When you enter your 30s, your taste inevitably changes. And this is especially true when it comes to celebrating birthdays. Gone are the wild nights slamming tequila at a clubstaurant and splitting the check 19 different ways before squeezing into a way-too-small rideshare and going to the club where your friend’s friend’s cousin promised you a VIP table for 40% off. No. In this new decade of knee pain and slightly more responsible decisions, you’re probably looking for two things in a birthday dinner: great food, and an environment where you can get a little rowdy if you want to, but still be able to walk the dog later tonight. And these places will deliver on both fronts.
By this point in your life, you’ve graduated from what we’ll call “the two-for-one-jumbo-margarita” version of South Beach into “the steak-and-martini” version of South Beach. You can find the latter at Orilla, a wonderful Argentinian restaurant in South Of Fifth. Start with the Seashore Martini, because not only is this the one day a year where you can justify a $24 martini, but it’s also a great drink that comes with a neat tableside presentation that looks like a science experiment. For food, go with some red meat, like the prime rib eye or (if you want to ball out) the $132 bone-in prime rib.
Or, maybe, thanks to group exercise classes and various Happy Hour networking mixers, you’ve managed to accumulate quite a few friends in your 30s. Good for you, you extrovert. And if you’re looking for a restaurant that can accommodate large groups and is actually really good, try Doya. The new Mediterranean spot in Wynwood has a really big dining room that can fit your entire Crossfit class as well as outdoor seating, too. The menu is mostly mezze, which should be easy enough to share. And it’s also all really good, from the simple yet delicious octopus salad to the wonderfully tender lamb kebab.
Los Félix is full of things a person in their 30s will appreciate. The dining room feels more like the minimal apartment of a friend who knows the power of a well-placed candle and the music is just loud enough to make you dance a little, but not so loud that you'll get crotchety about not being able to hear the person next to you. The staff seem to have graduated with a master’s degree in The Art Of The Dinner Party, and the only thing that may snap you out of the illusion that you're not in a friend's living room is the food—which is just way too good to come from a civilian kitchen. The menu features Mexican dishes, most of which use Los Félix’s delicious house speciality: fresh milled masa.
Maybe you have a 401K, or a Roth IRA, or $700 worth of bitcoin you bought one night after three glasses of wine. What we’re saying is: perhaps you’re finally in a financial position where the idea of spending $350 on dinner doesn’t make you start sweating profusely. Or, you know, your parents have offered to pay for it. Either way, if you are able to splurge, do it at the Surf Club. The old school American restaurant in Surfside is the platonic ideal of fine dining, and you deserve to try their $138 beef wellington (which is ridiculously good) before you have to start worrying about how all that red meat will affect your blood pressure.
You know what people in their 30s appreciate? Being in bed by 9pm. One way to ensure that is by making your birthday dinner more of a brunch/lunch affair. And one of our favorite places to lazily eat and drink while the sun is out is Shore To Door in Coconut Grove. The little fish market transforms into an outdoor seafood restaurant Thursday through Sunday from about 11am till the food runs out. It feels less like a restaurant and more like a house party courtesy of a friend who loves to fish. You help yourself to a cooler full of beer (which you pay for when you leave), and order fresh seafood that’s cleaned and cooked right in front of you. Sometimes there’s live music too. 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. And that’s no way to celebrate turning 34.
Like a bird’s natural instinct to fly south for the winter, there are two things that you seek out more and more the deeper you get into your 30s: wine and pizza. You’ll find both at Paradis Books & Bread, a great little bakery and wine bar in North Miami. Here, you can consume bottle after bottle of natural wine, square slices of lamb pizza, and tinned fish in an environment perfectly suited for people who actually remember the ’90s. This place is relatively quiet, relaxing, and has books available to check out, which will help you achieve your 30s resolution to read more than two books a year.
The days of dancing on tables at Kiki on the River while accidentally impaling an overpriced octopus tentacle with your stilleto are over. But that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve an excellent waterfront view (plus food that’s actually good) to celebrate being a proud tricenarian. For that, Amara is a safe bet. The uninterrupted view of Biscayne Bay is the best part about this place, but the mostly-seafood menu is close behind. Get the arroz verde, a great cilantro rice you mix with an egg yolk. The grilled whole yellowtail, grouper ceviche, and yuca cheese puffs should be on the table as well, along with the eyeglasses you now need to read the menu.
Lagniappe is a great choice if all your friends are super unreliable, and you don’t want to deal with the possibility of making a reservation for eight only to have three people show up. With this Edgewater wine bar, you can just send a group text that says, “We’ll be at Lagniappe, anyone can come.” Just arrive a bit early to snag one of the larger tables in Lagniappe’s backyard. Then, it’s a refreshingly low-stress affair: grab multiple bottles of wine, order several cheese plates, and pay for none of it, because it is your birthday. Just please do try to come early, or else you will spend the night battling with 20-somethings over plastic chairs.
Ariete is Miami indulgence, all grown up. And it's a perfect place to engage in some classic Miami excess, now that your bottle service days are behind you. Everything on the menu is fantastic, but if you're coming here to celebrate, there's only one thing you should be ordering: the canard a la presse—AKA the duck press. The show starts when they wheel this medieval-looking machine to the table. The gold contraption is used to compress various parts of the duck into a deep, rich sauce, which they use to smother the absolute best duck you’ll ever taste in your life. The meal, which costs around $135 and serves two, also comes with flaky duck pastelitos, and more rotating sides that utilize every millimeter of the duck and its various parts.
Cote is a great birthday restaurant if you still want a fun, blowout meal with absolutely zero risk of seeing sparklers being carried through the dining room. The atmosphere in the Design District Korean steakhouse is sexy - but in a way that feels appropriate for sophisticated adults such as yourself. The lighting is dim and the music is just shy of being too loud. And the food? Incredible. The amazing steak you should definitely order (the $58 Butcher’s Feast is a good bet) is cooked on a grill in the middle of the table by the stunningly efficient staff. It’s a fun, memorable dining experience that will make you feel mature, and temporarily distract you from the fact that you still ask your parents to explain the concept of co-pay to you once a year.