The Best Outdoor Restaurants In Miami
Spots for those days when you feel guilty eating inside.
Contrary to popular belief, we have bad weather in Miami, so we really do appreciate those absolutely perfect 72-degree days when we nearly shed a tear every time we open the door. When that happens, eating outside is basically mandatory, and the 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.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
Macchialina is our favorite restaurant in South Beach and one of the city’s best Italian spots. During the pandemic, they took over the hostel next door, scrubbed away the sins of tourists past, and transformed it into an airy garden. It’s as if the vines came alive like Fantasia characters, took up mops and buckets, and decorated the place. Plus, most of the outdoor tables are covered to protect you from the elements. As is always the case here, the service is excellent and the pasta is perfectly cooked. Macchialina is great for so many occasions, but especially ideal for a first date, where you can enjoy a bowl of excellent house-made cavatelli or their chef’s tasting menu over a bottle of wine while speculating about what sort of misdeeds those poor murals have seen.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro
Though it’s sometimes a little impossible to get a reservation here on a very nice day, it’s still easier than buying a plane ticket and flying to Greece—which is what eating at Mandolin kind of feels like. This classic spot 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 grilled halloumi are the exact kinds of things we want to eat on a sunny day. White wine is optional, but highly encouraged. And if you really can't find an open dinner table, try booking one for lunch.
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photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
If you can't get a table at Mandolin (or just want something more casual) try El Turco, a Turkish restaurant in Upper Buena Vista. Though the food is pretty solid, this place is more about ambiance. Sitting outside is basically your only option, but it’s where you should be regardless. The best seats are in the little tiki hut next to a pretty spectacular banyan tree. There aren’t really any big misses on the menu, but definitely get one (or several) of the borek options. They don’t serve beer or wine, but you can buy a bottle from one of the cafes next door and they’ll give you a few glasses with no corkage fee.
Shore To Door Fish Market
Shore to Door is a fish market that also operates as a restaurant on the weekend for lunch. There’s no menu here. Instead, the chef—who might be in the middle of cleaning a fish—will tell you what came in off the boat that morning. It could be fried corvina bites, whole yellowtail snapper, wahoo fish dip, or a dozen other sea creatures. But it will be delicious, and you can eat it in their fantastic backyard, with mismatched furniture and an atmosphere that feels very Key West. If you want a beer, just pop open the cooler and help yourself. But a head’s up: call first to make sure they’re open. We’ve tried to come here before, only to learn that they sold out of seafood the day prior.
Low Key Miami
The Little River spot doesn’t really look like a restaurant—because it's not. The outdoor bar (open Friday and Saturday only) used to serve food, but now they just host the excellent Vietnamese concept Tam Tam. The space consists of tables and picnic benches scattered beneath a banyan tree that’s all lit up with string lights. Feel free to hang out after you’ve finished whatever it is they're serving that night (the menu changes but usually includes a great tartare and some delicious seafood) and head-bob to the live band or DJ while you consider ordering another frozen piña colada.
Rosie’s is a brunch spot that actually operates from the same Little River patio as Low Key—except during brunch hours, obviously, and only Thursday through Sunday. Rosie’s is hands-down our favorite brunch in Miami. This is both because the food here is phenomenal, and also because eating at Rosie’s never feels like the kind of chore other popular brunch spots do. They take reservations, and while they do have cocktails, this is not the kind of boozy brunch that requires earplugs. The menu revolves around Southern food, and both the sweet and savory sides of the spectrum are well-represented. You can get a gorgeous stack of fluffy lemon ricotta pancakes or fried chicken and biscuits that look like they just came back from a photo shoot.
