By no means comprehensive, this highly opinionated list should give you a great starter menu for all you can sample in this cosmopolitan city.
Think Miami is just the South Beach see-and-be-seen culture of clubs and supermodels? You might be surprised to discover a sophisticated, under-the-radar beach town sandwiched between ritzy Bal Harbour and party central South Beach that is the perfect family or mellow beach getaway. Billing itself as Miami’s Uptown beach town, Surfside, Florida is an 8-block strip of businesses, many of them owned by former or current Northeastern refugees escaping the cold in this balmy slice of paradise. But Surfside also has the international feel of the rest of Miami, filled with Brits and Venezuelans, Portuguese and other expats who have made their escape to a neighborhood with beautifully maintained, sugar sand beaches and the kind of laid-back vibe you’d expect from a place where “too cold” (!) 70 degree days send locals scurrying indoors, surrendering the beaches to delighted tourists.
Downtown’s Meraki Greek Bistro
Tucked into an unexpected slice of Miami’s downtown, this transportive Greek restaurant makes you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a secret Greek island. Don’t miss the fried cheese, tzatziki and imported Greek wine and beer at this destination-worthy spot. An incredibly charming, authentic-meets-hip Greek bistro in Miami’s downtown, Meraki Greek Bistro serves up classics like Greek salad, lamb, tzatziki and some great Greek wine and beer, in one of the most beautifully atmospheric settings you’ll find.
La Centrale Food Hall
If you’re downtown in Miami, you owe it to yourself to check out the buzzing scene at this brand new Italian-themed 40,000 square foot La Centrale food hall. There’s a little bit of everything here, from Italian products to take home and takeaway sandwiches, sweets and coffee on the first floor Mercato level. There is a delightfully overwhelming variety of food choices on the second floor restaurants themed according to cuisine. There is the seafood-themed Pesce, where the buttery red snapper is not-to-be-missed, the meat-centric Carne, a vegetarian spot Stagionale and even a gelato spot by Venchi, an Italian institution. The third level is devoted to small bites and wine and an impressive, shoppable collection of wine.
The Surf Club
The Peacock Alley entryway of the Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club in the quiet, sophisticated town of Surfside typifies the vintage elegance of the original 1930 getaway for celebrities like Gary Cooper and Elizabeth Taylor. In 2017 The Surf Club was ushered into the 21st century with a stunning Richard Meier expansion, seen to the left of the entrance. Coming soon: a Thomas Keller restaurant that joins the classic Italian spot Le Sirenuse. Vintage splendor defines the welcoming hallway that greets guests of the Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club. Infused with warmth and glamor, the hallway features vintage black and white photos of the Surf Club in its heyday, including lavish parties created by a Hollywood set designer.
Champagne Bar at the Surf Club
The Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar is the perfect place to people watch in a stunning location. Tucked within the Surf Club’s circa 1930 former ballroom, this space retains an aura of glamor and elegance for a new age. Enjoy an offering from their extensive champagne menu or a craft cocktail served in handmade Venetian glassware. You’ll want to linger, so sample a menu of small bites and take in stunning interior design from Joseph Dirand, who has designed boutiques for Givenchy, Balmain and Balenciaga.
The annual Pulse Art Fair, Art Basel and a number of satellite fairs have made Miami one of the Southeast’s most important art cities. A focal point of the Wynwood Arts District (located south of the Design District), the Wynwood Walls feature amazing murals from some of the world’s best street artists. Even if you have a car full of children or non-art fans, you need to make a detour to this hip, eye-opening—and crowd-pleasing—district where you can also grab a meal. For art fans in it for the long haul, four museums and more than 50 art galleries are also part of this art-centric neighborhood.
Yardbird Southern Table and Bar
You don’t necessarily expect to find great Southern food in Miami, but this local iteration of a Southern empire helmed by the chef-phenomenon John Kunkel is worth a stop. Yardbird’s claim to fame—and the reason it’s become a trendy mainstay of the city’s hippest set—is its fried chicken, which is lovingly brined for 27-hours before being cooked to juicy perfection. Don’t ask what they do to make their spiced chilled watermelon so delicious, just get it. The addictive crispy chicken biscuits and deviled eggs are a compact, flavor-packed bite of the South to enjoy with your Bittersweet Symphony, a combination of Duke bourbon, green chartreuse and strawberry balsamic shrub that is one of the best cocktails I had in Miami.
Housed in an open, airy space with a stunning view of Miami’s distinctive mix of skyscrapers and water, Zuma Miami located on the Miami River, is a must-stop for sushi lovers. Service is sublime, with our server helpfully providing a small table hook to hang my bag and all detritus quickly whisked away between courses. The crowd is sophisticated and the space is gorgeous. Add in fresh, thoughtful, delicious food and this might be one of your most memorable foodie stops in the city.
The Robata Grill at Zuma Miami
Everything at Zuma Miami is like Miami itself, open, clean, bright and bountiful with the sensuous gifts of the sea. At lunch this chic, scene-y spot becomes like the long Friday midday meal at Galatoire’s in New Orleans, a decadent, luxurious, see-and-be-seen start to the weekend. A mix of business people, couples and large families fill the huge tables at this epic spot where the menu caters to all palates with sushi, sashimi, tempura and red meat options too from the open-flame robata grill.
St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
Even if you aren’t lucky enough to stay at the St. Regis Bal Harbour (and it’s recommended you do), you’ll want to pay a visit to sample the Remede spa, the wonderful Atlantikos restaurant or just people watch in the stunning lobby. And right across the street, is the equally unmissable high-end retail therapy of Bal Harbour Shops. Designed by Toronto-based high-end hospitality and retail design firm Yabu Pushelberg, the St. Regis Bal Harbour is a paean to Sixties-era luxury featuring meticulously manicured grounds with two pools, beach bikes and green space that make its outdoors as stunning as its indoors.
Food-forward Greek cuisine served in a room saturated in the seaside-evocative shades of white and blue that define that country make Atlantikos a required Miami restaurant bucket list item for lovers of seafood and healthy, innovative Mediterranean cuisine.
26 Sushi & Tapas
You can’t go to Miami without experiencing the local phenomenon of Kosher sushi. The ultimate mash-up of Japanese, Peruvian and Venezuelan offerings come together at this stylish sushi spot in Surfside where ceviche, Chilean sea bass dumplings, fish tacos and some very solid dessert offerings round out the fun, eclectic menu.
Josh’s Deli owner Josh Marcus serves up inspired combinations of Miami’s Japanese, Jewish, Cuban and other influences in food that combines comfort food decadence and fun in this “Jewish deli done wrong.” Marcus’s Jewban is a collision of a Cuban sandwich and the deli classic Reuben but if you get one dish at his Surfside destination, get the addictive Krunchy Tuna Latkes topped with a Sriracha-mayo sauce.