I remember when my mom sold her place in West Kendall after I moved out and bought a small condo in North Miami Beach. Every time I went to visit her, I had to drive down NE 163rd Street, and being a food lover, I felt like a kid in a toy store looking at all the types of restaurants, bakeries, and markets that I thought didn’t exist in Miami. This small area is very culturally diverse and has historically been home to the highest concentration of Asian-owned businesses in Miami-Dade County, giving it the unofficial title of being Miami’s Chinatown.
This stretch of road from the Golden Glades Interchange to Collins Avenue is perhaps the best place to find traditional Chinese food in the city, and it has increasingly become home to an ever-growing variety of Korean, Thai, and Taiwanese restaurants too. However, many other communities make this part of Miami their home as well, and you can find everything from Peruvian and Argentine, to old-school Floridian and even Uzbek here, making 163rd Street one of the most deliciously interesting streets in Miami. While there are a seemingly endless number of restaurants, bakeries, and tea shops to choose from along this stretch, these are the 17 best.
If you’re starting your tour of 163rd Street from the west, this is one of the first places you’ll encounter right after the Golden Glades Interchange. Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin is a Black-owned restaurant that’s partly informed by the Rastafarian Ital diet, which focuses on natural, vegetarian eating with no artificial ingredients. As such, you won’t find many processed foods on this menu. Instead, expect homemade veggie patties, vegan pizzas, and meatless takes on Caribbean favorites like ackee and vegan fish with rice and peas. Hakin doesn’t compromise on flavor in making healthy dishes, either. Everything here tastes homemade - full of spices and seasonings like thyme, allspice, garlic, and Scotch bonnet chiles. The fresh, natural juices and smoothies here are also phenomenal and often feature local produce when in season.
On any given night at King Palace, you’re bound to find large round tables of people gathered around a lazy susan full of Chinese-style barbecue, which can be hard to find in Miami. This is definitely the place to get great char siu and Peking duck, along with crispy pork belly and soy sauce chicken. However, if you’re looking for more than just an endless supply of roast meats, the drunken chicken or jellyfish salad (both served cold) is an ideal way to start the meal. The stir-fried scallops with lily bulbs and sliced lotus root with Cantonese sausage, bacon, and ham are also two excellent things to order alongside your barbecue feast.
Kabobji makes some of the best Lebanese food in Miami. Entrees mostly focus on grilled meats and seafood, including a tender shish tawouk (chicken kabob) and thin slices of flavorful shawarma. The mezze here, however, is where you should focus (unless you really have a thing for grilled meat). You can make a whole meal out of the dips and appetizers, but on top of classics like hummus and baba ganoush (both of which are excellent), there are also cabbage rolls stuffed with beef and Egyptian rice, labneh, foul madamas (braised fava beans), and a variety of Middle Eastern sausages like makanek and sujuk. Make sure to order the jallab too, a date syrup drink made with rose water and sprinkled with pine nuts.
While fancy Chinese (and Chinese-inspired) restaurants continue popping up further down south in Brickell and South Beach, 163rd Street remains the destination for the best Chinese food in the city. And the best dumplings spot in the area is Dumpling King. This is the place for xiao long bao, the delicate steamed soup dumplings filled with a combination of meat, like crab and pork, and luscious broth that burst into your mouth as soon as you take a bite. Skip the soy sauce in place of Chinese black vinegar, whose subtle acidity is a great contrast to the savory dumpling fillings. Besides xiao long bao, Dumpling King also makes great pan-fried dumplings with a crisp layer of lacey crust that shatters in your mouth.
The extensive menu at Korean Kitchen can make it difficult to order just one or two dishes, but that’s a problem we’re willing to navigate. Almost all the Korean classics are featured here, including fiery Korean fried chicken and Korean-style corn dogs consisting of fishcakes and mozzarella sticks coated in a sweet yeasted batter. There’s also a selection of spicy, kimchi-flecked stews and soups like budae jjigae (a hearty stew of spam, hotdogs, sausages, ramen noodles, rice cakes, kimchi, and American cheese) and rice dishes like bibimbap. They do a lot of to-go orders but they also have a covered outdoor patio where you can sit down, eat, and order a bottle of soju.
