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Coming to visit Miami is a thrill in and of itself, but if you ask a local (me), the best part of the Magic City is its melting pot of eateries. Miami’s restaurant culture has a unique flair, influenced by Latin America and the Caribbean Islands and its status as a major port city. If your travels bring you to Miami, and you’re seeking an authentic experience as you wonder where to eat, below are some of the most iconic must-visit restaurants broken down by neighborhood.

When we think of Miami, we often think of Art Deco architecture, vivacious nightlife, and white sand beaches. Yes, the Magic City is well-known for being a sexy, booze-filled vacation destination, and being a host city for events such as Art Basel and Miami Music Week certainly help contribute to this perception.

where to eat in miami

However, people have been migrating to Miami for years to start new lives, and in doing so, they have intertwined their heritage into the backdrop of Miami. You can find everything from authentic Cuban and Haitian cuisines to New American fare and experimental fusions here—with the Instagrammable venues to match.

Related: 10 Unexpected Food Cities in America for Adventurous Eaters

The restaurants in Miami are almost as exciting as the nightlife, and these spots are worth putting at the top of your Grub Lysst next time you head to South Florida. From South Beach to Mid-Beach to Wynwood, Little Havana, and more—here are my suggestions on where to eat in Miami’s most well-known neighborhoods.

 

Where to Eat in Wynwood

🔥 Hot ‘Hood Tip: Wynwood, the art district, is famous for its murals and eclectic vibes. You’d be a fool to come here without visiting the selfie-ready Wynwood Walls (it’s free to walk through).

Alter

 

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Alter is a trendy, industrial-style restaurant in a converted warehouse with an eye-catching open kitchen. Led by James Beard-nominated Chef Brad Kilgore, Alter’s locally sourced, seasonally-driven menu allows Chef Kilgore’s ingenuity to shine. Sink your teeth into New American-style fare here.

Restaurant Tip: Visit the outside bar for a libation before your meal—it’s set in an organic garden. Plus, the wine list is handpicked by their oenophile co-owner, so you know it’s unreal. 🍷

 

Where to Eat in Midtown Miami

🔥 Hot ‘Hood Tip: Home to over 150 art galleries, showrooms, and luxury shopping, Midtown is well-known as a destination for culture, shopping and dining. The Design District of Midtown mimics NYC’s Soho neighborhood, with luxury fashion stores filling the streets. When in Midtown, take a moment to visit the Institute of Contemporary Art located in the heart of the Design District—they focus on being an international platform for the work of local, emerging, and under-recognized artists, and there is no admission fee!

Lagniappe House

 

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Stepping into Lagniappe is like being transported to New Orleans during the old jazz era. Their wrought iron courtyard is filled with eclectic patio furniture—part of their open-seating concept that encourages a free flow of wine, craft beer, and great conversations. They offer a “build-your-own” charcuterie plate and a long list of wines with no corking fee.

Restaurant Tip: Do yourself a favor and get here early, especially if you’re going with a large group. Once the tables fill up (and trust me, they do), it’s difficult to find seating.

 

Top Places to Eat in Brickell Miami

🔥Hot ‘Hood Tip: Brickell, the financial district of Miami, is known for its shimmering high-rise buildings. While you’re here, make sure to check out the architectural mix of innovation and artistry at Brickell City Centre.

The River Seafood & Oyster Bar

 

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There are many good restaurants in Miami, but there’s only one River Oyster Bar. The quality and freshness of their seafood has become the standard to which I compare all others. Its laid back yet upscale atmosphere is not the norm for Miami, but maybe it should be. Also, I must mention their bartenders and servers are very knowledgeable and make a mean martini (#priorities). For those looking to try their first oyster, or for enthusiasts looking to get their fix, River Oyster will not disappoint.

Restaurant Tip: Catch their happy hour daily 4:30pm-7:00pm.

 

Komodo

 

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Can you even go to Miami and not visit one of David Grutman’s establishments? Komodo is a massive, three-story indoor/outdoor Asian fusion restaurant with a strong “see and be seen” Miami vibe. Between the hanging Peking duck, floating “birds nest” seating option, and private upstairs lounge, visiting Komodo is an experience in and of itself.

Restaurant Tip: Make a reservation—between the upstairs lounge and the downstairs bars, this restaurant fills up fast.

 

Best Restaurants to Try in South Beach Miami

🔥Hot ‘Hood Tip: Make your way down to 8th Street and Ocean Drive for a stroll with white sand beaches to your left and iconic South Beach Art Deco architecture to your right. If you’re looking for history behind the gorgeous atmosphere, Art Deco Welcome Center offers guided tours for $30.

