The Infatuation is built on the idea of “Perfect For” categories, catering to your specific restaurant needs and situations. Date night? Birthday dinner with friends? Your college roommate from FSU is finally coming to Miami and has an excel spreadsheet worth of allergies? We can handle it.
But sometimes, there are situations that just don’t fit into a concise, predetermined category. And there is one such genre of restaurant we keep hearing about over and over again—at parties, in group texts, or in crowded ride-shares when we accidentally click the “pool” option. It’s what we’ve come to call the “Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends” (SCRPRTCUWFF). In general, SCRPRTCUWFFs are:
But not boring.
With entrees mostly under (or very close to) $20.
The option to drink either booze or caffeine.
You have our list—now go ahead and plan that Wednesday night dinner.
Silverlake Bistro is a casual North Miami restaurant with some sidewalk seating, outstanding taste in wallpaper, and simple but really great bistro dishes. Food is the main reason to come here, so bring those friends who will appreciate one of the best burgers in town (which you should absolutely add bacon to), chicken with impressively crispy skin, and a gorgeous plate of steak frites. It’s just impossible to have a bad meal here, especially if you add a bottle of wine to the equation.
Paradis Books & Bread
Paradis Books & Bread really feels like a place designed specifically for this guide. It’s objectively cute, reasonably priced, and on any given night here you will see groups of friends catching up over bottles of natural wine and tinned fish atop freshly baked bread. The North Miami wine bar/bakery is just ideal for those Thursday night dinner plans you forgot you made three weeks ago. It’s a little small inside, but you can almost always find an open spot at the outdoor tables.
Shibui Japanese Restaurant
Kendall’s Shibui has been cooking traditional Japanese food for Miami since back when a lot of the county probably thought “omakase” was a local DJ. Not much has changed in the nearly 40 years it’s been open, especially the perfectly cozy second-floor dining space, which features low tables that require you to sit on the ground. Definitely ask for a seat up there (call and make a reservation to guarantee you get one) and don't feel awkward when your legs get tangled up under the table. There is a little bit of everything on the menu, including Japanese-American favorites, like teriyaki and California rolls, and harder-to-find specialties, like beef tataki, natto, and a hearty-yet-light sukiyaki that’s big enough for four people to share.
Coral House is an Italian restaurant where dinner feels like eating in someone’s front yard. The space looks more like a house than a restaurant, and the prettiest seating is on the front patio, so save this place for a night when the weather is cooperating. The menu is Italian and includes pasta, salad, and some really good pizzas that are almost—but not quite—Neapolitan. It’s all good, but also reasonably priced, which makes this place a great spot for a casual date night or group dinner where everyone can drink wine and share pizza.
Awash Ethiopian Restaurant
Miami-Dade County has exactly one Ethiopian restaurant. We’d like more, but hey, at least our one Ethiopian restaurant is incredible. It’s also just a lovely place to have a relaxing meal. The Miami Gardens restaurant is usually full of people tearing chunks of spongy injera bread and using it to scoop up piles of beautifully seasoned and spiced vegetables and meat. The best thing to get here is the Taste of Awash platter: portions of all the vegetarian, beef, and chicken entrees served in tiny piles atop an injera the size of a city bus’ steering wheel. It's great to split with two or three friends. An Ethiopian coffee to finish things off is a good call too—or just get another glass of the dangerously drinkable Ethiopian honey wine.
Margot Natural Wine Bar
Of course this guide is going to have a tiny natural wine bar filled with subtle shades of pink and shareable small plates—especially one that’s as good as Margot. This is more of a wine bar than a restaurant, so don't come starving. But they have some really tasty snacks like crudo, marinated olives, and a big pile of ham and potato chips—which you can consume while eavesdropping on the various first dates happening all around you.
