The Best Restaurants In Downtown Miami  guide image


The Best Restaurants In Downtown Miami

These are our favorite places to eat in Downtown.

There is no neighborhood that better embodies Miami’s ridiculous extremes than Downtown. Here, in just a 10-minute walk, you’ll pass abandoned shops, highrise apartments your favorite celebrity couldn’t even afford, and club kids wandering out of Space at 9am, looking for breakfast. Downtown’s restaurants are every bit as wide-ranging, with dining rooms full of people who might actually say something like, “Well, I just had caviar last night,” mere blocks away from cash-only cafeterias with no AC. This guide spans that entire spectrum with everything from an Israeli restaurant in a diamond mall to one of the best places for Spanish food in the city.


photo credit: Cleveland Jennings


1335 NE Miami Ct, Miami
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We have never had a more perfect slice of pizza than the ones served at Miami Slice, a small counter-seating spot on the northern edge of Downtown. The five or six New York-style slices you’ll find here have a crust that’s crispy edge-to-edge, yet still warm and fluffy when you bite into it. The toppings—like candied cherry tomatoes, garlic confit cream, and pesto swirls—are dispersed with the restraint of a famous Danish architect. The highlight of the menu, a pepperoni slice with red sauce, hot honey, and an optional (but non-negotiable) glob of additional stracciatella, made us briefly lose consciousness. There isn’t much to do here but grab a slice at the counter or take a whole pie to go. But that’s fine because this is a pizza that deserves one million percent of your undivided attention.

NIU Kitchen is a Catalan spot that is one of our favorite restaurants in the entire city. It went through lots of changes during the pandemic, and has recently taken over the space that once housed its sister restaurant, Arson. But all you need to know is that it’s still a great restaurant. The outstanding dishes include things like cold tomato soup with mustard ice cream and the ous, a bowl of poached eggs and truffled potato foam. Plus, it’s just a really lovely place to hang out and have a lazy, delicious dinner with a bottle of great wine.

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If you can't get a table at NIU Kitchen (or just aren't hungry enough for a big dinner) walk a few doors down to NIU Wine. It is, technically, a wine bar. But you can eat here too. The narrow space has an intimate dinner party energy with candlelight, tables perfect for dates, and lots of natural wine. There’s not really a wine menu. You just chat with the staff, and they'll bring you some bottles to try. The food menu changes often, but it’s full of wine bar-appropriate tapas and a trio of handheld Spanish sandwiches (get the chistorra). For dessert, go with the spiced chocolate truffle, which goes so well with that glass of red you only picked because you liked the label. This place is super tiny, so a reservation isn't a bad idea.

You can go to Jaguar Sun just to drink, but if you sit in their little dining room, it feels more like a restaurant than a bar. And once the outstanding food shows up alongside your excellent drinks, it’s clear this place takes both of those aspects very seriously. Any order here should start with the Parker House rolls with honey butter, which are soft and sweet and will make you consider ordering five more and just telling people you’re carbo-loading for some imaginary race. After that, the menu is mostly pasta-focused and it’s all very delicious. Jaguar Sun is one of our favorite places for a fun dinner in all of Miami, because it hits that energetic sweet spot: it's upbeat enough to make you feel like you went out, but won’t have you waking up the next morning with ringing in your ears.

There are a lot of occasions that justify going to Over Under, a narrow cocktail bar and restaurant in the heart of Downtown. It’s a good place to bring a date or catch up with a few friends over some strong (and delicious) cocktails. Stop by literally any time you happen to be craving a cheeseburger or fried chicken sandwich (both of which are great here). The menu changes a lot here, but you can generally expect excellent bar food. This place somehow has the DNA of a dive bar, upscale cocktail bar, and a very good restaurant all rolled into one—and it’s kind of harder to think of a reason not to come here.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

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Tacos “El Porky”

Tacos El Porky is basically a fast food taco spot—in the best possible way. The taqueria specializes in al pastor tacos shaved right off a trompo and served with pineapple, onions, a spicy red chili sauce, and their “porkie sauce” (cilantro and mayo). Those are good, but our favorite taco here is the cochi taco. It comes with chunks of chicharrones that are salty, fatty, crunchy, and served with pickled onions and a green chili sauce. The third taco on their small menu is the cheesy and delicious gringa taco, which is actually more like an al pastor quesadilla than a taco. That’s it—just three tacos on the menu—all pork and all fast. It's a perfect quick and affordable lunch option.

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Soya E Pomodoro



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This place looks like an Italian family with a slight hoarding issue broke into a Downtown building and no one’s decided to kick them out because their pasta is so good. There’s no restaurant in the area with as much personality as Soya: a dim, cavernous space stuffed with books, mismatched furniture, and antiques. They do live jazz here Thursday-Saturday, so stop by one of those days if you want a little extra romance. But it’s worth parallel parking for the eggplant parm—music or no music—and the slightly sweet fazzoletti di formaggio e pera is one of our favorite plates of pasta in town thanks to the surprisingly great combination of pear and ricotta.

