Greater Miami and Miami Beach has always been a feast for the senses, from whimsical Art Deco architecture and sultry ocean breezes to Latin music rhythms – but it’s the culinary scene that steals the show. With epic culinary events and Miami Spice Restaurant Months, to celebrity-packed eateries and hip cocktail culture, Miami has made a splash on the global gastronomy stage. Miami’s dining scene reflects its international flavor, from Cuban, Haitian, Peruvian and Colombian to Indian, Thai, Japanese, Argentine and many more. This melting pot has inspired a fusion revolution for foodies and food writers to revel in, while traditionalists can still satisfy their cravings for old favorites, such as American and gastropub comfort food.
This creative culinary crucible, mixed with a dash of sensual tropical lifestyle and a pinch of fresh seafood and locally farmed produce, has given birth to James Beard favorites such as Michelle Bernstein (Café La Trova) and Giorgio Rapicavoli (Luca Osteria/ Eating House, Coral Gables / Glass & Vine, Coconut Grove) and attracted other star talents from across the globe, like Jose Mendin (Pubbelly Restaurants). Michael Schwartz (Tigertail + Mary/Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink/Amara at Paraiso) shows his true culinary passion with multiple Miami restaurants. Adrianne Calvo (Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard and Wine Bar / Redfish by Chef Adrianne / Cracked Eatery) known for her farm-to-table cooking and bright red hair has also risen to the top with various restaurants in Coral Gables, South Miami and Kendall. These chefs have helped Miami earn a spot among the top 20 of Thrillist’s Best Food Cities list.
With nearly 10,000 eateries – from casual alfresco cafés perfect for people-watching to houses of haute cuisine, Miami is a serious see-and-be-seen culinary hotspot. Even our gourmet food trucks have made the A-list Jet with Jetsetter.com ranking Miami among its top 5 Best Food Truck Cities.
Fabulous Festivals and Events
Miami plays host to a year-round slate of prestigious wine and food events. The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival (February) is a must-attend forum for serious foodies. The celebrity meter is always dialed on high, as the most prominent figures in the culinary, wine and spirits industries travel to Miami for a jam-packed weekend of tastings, star-studded dinners and culinary seminars.
Other not-to-be-missed events with a strong culinary component include: Carnaval Miami (March) showcasing Miami’s Latin flavor; Deering Seafood Festival on the Bay (March) featuring Florida’s freshest fish and seafood; VeritageMiami (April) taking place throughout the destination; South Florida’s Taste of the Nation® for No Kid Hungry (April), where guests can sample a world of flavors from more than 50 top restaurants; Bahamas Goombay Festival (July) where Goombay transforms Coconut Grove into Nassau’s Bay Street; and International Mango Festival (July) featuring a series of delightful mango events at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Miami New Times’ Iron Fork competition (October), has two of the destination’s finest chefs go pot-to-pot in a sizzling showdown for supremacy. The event is the unofficial kickoff for the destination’s signature foodie event, Miami Spice Restaurant Months, which takes place every August and September.
Every August and September, the destination’s top restaurants take part in Miami Spice, where more than 200 of the destination’s finest dining destinations entice culinary visitors and residents with three-course prix-fixe brunches, lunches and dinners at incredible savings. For more information, visit www.ILoveMiamiSpice.com
Every mid-October, Coconut Grove’s waterfront Peacock Park plays host to the Coconut Grove Seafood Festival, which kicks off the Florida Stone Crab season every fall. In early November, vegans flock to the Seed Food & Wine Festival, which offers innovative takes on plant-based foods while serving up fine wines, craft beers and spirits.
Evolution of a Culinary Philosophy
As the birthplace in the 1990s for New World Cuisine created by the “Mango Gang” members such as Chef Allen Susser, Norman Van Aken and Mark Millitello, along with Douglas Rodriguez most associated with his Nuevo Latino Cuisine are still active on the scene today. These luminaries have paved the way for the current regime of culinary royalty. Food writers have tried to peg the likes of Michelle Bernstein and Michael Schwartz as the “New Mango Gang” but they and their peers have evolved in their own directions, defying labels and serving up every buzz term from molecular gastronomy to comfort food.