The entrees at Pinch are (please forgive us) just a pinch above $20, but the prices aren't wild and there are lots of small plates available at lower price points. Plus, we just love this place. It's a charming, relaxing space that feels more like someone's house, and will make you want to take off your shoes (please don't). Food is the big reason to come here though. They do simple dishes fantastically. And the burger, croquetas, and gambas al ajillo will make you look like you’re incredibly interested in what your friends are saying, even if their story is tragically devoid of anything resembling a plot or climax.
Shore To Door Fish Market
This Coconut Grove seafood market/restaurant is a perfect place for you and some friends to spread out, drink beer, and politely try not to eat all the conch salad while someone tells a very long story summing up the last year of their life. Shore To Door serves a rotating menu of local seafood on the weekends, starting at about 11am and going until the food runs out (usually between 6pm and 9pm). The menu changes often, but whether you stop by when they have smoked fish dip, whole fried snapper, or conch salad, it’s going to be excellent. Beer is in the cooler, and you can help yourself. Just keep tabs on how many you drink. You'll need that information when it's time to pay.
NIU Wine is the drinking equivalent of a cashmere sweater. The narrow space has an intimate dinner party energy—with candlelight and tables perfect for small groups of two or three. There’s not really a wine menu. You just chat with the owner, and she’ll bring you some bottles to try. NIU Wine is more bar than restaurant (so don’t come starving), but there is a small (and delicious) rotating food menu of tapas like bacalhau with sofrito aioli, charcuterie, and a spiced chocolate truffle you definitely want alongside a glass of that red you picked because you liked the label.
La Latina is on the more casual end of the places on this guide, but the counter service spot is nonetheless a great place to meet for a quick lunch or dinner without doing too much damage to your respective weekly dining budgets. You can get a great arepa for under $10—or bigger pabellón platters for just a few bucks extra. And it’s quite nice inside too, with bright wallpaper and windows that let in a lot of natural light. You can always keep things going by walking next door to the wine bar Lagniappe, a spot in Miami’s “super cute” hall of fame.
Let’s say you moved away from la sagüecera but you’re back in town and want to embrace nostalgia while your high school friends shout “bro” all around you. Then go to The One on Sunset, a restaurant that took over the old Swensen’s space (and made it better). This place still has all the original wood paneling, mosaic tile floors, and tiffany lamps—but now there's updated upholstery, a fresh coat of paint, and better food. It still gives us those warm and fuzzy feelings of revisiting a childhood classic—a rarity in a city that bulldozes everything old—but the food feels more mature, you can get a local craft beer, and they have some phenomenal queso frito sticks with guava dipping sauce.
Wynwood isn't a neighborhood known for being a relaxing and affordable place to eat. But Doya is as good as it gets in Wynwood in terms of “super cute, reasonably priced.” The big Aegean restaurant has some lovely outdoor seating, and a spacious dining room that’s pretty enough for a date but casual enough for an easy Wednesday dinner. The best part about Doya is the food, though. The menu is a huge list of meze plates, and just about everything is great—from the incredibly tender octopus salad to the beautifully cooked lamb kebab. Since it’s meze, you’ll need to get multiple plates on the table. But you can still have a good meal here without blowing through the month’s dining out budget.
Casa Florida works just fine when you’re in the mood to drink and eat underneath palm trees and string lights. There’s pretty much only outdoor seating here, and it’s usually quiet enough to have a conversation, but not so quiet that any moments of awkward silence will feel unbearable. This is more of a place to drink and hang out than eat—because the cocktails are very good and also the food menu is sort of limited and just OK. But there are solid things to snack on and share like heart of palm ceviche, fish dip, and empanadas.
Cafe Kush is a great little MiMo spot from the Kush team. Unlike their other concepts, this restaurant has a slight French tilt to its menu, and some lovely waterfront seating along a narrow canal. In addition to great burgers, you can also order steak frites, croque monsieur, and a gorgeous double-cut pork chop here. It also works for brunch or lunch, since most of the outdoor seating is shaded. They also have beer and cocktails—always a plus when listening to your friend summarize their previous 13 months of online dating.
