The Downtown Miami Lunch GuideAll 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.
This small Japanese spot should really have “ramen” in its name—not “dumplings.” It’s not that the dumplings and other plates—dishes like omurice, papaya salad, pork belly with pickled watermelon rind—are bad. It’s all pretty solid. But nothing is as good as the ramen, which is the best we’ve had in Miami. There are three options: a shoyu ramen (our favorite), Sapporo ramen with fried vegetables and ground pork, and mushroom and vegetable ramen. Get any of them and you’ll be very happy as you slurp away at the long wooden counter.
El Sitio is a casual spot where you can get pretty massive portions of classic Venezuelan dishes at reasonable prices. They have solid arepas and pepitos, but even if you're here for lunch, the Venezuelan dream breakfast is a good choice. It’s a massive platter with separated portions of reina pepiada, carne mechada, perico, cheese, and two arepas you can stuff with everything. If you’re in a rush, they also have a ventanita situation where you can get a greasy (in a good way) Venezuelan empanada or two.
Tacos El Porky is a casual little taco spot in Downtown. They specialize in tacos al pastor, carved right off a trompo. They’re good—the best thing you can get on the small menu—and this spot works great for a quick lunch break where you don’t want to spend more than $10. It’s a bright, quiet space where you can eat alone in relative peace.
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.
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.
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.