MIAGuide

The Best Restaurants In Coral Gables

Because The City Beautiful is also The City Delicious.
A table full of pasta and meats.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Coral Gables is filled with historic Mediterranean-style homes, excellent restaurants, and imperceptible street signs. A lot is changing in the Gables these days, and it’s easy to get lost in this city. But we’ve doggy paddled in Venetian pool’s arctic waters and remember when pickup trucks were once banned from driveways, so let us guide you to the best steak, Italian, and Cuban restaurants in The City Beautiful. It’ll be easier than trying to read those street signs and not rear-end a Mercedes.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Shingo

Sushi

Coral Gables

$$$$Perfect For:Special Occasions
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This 14-seat Gables counter—constructed out of the smoothest wood you’ve ever touched—is a great choice for a person’s first expensive omakase. The two-and-a-half-hour meal is a delicious demonstration of the reasons one pays $225 for sushi. The 17 courses are a seasonal mix of mostly nigiri. The meal always includes a trio of tuna moments that will ensure you never look at a fish’s belly the same way again. But Shingo also does enough to impress an omakase veteran, particularly one looking for a more traditional meal that doesn’t lean too heavily on blowtorches and gimmicky flavors.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightLiterally EveryoneSmall Plates

Zitz Sum is one of the absolute best restaurants in Miami, and also the reservation you should make when you’re going to scream if you see one more grilled octopus on a menu. The food here is unlike anything else in the city. Rotating dishes are influenced by Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Lao, and other Asian cultures. But you’ll always find dumplings and a bao that made us forget everything we learned in kindergarten about sharing. And because the menu changes constantly, dinner here is still exciting even if you come on a weekly basis. Zitz Sum has not only managed to breathe fresh air into Coral Gables, but all of Miami-Dade County.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

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Erba balances showiness and execution better than almost anywhere else in Miami. The cavernous dining room toes the line between too much and just enough. Bread service starts with a slowly melting candle made of butter. But the rest of the Italian-inspired dishes don’t rely on unnecessary flambés or photo ops—just fresh, often local ingredients organized into delicious plates. Pasta should be the priority—especially the beef cheek agnolotti—which gets a little sweetness from caramelized onion. If you want an impressive piece of meat, get the porchetta chop. And bring whoever you want here—a parent, date, business partner. This place does enough to appeal to everyone, but not so much it will scare them away. 

Bouchon is the French sister restaurant of The Surf Club, one of Miami’s most tuxedo-appropriate fine dining spots. But Bouchon does a good job at pretending to be casual. Menus are made of paper, you might hear Daft Punk over the speakers, and the entrees don't cost $100. Still, there’s a special occasion quality to Bouchon. It’s inside a historic building and has a lovely dining room that hits that aesthetic sweet spot between intricate and minimal. The food is very good—but the hors d'oeuvres are the best part of the menu, and if the crispy pig ears are on the menu (they're seasonal), get them. They are guaranteed to shift the table’s conversation to the topic of how unbelievably good the pig ears are. 

This is the Leatherman tool of restaurants. It’s not quite a steakhouse, but it scratches that itch if you’re looking for a delicious dry aged cut. If you want more of a fine dining experience, they’ve got a creative tasting menu that’ll stuff you like a plush toy. And regardless of whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or finding a babysitter for the night, service is going to be good. Is a Leatherman more expensive than a Phillips head? Absolutely, but Beauty and The Butcher is serving thoughtful, creative food in an unpretentious environment suitable for lots of occasions. It’s hard to find a restaurant like that in Coral Gables.

Frenchie’s Diner in Coral Gables is a bistro—a real French bistro, where the focus is entirely on the quality of the dishes listed on a chalkboard, and the owner gestures to your table like a proud dance partner at a curtain call. Between courses, the parchment paper on your table will read like the tea leaves of a good meal—with oily trails of butter from tender escargot, a smattering of tangy steak tartare, and drops of french onion soup. You’re coming here for a leisurely, decadent, and casual meal—which you’ll get whether you order the rich $14 French onion soup or a crackly-skinned duck confit for $39. Sit under the gentle glow of Frenchie’s red lighting and be sure to finish an indulgent lunch or dinner with the chocolate mousse that’s thick, bittersweet, and served in a coffee cup.

