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:
- Somewhat quiet.
- But not boring.
- Relatively small.
- With entrees mostly under $20 (or the equivalent).
- The option to drink either booze or caffeine.
You have our list - now go ahead and plan that Wednesday night dinner.
This rooftop spot in Little Havana will make whoever you’re catching up with think, “Huh, this person got about 40 percent cooler since I last saw them.” Terras is an all-around great spot. The cocktails are very good, the food menu is small but tasty (especially the heart of palm salad), and the view of the Downtown skyline is the perfect backdrop for casually mentioning how you got invited to Rick Ross’ birthday party.
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 Thu-Sat, 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.
For a slightly classier alternative to staying in, drinking wine, and ordering pizza, 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). This place works great for both parties of two and 12, so bring everyone you’ve canceled plans with in the last six months.
Pinch is a quieter option if you want to hear every detail about what’s been going on with your most dramatic friend, who recently flew back from an unexpected seven month vacation on an island you can’t pronounce. But even if that story isn’t as thrilling as you hoped, the food will make up for it. There’s nothing too crazy on the menu at this Upper East Side spot - they just do simple food fantastically. And the burger, wagyu vacio, and gambas al ajillo will make you look like you’re incredibly interested, even if the story is a complete let down.
There’s a lot we like about Orilla, even before the food hits the table. The dining room’s dark color scheme and lack of an outer wall make it feel like you’re eating outside even though there’s a roof above your head. It’s the perfect size between “so big that you’re forced to contemplate your insignificance in this universe” and “so small that you’re scared the entire restaurant is going to hear you tell that embarrassing story of how you almost started a fire in your kitchen three months ago.” And, despite being in South of Fifth, a lot of delicious things - like the jumbo prawn, grilled sausage, and free-range chicken - are well below $20. Luckily, when the mostly Argentinian food does arrive, it just gives you more to like about this place.
If you’d like to chat over tacos and margaritas, Taquiza is the best 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 and has an ocean breeze if you sit outside, but still serves the same great tacos and - more importantly - the totopos, which are the Michael Jordan of tortilla chips.
This Coconut Grove seafood market/restaurant is a perfect place for you and anywhere from two to eight 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 fish from Wed-Sun, and 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.
Most things here are under $20, so we still consider Boia De reasonable - especially considering the great food you’ll be getting here - but it is one of the pricier options on this guide. It’s also unquestionably one of the cutest restaurants in Miami. Whether you’re sitting at the bar or at a table in this tiny Little Haiti spot, you’ll have some sort of wallpaper or design to stare at while you drink natural wine and split beef tartare and duck prosciutto tortellini.
If that person you made vague plans to have dinner with at that party three weeks ago just texted you with a very last-minute request to hang out, head to Jaguar Sun’s bar, drink cocktails, and - at the very least - order the blue crab agnolotti. But if you’ve got a couple of days warning, then grab a reservation, sit in the adjacent dining room, and make this more of a formal dinner. Everything at this Downtown spot is good - especially the pasta - and the cocktails are perfectly balanced yet very boozy, which should help recreate the atmosphere that made you two want to hang out in the first place.
Hit up All Day if you need something earlier than dinner. The Downtown coffee shop works for anything from an 8am breakfast to a 3pm lunch - but whenever you come, coffee should absolutely be involved. So should an order of croquetas and the Runny & Everything, which is their version of a bacon, egg, and cheese. This is a casual, seat yourself kind of spot (at least during the week), so you won’t feel rushed out the door if you want to stay and chat a little longer than planned.
If the person you haven’t spoken to in 13 months insists on having dinner with you in Wynwood, Beaker and Gray is your only safe bet. This place, unlike 93 percent of the neighborhood, won’t be a huge headache. Instead, the reliable restaurant is going to serve very good cocktails, cheeseburger croquettes, chicken wings, and more small plates that are easy to share. It’s formal enough to make it seem like you put some thought into the occasion, but still relaxed enough to keep all parties from feeling too much pressure to brag about how their new job has unlimited vacation days.
Downtown’s Balloo might be a better choice if you’re only catching up with one or two friends because it’s quite small. But as long as you’ve got a party that can fit, we really love this place. Not only is the rotating Indian/Trinidadian/Caribbean/Chinese menu unlike anything we’ve encountered in Miami, but it’s also delicious. Dishes like spam fried rice and cheung fun also go great with their spicy Thai micheladas, which we usually order at least twice per visit.
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. The small menu at the Little Havana spot is Cuban fusion, but we like to stick to the slightly more recognizable food over the more experimental stuff - like the crispy brussels sprouts, fried chicken with plantain waffles, and chorizo croquettes.
Even though we love grabbing beers and burgers with a friend at Kush, its older sister in Coconut Grove is a little more spacious and a slightly easier place to get a table - especially if the person you’re eating with never leaves the house without their seven-pound chihuahua. Come to Lokal if you’d like to catch up over some of Miami’s best burgers while you drink beer and stare at the many dogs lying down under the tables. You might want to come with people you’re slightly more comfortable with, though, because you’ll be eating a lot and there is a 40 percent chance you get honey mustard on your face.
This restaurant in the back of PAMM is easily in our top three places to eat and stare at the water. They’re open for brunch and lunch (and dinner only on Thursday), but you want to come here when the sun is out anyway. The view is better than the food, which includes salads, sandwiches, and pizza that’ll do the trick while you and your buds reminisce over that time you all tried to start a t-shirt company. Just hold out for an outdoor table, even if there’s a wait.