Kendall can surprise you. The huge patch of unincorporated Dade, where at least one of your relatives lives, has great restaurants that have quietly been doing their thing in la sagüecera for decades. But there are also newer spots making exciting, contemporary food for Miamians who actually live here during hurricane season. Because it’s so massive, this guide focuses on the eastern part of Kendall, which we’ve kind of defined as between US1, the Turnpike, Miller Drive, and north of the Falls. That’s not an official border or anything—we just drove around until we no longer heard that unmistakable Kendall accent, and that’s where we set up our boundaries. From some of Miami’s best pizza to a shockingly good vegan Cuban cafeteria, here are our Eastern Kendall favorites.
Ghee Indian Kitchen
Miami's limited Indian options tend to specialize in British-style curry house dishes (we’re looking at you, tikka masala) rather than Indian food from the Subcontinent. Ghee is neither of these. And since Miami always marches to the beat of its own tiki tiki music, it’s fitting that the city's best Indian restaurant is also uniquely Miami. The space is industrial chic—polished concrete floors, vaulted ceilings, and exposed hardware—but with some desi touches, like diyas on the tables and shelves full of spices. Ghee does have British favorites—like a great tikka masala—but skip those in favor of dishes like turmeric-marinated fish in a delicate coconut milk sauce with kari patte, hara moong dal, and sabudana chaat. Or go for the chaat of murmura mixed with avocado puree and topped with tuna tartare and a sprinkle of sev. Just definitely save room for the sticky date cake. However you want to categorize it, one thing is definitely not up for debate: Ghee is one of the very best restaurants in Miami.
Hungry Bear Sub Shop
Even if you’re not a Kendallite, or even if you live in (gasp) Broward, this spot is worth a visit—especially if you’re a sub sandwich fanatic. There isn’t one specific sandwich we recommend here because not only are they all good, but Hungry Bear is all about customizing your own ridiculous sandwich combination in a judgment-free zone. If you want teriyaki sauce, Muenster, and extra mayo on your chicken taco Philly, go ahead, you freak. Order with confidence. Needless to say, this is an ideal spot to grab a bite after visiting a dispensary. But there really isn’t a wrong occasion to grab a gargantuan, overstuffed sandwich from Hungry Bear, except if you’re looking for dinner because this is a lunch-only spot.
Vice City Pizza operates from inside Abi Maria, a very Miami-themed bar in Kendall’s Downtown Dadeland. Whether you see it as Detroit-style, Sicilian, or Cuban, Vice City has mastered the art of the thick-crust pizza featuring a lightly fermented dough that’s rich but never greasy. The sturdy crust is the perfect vehicle for their excellent toppings combinations, like the FunGuy with mushroom puree, oyster mushrooms, ricotta, and a drizzle of truffle honey. While pizza is the main draw here, you should also order the excellent croquetas, which are made with prosciutto, gorgonzola dolce, and mozzarella.
Vegan Cuban Cuisine
If you think the words Cuban and vegan cancel each other out, then you need to visit this spot on Sunset Drive, even if you’re a voracious carnivore. This place will remind you of any of Miami’s traditional Cuban cafeterias. It even has a ventanita. Except, the food is all plant-based and the seating is entirely outdoors in the parking lot. They make a good cubano with mojo-seasoned jackfruit and croquetas that taste like the real thing. But we love their “beef” empanadas the best, which are filled with a really tasty picadillo that can easily compete with the best non-vegan versions in town.
Shibui Japanese Restaurant
Shibui is a Japanese restaurant that has been in the same spot off Sunset Drive since the '80s. Before words like omakase and izakaya were part of Miami’s food vocabulary, this was one of the few places in this part of Dade County that offered traditional dishes like sukiyaki, beef tataki, age dashi tofu, and oshitashi—all of which are still very good here. It’s housed in a retro two-story loft with lots of dark wood that gives very late ‘70s vibes in the best way possible. Ask to sit up in the loft, but make a reservation because the coveted low tables on the second floor require one (call a few days in advance, just in case). The menu is huge, and most everything they do is great, including the American-style sushi rolls and even the ceviche.