Joe’s Stone Crab

This South Beach staple has been around for over 100 years and is most famously known for starting the stone crab craze. Chances are, if you haven’t visited Joe’s, then you probably know someone who has. Joe’s Stone Crab is known for high-quality seafood and a dedicated and professional waitstaff.

Restaurant Tip: They have a “no reservations” policy, so you can expect to wait for a bit, but this provides you the opportunity to enjoy their jovial bar and impressive wine list.

 

Macchialina

 

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Macchialina is synonymous with relaxed fine dining, servers who truly care about your experience, and food so great that any complaint is a reflection on your bad personality. Between Chef Michael Pirolo’s creative spin on traditional Italian dishes to the all-Italian wine list curated by their skilled sommelier, Jacqueline Pirolo, you will likely develop intimate feelings for this place. (Luckily for you, I’m not the jealous type.) Expect a cozy, intimate atmosphere in this 70-seat restaurant that appears plucked out of NYC with exposed brick walls, custom wooden tables, and plush leather couches. 

Restaurant Tip: Come for “Pasta Thursday,” a weekly event hosted by Macchialina during which every homemade pasta dish costs $10. Bring a few friends so you won’t feel guilty as you order the entire menu.

 

Authentic Miami Mid-Beach Eats

🔥Hot ‘Hood Tip: Whether you’re looking for a casual stroll down Miami’s historic boardwalk or to release your inhibitions at the Russian & Turkish Bath, there’s something for everyone in Mid-Beach.

27 Restaurant & Broken Shaker

 

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Both found at the hip Freehand Hostel, 27 Restaurant and Broken Shaker are two Instagrammable must-visit spots, and luckily for you, they’re only steps away from one another. A Tales of the Cocktail award-winner, Broken Shaker is a convivial, laidback bar with inventive (sometimes seasonal!) cocktails and eclectic decor. Kick back with a drink in their lush outdoor patio or lounging by the pool.

Carrying the same #vibes as Broken Shaker, 27 Restaurant features a communal dining atmosphere. Located in a renovated historic home from the 1930’s, 27 restaurant offers globally sourced New American cuisine, which ensures there will be something for everyone.

Restaurant Tip: Always check the seasonal cocktail menu—it changes monthly based on what herbs and fruits are locally available.

 

Visit an Iconic Spot in Coral Gables

🔥Hot ‘Hood Tip: Check out the Venetian Pool, a freshwater spring pool with grottos and waterfalls that provide a tropical oasis vibe. Your Instagram followers will thank you.

Versailles

 

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Welcome to one of the most iconic restaurants and bakeries in Miami. Versailles opened in 1971 and has maintained the same old-school aesthetic ever since. It has become the unofficial town square; hundreds of Miamians gathered here for the celebration after Fidel Castro’s passing in 2016. Come here if you’re looking for an authentic Miami-Cuban experience, or you can just travel to Cuba for the real thing.

Restaurant Tip: Order empanadas, croquetas, and a cafecito (Cuban coffee) to get yourself started.

 

Related: Can Americans Travel to Cuba Legally?

 

Authentic Places to Eat in Miami’s Little Havana

🔥Hot ‘Hood Tip: Be sure to visit the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame and Domino Park, just a few steps from Los Pinareños.

Lung Yai Thai Tapas

 

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Sometimes you see a restaurant and immediately know you’re in for a treat. Lung Yai Thai is a little gem located in the heart of Little Havana, but here’s the catch: they serve up the most authentic Thai food Miami has to offer. Expect to see a line of people wrapped around the building waiting to cram inside, but the food is so good that you won’t mind the confined atmosphere.

Restaurant Tip: Order a beer from the host while you wait to be seated.

 

Los Pinareños Fruteria

 

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Los Pinareños Fruteria is known as Miami’s oldest open-air market, and walking inside is like being transported to western Cuba. Los Pinareños is the epitome of mom-and-pop hospitality; Angel and Guillermina Hernandez have been owners and operators of this location for over 50 years. Here, you can find delicious juices made from fruits straight out of their local garden, plus strong Cuban coffee and imaginative milkshakes.

Restaurant Tip: Coco Frio is a must-have. Do not leave here without trying it.

 

If I had the power to give gold stars and blue ribbons to restaurants (something I’m still coping with), these would receive my highest accolades. Wherever your adventure takes you, I can guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself no matter where you decide to eat in Miami.

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