MIAGuide

The Most Fun Dinner Spots In Miami

Restaurants for when you simply can’t risk a boring meal.
People sit at an outdoor bar facing the water.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

This is not a guide for people looking for a polite meal. This is a guide for people who agree that, sometimes, chairs aren’t just for sitting and mid-dinner photoshoots are perfectly acceptable. While food is important, a good time takes priority at these places. They're not rabbit-and-a-top-hat kind of fun. No, they range from old-school classics where you can dance with a grandparent to hot and geotag-heavy new spots. They’re the “it” dinners of Miami, and exactly where you want to be this weekend.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Mangrove

Jamaican

Downtown

$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good CocktailsDancing
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During the day, people walk in and out of here lugging dense takeout boxes from Jrk, Mangrove’s sister spot that operates in the same space. But at night, Mangrove turns into a restaurant and bar worthy of a fun weekend meal with friends who like to dance to reggae while holding utensils. After you eat great Jamaican dishes like jerk wings, curry oxtail, a whole fried snapper, stay for some cocktails and dancing. Just make sure to find a moment to appreciate the bar’s backsplash constructed out of thousands of dominoes.

Gramps is one of our favorite bars in Miami, and now you don’t have to brave the chaos of Wynwood to satisfy a Gramps craving. You can just go to their new waterfront spot in Key Biscayne. Here, in the former Whiskey Joe’s space, you’ll find pretty much everything we loved about the original Gramps: rare $12 cocktails, DJs playing songs you forgot you knew all the words to, and an old school atmosphere that’ll feel familiar to anyone who’s lived here for more than 10 years. We'll admit: this is more of a bar than a restaurant. But you can technically have dinner here. Right now, the food is coming from The Lazy Oyster, a great pop-up serving oysters, lobster rolls, and other small seafood plates. There are hot dogs too.

You’re coming to Nando for three things: music, meat, and a palapa that could double as a hangar for a 747. This outdoor Homestead spot is the best place in Miami to slowly graze on Venezuelan parrilla while sipping a pina colada out of a frozen pineapple. The carne en vara, carved fresh off big metal skewers, is tender, smoky, and served on family platters that can feed your family—even if your family are 11-foot-tall lumberjacks who’ve just chopped down the world’s biggest tree. Nando’s Homestead location is only open Saturday and Sunday, which just so happens to be ideal days to get meat drunk while clapping along to live Venezuelan music and dancers that shimmy between tables. They’re open till midnight Saturday, 11pm Sunday, and the later you come, the wilder things are.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

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Having fun at Cafe La Trova is as inevitable as having a panic attack while merging west on the Dolphin near that Allapattah exit (you know the one). This is Miami Cuban culture distilled into a dinner party. The whole dining room is constantly teetering on the edge of breaking out into song and dance. The live music (and the daquiris) make you shimmy in your seat. Bartenders occasionally whip out instruments and start singing along with the band like Broadway understudies. The only thing keeping people in their seats—and off the tables—is the very good Cuban food on those tables. It’d be a shame to step in that arroz con pollo.

There’s a first time for everything, and La Cumbancha marks the only time we’ve been roped into a conga line at a restaurant. This Cuban spot in Miami Lakes is a party—which makes sense since there’s some cross-ownership with Cafe La Trova. There’s also dancing, flaming steaks, and a live band playing salsa and bachata. To drink and possibly get abducted into a conga line is why you’re coming here. The cocktails are excellent and they do tableside martinis from a rattan bar cart. The big menu includes croquetas, pizza, “espagueti” ala carbonara, and more dishes. The food is OK, but La Cumbancha’s strength is how it can get your Miami Lakes tía to dance circles around you after two hip surgeries. She’ll probably lose her voice, but it’s worth it.

photo credit: CLEVELAND JENNINGS / @EATTHECANVASLLC

You can’t hide from fun at Tam Tam. It finds you in every corner of the colorful Vietnamese restaurant—even in the bathrooms, which are so glorious we want to shut up about them to not spoil the surprise. But you’re not coming here just to drink enough wine to justify three trips to the bathroom. Tam Tam has one of the most exciting menus in Miami, full of creative takes on the kinds of Vietnamese flavors that are tragically rare in this city. It’s a tiny spot, so come with a small group or just a date. And order the sticky fish sauce caramel wings, both because they are our favorite wings in Miami, and because their stickiness will give you another excuse to go to the bathroom.

