MIAGuide

The Best Outdoor Restaurants In Miami

Spots for those days when you feel guilty eating inside.
A table next to a lagoon at Zoi.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

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. And if you're looking for the best waterfront restaurants in Miami, we've got a guide for that too.

THE SPOTS

Greek

Buena Vista

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsBirthdaysDate NightFine DiningKeeping It Kind Of HealthyOutdoor/Patio Situation
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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.

photo credit: Joshua Perez

Pastis’ garden patio is filled with rosemary bushes, shrubs, trees, and vines surrounding colorful bistro tables set on a cobblestone floor. It’s so many worlds apart from the rest of Wynwood, you almost expect a half-man-half-deer creature to clomp out of the bushes and start playing a pan flute. But what you get instead are delicious steak frites, duck confit, escargot, and all manner of French bistro dishes. The garden is mostly covered under a translucent canopy that protects from the bad weather but still lets the sun shine through. At night, it’s lit by the glow of globe pendants. If you don’t have a reservation, try the wooden outdoor bar. Order a petit pickle martini, and watch equally minuscule dogs beg their owners for crispy French fries.

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.

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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.

The waterfront view at Amara is pretty spectacular, but nothing else about this restaurant matches its splendor. The food is solid. They have enough safe dishes like chicken a la brasa, steak, and grilled fish to please your picky family. Yet nothing on the seafood-heavy menu feels worthy of a proposal, which happens so much here that the restaurant actually has a proposal package you can buy. Instead, keep the ring in your pocket and just enjoy the uninterrupted view of Biscayne Bay. Make a reservation for sunset, and request an outdoor table. Make the reservation a little earlier than you think. The outdoor tables tend to linger and you may have to wait. You don’t want to be stuck inside at the bar while the sun sets without you.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight Dinner
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Lira is a Wynwood restaurant that does not feel like it’s in Wynwood—which we mean as a compliment. It’s so much more peaceful than its neighbors. This is because it’s located on the very edge of the community, and tall plants give the patio a sense of privacy you’ll appreciate for a date or dinner with people you’d actually like to listen to. It’s also one of the best Lebanese restaurants in Miami, with very good dishes like kafta, kibbeh, and all the dips your heart desires. They’re not stingy with the pita either, which we always appreciate. It’s nice to have an outdoor option in Wynwood that doesn’t come with the risk of drunk people stumbling into your table. 

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

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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.

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.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

While we do really love sitting in Schnitzel House’s heavily mirrored, vintage Miami interior, their back patio deserves love, too. There are also some nostalgic touches back here like glass blocks and terrazzo tables, but it’s also just a fun and secluded place to eat the crispiest schnitzel you’ll find in Miami. And, unlike so many popular Miami outdoor spots that need a reservation (and a $100 bill handshake), it's very walk-in friendly. And if you just want to have a sausage and a cocktail alone, you can sit at the long bar and make that happen. This German restaurant and cocktail bar is one of Miami’s most fun restaurants, inside and out.

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 for an outdoor brunch or lunch. 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 cutting into one of Miami's greatest pancakes on a Sunday morning.

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).

From the street, Naomi’s just looks like a little takeout spot. But after you order from their menu of Haitian and Caribbean 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.

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. This place is BYOB, so pick up some beer or wine before you come. It's also very family-friendly, so expect to see some kids darting between tables.

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.

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.

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.

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