MIAGuide

The Downtown Miami Lunch Guide

All the best places to eat lunch in Downtown.

So, you’re trying to eat lunch in Downtown. Maybe you work in one of the neighborhood's many office buildings. Maybe you just got off a cruise ship. Maybe you are Erik Spoelstra and you got to the arena a little early and are now hungry (Hi, Erik, big fans!). Whether you want a sandwich to-go, or a proper sit-down meal, here are our favorite places to eat lunch in Downtown.

THE SPOTS

One of Miami’s most peaceful little cafes happens to be around the corner from E11even, and the coffee is good enough to help you forget about that one time you spent $400 there on a bottle of $40 vodka. People mostly come here for the fantastic breakfast dishes (which are also lunch-appropriate) but they also have a small weekday lunch menu featuring a BLT and an excellent chicken katsu sando. Coffee is mandatory here. You can go with a simple but perfect pour over or opt for more adventurous things like a rosemary cold brew with lime juice.

Motek is an Israeli restaurant buried inside a huge building full of diamond shops, and getting here will make you feel like a considerably less stressed-out version of Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems. There are some very tasty things at the casual restaurant, especially sandwiches. We really like their crispy chicken schnitzel sandwich and the arayes burger, handheld beef-stuffed pitas that come with a side of crispy fries. The indoor restaurant is also BYOB with no corkage fee.

Not only does Verde have one of the best views in Miami, but it’s casual enough to show up here in shorts and a tank top. The restaurant is located in the back of the Pérez Art Museum and has a beautiful, uninterrupted view of Biscayne Bay. That is really why you should come here (and why you shouldn’t sit inside), but the food—mostly salads, pizza, and sandwiches—is solid and straightforward.

Bali Café is a little cash-only Indonesian spot where you can get some very generous portions of dishes you won’t find done this well anywhere else in the area. The menu is very large and includes everything from dumplings to sushi rolls—but you should focus on their signature Indonesian dishes, like the nasi goreng special. It comes on a little cafeteria-style tray with separated portions of fried rice, coconut chicken curry, and an awesomely tender pile of rendang. There’s no shortage of things to look at in the restaurant, which is decorated with colorful statues and masks you’ll want to touch and try on. Please don’t.

We don’t find ourselves recommending restaurants inside Bayside Marketplace, like, ever. But the insufferably touristy area is making a push to bring in some new restaurants. La Cañita is one of them, and it’s actually very good. The Cuban/Caribbean spot comes from the Cafe La Trova team, and has a solid menu of Cuban and Caribbean dishes like jerk chicken wings, ceviche, arroz con pollo, and more soups, sandwiches, and seafood. The cocktails are great too, but one of the best parts of La Cañita is their outdoor deck, which overlooks a marina, and offers a waterfront view much more charming and pretty than we thought Bayside was capable of.

Manila Kantina is a casual restaurant offering Filipino dishes buffet-style for $12 per person. Chicken adobo, dinuguan (pork blood stew), chop suey, lechon kawali, fried lumpia, and pinakbet (stewed vegetables) are some of the dishes prepared daily (except Sundays). Their halo-halo, topped with mango ice cream (instead of ube), is also really refreshing. You can sit inside and have a quiet meal, or go to one of the outdoor tables that make for interesting people-watching.

Since 1966, this spot has been the best place to eat on the Miami River, where you can watch yachts and old-school fishing boats drift by over the course of lunch or dinner. It’s still a good choice because it’s delicious, simple, and wonderfully has the kind of salty Old Man and the Sea atmosphere we love in a seafood spot. Start with some fried shellfish, listen closely to the daily specials, and if it’s stone crab season, you know what to do.

Your quick, healthy options in Downtown are very limited, which makes Manna all the more valuable. This casual spot can work for takeout or a quiet sit-down meal, and the food is all plant-based and vegan (with the exception of some smoothies that use honey). It’s relaxing in here, with plants and a couch and a general atmosphere that is the opposite of the grimy traffic that awaits you outside. They have smoothies, soups, bowls, and a selection of “arepas” that look more like little pizzas.

As you may have noticed, there really aren’t a ton of dim sum options within the City of Miami. That’s one reason why Foodies, a casual spot on the northern edge of Downtown, should be on your radar. Another reason is that the food is good. They not only offer a selection of dim sum dishes like dumplings, pork buns, and beancurd skin roll—but also have Szechuan dishes that are hard to find in Miami, period—like mapo tofu and Szechuan pepper soft shell crab. If you plan on ordering any of that, don’t be shy about telling them you want it spicy. If your server senses any spice hesitation from you, you won’t get that numbing tingle one expects from a proper Szechuan dish.

This coffee shop is located on the first floor of a residential building, so there’s always a steady flow of people grabbing coffee or a donut on their way out. But this place is worth coming to even if it’s not a convenient stop on your way to work. The coffee here is very good, the staff is friendly, and it’s also not a bad place to set up your laptop and get some work done. Coffee is the main event here, but they have a small menu of simple sandwiches and empanadas that'll get the job done for lunch.

Poke OG is right next door to Mr. Omakase, its sister restaurant. But this place is much more casual. And while the price point is much different, the attention to quality is obvious after just a bite. It’s also a fantastic takeout option. They have several sushi box options, which are packaged perfectly and even include a little paintbrush so you can distribute your soy sauce with the precision of Bob Ross. They also, as the name implies, offer poke bowls—but there is nothing wrong with coming here just for a roll or nigiri.

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