MIAGuide

The Best Restaurants In South Beach

These are our favorite places to eat in South Beach.
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photo credit: Emily Schindler

Finding restaurants in South Beach is tricky. Of course, most of us know to avoid Ocean Drive—or risk paying $75 for a margarita that is not supposed to be that color. But it’s still hard to figure out which places are only in business thanks to wandering tourists and which actually serve good food. This guide is here to help. It has some great spots with a diversity of price points—including one of Miami’s best pizzas, some good date night restaurants, and the very best Italian restaurant in Miami. If you're looking for the best bars in South Beach, we've got a guide for that too.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

Pasta

South Beach

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Macchialina is the best Italian restaurant in Miami. The menu has about six phenomenal pasta options, and each one feels like a final draft, edited to near perfection without so much as one superfluous fragment of parmesan on the plate (dessert is a must-order too). They make some of the city’s best versions of lasagna and veal parmigiana too. But Macchialina also walks that tricky tightrope between formal and casual, and it's energetic enough for a fun date or a catch-up meal with loud friends.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

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Tropezón is an an Andalusian gin and tapas bar on Española Way. And it's very worth weaving through the street’s omnipresent crowd of tourists. The space—a 50/50 split between a bar and dining room—has a snug interior featuring lots of wood and legs of jamón hanging from the ceiling. They have a selection of infused gin and the food is mostly tapas. It's not a menu that'll get you very full, but it is really delicious. There's a pan con tomate and gambas al ajillo—but also slightly larger entrees like a duck confit paella. Whether you come to drink or eat (or, ideally, both) this is the reservation to make next time you need a fun night out involving gin.

Lucali is a place with a very big reputation thanks to its original location in Brooklyn, where people spend an entire day waiting for a table. The wait for the South Beach location is considerably less miserable (it could be as low as 15 minutes on a slow weekday), but the pizza is still incredible. They serve only one size pie here—which should be plenty for two—and it tastes like a thin-crust pizza and a classic New York slice had a baby, and then that baby got its master’s degree in tasting good. If you just hate waiting any amount of time for your pizza, you can usually walk right in at noon when they open for lunch.

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If you're looking for South Beach dinner options, there's a good chance you want the kind of over-the-top place where Drake might celebrate a birthday. That's why we're putting Queen (where Drake once did celebrate a birthday) on this guide. The former art deco theater is grand and shiny. Everyone inside is legally mandated to wear blazers and nice dresses or else they'll risk not getting past the 11-foot-tall doorman. Expect sushi, steak, and other vaguely Japanese dishes that are decent enough to not make you mad. That's about as much as we can ask for from clubstaurant cuisine.

Not unlike iguanas or professional athletes enjoying their offseason, Miami is absolutely saturated with sceney steakhouses. But none of them do it better than the city’s original sceney steakhouse: Prime 112. And this institution is still one of Miami’s best places to dress up and spend too much money on steak and dangerously spillable martinis. Prime 112 is a reminder of how Miami used to do see-and-be-seen restaurants, back when reservations had to be made over the phone and celebrities ate in the same dining rooms as civilians. Luckily, this place still holds up—and not just because of the scene, but also thanks to a fantastic ribeye, multiple forms of delicious potatoes, and complimentary bar bacon.

South Beach ends at 24th Street. 27 is located on 27th Street. But if you’re looking for a reliably excellent dining option in Miami Beach, don’t let a geographic technicality keep you from this classic. 27 is the antithesis of the kind of sceney South Beach spots that force-feed you pyrotechnics and house music to convince you you’re having fun. The restaurant, which is located in an old house, is effortlessly cool and the food is a thoughtful nod to Miami culture. There are rotating dishes like jerk chicken pot pie, local fish cooked a few different ways, and griot. When you’re done eating, walk out the back door for drinks at Broken Shaker, 27’s outdoor cocktail bar we love for all the same reasons. 

If you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion or just the fact that you made it across the MacArthur in less than five minutes—Stubborn Seed is one of the best places to go. Just know that if you're not sitting at the bar, your only option is the eight-course tasting menu for $175 per person. It changes regularly but is always delicious, never overly fussy, and includes lots of fresh seafood and foie gras. It’s a small spot that feels like an old-school cocktail lounge that ran into a steel mill, with lots of dark wood, metal pipes lining the leather booths, and a rock-heavy soundtrack. The reason you come here, though, is for that expensive (but very good) tasting menu.

This small bakery is a reliable place for some great pastries, including one of the best almond croissants in town. They also sell sandwiches, which are good, but we usually come here for their sweet pastries. There’s that massive and delicious almond croissant, but also more great rotating pastries that are perfectly baked and often include liberal amounts of dulce de leche. True Loaf can get crowded on the weekends, and there’s not much seating, but there’s also a lovely little waterfront park (Maurice Gibb Memorial Park) just a block away.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

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Finding a casual, straightforward restaurant in South Beach that does one thing (and does it really well) is always a struggle. This is why Kalamata should be on your radar. Maybe it’s not the place to celebrate a birthday, but it works great for an easy lunch or dinner. You won’t find dessert pyrotechnics or skeptical hosts eying your outfit here—just some of the best classic Turkish dishes in Miami. Start with the meze platter, and try to eat the baba ganoush and shakshuka before the rest of the table notices how good it is. For entrees, focus on lamb—particularly the lamb chops. End with baklava and a general feeling of gratitude that normal, consistent restaurants still exist this close to Ocean Drive. 