This casual Cuban restaurant isn’t over-hyping its stature in Miami’s saturated Cuban food scene. They don't claim to be kings or magicians. They're not trying to be a palace or line their tables in white linen. They keep it simple, straightforward, and just make the best vaca frita in Miami (fighting words, we know). You’re going to want to come here on a weekday between 5pm and 7pm for the early dinner special: a soup of the day, large entree of your choice, two sides, dessert, and a glass of house wine filled to the brim—all for only about $12.

You know that 70-year-old who still somehow trains daily at the boxing gym? That’s Pascal’s on Ponce in human form. This French spot in Coral Gables has the kind of strength that only comes with decades of repetition. It’ll surprise you with its cheese souffle the way that 70-year-old will with an uppercut. It’s fluffy, salty, airy, and the parmesan fondue adds a tanginess that makes you salivate like a rottweiler. Then there’s the lamb rack that’s so tender, you might accidentally bite the inside of your cheek. But Pascal’s isn’t some kind of ragged Rocky-type—it’s refined. Service is flawless, unobtrusive, and experienced. Every dish is plated with care. Despite its age, Pascal’s On Ponce can go toe-to-toe with some of the newer fine dining French restaurants in town—and still win.

It’s impossible to talk about Caffe Abbracci without mentioning the late Nino Pernetti, whose hospitality warmed the community when he opened it in 1989. But that spirit of hospitality is still there. At this classic Italian spot, you’re treated with familiarity, whether they know you or not—but if they do, service is so personable they probably remember your high school GPA. Our favorite dish is the veal parmesan. It’s not on the menu, but they can prepare veal any way you want. The restaurant has two sections: a gorgeous bar with a stained glass ceiling and an intimate dining room. It’s a delightful time warp—with soundproof ceilings and walls—but a welcome one that insulates your table from neighboring conversations.

Vinya is a restaurant and wine bar and also has a really great liquor store. The menu has everything from morcilla spring rolls and a simple gnocchi to a huge smoked short rib you can make lettuce wraps out of. We’re not totally sure how to categorize this place, so we’ll just call it what it is: a pleasure. Coming here never feels like a chore. The food is always great, reservations don't require weeks of hunting, service is affable, and lazily browsing their excellent wine and liquor selection is the perfect way to digest the meal.

You will stare at every one of Luca Osteria’s dishes the table the way Ryan Gosling stares at his co-star in the emotional climax of a romantic comedy. Just about everything here is delicious. The cacio pepe is perfectly al dente, and the shrimp fra diavolo with pickled garlic butter and tomato sauce is great too. There are some excellent non-pasta dishes as well. Specifically, the patate fritte. It’s little fried potato balls covered by a creamy layer of parmigiano fonduta, black truffle, and a single egg yolk in the center. This place also has lots of spacious outdoor seating where you can watch a steady stream of dogs and people.

Eating House has come a long way from the restaurant it used to be. If you’re looking for those favorites from their old menu, visit for brunch and get a little too full on Cap’ n Crunch pancakes or chicken and waffles. But we really love the subtle creativity of its dinner menu, where you’ll find biscuit-like Parker House rolls, buffalo carrots, and caramelized creamed corn. Eating House is Luca Osteria’s sister restaurant (in fact, they’re neighbors), so you can’t go wrong with any pasta here either. And we’re especially impressed with the steakhouse-worthy NY strip. The new Eating House isn’t a trend-chaser. It’s serving timeless food, has excellent cocktails, and is even parent-friendly.

You’ll find Jholano’s in an apartment complex in Coral Gables, where the small Italian sandwich shop is operating behind a red door with a faded sign from the previous occupant. It doesn’t look like a restaurant, but override your hesitation against breaking and entering and you’ll find a small counter serving a dozen stellar Italian sandwiches. Our favorite is il tradizionale, a perfect cold Italian sub. It has capicola, salami, pepperoni, and ham—but what really makes this sandwich are the crisp veggies that contrast so well with the salty meat. The bread also has that ideal soft/crunchy balance.