Rock Star Restaurants
Now firmly established as a foodie town, Miami’s cuisine and chefs are featured frequently on national TV shows and culinary magazines, getting as much attention as the frequent celebrities, sports icons and rock stars enjoying it.
Giorgio Rapicavoli winner of Chopped Ultimate Champions on the Food Network has cemented his place in Miami’s culinary all-stars. Once a trendy pop up restaurant, his now permanent Eating House serves up eclectic small plates in Coral Gables. Rapicavoli says about his casual New American eatery, “If cooking is an art, we’re making graffiti.” His new venture, Luca Osteria also in Coral Gables is Italian with a hint of Miami-inspired flavors. The spot on Giralda Avenue has 2,500-square-feet offering cozy indoor and outdoor seating (slated to open early 2021).
Jose Mendin teamed up with Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro to create Pubbelly Gastropub. Now with four Pubbelly restaurants including locations in Dadeland, Miami Beach, Brickell and Aventura, the eateries offer a casual setting with chef driven cuisine, taking inspiration from Asian and Latin ingredients while employing European cooking techniques.
Michael Schwartz, the James Beard Award-winning chef serves relaxed American cooking at Tigertail + Mary, located in Coconut Grove. Tigertail + Mary is inspired by the Grove’s one-of-a-kind bohemian lifestyle, easy energy, and textured tropical landscape. At Michael’s Food + Drink, Chef Schwartz serves his hallmark seasonal ingredient-inspired dishes at the landmark Design District eatery. Schwartz also has Harry’s Pizzeria offering authentic thin crust pizzas with the freshest ingredients as well as Amara at Paraiso known for its upscale Latin cuisine and most beautiful waterfront views of Biscayne Bay.
Jeremy Ford’s Stubborn Seed on Miami Beach is a must! Bravo’s Top Chef Season 13’s Winner, Chef Ford’s food philosophy takes honest ingredients and elevates them to be splendidly elegant through persistent execution. Stubborn Seed is the result of pairing unrelenting passion with an unapologetic approach.
Another dominant presence is the 50 Eggs Restaurant Group, founded by John Kunkel and owners of some of the area’s most acclaimed eateries. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar is a tribute to the importance of a shared meal and laugh, utilizing farm-fresh ingredients and classic Southern cooking. The Restaurant Group also has CHICA, by Chef Lorena Garcia delivering robust and vibrant flavors from Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.
Chef Todd Erickson’s HuaHua Taqueria on Lincoln Road features a personal spin on traditional Mexican Cuisine, boasting everything from tacos and enchiladas loaded with brisket and carnitas to low-cal, high protein “skinny” tacos and other healthier options. Speaking of healthy, CVI.CHE 105 by chefs Juan Chipoco and Luis Hoyos is known for its exquisite traditional Peruvian dishes in a modern presentation.
Over in the Sunset Harbor neighborhood of Miami Beach, a wave of trendy comfort-food eateries abounds from pizza heaven Lucali, to dessert-driven Icebox Café.
Chef Marcus Samuelsson recently debuted the Red Rooster Restaurant, serving “American roots” comfort food. The eatery is housed inside of the former “Clyde Killen’s Pool Hall” in the heritage neighborhood of Overtown, a popular nightlife spot in the 1960s. It also marks Chef Samuelsson’s first Miami outpost, a collaboration with developers Michael Simkins and Derek Fleming, with operations helmed by Grove Bay Hospitality Group.
Zuma, the award-winning and internationally acclaimed Japanese restaurant in Downtown Miami, is known for its unprecedented combination of unique yet authentic cuisine, dynamic design and vibrant energy. Frequented by notables including Shania Twain, Janet Jackson, Lebron James, Will Smith, Lenny Kravitz and Rafael Nadal, among many others, Zuma Miami continues to be a favorite among locals, visitors and celebrities alike.
Ariete is another Miami gem inspired by Chef and owner Michael Beltran’s Miami roots, Cuban American heritage and French culinary training. Beltran’s concept has limitless borders, delivering both peculiar and traditional dishes through his devotion to locally sourced products and ingenious pairing. With its ever-evolving menus that follow the seasons, the intimate Coconut Grove restaurant has a luxurious feel and plenty of energy to go along with the diverse menu.
