Miami Beach has a reputation for pricey but excellent food—and both stereotypes are well-deserved. There’s mandatory 18% gratuities at most restaurants and the closer you eat to the beach the higher the bill’s going to be, but the delicious multicultural cuisine and vast range of options makes it well worth the price tag. Here’s our top eleven* in alphabetical order:
Cafe Prima Pasta
Authentic Italian dishes at quite reasonable prices makes Cafe Prima Pasta a restaurant Miami Beach visitors and residents alike come back to again and again. There’s a juice bar, martinis, more varieties of pasta than you ever thought possible, and veal, chicken and seafood for those who’ve had enough of the restaurant’s namesake. The hardwood decor and chandeliers set a great atmosphere, accented by photos of celebrities who’ve visited. A happy-hour-style situation offers half-off prices on almost everything between 5 and 6pm. And if you’re gluten intolerant, this is the place for you—perhaps the only restaurant on South Florida to serve gluten-free pasta.
The restaurant can be found at 414 71st Street, Miami Beach, FL 33141.
With both food and service ranking well above the South Beach average but prices somewhat below it, La Gloutonnerie is a charming French bistro that’s definitely worth checking out. The restaurant is aptly named, with generous portions of excellent Old World cuisine, served in a romantic and surprisingly quiet atmosphere. Visit this bistro with a hearty appetite or friends you can share your food with! The terrace is a beautiful place to enjoy a meal during good weather, and the champagne brunch on weekends is not to be beaten.
The restaurant can be found at 81 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139.
A restaurant unlike any in Miami Beach, Indomania is simultaneously homey and exotic. The tiny, 14-table restaurant is open only for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays, and is run by a husband-and-wife team. The service is excellent and the food is quite good, with a home-cooked taste that is simultaneously authentic Indonesian. You absolutely have to try the rijsttafel, or “rice table,” a specialty dinner that you’re unlikely to find in many other U.S. restaurants. The dish, and its Dutch name, comes from the colonial era, when landowners wished to impress guests with the variety of the native fare—a collection of several little plates (here up to 17!), each with a different type of Indonesian cuisine.
The restaurant can be found at 2601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140.
Joe’s Stone Crab
It’s something of a Miami Beach landmark—the restaurant’s been around since 1913, and they claim to be the original discoverers of their signature delicacy. Stone crab claws are delicious, and they’ve been attracting visitors to the area since long before the beaches did. Sometimes this can prove a problem, since Joe’s only offers reservations for a handful of tables, and even though the restaurant occupies an entire city block, its popularity means wait times can be over two hours. If you tip the maître d’ at the door you can often cut down on the wait, or head next door to Joe’s Take Away to eat your stone crab and key lime pie elsewhere—Joe’s even ships!
The restaurant can be found at 11 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139.
The best sushi in Miami Beach in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that feels like it’s right out of Tokyo. You can order sushi the way you’d choose your meal in any other restaurant, or you can simply grab what looks good from the little sushi boats floating down the river. That’s right—an endless flotilla of tiny wooden boats carrying different varieties of sushi travels along a tiny river at the bar, allowing you to sample anything you like in a classy version of the system known in Japan as kaiten-zushi. The prices are very reasonable, and you can watch the chef at work, too. There’s no reservations, though, so arrive early to avoid the lines.
The restaurant can be found at 920 71st Street, Miami Beach, FL 33141.
Khong River House
It’s Thai food from the Mekong region, and it’s really good. If a rich variety of strong spices is your thing, Khong River is a place to visit, with their variety of curries and noodle dishes, delicious duck and pork dishes and tongue-tingling sauces. The decor is also an essential part of the experience, illuminated by Edison-style lightbulbs set in antique birdhouses and made up of high ceilings, rustic wood and imposing stone Buddhas. And as the wall of gin might suggest, their cocktails are even better than the food—try the Kha Chili or Killer B for a potent Southeast Asian mix.
The restaurant can be found at 1661 Meridian Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139.
Found in the Sactuary Hotel, OLA is a warm and inviting restaurant with a Latin American menu. Whether you love ceviche or have never tasted the seafood dish before, you have to try it here—the ceviche is probably the most celebrated item on OLA’s menu. The deserts are diverse and equally fantastic (try “da bomb;” it is), and the wine list is superb. This one’s a bit more expensive than some of the other restaurants on this list, but if you’re not on a tight budget this is a Miami Beach dining location you simply can’t miss.
The restaurant can be found at 1745 James Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139.
The wait is long and the service is far from exceptional, but that’s not what you come to Prime 112 for—this is the restaurant that’s all about paying top dollar to eat delicious food in a beautiful setting surrounded by beautiful (and wealthy) people. Make your reservation for an hour before you want to eat, check in, go elsewhere for a drink, and wait for a text message announcing that your table is ready. If you know the drill, the rest of the experience will be wonderful. It’s a fresh, modern steakhouse with brick-and-crystal decor, and while you enjoy the meal there’s plenty of opportunity for both people- and car-watching.
The restaurant can be found at 112 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139.
It’s a sandwich shop like none other—it’s open from 8am to 5am (21 hours a day!) and offers sandwiches, smoothies and salads that are fast, fresh and delicious. There’s no indoor seating, but an outdoor bar seats 10. Of course, during busy hours that means you might not get a stool, so unless you’re here for a midnight sub, why not take the sandwich to the beach? There’s plenty of possibilities for your custom-made sandwich, and many of them are very European—there’s a wide variety of cheeses you’ve probably never heard of, tiny pickles known as cornichons and house-made French vinaigrette dressing. You can even buy a bottle of it for $5.
The restaurant can be found at 229 14th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139.
Some of Miami Beach’s finest restaurants are found in hotels, and Scarpetta is no exception. Connected to the Fontainebleau oceanfront resort, this nautical-themed Italian restaurant is one of the few places where you can enjoy a delicious meal and get a great view of the Atlantic Ocean at the same time. The service here is among the best you’ll find, with waiters who achieve the perfect degree of attentive-but-not-overbearing. The award-wining cuisine is definitely worth the price, whether you’re here for a classic Italian dinner or to relax over a hearty prix fixe Sunday brunch.
The restaurant can be found at 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140.
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
You haven’t tasted Southern country cooking until you’ve tried Yardbird. Their frog-legs are unbeatable, and there’s endless fried chicken and flaky biscuits. It’s a remarkably new restaurant for its reputation (founded in 2012), but it tastes like it’s been here since the days of the Old South. Reserve a table early, because this place is popular. Yardbird’s raw, industrial/homestead crossover decor sets a great ambiance. The lightbulbs are in Mason jars and so are the drinks—try the bourbon, or the caramel bourbon bacon sundae for dessert.
The restaurant can be found at 1600 Lenox Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139.
* Because the rest of the internet does top-10 lists, and why be a copycat? Also, sometimes it’s hard to narrow down a list.