The Best Restaurants In South Beach
These are our favorite places to eat in South Beach.
Metal detectors can very easily tell the difference between an old sock and a diamond ring so you don’t have to dig a hole and find out yourself. We wish something similar existed that could help us easily find the best restaurants in South Beach, because this neighborhood can be a minefield. 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 the occasional wandering tourist and which actually serve good food.
Consider this guide to be your restaurant metal detector in South Beach. It has some great spots—including one of Miami’s best pizzas, a few places that work great for dates, and an Italian classic. Now you can eat in South Beach worry-free.
Macchialina is one of the absolute best Italian restaurants in Miami. The food is the biggest reason to come here. 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). But Macchialina is also energetic enough for a fun date or a catch-up meal with loud friends. They debuted a great outdoor seating setup during the pandemic as well. And it’s mostly covered, so you don't have to worry about random summer thunderstorms.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
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. In other words: exactly the kind of spot where you can spend a couple hours grazing on small plates and sipping gin. They have a selection of infused gin, with infusions ranging from mango to nori and shio kombu. The food menu is mostly tapas, like a pan con tomate and gambas al ajillo—but there are also 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.
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You come to Taquiza for the best Mexican food in South Beach—but also because it’s both casual enough to visit if you're a little sandy and nice enough for a night out in clothes that don’t smell like sunscreen. The blue masa tortillas are made fresh daily and, besides being integral to the wonderful tacos, are also the star of Taquiza’s best dish: the chewy totopos that come with a side of guacamole and will probably be gone about 30 seconds after they hit the table. (The quesadilla is a close second and should be on the table too.) This place also has margaritas on tap, which you can use to distract your friends while you eat all the totopos.
Not unlike iguanas or professional athletes enjoying their offseason, Miami is absolutely saturated with sceney steakhouses. It’s become quite a prolific genre of restaurant these days. 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.
photo credit: Patrick Michael Chin
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. The simple cornmeal fried yellowtail comes with a side of hushpuppies and chow chow. 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. It’s busy, but organized in such a way that never feels claustrophobic. Come here for a slightly more sophisticated South Beach option that’ll still deliver something delicious and fried.
True Loaf Bakery
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 some great fruit tarts as well as a dulce de leche monkey bread. 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.
Casa Isola is a casual spot in Sunset Harbour that's a great place to get a little too full—because portions are huge and this is some of the best Italian food in South Beach. Start with the pane al prosciutto, a warm circle of bread with cubes of prosciutto inside. Also consider getting the massive veal chop parmigiana that's plated alongside its own deep-fried bone, and one of the best bowls of spicy rigatoni in town. They have a dining room you’ve probably seen in another Italian restaurant somewhere, with fake vines wrapped around an indoor pergola. But if it's a nice night, sit on the patio and play the classic Sunset Harbour outdoor dining game we like to call: Do they own that Lamborghini or is it a rental?
Why do places hiding in random office buildings tend to be so good? Maybe the search effort makes things taste better—but at Mister 01, it’s definitely just because this is one of the best pizza places in Miami. The pizzeria is in a signless office building that can be a bit hard to find, 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.
Orilla Bar & Grill
This Argentinian restaurant is one of the best options in South Beach when you’re looking for something between take-out and take-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 outdoor 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 big steak (and possibly a martini). They also have a very good wagyu cheeseburger that's worth ordering.
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.
Sweet Liberty Drink & Supply Co.
We normally tell folks to come to Sweet Liberty to drink, since it’s more on the “bar” end of the spectrum, but you can also come here to eat. Ideally, you’ll do both and have a very good time. Sweet Liberty’s food menu isn’t huge, but does include some great things like lobster hot pockets, one of Miami’s best fried chicken sandwiches, and a caviar onion dip with house-cut potato chips that are the optimal thickness. If you want more of a dinner atmosphere, come on the earlier side, before the late-night crowd (and excellent cocktails) have raised the volume of the place considerably.
La Leggenda Pizzeria
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 drunk tourists.
Las Olas Cafe
Las Olas is our favorite ventanita in South Beach. And like all good ventanitas, you can order Cuban coffee, croqeutas, 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.
If you’re looking for a nice dinner spot in South of Fifth—maybe to celebrate a special occasion or just the fact that you made it across the MacArthur in less than five minutes—Stubborn Seed is the best place to go. It’s a small spot that feels like an old-school cocktail lounge that ran into a steel mill, with lots of dark wood and metal pipes lining the leather booths. The reason you come here, though, is for the great food, which changes regularly, but always includes lots of fresh seafood and foie gras.
Remember when your school would get a new kid, and that new kid was cool and handsome and almost instantly more popular than you? Lucali is like that. This place rolled into town one day from New York with a reputation for making some of the best pizza in the world. Maybe you hated them a bit, but then you had a slice and realized you were wrong. Lucali blends all the great qualities of a thin-crust Neapolitan pie with a classic New York slice, and the result is amazing and having a better time at prom than you ever will.
Joe's Stone Crab
Joe’s has been celebrating dads’ birthdays for over 100 years and tolerating their dad jokes about the $14-per-claw price tag 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) but you should also order the fried chicken and hashed brown potatoes. A few things to keep in mind about Joe’s: they close from August to mid-October, only accept a limited number of reservations, and have a more casual dining room next door (also closed during June and July) for takeout or a quick sit-down meal.
Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill
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 some pretty outdoor seating by the hotel's pool.
photo credit: Ruben Cabrera
Toni's Sushi Bar
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 too.
Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen
Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen is an Israeli restaurant in South of Fifth that’s a nice choice for a weekend brunch or lazy lunch—especially if it's a nice day and you want to eat outside. 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.