Attracting arts and music luminaries to the SoHo-style Wynwood Arts District, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar features a perfect blend of cutting-edge art, renowned music and authentic Miami-style cuisine. The cooler-than-cool international eatery features a floor-to-ceiling mural by famed graffiti artist Shepard Fairey in the bar and lounge area, intensely colorful panoramic canvases by Berlin artist Christian Awe, an 11-foot sculpture by David Benjamin Sherry in the dining room and musical programming curated by Grammy Award-winning flautist Nestor Torres. An outdoor terrace is surrounded by the murals of Wynwood Walls, the largest street art park in the United States. Joey’s Italian Café, the first restaurant to open in the neighborhood since it transformed into a hip arts district, is a favorite for locals showcasing some of the best thin crust pizza in town.
Now a Miami institution, Panther Coffee originally started in Wynwood. There is no cup of coffee like it, especially in the tree-shaded terrace outside. Founders Joel and Leticia Pollock hand-roast their beans on-site and carefully train their staff. These days, Panther is on the growth path, with locations in Coconut Grove, Miami Beach, Little Haiti and the Mimo District. For a particularly effective boost of energy, try the famous cold brew; it will fuel you for hours. Also, in Wynwood is some of the best tacos in town at Coyo Taco with its fresh and tasty twist on Mexican street food. Chow down on old school favorites like pollo al carbon or al pastor. Or mix it up with something new like octopus, quinoa or grilled cactus.
Chef Michael Lewis and general manager Steven Haigh bring a fresh concept to Wynwood with KYU. The wood-fired Asian grill features a diverse menu and focuses on professional yet relaxed service and a commitment to green practices.
BRAVA by Brad Kilgore, led by Chef Kilgore offers a variety of European cuisine that takes center stage at the Ziff Ballet Opera House located at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Kilgore delivers bold flavors using a series of unique spices and the technique of layering flavor upon flavor.
Located in an unassuming building in the heart of North Miami Avenue, Beaker & Gray invites a hip crowd to indulge in inventive, house-made cocktails much like “The Ginstagram,” a concoction of gin, cocchi americano, falernum, passion fruit, orgeat, peychaud’s.
Joël Robuchon, French chef of world-renowned L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon opened its doors in the Miami Design District in summer 2019. The highly anticipated restaurant continually wows diners with its modern French cuisine, served at a signature 34-seat dining counter that faces directly into the open kitchen. The menus feature iconic L’Atelier dishes alongside seasonal creations from Culinary Director Christophe Bellanca – a longtime protégé of the legendary Joël Robuchon. Another gem in the Design District created by Joël Robuchon’s apprentice, Alain Verzeroli, is Le Jardinier, a casually sophisticated, vegetable-forward restaurant using the highest quality local vegetables, seasonal ingredients, and fresh herbs – some of which are harvested from an on-site garden and complemented by wild and sustainable fish, meat and poultry.
Zak Stern is the sourdough king of Miami and while his recipe is a secret, this popular hotspot in Wynwood draws quite the crowd. At Zak the Baker you’ll find sweet and savory toast options, delicious sandwich platters and plenty of fresh-baked daily specials.
Miami Culinary Tours and Mobile Cuisine
You know you’ve arrived as a food city when you’ve got culinary tours and pop up restaurants. Miami Culinary Tours was founded by ethnic dining expert and food blogger Grace Della. Miami Culinary Tours offers renowned tours of the area’s best culinary neighborhoods. The South Beach Food Tour guides guests on a fun and engaging history and architecture walking tour of the Art Deco Historic District with tastings at a diverse range of establishments. The Little Havana Food Tour takes guests on a guided, edible journey through one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods, tasting their way through Calle Ocho. Meet local artists, watch cigar rollers, and peek inside Domino Park – all while exploring the unassuming, Cuban culture through its amazing dishes. Visitors can tour through one of Miami’s hip arts districts with their taste buds on the Wynwood Food Tour. This walking tour lets diners taste their way through local favorite eateries based in one of the largest open-air street art collections in the world. They also offer tours out of the Design District and Coconut Grove.