If you are in the mood for bread in any form, get in the car and drive to Madruga Bakery, one of the best bakeries in Miami. There isn’t necessarily a specialty here. It’s one of those places that just does everything deliciously, and you should leave with at least three things you didn’t plan on ordering. Those things could include a guava and cheese danish, ham and cheese croissant, or a couple of onion poppy seed rolls to make sandwiches out of later.

We’re not surprised this Eastern Mediterranean restaurant is a hit. Motek has several locations in Miami—and we’ve liked all of them. This one on Miracle Mile has a big bar, a large dining room, and outdoor seating. Our favorite dishes here are the chicken schnitzel sandwich, mushroom hummus, and arayes burger. But if you’re on a tight lunch break, order any of the cold mezzes—they come out fast, and you’ll make it back in time for the weekly budget meeting. Or come for Happy Hour (weekdays from 3 to 6pm) and listen to coworkers complain about how that meeting should have been an email. It also works for a casual family dinner. Motek is a solid spot for just about any occasion.

Tinta y Cafe is pretty much the most perfect casual breakfast/lunch place that a hungry person in Coral Gables could ask for. This relaxing spot feels more like a very cool library than your average claustrophobic ventanita. The Cuban coffee is great and so is the food, which includes light breakfast plates, salads, and really tasty sandwiches—which is what you want to get here. The self-titled Tinta y Cafe is a safe choice and comes with pork, prosciutto, manchego, roasted peppers, and caramelized onions. Just know that they have a pretty strict no-laptop policy, so don’t come here to work.

The Coral Gables Books & Books is very much its own character. It exhales when the weather cools, and the wooden floors creak when the humidity rises. It’s alive—with ideas and history. And also food. Their very solid cafe serves soups, salads, and sandwiches with both indoor and outdoor seating. It’s a lovely spot to chill out with a grilled cheese, wine, and a good read—or a great place to work while you attempt to absorb ideas through osmosis. They have an amazing selection of books, complete with rolling library ladders, so you can pretend you’re a provincial Disney princess sliding your way from Octavia Butler to Kurt Vonnegut after you eat. Also, check out their calendar for weekly in-person or virtual book readings and author events.

Su-Shin Izakaya is a solid Japanese restaurant, perfect for a quick lunch or easy dinner. Sushi takes up most of the menu, and the $32 sushi/sashimi combo is a great deal. It comes with 16 pieces of sashimi, six pieces of nigiri, and a soup or salad. But we also love their tsukemono (assorted Japanese pickles), yakimatsu (sautéed mushroom and onions in a ponzu sauce), and hiyashi wakame (marinated seaweed salad). It's all reasonably priced and comes out quickly, so keep this place in mind for a Friday business lunch or casual dinner.

It’s a bakery, cafe, restaurant, market, butcher, and wine shop. If it was next to Home Depot, it’d be the perfect place to shelter during armageddon. But since it’s not the end of the world, you can pop in and find a solution for every meal instead. Go for an early breakfast. Get a half panini and soup for lunch. Or you can pick out a bottle of wine from the shop to enjoy with a skirt steak dinner, and they’ll open it for you with no corkage fee. Graziano’s Market often gets confused for Graziano's Restaurant, which is a few blocks away and one of the best steakhouses in Miami. But we like this Argentinian market because it really has something for everyone—minus survivalists. We still recommend Home Depot for that.

Zucca is an Italian restaurant inside the Hotel St. Michel where dinner always includes privacy and comfort. It’s why your parents like it, but also why you should try it if you’re very tired of restaurant DJs. It’s one of the quietest restaurants in Miami thanks to velvet curtains and hidden soundproofing that turns mighty Miami voices into smooth murmurs. Zucca’s slightly charred octopus is tender and comes with a zesty watercress and chickpea salad, but the highlight of this dish is a black squid chickpea sauce that needs to be on every bite. Then there’s the paccheri pasta you could wear on your wrist like a bracelet, which is served in a lobster-filled tomato sauce. For dessert, go with the airy saffron and passion fruit panna cotta.

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