Miami may be best known around the world for its beaches, nightlife, and Art Deco charm, but locals and savvy travelers know it’s also home to one of the best food scenes in the country. The city’s status as a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities shines through in its cuisine, which runs the gamut from Caribbean to Korean. Whether you’re looking for guava-stuffed Cuban pastelitos and frothy cafecitos at a casual mom-and-pop stop, or an upscale omakase experience curated by a Tokyo-trained Michelin-starred chef, you’ll find Miami is bursting with incredible culinary delights that cater to every taste. Here’s a guide to some of the city’s top places to eat, written by locals who know what’s what.
No visit to Miami is complete without a stop at this homegrown institution. Located on the famous Calle Ocho (or Eighth Street) in Little Havana, Versailles has been serving some of the best Cuban food in the city since the ‘70s. Sit down in the restaurant’s mirrored dining room (yes, it was inspired by the French palace, in case the name didn’t give it away) and tuck into a plate of rich and tender ropa vieja with a side of white rice and sweet plantains. Or pop by La Ventanita — Versailles’s order-up window — for Cuban coffee, pastries, croquetas, and plenty of chisme (that’s Spanish for gossip) from the old timers who gather here every morning.
How to get there: Versailles is located at 3555 SW 8th Street, Miami. For more information, visit www.versaillesrestaurant.com.
Perched on the rooftop of the Lincoln Road Garage, Juvia offers delicious French-Japanese-Peruvian cuisine paired with some of the best views of Miami Beach. It’s a popular place to do date night, as few places in South Beach can match the romantic atmosphere Juvia brings when the sun goes down. But most locals will tell you the best time to visit Juvia is during its weekend brunch, offered Saturday and Sunday. It includes a three-course fixed-price menu plus bottomless mimosas, bellinis, prosecco or margaritas for $65 — a steal on South Beach. The breathtaking views are just a bonus.
How to get there: Juvia is located at 1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach. For more information, visit www.juviamiami.com.
The Wynwood Arts District always makes it onto many visitors’ lists. Most come for the art, but end up staying once they realize how great the food scene here is. Wynwood is home to plenty of amazing restaurants where you can refuel after a few hours of gallery-hopping and street art-spotting. If you’re a meat lover, there’s no better place to satisfy your cravings than The Butcher Shop. The burgers, hand-crafted sausages and signature steaks here are out of this world, and best enjoyed al fresco in the restaurant’s lively (and pet-friendly) beer garden. The menu also boasts a robust list of rotating domestic and imported brews, plus lots of options from local breweries like J Wakefield, Veza Sur and Concrete Beach.
How to get there: The Butcher Shop Beer Garden & Grill is located at 165 NW 23rd Street, Miami. For more information, visit www.butchershopbeergarden.com
Miami isn’t known for being a bargain — if you’ve spent some time in South Beach and Brickell, you’ve probably realized that. But there are several places where you can enjoy great food even if you’re visiting on a budget. El Palacio De Los Jugos is an all-time classic, especially if you’re looking for amazing Latin American food. It has locations across Miami, and each one serves up mouthwatering dishes like arroz con pollo, fufu de platano, croqueta sandwiches, pan con bistec, and more. Make sure you try one of their fresh-pressed tropical juices — the jugo de guarapo (that’s sugarcane juice) is legendary.
How to get there: El Palacio De Los Jugos has multiple locations from Sunset to Hialeah. You can find a list of them here.
If you prefer your meals with waterfront views, add Kiki on the River to your list. Open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, this gem on the Miami River is known for its lush boho-chic décor, stunning views, and traditional, hits-the-spot Greek and Mediterranean fare. Call ahead to reserve a table at the edge of the deck where you can watch the mega yachts roll in for Kiki’s lively rose-fueled brunch parties. In the evenings, the vibe is more romantic — come early to catch the sunset, then linger over a candlelit dinner of homemade hummus, saganaki, harissa lamb chops, and a bottle of Cretan wine.
How to get there: Kiki on the River is located at 450 NW North River Drive, Miami. For more information, visit www.kikiontheriver.com.
Visiting Miami with kids? Rally up the gang for lunch at Ms. Cheezious. This hotspot on Biscayne Boulevard specializes in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches — we’re talking oh-so-gouda spin-offs made with braised short rib and jack cheese, goat cheese and prosciutto, and even spiced apples and Havarti. And don’t worry if your little ones are picky eaters — there are plenty of more traditional kid-friendly options, like the stripped-down classic version, plus a build-your-own option. If there’s a sweet tooth in the family, don’t save room for the s’mores melt, made with roasted marshmallows and salted chocolate hazelnut spread.
How to get there: Ms. Cheezious is located at 7418 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami. For more information, visit www.mscheezious.com.
For the true culinary connoisseurs out there — if you can only do one dinner in Miami, it should be at Azabu. Owned and operated by legendary Japanese hospitality group, Plan Do See, this Michelin-starred concept made waves in New York before opening its second outpost just a few years ago in Miami Beach’s food-focused SoFi neighborhood. Since then, it’s consistently topped critics’ lists as one of the best restaurants in the city. Standouts from the menu include Nagoya-style chicken wings served with caramelized spicy soy, Rohan duck confit bao buns, crispy corn tempura wit curry salt, and an A5 Japanese wagyu filet served beautifully on a hot stone. Want to kick the experience up a notch? Make reservations for an omakase dinner at The Den, Azabu’s “secret” sushi counter, where Chef Yasu Tanaka carefully crafts a tasting menu of around 17 courses including Edomae sushi, sashimi, and more.
How to get there: Azabu is located inside the Marriott Stanton, at 161 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. For more information, visit www.azabuglobal.com.