Gourmet food trucks and pop up restaurants are all the rage these days. More than 30 gourmet Miami Food Trucks serve everything from Cuban influenced burgers, Asian style wings to deep-fried cupcakes. Truck Meetups take place around the community weekly.
Fuel your exploration for food trucks with a stop for unbelievable food from the Doral Yard in Downtown Doral. The new kid on the block having opened in October 2020, this outdoor/indoor space offers reoccurring events like happy hour at The Bar, live music weekly, and cultural and fitness events. As for food, you can find everything from plant-based bowls at della bowls to authentic Venezuelan rotisserie chicken at Un Pollo and if you have a sweet tooth, Santo Dulce has churros coated with inventive flavors and stacked over locally-made ice cream.
Reinventing Hotel Dining
While in most destinations, foodies look upon hotel dining as generic, Miami hotel restaurants are red-hot, each with their own special spice. One of Miami’s most revered dining spots is La Mar by Gaston Acurio. The eatery features the acclaimed cuisine of Chef Gaston Acurio, who offers diners the chance to explore the authentic and diverse flavors of Peruvian gastronomy.
The signature eatery of EAST, Miami, Quinto La Huella, offers a unique fire cooking method with a wood fire parrilla centered at the heart of the kitchen and includes a wood fire oven, sushi counter, and outdoor dining experience. The menu is a blend simple dishes made with the best ingredients. The food is down to earth, much like the atmosphere, creating a relaxing environment where memories are made.
Mamey Miami located inside the Thesis Hotel in Coral Gables is an island-minded concept by Chef Niven Patel. Inspired by Patel’s travels throughout Asia, Polynesia and the Caribbean, Mamey showcases the exotic flavors and spices commonly found in the islands with ingredients sourced directly from Chef’s own Rancho Patel. The menu features vibrant dishes paired with fun cocktails creating a laid-back oasis for guests and locals to enjoy.
The top-rated Palme d’Or at the Biltmore Hotel brings a taste of France to Coral Gables with seasonal dishes ranging from simple yet sublime to expertly exotic. A culinary star is Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, at the Eden Roc Miami Beach. Chef Nobu, Academy award-winner Robert DeNiro and Hollywood producer Meir Teper are the masterminds behind the Nobu Hotel project, which boasts the world’s most recognized Japanese restaurant known for its innovative new style cuisine with an extensive menu of inventive dishes and bold cocktails.
At the renowned Faena Miami Beach, Pao boldly reflects celebrated chef Paul Qui’s renowned brand of modern Asian cuisine, drawing from his background and range of international styles, including Filipino, Spanish, Japanese, and French. Signature items include crudo specialties, original rice dishes and fresh fish and meats. At Los Fuegos, Argentine grill master Francis Mallmann creates a contemporary asado experience with an open-fire kitchen, local ingredients and a gaucho’s touch to transform traditional rustic recipes into sophisticated, savory dishes.
Located in the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort & Spa, BOURBON STEAK is celebrity chef Michael Mina’s modern twist on the classic American steakhouse, featuring a localized menu with prime cuts of all-natural, organic and hormone-free beef and the freshest seafood available from around the world. Cecconi’s at the Soho Beach House hotel is popular for its classic Italian cuisine as well as its elaborate Sunday brunch, where you can often find local luminaries dining.
The Fontainebleau Miami Beach boasts nine culinary gems including signature dining and casual eateries. Scarpetta, by James Beard award recipient Scott Conant, offers a regional Italian menu combining the simplicity of Italy’s cucina rustica with the refined flavors of fine cuisine amidst breathtaking views. Recognized as the pioneering concept that single-handedly changed the face of Chinese cuisine within the United Kingdom, Hakkasan Miami serves up Modern Chinese fare, paying homage to the ‘Hakka’ people from the New Territories of Hong Kong while ‘san’ is the respectful Japanese form of address.
The Matador Room at the Miami Beach EDITION celebrates 1950s glamour and reinvents the iconic Matador Room, offering Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s interpretation of Caribbean, Spanish, and Latin and South American cuisines. Restaurant 27 is Freehand Miami’s first full-service restaurant and bar, focusing on a welcoming communal atmosphere and the freshest local ingredients which pay homage to Miami’s melting pot. Broken Shaker, a James Beard Award semi-finalist bar, offers specialty handcrafted cocktails made with elixirs, syrups, and infusions made from garden herbs and spices, and fresh-pressed produce and exotic ingredients from around the world.
