Miami is very well known its bustling nightlife but if you scrape under the surface you will easily notice it is a vibrant city for foodies. Being so close to the Caribbean Islands and being always open to other cultures means that in Miami today it’s not hard to find good food and, most of all, food from many parts of the World.
Even if they are tempting as famous Miami destinations, Ocean Drive and South Beach for most things are just traps for tourists and it’s very hard to find places where the ratio of cost to quality is acceptable. Many people, in fact, decide to only visit this part of Miami and this means it feels like a funfair.
My recommendation is to visit South Beach and Ocean Drive and then move onto the Fifth district (SoFi), very close to Ocean Drive or choose Lincoln Road where the food choice is huge and the ratio price/quality can really be good if compared to the nearby Ocean Drive.
So, let me guide you to discover the Miami food scene browsing through different types of cuisine and where to eat the best of them.
Cuba is probably the best represented culture in Miami because the proximity between the 2 locations; the emigration from Cuba to Miami started in the Sixties and today there’s an entire area of Miami named after Cuba and called Little Havana.
Start with a coffee at El Pub Restaurant where you can also enjoy a Cuban empanada, move to the famous Old’s Havana Restaurant for a Cuban sandwich with ham, pork, mustard, pickles and bread and close your experience at Yisell Bakery for a pastelito de guayaba (pastry filled with guava fruit). If you still have room, then try the Mojito and experience the amazing atmosphere at the Ball and Chain.
I cannot recommend enough, if you’re a foodie, to book a tour with the guys at Miami Food Tours to discover the best of Cuban food in Little Havana: an almost 3 hours tours during which you’ll eat a lot and discover many things about the Cuban culture in Miami you probably didn’t know. And for the price you pay, it definitely pays you back.
Even if you can find Cuban food at every corner, if you’re in Key Biscaine pay a visit to Oasis Sandwich Shop, a no-frills restaurant where you can have empanadas, tacos and everything Cuban, original sugar cane juice included.
Italians began to move to Miami a few years ago, when the city was in some sort of recession so today finding an Italian restaurant in Miami is not hard at all and there are so many Italians sometimes you feel in Rome or Milan.
Try the Italian-inspired menu at The Local House, inside the trendy Sense Beach House hotel in the South of Fifth district and accompany your food with some of the best Italian wines. Try the Goat Cheese Croquettes and if you’re there for brunch make sure you order the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict.
Fratelli Milano, run by twin chefs Roberto & Emanuele Bearzi serves authentic and original Italian food in Downtown Miami: their burrata and their pasta filled with pear and taleggio cheese are to die for.
For a different experience, look for Il Fiorentino, a food truck specialized in Italian food you can find hanging around Miami everyday: check their Twitter feed and make sure you’re hungry!
South American food has its own space in Miami and there are plenty of places to sample this when in the City. CVI.CHE 105, in Downtown and South Beach, is one of the best and it’s all about Peruvian food serving an amazing ceviche and great causas (seasoned mashed potato terrines).
The Steak Brasil Churrascaria is nothing fancy to look at but its food is some of the best in Miami: it’s a traditional Rodízio, the Brasilian all-you-can-eat, with food offered at a fixed price. Picanha and Fraldinha are among the most popular types of meat.
See you later… alligator! You cannot leave Miami without having tasted the local specialty: the alligator meat from the Everglades. You don’t have to go anywhere fancy because this type of meat is considered food for the pub so my recommendations are Kush and Lokal, both offering bits and bites of alligator meat. Do not be surprised if you confused this meat with a strange chicken!
Apart from Little Havana and the Cuban bakeries, in Miami there are plenty of places where you can stop for a big piece of cake, an ice cream or anything sweet.
The Salty Donut is a gem in Wynwood where you can really tingle your palate with some amazing donuts: the selection changes every week but there’s also a fixed menu of donuts, always available. The guava and cheese donut is divine.
Fireman Derek’s World Famous Pies, despite the long name, offers a huge selection of American pies and choosing just one can be really hard: ask for the pie of the day, in case you get overwhelmed by the menu.
If you have a dietary restriction, then I suggest visiting Bunnie Cakes where you can buy vegan, vegetarian and also gluten free cupcakes, cookies, cakes and donuts.
Brunch is really “a thing” in Miami and it can be hard to find a good one. My recommendation is the brunch at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Every Sunday it’s possible to sit and enjoy a luscious brunch in one of the most celebrated locations in Miami.
You can also choose to stay at The Biltmore and have a swim at the longest swimming pool of the United States or simply have lunch or dinner in one of the many restaurants inside the propriety. If you just want to experience a bit of fanciness, then make sure you stop and see the architecture and the gardens of the Biltmore, a real example of what Miami is aside from South Beach.
I’m an Italian, but Dublin based, food and travel writer. I decided to start my food blog in 2010, when I moved to Ireland. Since then, I’ve been working with brands, companies, tourism boards and magazines producing content, strategies and taken part in cooking shows and events all over the world. Among them, Jamie Oliver, Barilla and many many more. I plan and write while my husband and business partner Giuseppe takes care of the pictures, both food and travel side.