The Best Restaurants On 163rd Street  guide image


The Best Restaurants On 163rd Street

How to eat your way across NE 163rd, the tastiest street in Miami.

163rd Street might just be the most deliciously interesting street in Miami. The 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. While there are a seemingly endless number of restaurants, bakeries, and tea shops to choose from along this stretch, these are our 163rd favorites.


Tropical Corner Bakery

Tropical Corner is a Brazillian bakery with lots of sweets like pastel de nata, brigadeiros, and huge slabs of Brazilian cakes. But their savory items are what makes us want to hire one of those banner planes and advertise this place to all of Miami-Dade County—specifically the pastels. The ones at Tropical Corner are thin, crispy little envelopes of pure joy. They have different filling options, including one with a creamy heart of palm mixture. In case it wasn’t clear, we think you should order one of those, but this place also has sandwiches, coxinha, and pão de queijo (which often sell out by lunch). It’s small and takeout-friendly, but there’s some counter seating inside.

We’re cheating just a smidge on this one. This casual Honduran restaurant isn’t located exactly on 163rd Street, but on a street that runs parallel to it. Still, it’s close enough to the main road that it won’t require a separate side quest, so you can put away your 20-sided die. It’s also so good that we wouldn’t be able to sleep at night without including it in this guide. Jennifer’s makes a proper baleada with really good refried black beans and globs of mantequilla, AKA Honduran sour cream. But what we really love here is their pollo frito ceibeño, a fried chicken leg quarter smothered in a mild tomato sauce and showered with shreds of a sharp cheese that reminds us of cotija. It’s served with freshly fried green banana chips (not to be confused with the plantain variety) and a colorful cabbage salad with a pile of cilantro. It tastes like a very Miami answer to chicken parmesan.

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 you'd find at Pastificio Ligure.

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, and Kung Fu Tea). But at least Miami has Ohla Tea. This small tea house specializes in boba and other iced milk tea drinks. 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.

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 we 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 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.

This Haitian restaurant is in a tiny strip mall behind a Taco Bell. The takeout-only spot is often packed, but the line moves swiftly as customers grab boxes of fritay, stews, and other Creole dishes. If you’re running short on time, get something from the steam counter, like a solid legim, ble (stewed bulgur wheat), or mayi kole (cornmeal and bean stew), and you’ll be out in minutes. They also have buttery baked pate, rich Creole bread, and a locally made Haitian grapefruit preserve (chadèk) that we love to spoon over toasted pieces of kassav imported from Haiti and enriched with coconut and muscovado sugar. The service is quick and friendly. The fritay takes a little longer since everything is fried to order, but it’s worth the wait.

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photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

The Best Restaurants On 163rd Street  guide image