Miami is all about slowing down and savoring life, which has spawned the Slow Food movement in the region. More and more restaurants and locals are sourcing as many ingredients as possible from local farmers and fishermen, supporting the community and the environment. With dozens of farmers markets dotted around many communities, local chefs and residents have many options to access the freshest produce.
Slow Food Miami, the local chapter of the Slow Food USA and the International Slow Food Association, embraces local growers and artisan food makers who use sustainable methods, pay fair wages and respect the environment. Michael Schwartz, of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in the Design District, was the first celebrated Miami chef to get their Snail of Approval and now serves as an ambassador to the program to grow participation.
In a similar effort, several Miami restaurants participate in the “Adopt a Farmer” program, supporting local agriculture and sustainability initiatives. The program takes the highly successful “Dinner in Paradise” series sponsored by Homestead’s Paradise Farm, which offers B&B farm stays, to a new level. The five-acre certified organic farm has been teaming with upscale Miami restaurants to offer six-course culinary masterpieces created with its organic produce. The sell-out events offer a farm tour, along with cocktails and dinner.
Notable for its farm-to-fork philosophy, the Miami Culinary Institute (MCI), at Miami Dade College features three main components – an Associate in Science in Culinary Arts degree, continuing education for culinary professionals, and a food and beverage enthusiast education program. Offering culinary classes open to the public, the eight-story Institute is an architectural and engineering marvel that focuses on space utilization and generating a limited carbon footprint.
One of Miami’s most famous gourmet landmarks is Joe’s Stone Crab in South Beach, featuring their signature crab claws and scrumptious sides served up by waiters in tuxedos.
Feel like enjoying a cappuccino and watching people stroll by? Alfresco cafes are a quintessential part of any Miami dining experience, from Ocean Drive’s famed News Café or Coconut Grove’s legendary Greenstreet Café, which owners call a “neighborfood” restaurant, sits in the heart of the Grove on Commodore Plaza near Main Street, serving up globally influenced seasonal cuisine using as many local and organic ingredients as possible.
Other notable dining institutions include Graziano’s Restaurant with four locations offering authentic Argentine flavors and a unique market to grab-and-go if time is short. Juvia, a contemporary restaurant buzzing atop the 1111 Lincoln Road mixed-use building and parking garage, offers up French, Japanese, and Peruvian plates, along with specialty cocktails and South Beach unforgettable sights.
Although Miami is known more for fabulous cocktails, there is one winery in the region. Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery in the Redland agricultural region is drawing attention with their innovative wines and beers crafted from tropical fruits unique to South Florida – a hidden gem for wine lovers looking to taste on a new frontier.
Miami has also welcomed plenty of craft production breweries including Wynwood Brewing Company in the heart of Wynwood Art District. This brewhouse distributes Blonde Ale, India Pale Ale, Gold Medal-winning Robust Porter, barrel aged Strong Ales and a rotation of seasonal offerings. Miami’s first distillery is also in Wynwood. The Miami Rum Club, whose artisan rum producers utilize South Florida sugarcane and other superior local ingredients.
Food Hall Boom
Miami is on its way to becoming the world capital of food halls, an international trend that promotes not just delicious, but quality food. By 2020, nine gourmet temples have opened their doors in Miami. They all combine great culinary concepts and the most popular restaurants. Food offers vary from the most exclusive gourmet temples to street food corners and meeting places that host cooking classes, working spaces and shopping areas.
1-800-LUCKY, the first of many food halls in Miami, opened December 2017 in Wynwood. The Asian food hall is the brainchild of Sven Vogtland and Alan Drummond, in partnership with Gaby Chiriboga, the team behind Coyo Taco. 1-800-LUCKY offers food vendors from around the country, a karaoke bar, and a small theater in a 10,000-square-foot space all disguised as a record shop and convenience store. 1-800-Lucky’s restaurants focus on different specialties, including sushi, bao buns, wok dishes, Peking duck and Asian barbecue, ramen, dim sum and desserts. The team hired a company to recruit restaurants for 1-800-LUCKY and found them everywhere from Japan to California to New York, including in South Florida’s own backyard.