Zoi isn’t a particularly remarkable restaurant—but it does have one big superpower: its backyard. The Mediterranean restaurant is located in a historic building made from bricks of coral—but it’s the backyard that warrants a moment of quiet appreciation usually only reserved for mountain peaks or a perfectly ripe avocado. Tables are scattered between trees and plants and a couple of bright blue man-made lagoons. It’s undeniably romantic. The standard Mediterranean dishes are good—not as good as they need to be for the price point—but good nonetheless. There’s also a hookah lounge and bar area in the back if you just want to come for a drink. Needless to say, sit outside.
photo credit: Tasty Planet
Amara At Paraiso
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 and a great grilled snapper. Come during the day if you really want to see the view in all its glory—and make a reservation if you want a guaranteed outdoor table.
photo credit: Giovanny Gutierrez
Makoto is an upscale Japanese restaurant inside the land of very thick credit cards known as Bal Harbour Shops. While we really enjoy Makoto's dining room—which feels like eating inside a ripe peach—the patio situation is every bit as cute. It has Tic Tac green tables and floral chairs that make you feel like you're on vacation even if you live here. There's also a circular bamboo bar you'll want to forklift into your own living room. It's all a perfect setting to enjoy some tasty raw fish, crispy rice, or a koji-aged New York strip. This is a mostly covered patio, so don't expect a view of anything spectacular except a potential Real Housewives sighting.
Paradis Books & Bread
Paradis Books & Bread is an excellent little North Miami spot that straddles the line between wine bar and restaurant. You can certainly come here just to drink, read, and chat. But it’d be a shame if you didn’t order at least something to snack on, like the tinned sardines served with seaweed butter and slices of fresh bread. The square pizzas (which they start serving at 6pm) are outstanding as well, and have a delicious light brown crust that tastes like whole wheat dough that just got back from a delightful vacation with a loaf of sourdough. Inside, Paradis is only one room, with a few tables and bar seating. But there’s a much larger outdoor area with some round cement tables, which is where you want to be on a nice night.
Itamae is located in the Design District and serves the best Nikkei food in the city. They have a small counter inside, but this place is pretty much all outdoor seating. It’s a spacious layout great for Design District people watching and a glass of wine. But as aesthetically interesting as this courtyard is, it's the food—not the view—that's the main attraction. The menu changes almost daily, but every nigiri, ceviche, tiradito, and any other special they happen to be offering that day will be the best thing you’ve eaten in recent memory. You’ll be glad you’re sitting outside so you can look towards the sky and mumble a prayer of gratitude for what just happened to your taste buds.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
As much as we like scooting into one of Chug's bouncy booths, the Coconut Grove Cuban diner has a great patio that deserves your attention on a nice day. The big courtyard is filled with shaded tables and plants, and is also located far enough from the sidewalk that you won't have to worry about pedestrians bumping into your table. It's exactly the kind of setting where you want to be sipping a guava gimlet on a 70-degree night or cutting into one of Miami's greatest pancakes on a Sunday morning.
Verde at Pérez Art Museum Miami
If we were judging Verde only by the food, we wouldn't tell you to sprint here. But this casual spot, which is located on the back patio of the Pérez Art Museum, has one of the best waterfront views in all of Miami: a beautiful, uninterrupted view of Biscayne Bay and the MacArthur Causeway. That is really why you should come here (and why you should never sit inside). The menu is mostly salads, pizza, and sandwiches—and you'll finish whatever you order. This is mostly a brunch or lunch spot, but on Thursdays they stay open for dinner (and occasionally have live music too).
Naomi's Garden Restaurant and Lounge
From the street, Naomi’s just looks like a little takeout 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 their great 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.
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 occasional 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, so pick up some beer or wine before you come.
La Mar by Gaston Acurio
La Mar is a restaurant on the mysterious millionaire island known as Brickell Key. They serve some of the best Peruvian food in town, and their waterfront view is also stellar—so good that it's almost not even worth coming here unless you can sit outside. It faces west, giving you a wide-open view of Biscayne Bay and the Brickell skyline. When you're not staring at that, you'll be staring at the food in front of you, which includes very good Peruvian ceviche. They also make a great lomo saltado and have rotating anticucho options, including an excellent version with veal heart.
Shuckers Bar and Grill
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 good chicken wing or some perfectly fine fried calamari.
Doce Provisions serves Cuban fusion food a block north of Calle Ocho, and their Cuban sandwich and arroz imperial 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 that Cuban sandwich or the fried chicken with plantain waffles.
The Lido Bayside Grill
The food at Lido (mostly seafood and sandwiches) 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 OK $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. But that view from the dockside tables is what really deserves your attention.