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Stone crab, Cuban sandwiches and mojitos: The 18 best places to eat and drink in Miami

Aug. 24, 2020
12 min read
Stone crab, Cuban sandwiches and mojitos: The 18 best places to eat and drink in Miami
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Editor's Note

As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials' guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.

Miami is without a doubt one of the nation's most exciting cities. Located at the very southern tip of the continental United States, the city occupies a unique space as a crossroads between the U.S. and the Caribbean and Latin America.

The city has a distinct and enduring Cuban influence, thanks to the proximity of the two places (just about 90 miles of ocean separates the two) and a large population of Cuban immigrants who fled the regime of Fidel Castro decades ago.

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In addition to the large Cuban population, Miami attracts plenty of other people from all across Latin America, including the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina, to name a few. And the city has a sizable Jewish population, along with many transplants from colder climes within the U.S.

The result of this incredible mixing of cultures has made Miami one of the de facto capitals of Latin America in the minds of many, and created a city that has a culture and way of life all its own. With this, and its oceanfront location and reliably good weather, comes a vibrant and thriving dining and drinking scene that's practically unmatched in North America.

We've touched on some of the top restaurants and bars you should visit on your first -- or second or third -- trip to Miami, but we thought it appropriate to devote more time to exploring this city's top restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments that you should keep in mind for any future trips to South Florida.

Related: Best credit cards for dining

The best restaurants in Miami

We've already talked about some of the can't-miss restaurants in our beginner's guide to Miami, but the city is home to so many top-notch dining establishments that we thought we needed to dive a little deeper.

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What do you do when you want a taste of New York City by the beach? You go to Lucali, one of (if not the) best spots in town to grab a slice -- or a whole pie. You may have to wait for over an hour for a table, but when you want good pizza, practically no wait is too long. If your group is craving more than just pizza, try the calzones, ravioli and the baked artichokes.

(Photo courtesy of Lucali/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of Lucali/Facebook)

Versailles Restaurant is a Miami institution in the Little Havana neighborhood. You can't skip Cuban food in this town, and Versailles is one of the best places to experience authentic, no-frills and affordable Cuban cuisine. Try the ropa vieja, croquettes and, of course, a Cuban sandwich and you won't leave disappointed.

(Photo courtesy of Versailles/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of Versailles/Facebook)

Being a seaside city, you could expect to encounter some very delicious seafood during your trip, and La Camaronera Fish Market is exactly the place to go to experience some of the best fish you've ever had. Most of the menu items are fried -- making it the perfect place to soak up all those mojitos you just had on the beach. The pan con minuta -- a fried snapper sandwich -- is a must-have. In Little Havana, you'll probably wait a long time to get seated, but once you take your first bite you won't remember the agonizing hour you just spent looking at -- and jealously smelling -- other diners' food.

(Photo courtesy of La Camoronera/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of La Camoronera/Facebook)

If you feel most at home at a Jewish bakery, look no further than Zak the Baker. In the trendy Wynwood district, this spot serves classic Jewish baked goods like babka and challah and sandwiches like a salmon Reuben and tuna melt made with perfectly crusty bread.

(Photo courtesy of Zak The Baker/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of Zak The Baker/Facebook)

Everyone loves a good brunch, and Yardbird Southern Table and Bar is the place to get one in Miami. The menu focuses on fried chicken, which is a very good thing. Sit down for a while, order too many southern-inspired dishes and enjoy a long brunch before venturing back out into the city -- you won't regret it.

(Photo courtesy of Yardbird/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of Yardbird/Facebook)

If you've had your fill of heavy, meat-centric dishes (there are plenty to try in Miami), Planta is a perfect spot to gather with your friends and have an entirely vegan meal. The space itself is beautiful, too, so you don't have to feel like you're missing out on a big Miami dinner.

(Photo courtesy of Planta/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of Planta/Facebook)

Joe's Stone Crab has been a hit since it opened in 1913. This South Beach institution is famous for its stone crab (obviously) that are especially delicious during their peak season from October to May. Note that you can't make a reservation, so you may be waiting a while for a table. And, don't forget a slice of the Key lime pie.

Joe's Stone Crab. (Photo courtesy of Joe's Stone Crab/Facebook)
Joe's Stone Crab. (Photo courtesy of Joe's Stone Crab/Facebook)

On Calle Ocho in Little Havana, Sanguich de Miami treats diners to traditional Cuban sandwiches with a twist. You can't go wrong with a classic Cubano, though, made with pork, spiced ham, Swiss cheese and mustard on perfectly toasted bread. If you're extra hungry, try a batido, a rich milkshake that comes in a variety of flavors.