Luna Park at the Brickell City Centre, in Downtown Miami is a 3-story building on a total area of 40,000-square-foot. The Italian food hall promises an authentic take on the Italian lifestyle and the culinary diversity of Italy. Even its architecture is inspired by the 20 prominent regions of Italy. Besides themed culinary offers, Luna Park has a wine house for tastings, an ice-cream shop, a cooking school and a cocktail bar.
A flavor temple in the Design District, MIA Market recently opened its doors with a mission to serve people who crave unique flavors and experiences while creating opportunities for chefs to showcase their creativity. Vendors include The Bar at Mia Market, Coop serving some real deal fried chicken, Dal Plin offering fresh rolled pasta daily and Hot Lime Craft Tacos and Ceviche among others.
In the Little River District, The Citadel delights visitors and residents with multicultural delicacies. The food hall rises inside a MiMo architectural building, built in 1951 to host the Federal Reserve Bank. The Citadel occupies an area of 60,000-square-feet and has become the meeting point for food, fashion, services, shopping and new working spaces. Not just a food hall, The Citadel is a platform for community growth and creative development, where there is also a rooftop bar. The Citadel is an innovative center and a driving force for the cultural rebirth of Miami. Inside the building lies 20 culinary corners and a permanent space for food trucks outside.
All Aboard Florida, which operates Brightline, owns MiamiCentral in Downtown Miami and is a hub for all things transportation, leisure, and business. MiamiCentral spans over six downtown city blocks delivering the true mixed-use urban experience. Cental Fare, is a dynamic food hall experience that occupies the first and the second floor of the terminal, covering an area of 50,000-square-feet. Central Fare’s authentic culinary offerings and experiences are crafted by local artisans, regional producers and renowned chefs. From high quality stores, to fast meals and formal restaurants, Central Fare offers a personalized culinary experience. MiamiCentral converges the transport system of the Metrorail, Metromover, Tri-Rial and Brightline, one of the most advanced national inter-city railway lines that connects South-West Florida in a fast and comfortable way.
Miami Beach has a truly unique food and cultural market known as Time Out Market (currently closed). Located at 1601 Drexel Avenue, just off Miami Beach’s famed Lincoln Road, Time Out Market Miami brings together the best of the destination under one roof: its best restaurants, bars and cultural experiences, based on the editorial curation Time Out has always been known for. Time Out Market features a curated mix of over 15 kitchens, bars, an art space and a demonstration kitchen, representing the destination’s most celebrated chefs and restaurateurs, cocktails from award-winning mixologists and stunning art works by rising talent. It showcases the people who make Miami the vibrant city it is and consistently create the best of what the destination has to offer.
Treats Food Hall is another food hall gem located in Aventura Mall. Among their list of nearly a dozen vendors is Figs Pizza+Pasta Bar, Shake Shack, Chicken Guy!, Poke 305 and Zuuk Mediterranean Kitchen. It is located on the third floor of the mall and it also offers a huge observation deck. Outside the space is a 93-foot installation known as the Aventura Slide Tower, which was created by Carsten Höller and allows visitors to whirl down the mammoth artwork. Additionally, The Haas Brothers created a water sculpture called Gorillas in the Midst, depicting three large-scale bronze gorillas and four bronze trees.
In the center of the new NoLi District (North Lincoln), in Miami Beach, the Terranova Corporation created Lincoln Eatery, built at the crossroad between Meridian Avenue and North Lincoln Lane and enriched with an observation deck. Foodies that love spending all day at the beach have the possibility to taste fast, convenient and informal meals, from American cuisine to the most multicultural specialties.
The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) is an independent not-for-profit sales and marketing organization whose mission is to attract visitors to Greater Miami and the Beaches for leisure, business and conventions. For a vacation guide, visit our website at www.MiamiAndBeaches.com or call 1-888-76-Miami (US/Canada only) or 305-447-7777. To reach the GMCVB offices dial 305-539-3000. Meeting Planners may call 1-800-933-8448 (US/Canada only) or 305-539-3071 or visit www.MiamiMeetings.com.