This barbecue spot has stood in the same location for 70 years, so it’s been a part of East Kendall way before finishing every sentence with bro became a thing in these parts. While they don’t serve Miami’s best barbecue, it’s very solid and there’s something uniquely charming about eating ribs in a log cabin under the Dadeland South Metrorail station. The spare ribs are the thing to get here along with a side of baked beans and coleslaw. The corn on the cob is served in a styrofoam boat filled with more melted butter than you’ll need, but it’s a can’t-miss Shorty's tradition (along with rinsing your fingers in a little cup of hot water after your meal). Make sure to finish with a not-too-tart slice of super creamy key lime pie, bro.
You’ll find Jamaica Kitchen in the middle of a massive strip mall with no shortage of free parking. The restaurant is a narrow and mostly to-go spot with a few outdoor tables. Jamaica Kitchen is a Chinese-Jamaican restaurant, a delicious and not uncommon pairing in Jamaica. They have Chinese dishes like shrimp fried rice and foo gua. But you’ll still find pretty classic Jamaican dishes here too, like some very good jerk chicken. That, along with a peanut punch, is our go-to order here.
Fritanga Monimbo is not just the best option outside Little Havana or Sweetwater (the fritanga epicenters of Dade County). No, saying that would downplay how good Fritanga Monimbo is in its own right. They make solid versions of not only grilled skirt steak and queso frito, but their braised lengua in tomato sauce, carne mechada (braised shredded beef), and fresco de chia are also excellent options. Like most fritangas in Miami, this is a very casual spot with some indoor seating, but most people stick to takeout. Just remember that the accent is on the last O, even if La Real Academia says otherwise.
South Garden Chinese Restaurant
South Garden is Kendall’s premier spot for dim sum seven days a week, but especially on Sundays. See, on every other day of the week, you order dim sum from a checklist. And while we’ll never turn down good dim sum, Sundays are when you get the full Cantonese dim sum experience as a parade of staff maneuver steaming carts around each other like orderly bumper cars. They’ll stop by your table so you can grab dumplings or buns, like har gow, fun gor, or char siu bao. Practically anything off the dim sum menu is great, and it’s served every day from 11am to 3pm.
Tequeños are Venezuela’s gift to Miami, and the perfect vehicle for any number of crazy fillings. Tequeñomania, which has another location in Doral, specializes in these stuffed dough logs, and they have so many more varieties than the traditional queso fresco ones (although they do those extremely well too). Not all of the combinations work (like a Nutella-stuffed variety and one filled with guava and cheese) but we respect the experimentation going on at this casual spot. Besides the traditional cheese tequeños, we love the carne mechada and gouda, which is what a gas station taquito dreams of tasting like.
Independent, fast-casual Tex-Mex spots are about as hard to find in Miami as free parking. And while we feel quite sad for our collective lives devoid of lard-infused beans, salsa bars, and deep-fried deliciousness—we’re also happy Ernesto’s exists. This is an ideal spot to sit by yourself with a chimichanga, quesadilla, or plate of carne asada fries and wash it down with horchata. If you can’t decide what to get, go for one of the combination platters. Ernesto’s proximity to Kendall’s infamous stoner park, Indian Hammocks, is a bonus. Come here with three of your cousins in a tricked-out Honda Civic for a truly authentic Kendall experience.
Kendall outsiders may be surprised to see two bagel spots in this guide. We get it. But before croquetas took over, bagels were as common in Kendall as Michael Kors bags in TJ Maxx. Bagel Express, one of those old-school Kendall bagel shops, is located across from Town & Country Mall (or whatever bougie name it goes by now). If the dude across the counter wore more form-fitting clothes, you’d think you stepped into the ‘70s. Bagels here strike the perfect balance between soft and chewy, the lox schmear is smooth and savory, and the coffee is hot. It’s also kind of trippy to eat a bagel in a place that feels less like being on the set of The Nanny—which is what you’d get in Aventura—and more like ¿Qué Pasa USA?.
It may take exiting and reentering Outrageous Bagel a couple of times before realizing you’re in the right spot. Most of the counter space here resembles one of the countless nondescript, pan-Latin cafeterias in Miami that you stumble into when you need a cafecito and a paper cone of free ice water from an Igloo cooler. And while you can get a pastelito or pan de bono here, you can also enjoy a solid pumpernickel bagel—our favorite thing on the menu—with schmear. Outrageous Bagels is also in a pretty large strip mall with a Publix and several other large retailers, so parking should be easy and you can reward yourself after an afternoon of running errands.