a wine repository, with a 300 plus list comprised mostly of wines and Prosecco from Italy, along with French Champagne.
The decor is upscale Mediterranean and warm with dark wooden tables and chairs, accenting wine racks and a wood-burning oven accented by bright blue tiles and tall wine racks.
We had a chef’s tasting beginning with the bread and cheese then a “Sarda salad” of radish, celery, olives and rughetto: bright and fresh paired with a crisp white Roero Arneis.
Next, we tried the spaghetti, topped with bottarga di Mugine which was perfectly cooked al dente with a Sardinian specialty topping: fish paste called Bottarga! It was delicious, like a caviar paste washed down with the white slightly sweet Vermentino di Gallura.
For a third course, we had orecchiette with boar sausages and rapini pesto and pine nuts, a savory combination of the slightly sweet sausages balancing out the rapini’s earthy bitterness.
The fourth dish was perfectly grilled octopus with garlic spinach paired with a chianti Classico. Lastly, for dessert we had a millefoglie cream cake with layers made in-house, sweet and light and softer than the French version and a creamy flan with berries on top. This was a fresh, simple, upscale, and elegant spot for some of the best Sardinian outside of Italy.
South Beach Dining with Hookahs
610 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach FL 33139
Hookah lounges are wildly popular on South Beach. 7SPICES is a top-rated lounge on Lincoln Road’s famous Lapidus black and white striped road surrounded with art deco architecture, planters, fountains and all the lively shops and restaurants open late into the night in South Beach.
They specialize in Middle Eastern cuisine, specifically Lebanese, and the bar also offers dishes from Greece, Turkey, Italy, Cyprus along with American-style dishes.
The venue has a relaxing elegant outdoor Moroccan garden experience albeit the greenery is not real, I recommend sitting on the terrace on red couches under the tasseled umbrellas for a very Insta-worthy experience.
We started with a refreshing limonana which I requested with stevia instead of sugar, then sampled: grilled halloumi, falafel, green salad, mixed grill: filet mignon and chicken kebobs with saffron rice, amazing hummus and pita; red octopus, garlic butter shrimp, and rice and ended this lovely, healthy meal with some incredible baklava and Moroccan mint tea followed by the nicotine-free mango mint hookah served in a pineapple!
The hookahs are a huge draw for the hip restaurant. The cocktails are creative concoctions made with heavy sugar, but you can request healthier versions as we did.
3252 NE 1st Ave #109, Miami, FL 33137
Maü Miami has an occasional red carpet and oozes youth and sexiness and upscale bohemian chic Mykonos meets Tulum vibes. Their gorgeous signature Seafood Tower has oysters, shrimp, ceviche, tiradito, and lobster. The beautiful raw bar was all super-fresh, tasty, and beautifully served. The Mediterranean fusion is upscale, such as the Lobster Hawk: a whole lobster hugging a Tomahawk steak.
Tulum steps in with jungle-style greenery and hanging chairs, and their menu features dishes like the Tomahawk, 32 ounces of ribeye, which we sampled and was tender and delicious. Their signature cocktail menu was made by mixologist Alexandros Christoforidis from Athens, we tried the First Bloom, a Ketel one rose grapefruit with a lemongrass-infused simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, St. Germain, lavender bitters and egg white and it was as sophisticatedly sweet as it sounds.
For dessert, we had the classic trés leches which was also beautifully served and topped with an orchid. You can also request a hookah with exotic flavors to be brought to the table. Shown here is their massive tomahawk steak! You can dine al fresco on their terrace for awesome views or inside for the ritzy rustic jungle feel.
A South Beach Market Worth Seeking Out
Time Out Miami Market
1601 Drexel Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
For an all-in-one, foodie stop check out the famous “best of” round-up magazine market recommended by curated writers and editor’s top choices for an all-in-one dining stop. Located in a newly constructed unique art-deco style building, hits include the famous artsy hand-made gastropub Kush and Azucar ice cream and a location for local favorite Vietnamese-Cajun mashup Phuc Yea’s Pho Mo. There are also cocktails from Miami’s best mixologists and lots of street-style art!
Little River, Florida
8300 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33138
A modern destination with a food court, cocktails, sustainable retailers, live music & a rooftop bar.
Manjay in Little River is a fine-casual spot at a modern chic food hall, the Citadel Miami is known for its rooftop bar which often has live music. The Citadel has around nine stalls for everything from coffee and ice cream, pizza, cocktails to Haitian-based Caribbean vibes, Manjay.