Over Under is a cocktail bar and restaurant your friend(s) will like, especially if these friends appreciate pairing a cheeseburger with a martini. Over Under has outstanding versions of both, as well as more very good bar food like a fried chicken sandwich and smoked fish dip, plus rotating weekly specials. It can get a little lively here during weekends and late-night, but you can always bring a friend for a weekday dinner chill enough to unpack the latest updates on your mutual high school bully.
Naomi's Garden Restaurant and Lounge
Being waited on can sometimes be awkward, especially when you’re trying to catch up with friends and the details are so risqué that your entire table glares at the server until they leave. Luckily, Naomi’s not only has cafeteria-style service, but also one of Miami's cutest patios. This place serves standard Haitian dishes (minus the pork, so get your griot elsewhere). But what they lack in porcine options they make up for with a selection of vegan options and a great jerk chicken. Pick out what you want, pay, and take your styrofoam box to their lush back patio outfitted with mismatched furniture, where you can chat undisturbed—except for maybe a few roosters.
Ironside Kitchen Pizza & Coffee Co
We know it's tempting to just ask your friends to come over and order pizza. Who doesn't want to do that literally all the time? But if you promised them a night out (yet still really want wine and pizza), then go to Ironside. Here, you can still bring your own bottle of wine (they’re BYOB), sit outside in a pretty courtyard, and eat much better pizza than you would have if you called that chain down the street (the pasta isn’t a bad choice either).
Madroño is the best Nicaraguan restaurant in Miami, and the place to eat carne asada, gallo pinto, and thick, golden-brown bricks of fried queso fresco. But don’t get this place confused with your average fritanga. Madroño is so chic, it feels like it was plucked straight out of the Design District and plopped into a strip mall in Sweetwater. And yet it is refreshingly affordable for a restaurant that places so much attention on every detail from the ambiance to the service. It’s a great place to enjoy dishes that have become staples in Miami—but in a really beautiful setting and without having to take the Dolphin.
Soya E Pomodoro
Soya E Pomodoro looks like it burrowed into the side of a Downtown office building like a hibernating bear, marking its territory with dozens of slightly random paintings and pictures. But this pasta cave is ultimately way more charming than the layer of a fat, sleeping grizzly. They also host live jazz Thursday and Saturday night, serve a pear and cheese-stuffed pasta we love (the fazzoletti di formaggio e pera), and have an atmosphere comfortable enough for you to finally admit to your old roommate that it was you who was stealing their laundry detergent. Entrees get a little pricey here, but the pastas (which are what you should be eating) all hover around $20.
This place might not feel super cute inside, but what the dining room lacks in super cuteness, the outdoor tables make up for. So, in case it wasn’t clear, sit outside—especially at night, when the string lights are all lit up above the patio. The small menu at the Little Havana spot is Cuban fusion, and has some solid dishes like arroz imperial, fried chicken and waffles, and chorizo croquettes.
Taquiza North Beach
If you’d like to chat over tacos and margaritas, Taquiza is a great place to do it. Though we’re going to suggest the North Beach location over the busier and often louder South Beach location for the purpose of this guide. The North Beach taco shop is a little more intimate, has outdoor tables close enough to the beach that you can feel the ocean breeze, and serves the same great tacos and—most importantly—the totopos, which are the Michael Jordan of tortilla chips.
Off Site is another spot that walks the line between bar and restaurant. But you should absolutely be eating here, because the Little River nano-brewery is serving some of the best bar food in Miami. There’s a Cuban sandwich with bread pressed crispy enough to play shuffleboard on. Their huge (but not unmanageable) fried chicken sandwich just might be the best in town. And they also make wings, a burger, and a hot dog that both rank among the best versions you'll find in all of South Florida. Plus, this is just a refreshingly chill space perfect for a beer and a conversation—which you can have as soon as you finish inhaling whatever food you end up ordering.