Wynwood, a trendy Miami neighborhood, is home to Kyu, a sustainability-minded restaurant with Asian-inspired dishes cooked on a wood-fired grill. Try the crispy pork belly buns, whole roasted cauliflower with goat cheese, shishito-herb vinaigrette, myoga and shiso and baby bok choy with toasted garlic, chili and lemon.

Greek is big in Miami, and the Design District's Mandolin Aegean Bistro is one of the city's best. I've visited many times, and can recommend sitting outside and ordering the grilled octopus to share with your group. Then, enjoy lamb, chicken and beef kebabs and wash it down with a glass of Mediterranean wine.

Mandolin Aegean Bistro. (Photo courtesy of Mandolin Aegean Bistro/Facebook)
Mandolin Aegean Bistro. (Photo courtesy of Mandolin Aegean Bistro/Facebook)

Miami is a city in which to see and be seen, and the best place to do that is at one of the city's electric Japanese restaurants. Makoto, located in the Shops at Bal Harbour, stands out. Expect a full menu of raw fish dishes, but Makoto offers more to diners, too, with its charcoal robata churning out Japanese barbecue-style dishes to hungry diners.

Related: A full review of The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

Makoto. (Photo courtesy of Makoto/Facebook)
Makoto. (Photo courtesy of Makoto/Facebook)

The best bars in Miami

Just like on the restaurant side, Miami has a wide range of drinking establishments for every type of vibe you could want on a given night -- or day. From rooftop hangouts to laidback beachside watering holes, you won't lack for places to get a cold drink.

Esotico is a tiki bar located just north of Downtown. Covered in tropical flora, this watering hole is famous for rum-based Polynesian cocktails that will instantly transport you to the South Pacific.

Escotico. (Photo courtesy of Escotico/Facebook)
Escotico. (Photo courtesy of Escotico/Facebook)

For a laidback place to start off any evening out, head to the Broken Shaker at the Freehand Hotel in Miami Beach. There's a little inside space, but you'll want to sit outside in the lush courtyard with a pool around which guests can sit.

(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

A true dive bar in Miami Beach, Mac's Club Deuce is a guaranteed good time. Temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this cash-only establishment features staples of American dive bars like a jukebox, pool tables and a dimly lit space. It's a perfect spot to take a night off from the nightclubs and bars that make up modern Miami's going-out scene.

Mac's Club Deuce. (Photo courtesy of Mac's Club Deuce/Facebook)
Mac's Club Deuce. (Photo courtesy of Mac's Club Deuce/Facebook)

Cafe la Trova is a restaurant, but it's arguably more known for being a great place to dance the night away with one of the bar's famous daiquiris in hand. There's a back bar for dancing, but the main dining area also acts as a dancing spot as the night goes on. Besides the Daiquiri Clásico, this place mixes a ton of great cocktails, ensuring that you'll have a blast all night long. Cafe la Trova is temporarily closed due to COVID-19.

(Photo courtesy of Cafe La Trova/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of Cafe La Trova/Facebook)

Located in Wynwood, Gramps is the not-quite-dive bar that attracts hipsters and anyone else looking for a good time. Enjoy a cold beer on the patio while listening to top DJs and live music acts. And once you're feeling your drinks, feel free to order a pizza from the surprisingly great menu. Gramps is temporarily closed for service on the premises but is offering curbside pick-up.

(Photo courtesy of Gramps/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of Gramps/Facebook)

If your idea of being outside is sitting on a lush with a glass of wine in hand, don't miss Lagniappe. Gather a group of your friends and enjoy all this energetic wine bar has to offer. You'll enjoy live music many nights a week in a setting that's made for Instagram whether you get a coveted outdoor table or are hanging out inside.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnNPgaqH71Z/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Miami's a beach town, so there aren't a ton of rooftop bars like you'd find in a city like New York or Chicago. However, SUGAR, located in downtown's Brickell district is the place to go if you want to catch views of both the Biscayne Bay and the expanse of Miami and its beaches from high above. This is definitely a place to see and be seen, but if you go early and don't have to wait, it's a great spot kick back, relax and enjoy the views -- and a cocktail or two -- before heading out for a memorable Miami night.

(Photo courtesy of SUGAR/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of SUGAR/Facebook)
Featured image by (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023