The perfect destination for a food lover of any caliber, here are seven great restaurants in Miami’s must-visit neighborhoods where travelers and locals alike converge to feast their senses and indulge in renowned fare.
Alter: The Art Lover’s Destination in Wynwood
Arguably the king of Miami’s food scene, Alter has helped bring national and international acclaim to the Magic City thanks to chef Brad Kilgore’s imaginative cuisine. Housed inside a refurbished warehouse in the heart of Wynwood, the center of Miami’s vibrant art scene, the restaurant’s neighborhood serves as a savvy juxtaposition to his intricately detailed avant-garde fare. It is the critical darling of Miami, thanks to dishes like the grouper cheeks elevated by a tangy shoyu hollandaise and a 63-degree egg swimming in a sea of truffle foam and caviar. The food puts South Florida and its funky Wynwood neighborhood on the international map.
Mandolin: High-Design Chic Cuisine in Design District
Let Mandolin transport you to the Greek Isles without ever leaving Miami. Tucked away in a refurbished 1940s home painted in shades of whites and blues, Mandolin’s understated simplicity is what Greek dining is all about. Grab a seat on its bougainvillea-lined patio — which seems to always have a breeze no matter the time of year — and feast on the dozens of meze options like tzatziki and smoked eggplant purée, a hearty Greek salad filled with chunks of imported feta and bright tomatoes all washed down by a crisp glass of rosé. And when you’re done? Walk its Design District neighborhood featuring some of the world’s top fashion houses, unique outdoor art installations, and impressive design showrooms.
El Carajo International Wine & Tapas: The Gateway to Miami in Coral Way
El Carajo International Wine & Tapas is one of Miami’s best hidden gems — literally. Located inside of a gas station right near historic Coral Way is a full-fledged Spanish tapas restaurant, wine shop and grab-and-go Latin bakery all rolled into one unassuming BP off of Miami’s main highway of US1. Its predominately residential neighborhood helps ensure that the restaurant is filled with locals and those in-the-know. But it’s location — just minutes away from bustling Brickell, old-school Coral Gables, and bohemian Coconut Grove — make it the perfect stop for a delicious date night, quick cup of coffee, or a unique bottle of wine.
Frieze Ice Cream Factory: The Heart of South Beach on Lincoln Road
There’s no denying Miami's year-round warmth. And the best way to cool off? Ice cream, of course! No one serves it better than Lincoln Road’s Frieze Ice Cream Factory, which is probably why it has been a mainstay of South Beach for almost 30 years. The freshly made, all-natural ice creams and sorbets, offered in unique flavors like Indian Mango and Java Oreo, are the perfect treat after strolling the outdoors Lincoln Road mall. Be sure to explore the vast array of international shops, art galleries, movie theaters and al fresco restaurants all situated just steps away from Miami’s famous white sandy beaches.
Rouge: Relaxed Water-Side Respite in Mid-Beach
Channel low-key, Parisian vibes at Rouge, a mid-Miami Beach spot that’s just a hop, skip and step away from the neighborhood’s tranquil beaches. Take a seat in its intimate courtyard, complete with vine-covered walls, a rustic fireplace, and a tree canopy, and enjoy the music of the three-piece jazz band while dining on savory French and Moroccan items like black mushroom risotto and lamb shank. And its unique neighborhood of mid-beach is perfect for those looking for a quick reprieve from the hustle and bustle of South Beach, while just being minutes away from all the action.
El Rey de Las Fritas: Epicenter of Cuban Culture in Little Havana
If you’re hungry after exploring Little Havana’s vibrant neighborhood, which serves at the heart of Miami’s Cuban community and culture, there’s only one thing you need to fill up: a frita. The only-in-Miami dish is a take on a hamburger and features a thin, spiced beef patty, topped with shoestring potatoes and nestled on Cuban Bread. And the best place to get one? At El Rey de Las Fritas, which has been making the creation for more than 40 years. El Rey is also located right in the neighborhood’s main street of Calle Ocho, which is Little Havana’s lively center, so don’t be surprised if you see some domino playing, cortadito (Cuban coffee) sipping and even some dancing in the street while you make your visit.
Drunken Dragon: Beyond the Beach in South Beach
The first Korean barbecue in Miami just can’t be replicated. Be sure to request a table with the hibachi grill so you can cook and prepare your food to your own liking. Drunken Dragon mastered the do-it-yourself approach, so give it a try. Eating here will make your friends feel only closer. But first your crew has to know how to find this Miami treasure. Don’t look for the “Drunken Dragon” sign because there isn’t one. Instead, the restaurant says its neon “MARKET” sign is a tribute to the space’s former occupant, a Latin supermarket.