This Thai spot has been around for a long time and makes a number of dishes that can be hard to find in Miami. This is one of the few places where you can get big bowls of boat noodle soup, which features rice noodles floating in a mahogany-colored, sweet and savory pork broth made with spices like cinnamon and star anise. Yen ta fo is another dish that rarely pops up on local Thai restaurant menus. This soup features a tart/sweet bright pink broth, wide rice noodles, fish balls, and veggies. And while you can also get your Thai donut fix here, make sure to try their more traditional sweets like pumpkin custard, which is a steamed pumpkin flan made with rich coconut cream prepared inside a hollowed-out pumpkin and served in wedges.
This Peruvian restaurant serves excellent traditional Limeño dishes like lomo saltado and papas a la huancaína, but it’s the more innovative creations that are the real draw here. Quinoa-crusted shrimp with tart Amazonian camu camu syrup is something you’ll rarely find outside of Peru. There is even a dish of corvina in a Peruvian ají chutney, the Indian-inspired spices combining with imported Peruvian chile peppers in an unexpected way that really works. The menu also features many pasta and risotto dishes that take me back to Lima’s old-school trattorias run by Ligurian immigrants. The trigo, a wheat berry risotto with mushrooms, tastes just like what I used to eat at Pastificio Ligure with my dad as a kid.
This is one of the best places to get mapo tofu in Miami: tender cubes of soft tofu in a spicy, garlicky sauce jam-packed with the aroma of tobanjan, a fermented broad bean and chili paste from Szechuan. It also gives you that tingly sensation in your mouth from the addition of Szechuan peppercorns. The dan dan noodles are another regional specialty that CY does exceptionally well: bouncy wheat noodles in a spicy sauce with ground meat and pickled mustard greens. The dining room is a little fancier than some of the other Chinese restaurants on this guide and it can feel like you’re at a formal banquet, which is fitting for the quality of the food here.
Most of the best Chinese and Taiwanese tea places around are in Broward (think Gong Cha, Tiger Sugar, Hanji, and Kung Fu Tea). But at least Miami has Ohla Tea. This small tea house specializes in boba and other iced milk tea drinks that originated in Taiwan and became wildly popular throughout East Asia. Ohla Tea has a decent selection of milk teas, as well as all the popular toppings, including a lightly salted cream cheese foam that’s the perfect counterbalance to the sweet drinks. Boba - those chewy black tapioca pearls - are always optional. However, this place also has Taiwanese and Hong Kong snacks, including Japanese-inspired sandwiches like crispy chicken katsu, curried fish balls, and billowy egg waffles that look like golden sheets of bubble wrap.
Yes, there are two tea places on this guide, and it’s not just because I’m obsessed with tea and there aren’t enough tea places in Miami. Mi Tea is actually a direct import from Hangzhou, making it a pretty big deal that we get a location in the 305. Located in the new-ish I Fresh Market complex (an excellent Chinese supermarket), this tea shop focuses on high-quality Chinese and Taiwanese teas made into refreshing drinks. This is the place where you can get whole-leaf Wuyi mountain Oolong brewed and iced to order, or you can enjoy an iced matcha or a smokey Pu’er. Mi Tea is famous for its Himalayan salted cheese foam that (optionally) caps each tea drink like a thick, savory blanket, but you can also ask to try a little first if you’re new to it. If you’re not into traditional Chinese teas, Mi Tea also offers some fruity options, like peach Oolong and red dragon fruit.
Blue Marlin is right next to Oleta State Park and looks like it could be a visitor’s center, rest area, or one of those shelters you rent out to celebrate a first communion. But it’s actually an old-Florida-style seafood spot like the kind you find in the Keys. This is the place to get old-school favorites like smoked fish dip, conch fritters, dolphin fingers, and fish sandwiches. You can also grab a beer to wash it all down with while looking out onto the Oleta River thanks to the waterfront seating, or rent paddleboards here and take them down the tranquil river into the bay.