There are Mister 01 locations all across South Florida now. But these weird yet delicious pizzas started right here. The pizzeria is inside a signless office building, and it’s where you should eat on Lincoln Road, if you absolutely have to. Mister 01 does a very popular star-shaped pizza with a stuffed ricotta crust, but it’s worth it to branch out to some of the stranger ones, like the room-temperature Claudio pie, which is great and will make your entire fridge smell like white truffle if you bring one home. Or the coffee paolo, featuring mozzarella, gorgonzola, honey, spicy salami, and coffee grounds. It will send you into a temporary state of confusion before winning you over by the third bite.

This Argentinian restaurant is one of the best options in South of Fifth when you’re looking for something nicer that won't require taking out a loan, which is a small circle for this area. But Orilla is stylish enough to remind you that you are, in fact, in South Beach, and the open-air seating along 5th Street is about as close as you want to get to eating on Ocean Drive. They have some small plates like excellent empanadas, but you're coming here for a steak (and possibly a martini). There are a handful of steak options on the menu, and the $52 16-ounce ribeye is a pretty good deal considering this is the same neighborhood where you can order a $1,000 steak (don’t, by the way).

Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen is an Israeli restaurant in South of Fifth that’s a nice choice for a Sunday brunch or lazy lunch—especially if it's a nice day since the patio is where you want to be eating. The brunch menu includes a great shakshuka or Jerusalem bagel. The lunch menu has more good dishes, like crispy falafel and roasted local fish. But even if you got stuck on the causeway and missed the 4:30pm lunch cut off, don’t turn around and go home. Dinner here is tasty too, especially if you order the shawarma spiced wagyu picanha.

La Tiendita II is a tiny Peruvian market with a small but mighty selection of sandwiches. The options are usually chicken, pork, and tuna—and the chicken and pork are our favorites. The chicken comes with shredded chicken, tomato, lettuce, a creamy sauce, and we’re pretty sure we saw potato chips in there too. The pork—their version of a Peruvian butifarra—uses a thick slab of tender pork, which contrasts nicely with crispy potato sticks and more of that creamy sauce. This is a great spot to eat after the beach if you're a little sandy and gross. There are some tables inside and suspiro in the fridge for dessert.

While we're on the topic of casual sandwiches, you should know about this classic. Impromptu trips to La Sandwicherie are as inevitable in Miami as traffic, terrifyingly hot summers, and spotting iguanas in your backyard. It’s hard not to cross paths with this little sidewalk sandwich cafe eventually. Maybe it’ll be for some 3am late-night food after beers at Mac’s across the street, or 3pm after a long, hot beach day. But you will find yourself here at some point, and when you do, get the Napoli on a baguette, locate the squeeze bottle of vinaigrette, and shower your sandwich in sauce until you can’t see the bread anymore.

La Leggenda is a pizzeria in a part of South Beach where your food options are severely limited. Luckily this place is not like the touristy spots you’ll find across the street on Española Way. It’s actually good, especially their Neapolitan pizzas. They don’t overcomplicate things here: the dough is tender, the cheese-to-sauce ratio is on point, and we never expected to have such a pleasant meal so close to so many drunk tourists.

Las Olas is our favorite ventanita in South Beach. And like all good ventanitas, you can order Cuban coffee, croquetas, and one of the best Cuban sandwiches in Miami here. The fresh juice is a good thing to order too, especially if you're nursing a hangover. There are some tables inside the small restaurant, but it’s also a solid to-go option if you're on the way to the beach.

Joe’s has been celebrating dads’ birthdays for over 100 years and tolerating their dad jokes about the wildly expensive stone crab price points all the while. It’s still that sort-of-fancy, old-school spot that can be really fun every now and then. The place is packed during stone crab season (and you’ll wait at least an hour for a table if you don't grab a reservation online). But you should also order the fried chicken and hashed brown potatoes. A few things to keep in mind about Joe’s: they only accept a limited number of reservations, and have a more casual dining room next door for takeout or a quick sit-down meal.

Even though Miami is about as south as you can get in this country, good Southern American food is tragically hard to find. That’s why we really like South Beach’s Joliet. They don't overcomplicate the classics. You can get a plate of Johnny cakes with a side of pimento cheese and thick slices of ham. And there’s not a single truffle involved in the sweet cornbread. Joliet's crisp dining room is covered in art and plants, and the poolside outdoor seating is lovely if it's nice out. Come here for a slightly more sophisticated South Beach option that’ll still deliver something good and fried.

On the spectrum of $200-per-person omakase dinners and places that serve sushi rolls under $15, you’ll find Blue Ribbon just about in the middle, tilted slightly towards the fancier side of the scale. This spot serves high-quality fish inside a cute little art deco hotel, and it's a good option for a fancy-ish dinner in South Beach. Come here to eat good sashimi, any roll with fatty tuna, and some very good fried chicken. If the weather is nice, sit outside. They have pretty outdoor seating by the hotel's pool.

photo credit: Ruben Cabrera

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Toni's is another solid Japanese option in South Beach, and it's more casual than Blue Ribbon. It's not home to the best sushi in Miami—but the food is good and it's one of your only options if you want a South Beach spot that's casual, fun, and reasonably priced. Plus, you can usually walk in without a reservation. You just might get one of the floor tables, which is our favorite seat in the house anyway. The Toni's Choice platter is what we get here. It comes with more than enough of the chef's choice of nigiri, sashimi, and maki for two. They have some cooked dishes as well, like a wonderful grilled hamachi collar, and sake is a good idea here.

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