Bunbury is an Argentinian restaurant on the Northern edge of Downtown, and it has all the stuff you’d expect at a good Argentinian restaurant. There’s lots of wine (including some really good wine cocktails), solid empanadas, and a variety of tasty red meat—like a perfectly grilled vacio. But the space also has a fun secret lair vibe—the dining room is located behind a sliding bookshelf—and there’s occasional live music, too. It’s casual, but still a good choice for a date or fun group dinner. 

Motek is an Israeli restaurant buried inside a huge building full of diamond shops, and getting here will make you feel like a considerably less stressed-out version of Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems. There are some very tasty things at the casual restaurant, especially sandwiches. We really like their crispy chicken schnitzel sandwich and the arayes burger, handheld beef-stuffed pitas that come with a side of crispy fries. The indoor restaurant is also BYOB with no corkage fee.

Eleventh Street Pizza is a great New York-style pizza spot operating out of the old Fooq’s space in Downtown, and they’re serving some of the best pizza in Miami. They are foldable yet firm, and made with a delicious sourdough crust. Our favorite is the pepperoni and hot honey pizza, which comes topped with Calabrian chili paste, caramelized onions, and little pepperoni cups. The huge Sicilian square slices are great too. They used to be a to-go-only spot, but now have indoor and outdoor seating where you can enjoy your pizza with a bottle of wine.

Manila Kantina is a small Filipino restaurant and grocer along Flagler where you can sit down and eat a selection of tasty dishes buffet-style for $12 per person. Your options include chicken adobo, dinuguan (pork blood stew), chop suey, lechon kawali, fried lumpia, pinakbet (stewed vegetables), and more. It’s all great, but before you leave, browse the shelves to take home some Filipino pantry staples like pancit noodles, bagoong jars, and bibingka mixes.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

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All Day

One of Miami’s most peaceful little cafes happens to be around the corner from E11even, and the coffee is good enough to help you forget about that one time you spent $400 there on a bottle of $40 vodka. Come here for a fantastic breakfast sandwich, great cup of coffee, or get all of the above to-go from their ventanita. You can go with a simple but perfect pour over or opt for more adventurous things like a rosemary cold brew with lime juice. They do breakfast and lunch as well. The Runny & Everything sandwich is one of the best bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches we’ve found in Miami—thanks mostly to the everything brioche bun. This place also has free WiFi and is usually chill enough during the week to get some work done. Expect a crowd on the weekends though.

Like Goldilocks and her porridge, it can be hard to find an omakase that’s “just right”—one that hits that sweet spot between formal and informal, suspiciously cheap and give-your-accountant-a-heart-attack expensive. But Mr. Omakase in Downtown walks that line perfectly. It’s not cheap, but both the 10 and 14-course options come in under $100 (at least before service, taxes, and sake), and that’s a lot better than most upscale omakase options in Miami. The food is the main event here, and every piece of fish, uni, or beef that’s laid in front of you seemingly gets better and better, like a well-paced action movie starring Keanu Reeves. And by the time you reach the otoro or the A5 wagyu, you’ll want to stand up and applaud.

Since 1966, this spot has been the best place to eat on the Miami River—where you can watch yachts, boats that are almost certainly smuggling something illegal, and the occasional lost dolphin all drift by in the course of a lunch. It’s still a good choice because it’s delicious, simple, and one of the few waterfront spots where you won’t be surrounded by $200 bottles of rosé and people who arrived via luxury jet ski. Start with some fried shellfish, listen closely to the daily specials, and if it’s stone crab season, you know what to do.

If you want to eat seafood somewhere that sandals won’t be considered formalwear, then Mignonette is a good choice. The place isn’t super upscale, but it’s nice enough to work for a dinner with someone you want to impress. Or you can always sit at the bar during Happy Hour for a more casual vibe. Either way, come here for the very good seafood. Oysters are $3 a pop, but worth it. If you want to keep the tab down, order some of the $6 veggies, which taste great and will help you leave full.

Bali Café is a little cash-only Indonesian spot where you can get big portions of dishes you won’t find anywhere else in the area. The menu is very large and includes everything from dumplings to sushi rolls—but you should focus on the Indonesian food, like the nasi goreng special. It comes on a little cafeteria-style tray with separated portions of fried rice, coconut chicken curry, and an awesomely tender pile of rendang. There’s no shortage of things to look at in the restaurant, which is decorated with colorful statues and masks you’ll want to touch and try on. Please don’t.

Not only does Verde have one of the best views in Miami, but it’s casual enough to show up in shorts and a tank top. The restaurant is located in the back of the Pérez Art Museum and has a beautiful, uninterrupted view of Biscayne Bay. That’s really why you should come here (and why you shouldn’t sit inside), but the food—mostly salads, pizza, and sandwiches—is solid.

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