In anticipation of my upcoming return home, I thought it would be nice to put together a list of all the best places to eat in Miami. For me, it’s more like a checklist of places I have to remember to go to while I’m there. Some of these are nice restaurants. Some of them are holes that delicious food comes out of. If you’ve never been to Miami, this is will give you a great reason to visit all of Miami and not just South Beach.
Best Sit-Down Restaurants
Finka is as far as you can get from anything good in Miami (unless you’re headed to the Everglades), somewhere between Tamiami and Kendall West. But this is one of the best restaurants in the city. It’s owned by the hipster daughter of the people behind Islas Canarias, another Miami staple with the BEST Cuban croquetas in the world. But Finka is more upscale in a rustic way. And you won’t regret the drive out there when you wrap your mouth around a bite of churrasco with sweet potato mash. Their menu is a Cuban Asian fusion, but they have a ton of options for every preference, like pulled pork mac and cheese or manchego pizza and all of it is outstanding. Their cocktails are also to die for.
Eating House is a tiny restaurant where they serve up huge portions of amazing food. They have a small menu that changes frequently, but it’s great for lunch, brunch, or dinner. I’ve been all over the world and I can’t find carbonara pasta as good as the one at Eating House. If you go for lunch, they won’t have the pasta, but they have a carbonara burger, which is even better. You can’t leave without a dirt cup, which is their 5 layer dessert, complete with ice cream, caramel, pretzels, and covered in a mountain of Oreo cookie crumbs. Of all the places on this list, this is the one you’re most likely to leave uncomfortably full.
Yardbird is my favorite brunch place in Miami. With so many delicious Southern options, you’ll want to go with a lot of people and split a few things. This is one of the best places in Miami to get chicken and waffles (Eating House is too). Though you should be warned, it’s half a damn chicken. That’s one of my favorites along with the BLT Benedict Casserole. But really, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. The grits, the biscuits, the corn bread… come hungry! You’re going to want all of it. They also have amazing craft cocktails or mimosas to complete the drunk brunch experience. For a non-bourbon drinker, the Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade is one of my favorite cocktails of all time.
There are a lot of great sushi places in Miami (or places that serve great sushi), like Doraku on Lincoln Road or Sugarcane in Midtown. But my favorite sushi place is in South Miami across from a Winn Dixie. What can I say? I’m a simple girl. This hidden gem has a huge menu of large and inventive sushi rolls. The fish is really fresh and their rolls are spectacular. If you don’t like sushi, you can also enjoy one of their other Asian dishes, including some great curries. My biggest gripe with Kampai is the parking. There are like 7 spots in a cramped lot. And even though it’s not the snazziest place in the world, it can get packed. So you may have to double park on top of a fire hydrant to eat there.
Best Quick and Dirty Bites
El Rey de Las Fritas
What is a frita? It’s a Cuban burger made with a seasoned patty stuffed with chorizo and cooked with caramelized onions. It’s served on a Cuban bread roll and topped with cheese and crunchy shoestring potatoes. It sounds like a lot, but they’re actually not that big, so you can eat two while you enjoy a Materva (or Ironbeer). El Rey de Las Fritas is a sweaty kitchen with some stools if you want a quick meal. This is not a place to take a date, unless you’re dating a real G from Little Havana.
Frankie’s is a real Miami staple. It’s been sitting on Bird Road since before I was born (and it still has the same sign up). Their pizza is unique and perfectly crunchy and soft, with tiny cups of pepperoni that hold all that flavorful grease. The garlic rolls are served in a bag full of garlic. You can tell by my description that this is not a classy place. You should probably eat your pizza on the benches outside as soon as you get it, because if you let it get cold on the way home, you’ll realize it’s terrible.
Miami has an abundance of Cuban restaurants and cafeterias. But my favorite place to get a Cuban breakfast of tostada (toasted Cuban bread) and café con leche is Sergio’s. (Casavana is a very close second and their croquetas are runner up to Islas Canarias’ croquetas.) The great thing about Sergio’s is that you can get a quick meal from their walk-up window or you can sit down with all the grandparents in the area and have a pan con bistec or a media noche with a milkshake.
The Local Diners and Sporty Joints
The Big Cheese
The Big Cheese is a University of Miami hangout and my favorite place to celebrate my birthday. The tacky décor includes autographed pictures of every UM player ever. And as a Florida Gator who was born and bred to hate the Canes, I can honestly say this is the only UM-related thing I don’t only tolerate, but adore. They have amazing pizza and pastas. My Big Cheese recommendation is: get your pasta with pink sauce. They also have the most amazing garlic rolls in Miami. But prepare to have fire breath for 3 days afterwards.
Miami loves to party so drunk munchies like greasy burgers and sizzling kebabs really hit the spot when you’re stumbling out of E11even at 5 am. Pincho Factory brings you all the goodness usually served from street carts to several convenient locations throughout the city including Coral Gables and Westchester. This is a good place to go if you want to get a burger that’s completely ridiculous, like topped with fried cheese and with two tostones as buns.
This is the only traditional sports bar on this list. They have a few locations, but the best one (for general atmosphere and food quality) is on Sunset. Sports Grill is the place where all the locals go when any Miami team is playing (but only if they’re winning). They have an amazing menu of wings, including your standard buffalo wings, but also BBQ, garlic, and special grilled wings (Get those. Trust me). You can also try the Miami Heats if you enjoy the blend of sweat and tears dripping down your face. With a side of jalapeno poppers and a pitcher of beer, you’ll have an amazing really casual afternoon or evening.
Hungry yet? Cause I am starving!