Where To Celebrate A Birthday In Your 30s
Have a blast (and be in bed by 10pm).
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. These places will deliver on both fronts.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
Walrus Rodeo is one of those rare special occasion restaurants that’s also perfect for most regular occasions. And it works for a birthday dinner that feels important and exciting, but won't have your friends stressing out over what to wear. The interior is a slightly bizarre but endearing mix of Western, diner, and auto shop aesthetics. And the delicious food is equally all-over-the-place—featuring a green lamb lasagna, excellent pizzas, and a carrot tartare that has surpassed all of the tuna or steak versions we've ever tried. The dining room is loud enough to have fun, but not so chaotic that you'll have to shout at someone to get them to pass the bottle of wine.
Looking for the atmosphere of a bar, but still want to be able to sit down the whole time and snack? How very 36 of you. Go to South Beach's Tropezón, an Andalusian gin and tapas bar on Española Way, and one of South Beach's best spots for a really fun dinner. This place has a menu of delicious infused gins that are so good/dangerous now that you live in the decade of the 48-hour hangover. Luckily there's also good food to soak up the alcohol, like a sour orange tortilla, pan con tomate, a huge coffee-rubbed ribeye, and plenty of jamón sliced off one of the legs dangling from the ceiling.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.
Being in your 30s might mean you’ve whittled your friend group down to the bare essentials. So bring the three or four people you still actually like spending time with to Jaguar Sun, a fun, restaurant perfect for small groups who appreciate gin and pasta. This Downtown spot is full of things people in their 30s will love: stiff martinis, friendly and competent service, excellent pasta, and a great raw bar. Plus, a noise level that doesn’t require shouting, which you’ve grown to appreciate ever since you lost your voice after last year's birthday dinner.
Something happens when you hit your 30s: the body begins to crave cute little wine bars. It's one of the better parts about getting older, especially if it leads you to NIU Wine. This Downtown spot is the drinking equivalent of a cashmere sweater. The narrow space has flickering candles and tables perfect for groups of two or three. There is a small rotating food menu of tapas like bacalhau with sofrito aioli, charcuterie, and a spiced chocolate truffle you definitely want with a glass of that red you picked because you thought the label was cool. If you like the idea of this place, but want something that's more sit-down dinner appropriate, go to this place’s very good sister restaurant, NIU Kitchen, which is just a few doors down.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
Vinya is another worthy entry into the Cute Wine Bar multiverse. There are two Vinya locations, one in Key Biscayne and another in Coral Gables. The Gables one is better for a proper dinner since it's bigger in both size and food options. It has a diverse menu with dishes that all go great with wine (which you should be drinking here). There are crispy morcilla spring rolls with a marmalade dipping sauce, simple but delicious Pernod mussels, and fluffy gnocchi sitting atop a lovely tomato passata. The restaurant has tall ceilings, archways lining the walls, and a thoughtfully minimalistic aesthetic. There's also a great liquor store in the back with hard-to-find spirits. Grab a couple bottles when you're done eating, and move the party to where all great 30s birthdays end: the couch.
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.
The dining room at Los Félix 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.
Just up the spiral staircase in the back of Los Félix, you’ll find Krus Kitchen. It’s Félix's sister restaurant, and it’s very 30s birthday fitting for many of the same reasons: fantastic food, lots of wine, and service that makes you feel like you’re at a friend’s house. Krus also has our favorite dining room in town, an intimate second-floor space that’s a pleasant antithesis to the loud, crowded rooms where the less mature version of you celebrated previous birthdays. The food here is impressive and changes often, but always revolves around seasonal vegetables alongside some of the best pasta in Miami, like a smoked corn agnolotti floating in a savory porcini broth.
The Surf Club Restaurant
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 $400 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. This old school American restaurant in Surfside is the platonic ideal of fine dining, and you deserve to try their $150 beef wellington (which is ridiculously good) before you have to start worrying about how all that red meat will affect your blood pressure.
Shore To Door Fish Market
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 on the weekends from about 11am till the food runs out. It feels less like a restaurant and more like the house party 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.
Paradis Books & Bread
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 excellent 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.
Amara At Paraiso
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.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
Just because you have entered your 30s doesn't mean you now refuse to eat anywhere louder than a library. And if you want a dinner that's still fun, drunk, and a little rowdy, go to Over Under. This Downtown spot is part cocktail bar, part restaurant. They make an excellent cheeseburger, an oyster shell-infused martini, and more great Florida-focused bar food. When you're done eating, you can go hang out by the bar, where crowds get thick on the weekends, nodding along to great DJs or screaming karaoke.
Lagniappe works great if all your friends are super unreliable and you don’t want to deal with the possibility of making a reservation for six only to have three people actually show up. With this Edgewater wine bar, you can send a group text that says, “We’ll be at Lagniappe, anyone can come.” Just arrive 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.
Those insufferably sceney, horrifically overpriced flashy new steakhouses? Leave those to the poor souls still stuck in their 20s. Prime 112 is Miami's original sceney steakhouse—and still one of the best places to dress up and spend too much money on beef and dangerously spillable martinis. Luckily, this place still holds up, and not just because there's probably an NBA player sitting ten feet away, but thanks to the fantastic ribeye, multiple forms of delicious potatoes, and complimentary bar bacon.
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 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.
Cote is the birthday reservation to make if you still want a 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 $68 Butcher’s Feast tasting menu is the way to go here) 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.