When it comes to dining in South Beach, there are lots of food groups to choose from. Where you land just depends on what you’re craving, who you’re with and what part of the beach you’re willing to travel to (there are also some great spots not too far away on the mainland). From pizza to tacos and vegan to sushi to local favorites like pan con bistec, you’ll never tire of the same old restaurants or cuisine in this city. Read on for some of our top picks around town.
If you’re looking for a health-conscious place to eat, Essensia is a great pick. Inspired by nature, this restaurant leads the wellness and farm-to-table movement. Ilde Ferrer, the Chef de Cuisine at Essensia, loves working with local ingredients and chooses to let this surroundings play a role in the dishes he creates. Ferrer collaborates with Miami's Little River Cooperative to oversee the hotel's on-site organic garden, which produces many of the vegetables and herbs — like garlic chives, peppermint chard, carrots, kale, tomatoes, collards, bronze fennel, dill, Thai basil, and dandelion greens — for the food items and cocktails on the menu. You’ll find plenty of healthy and very tasty options here, with most produce, meat and seafood sourced straight from the state of Florida.
With its first U.S. location in the Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood, Planta offers locally-sourced, high-quality and 100 percent plant-based fare. The stunning 200-seat restaurant is housed inside a bright, airy and environmentally-conscious space. They grow their own veggies on a rooftop farm, serve specialty cocktails made with fresh-pressed juices and they have a plant-based sushi bar. The surroundings are as beautiful as the food is tasty. Grab lunch or dinner here (brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays) and snap some pics for the ‘Gram while you’re at it.
This Design District restaurant (a quick Uber or Lyft ride from South Beach) offers healthy breakfast and brunch options, like organic salads and bowls in a colorful space that also serves as a creative headquarters (on the second floor) for events that include yoga, pop-up galleries, panel discussions and more.
At Apizza Brooklyn, resto + vino, you can keep it simple with ooey-gooey brick-oven pizzas topped with housemade mozzarella or you can venture out to the pasta or meats/fish menu. As far as pizza goes, the restaurant offers both Neapolitan and New York-style, and we think it’s one of the best slices in the city.
Then, there is Harry’s Pizzeria. With locations in Downtown Dadeland, Coconut Grove and the Design District, Harry’s been recognized as one of the best pies in Miami. That’s not all, though. It was also named one of the top 25 pizzerias in the entire U.S.! Menus here change daily so you’ll never get bored, but you’ll find everything from the classic cheese or Margherita to a Rock Shrimp pizza at Harry’s. Part of the Genuine Hospitality Group and the Michael Schwartz restaurant family (Michael's Genuine, Amara at Paraiso, Fi'lia by Michael Schwartz and Ella), it's no wonder Harry offers up consistently good meals all the time.
Lucali originated in New York and you can tell from the minute you walk through the doors it’s extra special. The restaurant’s Sunset Harbor location is arguably the best place to find a New York slice outside of New York. The artichokes are a must-have here, too. Order a full pie for two, pair it with beer or wine and don’t forget that post-pizza Cappuccino. Possibly the richest thing on the menu (you haven’t lived until you’ve tried it!) is the Nutella Pie, a pizza topped with the hazelnut and chocolate spread, some ricotta, powdered sugar and garnished with mint leaves.
Pubbelly Sushi not only offers incredible Latin-American/Asian fare, but it is also the best place for sake cocktails! Known for serving inventive, fresh dishes in a casual, hip atmosphere, Pubbelly Sushi recently launched a new menu, including 15 new dishes. Anything with crispy rice is a winner here, but make sure to start with snacks including the Tostones (with hamachi ceviche and ginger soy) and the Rockshrimp Tempura.
A no-brainer is Lido Bayside Grille at the Standard, Miami Beach. This is a picturesque place to lounge with a cocktail in hand while staring out into the deep blue abyss. What’s nice here is that you can buy a day pass for the pool or spa or you can just hang around all day ordering off a dreamy Mediterranean-inspired menu. Happy hour is every Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Latin Cafe 2000
Miamians may already be familiar with Latin Cafe 2000, but this authentic restaurant has just opened its first Brickell/Downtown location, bringing the best of the best of Cuban food to the masses and to anyone who works or lives in the area. Traditional Cuban breakfasts are in order here as well as the typical menu (think Cuban sandwiches, steak or chicken dishes, etc.), but this outpost is also home to the neighborhood’s first coffee window, also known to Spanglish speakers as a ventanita. Latin Cafe 2000 is fun and affordable with a great happy hour to boot. Stop by every day from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for drink specials and a little Latin flavor.
For another top Latin restaurant, La Placita just opened up here in Miami. Another project by five-time James Beard nominee, Jose Mendin, La Placita us the hub of Puerto Rican cuisine and a place for people to meet up, drink good drinks, eat good food, have a good time and dance. With a ginormous Puerto Rican flag painted on the exterior of the building, you cannot miss it. And the best part about it is, it’s a hop and a skip away from South Beach. On 67th and Biscayne Boulevard, it's in a trendy, but not overdone part of town. We love that you can come here for mofongo or sandwiches (plus happy hour is 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily) and stay a while as long as you've got a drink in your hand and there's great music playing.