Mary Ann Bakery is a Cantonese-style bakery and North Miami institution that’s been around for decades. Almost everything here is delicious. However, their savory baked buns are always worth the detour for me, and I’ve been known to plan trips around a stop here. The char siu bao is excellent and features a fluffy, slightly sweet dough filled with chopped Chinese barbecue pork. The curry beef bun is another must - the sweet dough is a perfect vehicle for the spicy ground beef filling that’s always super moist - and the chicken pie is like a miniature, handheld chicken pot pie with the flakiest, most buttery crust imaginable. The staff is super friendly and is always willing to answer any questions. And if you end up loving this place as much as I do, you can even order your next birthday cake from here, with layers of sponge cake sandwiching whipped cream and fresh fruit.
Once you cross from North Miami Beach into Sunny Isles, the restaurants become more Slavic and Central Asian, including this excellent Uzbek spot. Chayhana is named after the tea houses found throughout Uzbekistan where men gather on comfy beds to sip tea, enjoy snacks, and chat. And the interior here is clearly meant to evoke that, with design details like geometric patterns and onion-dome arches. The traditional Uzbek dishes include lamb and pumpkin manty, a lamb and rice pilaf (Uzbekistan’s national dish), stir-fried lagman beef noodles, and a variety of kabobs. The rest of the menu is a mix of Russian, Georgian, Armenian, and Ukrainian dishes, including chicken tabaka - a Georgian take on cornish game hen that’s cooked under a brick so it’s nice and crispy.
The staff at this Argentine and Uruguayan bakery is always super friendly, and every square foot of space seems to be filled with snacks, pastries, and imported goods, giving it a familiar feel to those of us with South American roots. The best things to get here are their delicate miga sandwiches featuring homemade crustless white bread (“miga” is what the white portion left behind is called in Spanish). Almost every Argentine and Uruguayan bakery has a selection of these ready-made sandwiches in a cold case, but Bonafide actually makes them to-order, including my favorite with a creamy, mayonnaise-laden mixture of celery, roquefort, and chopped walnuts. You can make a meal out of these little sandwiches, but they also work for just a quick snack alongside a cup of yerba mate before exploring the rest of 163rd Street.
The food at Sang’s is a mixture of traditional Chinese and Chinese-American food, and they do both equally well. They make an excellent General Tso’s chicken here, which they call General Cheng’s, along with crab rangoons and fluffy fried rice with everything from shrimp to ham. But there are also solid Cantonese stir-fried noodle dishes like chow fun, with wide rice noodles seared in a scorching wok with slices of beef. If you come before 4pm, you can also order dim sum, like tender siu mai with dollops of orange crab roe, silky Chinese eggplant stuffed with minced shrimp, and crisp squares of turnip cake.
Sea Grill Restaurant
There are two locations of this Greek restaurant (the other is in Coral Gables), but I prefer this one because it’s right on the Intracoastal and has patio dining that overlooks the water. This is a seafood-centric spot, which makes it ideal for platters of charred seafood dressed in nothing more than some olive oil, lemon, and perhaps a sprinkle of herbs. If you feel like eating inside, Sea Grill also has a very elegant dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows so you can still enjoy the excellent view. There’s even a white marble display with the day’s catch right when you walk through the door, which includes local fish like pompano alongside imported seafood from Greece like branzino and Royal Dorado. While this is definitely more of a special occasion place, they do also have a very affordable prix fixe lunch (about $27 for three courses).
This place was one of the first izakayas in the city, and has long been one of the best Japanese restaurants in Northeast Miami. Everything here is done to the highest quality, from the perfectly-cooked rice to the selection of fish, much of which is flown in from Japan or sourced locally. If you’re not into sushi or want a little more variety, there’s also a great selection of small plates, like the triggerfish jerky served with Japanese Kewpie mayo, along with things like yakisoba and Japanese curry. And another bonus: Yakko-San is open until midnight, seven days a week.