Caribbean cuisine is of course excellent in Miami due to proximity, and this is pure Caribbean from the various islands. We tried the Mofongo “my way” which was crushed sweet plantains, garlic and a Haitian creole sauce.
This hearty stew is always such a comfort food and was fresh and delicious. We also sampled the fresh Coco Loco shrimp which was deep-fried coconut curry shrimp, an indulgent treat.
The Caribbean bowls have all the goodies and the jerk chicken is especially excellent, this Haitian specialty is served with Haitian national rice which is rice and red beans with unique seasonings of the island, banan payzay which is crispy pressed plaintains and Manjay pikliz, pickled cabbage. An authentic deep friend indulgence, Manjay has all the classics. They are opening a free-standing location in Wynwood in the next few months.\
Coral Gables Florida
Biltmore in Coral Gables
1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134
The Biltmore, a National Historic Landmark located in the exclusive Coral Gables area with a proximity to Miami Beach and Downtown Miami is must-visit. The 271-room resort includes 174 suites and features spectacular Mediterranean architecture with classic Italian, Moorish, and Spanish influences spread over 150 acres of tropical landscape.
The property built in 1926 and resurrected after the war in the early 80s has the palatial feel of the Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai with an entire resort, Donald Ross golf course and membership that hosts the Junior Orange Bowl where Tiger Woods got his start.
Largest Pool in America
There is also a fitness and social club membership. The Biltmore is known for having the largest hotel pool in America which is 600,000 gallons and 26,000 square feet. I tried a vintage cabana lounge and some yummy poolside trays like their signature guava cocktail and lobster tacos.
Just sitting in the lobby or veranda by the fountain is an aesthetic healing experience replete with architecture, superb service, and history. If you can’t stay overnight, you can rent a day cabana, it doesn’t have air conditioning but is secluded and has tv, a fridge, and an upscale pool menu.
I was lucky enough to be able to experience their signature therapy, “The Lotus Rose Sanctuary” from the Eastern ritual menu (which includes abhyanga and authentic Ayurvedic experiences I’ve experienced and enjoyed in India.)
Their take on this ritual had the authenticity of a 15-minute bath in between the scrub and massage in a free-standing porcelain tub to wash off the scrub and then soak in a decadent salt soak infused with rose, jasmine, and ylang-ylang.
It began with a full-body exfoliation with Dead Sea salts and sand mixed with Rose and Lotus oils. Then it was followed by a nurturing massage with precious oil of lotus rose, and vanilla which was so targeted I asked if the excellent therapist used warm stones. The gentle pressure was perfect for loosening any tension and left my mind and body clear, and my skin silky soft and ready for the beach.
Mangoes on South Beach for Salsa
Mango’s Tropical Cafe South Beach
900 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Mango’s is a must-see and do in South Beach to watch and participate in Latin dancing with a risque, festive South Beach Twist, as seen in the barely-there costumes and more daring moves. They have a fun Sip, Savor & Salsa night, every evening at 7:30 pm which includes a salsa and bachata lesson, 1 mojito, Floribbean appetizers, a live band, shows and dancing all night as well as a VIP entrance.
We checked out the class upstairs in a private area with Bruno, who was so friendly and engaging, he was a great cheerleader without putting anyone on the spot. I think we got the hang of it. Downstairs is the free-style Latin dancing where you can dance until 5 am with the pros in festive costumes on a neon on stage as inspiration.
I wouldn’t call it a family-friendly environment but it’s definitely a must-do in Miami to learn the local moves and well worth the entrance fee.
Where to Stay in Miami Beach
El Paseo Hotel
405 Española Way,
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
We stayed at the El Paseo, a hotel in the very heart of South Beach on the iconic Espanola Way.
It’s a Spanish Mediterranean boutique hotel with comfortable beds and a balcony overlooking the hustle and bustle of Espanola Way. There are also optional 2-bedroom units with full kitchens.
The beach is just 4 minutes away and the restaurant next door is always filled with people, offering a grand opportunity for people watching as the crowds stroll through the strip.
They offer a wine hour in-house, jazz nights at the nearby café, yoga Saturdays and more, plus a full array of accessible restaurants, access to city bikes, and the free Miami Beach loop.
Alyssa Pinsker is a luxury travel writer, influencer, and media coach. She has written for Fodors, Lonely Planet, BBC Travel, Cosmopolitan, New York Post, and more. She has lived in Japan, France, India, Switzerland, and Ukraine and traveled to just 42 countries so far