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8 Fancy Restaurants In Miami To Go To When You’re Not Paying

For those times when you have absolutely no intention of reaching for your wallet.
8 Fancy Restaurants In Miami To Go To When You’re Not Paying image

To be perfectly clear, we're not saying these places aren't worth the price. They really are. Sometimes, quality is expensive. But also: there are (occasionally, hopefully) instances in one's life where one has the opportunity to be treated to a free meal. Maybe it comes courtesy of a corporate card, generous wealthy grandmother, or that Bitcoin you only just recently remembered you bought in 2011. Doesn't matter. All that matters is you have a go-to-nice-restaurant-for-free card and you need to use it wisely. But it can’t just be pricey—it has to be great too. The spots below are both.  

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

Steaks

Edgewater

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Klaw makes you feel sophisticated. And that’s not just because they serve beautiful dry-aged steaks and deshell your king crab legs tableside with a fancy pair of scissors. No, even if this place served chicken nuggets and Easy Mac, we’d still put on nice clothes to come here. The restaurant is inside a gorgeous and historic Edgewater building with waterfront views, both in the indoor dining room and on the bar’s outdoor patio. The spacious dining room isn't so aesthetically busy that you can’t appreciate architecture like the huge arched windows that all point towards Biscayne Bay. Klaw isn’t cheap—you’re coming here for $100-plus steaks and fancy shellfish. But the food is very good, the service is excellent, and the entire experience is worthy of the very dignified building it’s in.

Yes, Surf Club is quite expensive. But, in a city where so many restaurants promise guests a dose of old school glamour, this Surfside spot is one of the very few that delivers on that promise. That’s why we dress up like it’s 1955 and we’re about to attend a Grace Kelly movie premiere to eat here. The menu reads like a greatest hits of dishes your grandparents probably loved. But the Surf Club makes them feel (and taste) exciting, not stuffy and boring. The $138 beef wellington is—yes—so freaking expensive but also a life-changing piece of beef. Plus, the service is so spectacular you’ll half expect them to tip you on the way out.

L’Atelier is French fine dining with a futuristic twist. Not only does the polished dining room feel like it might detach itself from the Design District and fly to space at any moment, but the food is the kind of precise, meticulously engineered dishes we imagine will be served in the first-class section of passenger flights to Mars in the year 3050. This is a great place to increase your monthly foie gras intake by 300 percent—especially if you order the foie gras au torchon, a little puck of the best foie we’ve ever had along with slices of buttery grilled brioche. The menu does change seasonally, but whatever you have here is going to make you feel like an interstellar VIP.

If you are trying to live large in the presence of Miami’s best beef, Cote is where you want to be. Stunningly good steak aside, this Design District restaurant is a really fun way to eat, especially in a city so painfully low on Korean barbecue options. Cote is more of a steakhouse than traditional Korean barbecue, but you still get to watch your beef sizzle away on the grill located in the center of the table. There are a few tasting menu options here. The Butcher’s Feast is $74 and comes with portions of aged ribeye, American wagyu flatiron, hanger steak, and marinated short rib as well as banchan, some sides, and dessert. But if money is no option, we're going for the $225 per person steak omakase and multiple rounds of Cote's perfect martinis. 

Not only does Hiyakawa have the greatest ceiling in Miami—a curvy design makes you feel like you’re inside a fancy cave—but it's also making some of the best Japanese food in Miami. Sushi is the main event here and they have a couple of sushi platter options ranging in price from $60 to $105. Those aren't enough to fill you up though (which is why a meal here can get expensive). so supplement your sushi with some of the great fried appetizers as well as the sugata-mori: a rotating fish that's presented whole, with delicate strips of sashimi you get to grab right off the fish's belly. After you finish, it's taken back to the kitchen and fried whole, so you can pick the remainder of the crispy skeleton apart like potato chips.

Excellent sushi, in case you haven't noticed by now, tends to be expensive. And Uchi is yet another spot on this guide where you can drop some serious cash on rounds of raw fish so good you’ll want to sell all your stuff and buy a fishing boat. Uchi can get pricey because portions here are on the smaller side, so if you're trying to have a big meal, you'll need to order a lot. Fortunately the huge menu has tons of great options, like a crispy-skinned halibut sitting in an amazing coconut beurre blanc foam, sweet and sticky karaage chicken, and dozens of nigiri and sashimi options—all of which we've unanimously loved. 

photo credit: Ogawa

As more and more multi-hundred dollar omakase concepts open in Miami, you have a right to be skeptical. But Little River's Ogawa sticks the landing on one of Miami’s most expensive omakase meals. The 11-seat counter serves a 19-course meal that walks that impossibly narrow tightrope between reverence and relaxation. Chefs bounce from silly to serious, reading your emotional needs as if they were provided a 500-page memo on you the moment you made your reservation. The food is a perfectly paced march of highly seasonal seafood and nigiri, like sea bream marinated in cherry blossom leaves. This is a meal for people who have been mentally planning a trip to Japan since their very first paycheck—and it'll cost nearly as much as a one-way ticket too.

The price of Joe’s stone crabs have been giving dads something to complain about on the car ride home for over a hundred years. And this South Beach spot is still a classic, still expensive, and still a great place to get minor revenge on pops for finally making you pay for your own car insurance. Just know that stone crab season is October 15 through May 1, so plan your dinner in that window. Because while the sides here are great, you’re doing it wrong if you come here and don’t have a big pile of claws on the table. 

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