Despite the tourists darting around in rented Lambos and the various establishments that survive by serving Midwesterners jumbo margaritas, a lot of folks still come to South Beach for romance. It’s one of Miami’s biggest date night neighborhoods, which is why we made this guide. It’s got restaurants that are actually great for spending time with someone you like or love - because we’d hate for your relationship to end over jumbo margaritas.
Orilla is a great place to finally debut that outfit you’ve had planned in your head for like three months now. Not that there’s a strict dress code at the South of Fifth Argentinian spot - it’s actually quite laid-back. But Orilla is the kind of stylish, cool restaurant where you and your adventurous shirt will feel appreciated. Also, the food happens to be great. We’ve very much enjoyed the arancini, roast chicken, and excellent wagyu cheeseburger. The cocktails here are also outstanding - just be careful not to spill any of this stuff on that nice outfit of yours.
Macchialina is one of the best restaurants in South Beach - even if you’re eating alone. But the great pasta spot also happens to be very date-appropriate. They’ve got a huge wine list, the best pasta in town, and also added some post-pandemic outdoor seating that’s covered so a random thunderstorm won’t ruin the moment. It’s quiet enough to have a conversation here, but not so silent that your date will hear you chewing your spaghetti - or the strange little noises you’ll inevitably make when you realize how good it is.
Alright, so this is not a date for a random Tuesday when you don’t feel like putting on pants, but it could be a very memorable meal depending on how interested you or your date are in Gianni Versace and sushi. At Sushi By Bou, you’ll get an impressive look at both of those things. The small omakase counter is located in an upstairs bedroom of the Versace Mansion on Ocean Drive, which makes dinner feel like somewhere between fine dining and a house party. You’ll listen to ’90s hip-hop while you eat some very good sushi in a room that used to only be accessible to models, famous people, or Versace relatives. If all that sounds like it’s worth $125 per person to you, then go for it.
If you’re looking for a place more on the bar end of the spectrum, Sweet Liberty is the pick. Aside from some of the best cocktails in the city, they have good bar food here, Happy Hour oysters, and a fun South Beach seapunk interior. It’s a good place to start a night or end one - and even if things aren’t going as romantically as you hoped, you can still get Miami’s best piña colada as consolation.
Toni's Sushi Bar
If you’re drawing a mood board for your ideal date and the words “sushi,” “casual,” and “sunken seating” all appear, then go to Toni’s. This isn’t one of those fancy omakase places or obnoxiously loud sushi clubstaurants. Toni’s is a simple Japanese spot with good food that is affordable (at least compared to most sushi options in South Beach), but also fun enough to feel like a night out. Come here, talk loudly, order a little too much sake, and desperately try not to talk about your ex.
Does your date subscribe to an alarming amount of YouTube cooking channels? Perhaps they have a tattoo of a root vegetable on their forearm? Then take them to Stubborn Seed, where you will have one of the most interesting and delicious meals in South Beach. This is a bit of a tweezer restaurant, with fancy plating and various menu items that might require a quick Google, but the food is undeniably great. The menu changes constantly, but we’ve had some outstanding crudos and beautiful cuts of beef here. They have a tasting menu option, but you can also just order a la carte.
Even if you don’t know your date that well, it’s safe to assume they are one of the 99.9% of our population who likes pizza. If that’s the case, they will love Lucali’s phenomenal thin-crust pies, which come in one size with topping options like pepperoni, shallots, and hot peppers. The indoor seating is simple but cozy, with a lot of candles and a pleasant noise level. Lucali also added some post-pandemic outdoor seating too. One thing to note is that they don’t take reservations, and waits - especially on the weekend - are common. You can always grab a drink at Bay Club next door if the thought of 45 minutes of small talk on the sidewalk makes you sweaty.
Pubbelly is a solid Japanese fusion spot in Sunset Harbour. Even though it’s popular, you can usually get seated without a reservation - just in case this happens to be a spontaneous date. Prepare to share here as most of the food is small plates that usually arrive at the table within 10 minutes of when you order, which also makes this a good option if you have somewhere to be after dinner. Get some cocktails, sit outside if it’s nice, and order a butter krab roll even though you may get clarified butter on your face.
When it comes to South Beach dates, 27 is almost a bit of a cliche at this point. This place (plus its sister bar Broken Shaker) has probably seen more dating app couples than the NSA intern who’s in charge of monitoring Tinder. But you know, there’s that whole saying about, “if it ain’t broke,” so we still stand by 27 as a great date spot. The cocktails are some of Miami’s best, the food - a seafood-heavy mix of Latin and Mediterranean - is always good, and it’s got a tropical interior that deserves one of those Architectural Digest tour videos. Your date (probably) won’t think you’re a cliche if you bring them here. They’ll just think you have good taste and want this to go well.
Blue Ribbon is a good option for a couple of reasons. To start, the food is very good. There’s sushi obviously, but also some great fried chicken and oxtail fried rice. Blue Ribbon also happens to be housed within the adorable and charming Plymouth Hotel, home to one of the cutest lobby bars in Miami in case you want to start with a cocktail before dinner. There’s some nice poolside outdoor seating too. And if all that - plus their decent hip-hop playlist - doesn’t put you in a slightly romantic mood, well, maybe this relationship just wasn’t meant to be.
There just aren’t a lot of waterfront restaurants in South Beach where we want to bring a date. They’re usually the kind of places where DJs punish your eardrums with house music and tuna tartare costs $35. However, Lido is an exception. The restaurant inside The Standard Hotel is still a little pricey, but if you’re worried about the tab, come for Happy Hour Mon-Thu from 4-6pm and order small plates like short rib tacos and shrimp cocktail for less than $10. The food will just be a background singer though, because the bay view here is incredible. It’s so pretty at sunset that your date might get nervous you’re about to propose.