Boteco throws one of the best parties in Miami on Friday and Saturday night, when a live band turns the outdoor patio into an intergenerational dance floor with a side of picanha. You’re not coming here for the best Brazilian food in South Florida—it’s fine—but the second the music starts (which happens around 9:30 or 10pm), people get up from their tables and grab a partner. This is especially true if Gabi Lacombe is playing forró with her band. Caipirinhas are consumed, reservations are recommended, and the delightful mayhem doesn’t stop until after midnight.  

Describe Pueblito Viejo to someone and they might think you’re under the influence of a powerful psychoactive substance. “A life-size figure of Carlos Vives and a dozen cockatoos watched me get roasted by singing comedians who made fun of me in perfect rhymes,” you say as you’re gently guided to a comfortable chair and handed a glass of water. But it’s true. Pueblito Viejo is the most over-the-top restaurant in Miami (and singing comedians go absolutely in on guests, rhyming their insults with perfect pitch). The Colombian food isn’t the best in Miami, but it’s a perfectly silly dining experience—and a great place to drink a little too much aguardiente and dance with strangers.

At Jaguar Sun, you can drink martinis, eat pasta, and slurp oysters in a perfectly dim little dining room that always seems to be in a good mood. Jaguar Sun has that effect. The service is always on point, empty glasses never stay that way for long, and the noise level vibrates in a constant sweet spot. Plus, everything—from the cocktails to the rigatoni—is excellent. And whether you just want to drink martinis at the bar and look hot, or have a big meal with several friends, Jaguar Sun delivers.

Is Over Under a bar or a restaurant? Yes. And that’s why it’s so fun. Roll up to the narrow Downtown spot on a Saturday night and the place will be split between people dancing and people wiping cheeseburger debris from their chin. It’s a beautiful chaos that works as long as you don’t mind shouting or bumping into strangers on the way to the bathroom. But the menu here is no afterthought. Their Florida-focused bar food is great, but their three-for-$39 weekly rotating special is also one of the best deals in town. The later you stay here, the wilder things get (and they don’t close till 3am Wednesday through Saturday).

There are many places in South Beach trying hard to be fun—and failing at almost every level. While there’s nothing particularly new or trendy about Prime 112, the steakhouse is still one of our favorite places to dress up and eat next to famous people. This place is stuck in 2004—but not in a lame way. Rather, in a way that makes it feel like an uncle who’s committed to a particular decade. There’s complimentary bacon you can enjoy at the bar while you wait for your table, very spillable martinis, and good steaks. Also, for some reason, NBA players absolutely love it here. So there’s a chance you end up waiting in line for the bathroom behind a point guard.

People used to go to the old Schnitzel Haus to drink beer and eat big slabs of meat. And, ever since the Gramps team revived the place, people still pretty much come here to do the same. Except now there are also great cocktails, fun appetizers like a giant pretzel with beer cheese (one of 2023's Best New Dishes), and a mirrored ‘80s interior that will momentarily make you forget smartphones exist. Also, their back patio is a great place to drink outside when it’s not three million degrees out. Overall, this is a restaurant that very much feels like it’s being run by one of the most fun bars in Miami.

Specifically Los Félix on Friday and Saturday. That’s when the Mexican restaurant has a DJ in the dining room and a disco ball reflecting light all over your pork cheek carnitas. The narrow restaurant is packed like a crowded house party, which makes you feel grateful to be one of the lucky ones with a comfortable seat and a great view of the action. Plus, the food is incredible. Just don’t come with a huge group—Los Félix’s portions and small space make it more conducive to groups of two or three.

We did not expect to have so much fun at this Grove spot. But the French classic is a good time from the second they drop a complimentary glass of sparkling wine on your table (whether or not you’re celebrating anything). The cluttered restaurant is great for groups, because portions are big and no one cares if you’re being loud. It’s also perfect for birthdays, mostly because their birthday song is this house music remix of the Rocky theme, which they blast at a ridiculously loud volume. Come on a Saturday night and you’ll probably hear it seven times.

If you want dinner to involve a martini, live music, and some candles, there are frustratingly few options in Miami. But at least we have the Gibson Room. The Coral Way spot is certainly fun on account of its cocktails and music programming. But its atmosphere is a nice mix of casual and upscale, which makes this a really good option if you’re looking for something to do on a Saturday night that doesn’t require a reservation. You can keep it simple with an excellent cheeseburger, or go fancy and order a tamal en cazuela with foie gras and duck chicharron. After you eat, get up and mingle at the bar for as long as you like.

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