Like a Local: The Best Restaurants on Miami Beach

by Simon Willis  |  Published June 30, 2016

Whether quelling hunger during a sun-scorched day on the beach or kicking off a night out with an unforgettable dining experience, Miami Beach’s diverse dining options have it covered. But to discover the finest handmade Cuban sandwiches, taste the freshest pasta and experience spellbinding liquid nitrogen cocktails, get  the insider knowledge here.

Welcome to Miami (Photo: Alan Parker, Flickr)

Welcome to Miami (Photo: Alan Parker, Flickr)


Upon walking into Byblos you’ll feel a freshness like you’re somehow on a Lebanese prince’s cruise ship on the Mediterranean Ocean. This spot, which opened July, 2015 on South Beach, is making waves among Miami’s gastronomy scene yet remains – for now – under-the-radar enough to keep the crowds manageable. If you are a group, the sharing mezze is a must. This dish takes your palate from the tender roasted beets engulfed in pistachios and lying on a bed of thick yoghurt to perfectly-cooked lamb ribs in buttermilk sauce. For individual courses, vegetarians purr at the fig salad with orange-blossom seasoning while the meat-eaters opt for the rich lamb with roasted vegetables. Note: a new nightlife venue, The Lounge, opened next to the restaurant in May.

1545 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, (305) 508-5041


Simply the best Italian restaurant on Miami Beach. Dolce, located in the Gale Hotel, combines a staff attentive to every guest’s need with Italian cuisine to buckle your legs. Its signature dishes of veal Milanese and homemade pasta live long in the memory while the pizzas – cooked in a wood-fired oven – will transport you to the back alleys of Rome. Prices don’t cause too much alarm, especially during happy hour when discounts apply to cocktails and snacks like the selection of more-ish meatballs. Golden chandeliers adorn the restaurant while the white table cloths and dividing pillars complete the upmarket ambiance. But for that extra dolce vita reserve a table on the elegant patio.

1690 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, (786) 975-2550

La Sandwicherie

Only a handful of places on Miami Beach supply a fresh, filling and tasty meal for less than $10. But what makes this hugely popular sandwich bar stand above its peers is the efficient service and sublime fresh ingredients. Baguette or normal bread sandwiches range from smoked salmon and mozzarella to the signature SOBE club – a delicious combo of brie, avocado, and turkey. Sandwiches are made fresh as you order. Insider tip: ring beforehand to avoid waiting in line… oh, and don’t forget their legendary French vinaigrette – pure heaven.

229 14th St, Miami Beach, (305) 532-8934

The popular La Sandwicherie

The popular La Sandwicherie (Photo: Clark and Kim Kays, Flickr)

Joe’s Stone Crab 

Why fix something that’s clearly not broken? For over 100 years Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant has been luring people from all over the world. This could be thanks to its superb fish menu or delicious New York strip steaks, but – who are we kidding – the main draw lies firmly with the hard-shelled stone crab claws. Though these huge delights are only in season from October through May, Joe’s Stone Crab serves them until August thanks to a tried-and-tested storage process. Do not miss the magnificent house mustard sauce too, but note that peak dinner hours can be overwhelming so head there before 7pm or after 8:30pm.11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, (305) 673-0365


The speciality at Joe’s Stone Crab (Photo: Takayuki Shimizu, Flickr)

AC Hotel Miami Beach

Ideally located just one block from the ocean, this swanky addition to the Marriott range offers a great dining option for guests and walk-ins (no reservations required). The AC Lounge – seductively lit and decorated with leather-cushioned walls and a futuristic bar – serves delicately delicious Spanish tapas with an extensive list of hand-crafted cocktails, ideal for starting a night on the town. Its buffet breakfast provides great value with diners often finding sophisticated servings like chia parfait, quiche slices and cured meats freshly cut with the Berkel Prosciutto slicer. 2912 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, (786) 264-4720

Buffet at the Marriott

Buffet at the Marriott (Photo: Simon Willis)

The Bazaar by José Andrés

As special-occasion restaurants go, the Bazaar, located in the SLS Hotel on South Beach, tops the lot. With world-famous chef José Andrés at the helm, this elegant spot thrives on its well-deserved reputation of class and exquisite tapas-style cuisine. By all means allow the hugely knowledgeable waiters to guide you, but look out for the Brussel sprouts served alongside a lemon pith purée, baby Japanese peaches and the Cuban coffee-churrasco with passion fruit. Don’t leave without experiencing the liquid nitrogen caipirinha, its preparation reminiscent of a class at Hogwarts.

1701 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, (305) 455-2999

Big Pink

Sometimes you just want to indulge in a glut of comfort food without bearing any thought to the consequences. Step forward Big Pink. This outlandishly decorated restaurant serves up typical American Diner cuisine from mac-‘n’-cheese to chili fries, from towering greasy hamburgers to New Orleans bread pudding with bourbon. Portions are, of course, huge and prices low. Staff serve with a smile and will happily point you in the direction (a few steps) of the beach where you just might sink into the sand.

157 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, (305) 532-4700

The Big Pink (as if you couldn't guess)

The Big Pink (as if you couldn’t guess) (Photo: Chris Goldberg, Flickr)

My Ceviche

They do say great things come in small packages. Well, this diminutive eatery has gained quite a reputation among locals for serving the best – and affordable – Peruvian-style ceviche on South Beach. Tacos stuffed with octopus, shrimp or tuna come for less than $10 for three, and the burritos stuffed with jasmine rice, corn, tomatoes and pickled red onions cost about the same. Miami now has four My Ceviche shops, with a further two to open in 2016.

235 Washington Ave , Miami Beach (305) 669-5000

Able & Baker

Opened in March, this “reverse speakeasy” restaurant/bar is the beach’s newest hipster food spot. Its New York chefs have combined its industrial/chic bar and lounge area with a hidden restaurant serving a traditional Japanese kaiseki menu. This six-course tasting experience combines locally-sourced ingredients with Japanese and Korean influences, don’t miss the izakaya fried chicken with sesame mayonnaise. As well as a relaxed and intimate ambiance, the service team is genuinely attentive and friendly.

920 Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (786) 216-7730

Tropical Chinese

Locals will tell you Tropical Chinese makes the best dim sum in the city, and it’s hard to argue otherwise. This red lantern-laden restaurant, which opened in 1984, still tops the list of authentic Chinese food spots in Miami with chefs serving succulent roast duck, sliced orange beef, and black bean But, seriously, it’s hard to look beyond the devilish dim sum selection – especially the scallop dumplings, pork and shrimp siu mai and Shanghai ginger pork buns.

7991 SW 40th Street, (305) 262-7576