Where To Have A Fun Birthday Dinner Without Asking Your Friends To Spend Hundreds Of DollarsBecause your friends love you—but maybe not that much.
Birthdays are a special occasion—at least for the person celebrating one. For everyone else, a birthday often means splitting the check nine different ways and dropping $200 because Larry decided to order the most expensive thing on the menu and a sangria pitcher he didn’t even share with anyone. But there is a way to avoid making your friends spend way too much money to honor the day of your birth (other than not inviting Larry). Just go to one of the places on this guide. They’re all fun spots where you can drink, be loud, eat something delicious, and leave the table without spending more than $100 per person.
Le Bouchon is an incredibly charming little French restaurant right in the heart of Coconut Grove. The prices might not look super affordable at first glance, but portions are huge—especially the steamed mussels, which can easily feed two or three and comes in a massive cast iron pot with a big pile of crispy french fries. Also, you get a free glass of champagne when you sit down, which is just lovely. Le Bouchon checks the “fun” boxes with ease too. It’s got a lively atmosphere that’ll make you feel like you’re in Paris. And yet another reason to celebrate a birthday here: they’ll play a special birthday song (an endearingly odd dance remix of the Rocky Balboa soundtrack) for you at a hilariously loud volume.
If your birthday dinner is a relatively small one, bring the three or four people you still actually like spending time with to Jaguar Sun, a fun restaurant perfect for small groups who appreciate gin and pasta. This Downtown spot is all about stiff martinis, friendly and competent service, excellent pasta, and a great raw bar. If you really want to save a little extra money, schedule your dinner for a Tuesday, when Jaguar Sun has cheap martinis and oyster specials all night long.
We truly love North Miami’s Paradis for any occasion that requires being among friends in a relaxing yet fun environment where no one will give the tiniest shit about whether or not you’re wearing a designer label. This wine bar and bakery serves a phenomenal rotating menu of pizza, tinned fish, small plates, and various sourdough goods. There’s rarely anything on the menu much more than $10, and they have circular outdoor tables great for groups. Plus, you pay at the counter, so you won’t have to do the whole awkward split-the-check-seven-ways thing.
The Gibson Room is a bar and restaurant on Coral Way that comes from the Ariete team, which explains why the menu is a lot more creative (and tasty) than what’s at your average bar. They serve an impressively crispy chicken schnitzel, strozzapreti with diced ham, foie gras flan, and more dishes that range from uni butter popcorn to oxtail and shrimp ramen. Most of the large plates here hover between $20 and $30, and the gibson martini comes in at a refreshingly reasonable $12. They also host live music and vinyl DJs every single night.
Doya has a lot of things going for it—in general, but also pertaining to this guide. It's a huge, energetic restaurant great for big groups. The food and cocktails are excellent, and the menu is mostly meze plates that work wonderfully for sharing. You can certainly spend some money here, but most plates on the menu hover around $10 to $15, and you can easily spend far more on way worse food in Wynwood. The menu is consistent, but definitely get the sea beans, octopus salad, and a kebab or two on the table. An extra side of lavash is a good idea too.
Off Site is a beer bar that pulls double duty as an outstanding restaurant. It’s a fun spot if you like beer and appreciate a perfect hot dog, but it’s also very laidback, so don’t expect to dance or anything. But do expect some great beer as well as a menu full of Miami’s best bar food, including perfect chicken wings, an excellent Cuban sandwich, and one of the city's very best cheeseburgers.
Maxwell Bros is a Palmetto Bay pizza shop from the Lincoln’s Beard Brewing team. So there are two great reasons to come here: beer and pizza, both of which make for a fun birthday, in our professional opinion. The Neapolitan pizza here is very good, and under $15 for a 12-inch pie (the only size they serve). You can also get a house beer for just over $6. Aside from its affordability, Maxwell is a very fun spot, and they have live music and/or a DJ on Fridays and Saturdays. They also operate an adjacent ice cream shop, Cry Baby Creamery, right next door. Maybe they'll have a birthday candle you can stick in your scoop.
Wynwood isn’t exactly a cheap place to eat these days. But this spot is a good bet for one of the more affordable fun dinners in Wynwood, especially if you're in the mood for cocktails and pizza. That's what you'll be eating here—and it's a nice, foldable thin-crust version. The seating is mostly outdoors, located in a courtyard in the center of the building. So you don't have to deal with Wynwood foot traffic brushing up against your table. There's also a giant disco ball, a DJ booth, and a big bar in case you want to stick around for drinks after dinner.