Being able to stare at large bodies of water is one of the biggest perks of being a South Floridian (right behind free mangoes and shorts being considered acceptable formal wear). At these restaurants, you can take advantage of that perk while also eating good things and (if you want) drinking four glasses of sparkling wine. Here are some very solid waterfront spots with outdoor seating.
We don’t find ourselves recommending restaurants inside Bayside Marketplace, like, ever. But the insufferably touristy area is making a push to bring in some new restaurants. La Cañita is one of them, and it’s actually very good. The Cuban/Caribbean/Latin American spot comes from the Cafe La Trova team, and has a solid menu of dishes like jerk chicken wings, ceviche, arroz con pollo, and more soups, sandwiches, and seafood. The cocktails are great too, and they also have occasional live music in the big dining room. But one of the best parts of La Cañita is their outdoor deck, which overlooks a marina, and offers a waterfront view much more charming and pretty than we thought Bayside was capable of.
Tigre is a beautiful Argentinian restaurant in the Upper East Side where you can bring a date or a few friends or, really, anyone who appreciates interior design and the color green. The outdoor seating is organized along a little canal that - despite being just a baseball toss away from the hectic intersection of Biscayne and 79th - feels peaceful and secluded. The aesthetics are the selling point here, but the food is also good. There are some solid veggie options, like a simple, crunchy hearts of palm salad or tender roasted beets, but you’ll find bigger steak and fish entrees too. Whether you want to eat buñuelos or just have a few apéritif cocktails while looking for manatees - Tigre is a solid choice next time it’s so nice out that you feel guilty being inside.
You can’t eat much closer to Biscayne Bay than at Amara - unless you own a boat or are a manatee. But if you are not a herbivorous marine mammal, then this is a really good choice because both the view and food are great. The menu is pretty much all seafood, with a small raw bar, ceviche, and a very tasty grilled snapper. Come during the day if you really want to see the view in all its glory. And make a reservation for a guaranteed outdoor table, because this place is busy almost every night of the week.
Shuckers is one of the few waterfront restaurants in Miami where the prime views don’t come with incessant house music and $300 bottles of rosé whizzing by your head. It’s casual, and the food here is what you want in a breezy raw bar. They have good wings and decent seafood - but the best part of Shuckers is its wide-open view of Biscayne Bay. There are also a ton of TVs, and chances are they’re playing whatever game you want to see.
Cafe Kush is a MiMo restaurant from Kush Hospitality, who seem to be incapable of producing a bad restaurant. Cafe Kush is like the original Kush in Wynwood if it took a French vacation. They have some burger options, but also steak frites, a croque monsieur, and fried frog legs. Beer or cocktails is also a good decision here. Their outdoor seating offers a view of Little River, which isn’t a huge body of water but does give you an above-average chance of spotting a manatee.
Since 1966, this spot has been the best place to eat on the Miami River - where you can watch yachts and old-school fishing boats drift by over the course of lunch or dinner. It’s still a good choice because it’s delicious, simple, and wonderfully unpretentious. Start with some fried shellfish, listen closely to the daily specials, and if it’s stone crab season, you know what to do. They do have a lot of indoor seating too, so if you want a guaranteed outdoor table, call ahead to ask about availability.
Lido is an outdoor restaurant located inside The Standard in Miami Beach. The view (not the food) here is definitely the main attraction. Stick to small plates that are hard to mess up, like hummus or shrimp cocktail. But it is worth putting up with average hotel food for this view. And if we're judging by atmosphere alone, it's one of the best waterfront spots in town. They also have a Happy Hour Mon-Thu from 4-6pm, with $5 beer and select snacks from $4-8.
Verde has one of those views that’ll make it hard to get up even after you’ve paid the bill. This surprisingly casual restaurant in the back of the PAMM gives you a wide-open look at Biscayne Bay, and lunch here feels like eating in the biggest, fanciest backyard in Miami. Though they stay open for dinner on Thursday, Verde is best for brunch or lunch, when you can eat pretty good pizzas, sandwiches, and salads while trying to guess how much each passing yacht costs.
We could pick you up, blindfold you, and drop you at Boater’s Grill, and you’d probably think you were in the Keys, not Miami. And you’d be half right. This place is located inside Key Biscayne’s Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, sitting next to a quiet cove where you might possibly befriend a manatee. The food is fine, but the view is a lot better. They also have an adjacent outdoor bar called The Cleat. You definitely want to head there after you eat, because it’s one of the best places to drink outside in Miami. And the view is even better.
La Mar is a very popular restaurant on the mysterious millionaire island known as Brickell Key. The food is good, but the waterfront view is the main draw of this place. It’s a very formal (and pricey) restaurant, but if you want to sit outside and stare at the Brickell skyline while you eat ceviche, tasty grilled scallops in a parmesan foam, and other Peruvian dishes that tend to involve seafood - this is where you want to be.
If you’re trying to eat and drink outside next to the water in Coconut Grove, the answer is pretty much always Monty’s. This big, outdoor seafood restaurant/tiki hut on steroids feels a little more like Key West than Miami. Happy Hour here (Mon-Fri from 4-7pm) is a good call if you want to have $6 frozen cocktails and $1 oysters. Reservations aren’t required, and flip-flops are embraced.
This Key Biscayne restaurant is right next to a marina, so you can watch boats get pulled out of the water while you wash down perfectly fine fried gator bites and coconut mahi nuggets with frozen drinks that taste very good after a long day in the sun. It’s not the best food in town, but it gets the job done. Plus, this place is casual enough to come if you’re still sandy from the beach. Whiskey Joe’s also faces west, so try to time your visit during sunset.