Contrary to popular belief, we have bad weather in Miami, so we really do appreciate those absolutely perfect 75-degree days when we nearly shed a tear every time we open the door. When that happens, eating outside is basically mandatory, and the 17 places on this guide are where you should go to do it. These are the restaurants where sitting outside is the whole point - places that are going to make you look around and mumble a prayer of gratitude that you’ll never have to learn what black ice is.
You can’t eat much closer to Biscayne Bay than at Amara - unless you own a boat or are a manatee. But if you are not a herbivorous marine mammal, then this is a really good choice because both the view and food are great. The menu is pretty much all seafood, with a small raw bar, some great ceviche (we like the grouper), and a banana leaf-wrapped cobia you should absolutely order. Come during the day if you really want to see the view in all its glory - and come early to beat the crowd because they can’t guarantee you an outdoor table, even with a reservation.
From the street, Naomi’s just looks like a little take-out spot. But after you order from their menu of Haitian and Carribean dishes, walk around to the side of the building and find the garden seating. It’s a casual space with plenty of tables, a couple of loud roosters, a small stage for occasional live music, and a few hammocks you’re welcome to use in case you overdid it with the jerk chicken. Naomi’s is one of the best restaurants in Little Haiti, but it’s such a relaxing space that we’d come on a pretty day just to read a book and have a passion fruit juice.
Shore To Door is exactly the kind of salty, unpolished dive where we love to squeeze limes onto fried seafood and have a few beers. The fish market/restaurant serves food Wednesday through Sunday and has a backyard that will make you feel like you just drove three hours to Key West instead of however long it takes you to get to Coconut Grove. But the old school South Florida atmosphere still isn’t even the best part about this place. It’s the food - which is always fresh and prepared simply. The fish dip and shrimp are some of the best in town - but the whole fried fish is the one thing you absolutely have to order.
Cafe Roval has the best backyard in all of Miami. It’s a lush, swampy space that features a little lagoon, original limestone from the ’20s, and more plants than the apartment of your most succulent-obsessed friend. The Upper East Side restaurant is one of the best date spots in the city and could easily be the best, but sadly the random Mediterranean menu isn’t quite as thrilling as the atmosphere. We’re OK with eating average food though, in such an extraordinary setting.
Though it’s sometimes tough to get a table on a very nice day, it’s still easier than buying a plane ticket and flying to Greece - which is what having lunch here kind of feels like. Mandolin is in Buena Vista, and it’s about 90 percent outdoor seating. The tables are shaded by trees and canopies, and the grilled octopus, whole Mediterranean sea bass, and watermelon salad with feta and mint are the exact kinds of things we want to eat on a sunny day. White wine is optional, but highly encouraged.
Verde has one of those views that’ll make it hard to get up even after you’ve paid the bill. This surprisingly casual restaurant in the back of the PAMM gives you a wide-open look at Biscayne Bay, and lunch here feels like eating in the biggest, fanciest backyard in Miami. Though they stay open for dinner on Thursday, Verde is best for brunch or lunch, when you can eat pretty good pizzas, sandwiches, and salads while trying to guess how much each passing yacht costs.
Yes, Lagniappe is more a place to drink than eat, but the mostly outdoor wine bar in Edgewater does have a small food menu that’s good enough to justify coming here for dinner even though the silverware is plastic. After you grab a bottle of wine inside, head to the backyard to order something from the grill: churrasco, mahi, salmon, chicken, and sautéed veggies are all solid options in addition to the very good meat and cheese plates. Come on the earlier side and you won’t have to compete for a table with a thousand first dates.
Ironside Kitchen Pizza & Coffee Co
An outdoor table at Ironside is going to be lovely no matter when you come. At lunch, the courtyard is sunny and bright, with lots of trees, plants, and live music during the weekend. At night, string lights hang over the tables and create an ideal mood for a pizza date, which is usually what we end up ordering here even though the pasta is pretty tasty too. This place is BYOB (with no corking fee), so pick up some beer or wine before you come.
Usually, we have to drive out west to find a place like Smart Bites, but this restaurant that feels more like a farm is in Allapattah. The very casual, kind-of-healthy food here is fine, with things like turkey sandwiches, spinach ravioli, and a handful of burger options. But the best part about this place is the backyard, which is a large space that feels somewhere between an actual garden and a beer garden. There’s also a stage where you might see occasional live music or a small gathering of iguanas.
Even though MiMo’s Andiamo Pizza is right next to busy Biscayne Boulevard, eating under the roof of this retro building still feels secluded. You’re boxed in by lots of plants and tiki torches - and there’s also a big projector screen that’s usually playing whatever local sport happens to be on TV. Everyone here is eating pizza because it’s pretty much the only thing they serve and it’s a very good pie - especially if you prefer a thicker crust and lots of toppings.
Rouge probably has the smallest outdoor space on this guide, but it’s every bit as romantic as you’d expect from a little French spot. The tiny courtyard is covered in vines, lights, and could easily work as the setting for a scene where two spies who eventually fall in love meet for the first time over foie gras and wine. The food is pricey and the dishes are pretty heavy, with things like creamy escargot in a flaky puff pastry, quails with couscous, and black truffle risotto, so you’ve got to be in the mood for a big, luxurious meal to come here. But it’s worth a trip the next time you want to pretend like you’re a foreign agent putting true love before duty.
There aren’t any great waterfront views or remarkable things to stare at with 27′s outdoor seating, but we like it because it’s got the same house-party feel as the dining room inside. And before or after you eat (preferably both), you can take about 15 steps to 27′s sister cocktail bar, Broken Shaker, where the lush, tropical outdoor seating is absolutely gorgeous.
Eating outside in Coconut Grove is an easy thing to do since just about every restaurant here has at least a few sidewalk tables. But none of them do it as well as Monty’s, which is located along a marina on Biscayne Bay so you can convince yourself that maybe you should buy a boat. Come here for fried seafood you can eat with your fingers and strong frozen drinks that make both the seafood and the idea of boat ownership seem better.
Every table at Shuckers is technically an outdoor table because this place doesn’t have walls. And that is a good thing because it’d be a shame to block this good of a waterfront view. A lot of people come here to watch sports, but we go to Shuckers to just stare out into the blue horizon while occasionally breaking eye contact with the ocean to eat a chicken wing or fried calamari.
If your goal is to eat as close to the beach as possible, then Mid-Beach’s Malibu Farm is an appropriate choice. Of course a restaurant this close to the sand - especially one that’s inside a hotel - is going to be pricey. But if you’re okay with that and really want to be able to smell the ocean while you eat decent $22 fish tacos or a $24 avocado pizza, then you might like it here.
Doce Provisions serves Cuban fusion food a block north of Calle Ocho - and their Cuban sandwich and vaca frita tostones are both reason enough to come here if you’re looking for some good food in Little Havana. But if you’re also trying to eat outside, then Doce is absolutely the place to go. They have a very pretty back patio, with string lights, picnic benches underneath a pergola, and some murals you can stare at while you try to decide between the bacon and egg arroz frito or fried chicken and plantain waffles.
The food at Lido is not as good or as cheap as it should be, but these are the sacrifices we make for one of the best waterfront views you can have while eating an average $20 cheeseburger. This place is located in The Standard Spa, which means you also have an above-average chance of seeing a celebrity or overhearing a conversation about someone’s recent luxury ayahuasca retreat.