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.
Haochi is a pop-up kitchen that operates from Little Havana’s Union Beer Store Sundays through Wednesday and Friday. So this option gives you the best of a bar atmosphere along with some of the tastiest dumplings and noodles in the entire city. It’s a perfect option for keeping things casual. Just order everything on the small menu then find a table in the backyard patio if it’s nice out and dinner will feel like a house party. If your birthday dinner doesn’t fall during Haochi’s hours, you should still consider Union Beer Store, because they host a fantastic food pop-up every night of the week.
A birthday dinner in South Beach will generally cost you half a month’s rent. But not at Taquiza. This Mexican spot is reliably delicious, refreshingly casual, and makes totopos that deserve the key to the city. You and your friends can fill the table up with those—plus margaritas, the excellent squash blossom quesadilla, and lots of tacos—without needing to take out a loan. There’s also a more laidback Taquiza location in North Beach that we endorse for all the same reasons.
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.
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 another beer bar that pulls double duty as an outstanding restaurant. It’s a fun spot, 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, a phenomenal hot dog, and one of the city's very best cheeseburgers.
Xixón is a Spanish restaurant with a sunken wine cave you can reserve for big parties, and where there’s a wine cave there is usually lots of wine. Xixón doesn’t disappoint with its variety—from heavy riojas to bright txakolís, and many bottles start at around $30 too. For food, they have pages of tapas and small plates to choose from, including some of our favorite croquetas in Miami. But there literally is something on the menu for almost everyone. You can enjoy plates of marinated baby eels or braised tripe while that one member of your party who would have been happier at Chuck-E-Cheese can snack on crispy fried potatoes with their choice of dipping sauce (or ketchup). If you want something more substantial, the entrees here are huge and meant to be shared, like a crusty paella or spoon-tender roast suckling pig. There’s even a little market in the restaurant—just in case a forgetful friend needs to get you a last-minute gift.
If you want to do a birthday brunch, don’t bother with $50 bottomless mimosas, soggy avocado toast, and way-too-loud house music. Just come to this classic Bird Road dim sum spot. But definitely make sure to come when the dim sum carts are out and moving: Monday through Saturday from 11:30am-3:30pm and Sunday from 10:30am-3:30pm. The dining room is always bustling, loud, and you can eat your weight in dumplings and pork buns for less money than most sceney brunch spots charge for their bottomless mimosas. They have a full bar here too, in case you are trying to have a few drinks.
Rakija Grill is a fun Balkan restaurant in Downtown where your meal can (and should) involve multiple rounds of tiny carafes of rakija, a type of flavored brandy popular in the Balkan region. The menu has lots of reasonably priced Balkan specialties great for sharing, like Balkan charcuterie with garlicky cured sausage, a creamy spreadable cheese called kajmak, and lots more. You should also absolutely get the gurmanska pljeskavica, which is essentially a Balkan burger stuffed with cheese and pancetta and served on a fresh pita with globs of kajmak and ajvar, a bold pepper spread. If you want dinner to really feel like a party, come on Sundays. That’s when Rakija Grill turns into the Balkan version of a pachanga complete with a DJ and occasional live acts from the region.
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 $5. 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.
Heartland is a great excuse to get a bunch of friends together in a spacious outdoor lot where you can drink wine and watch live music. They serve various grilled meats and vegetables, which are decent, but also not the point of coming here. So arrive more thirsty than hungry. Heartland is just a really gorgeous and delightful place to hang out with friends while nodding along to a saxophone. It’s walk-in friendly, although they do take reservations for parties of eight or more.
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.