As a born-and-bred Miamian who has recently returned to this beautiful, beachy homeland, I’m never at a loss for fun things to do in Miami because I’m always enjoying the amazing food scene. I have always loved the food culture here, with large gatherings revolving around the collective experience of a meal. I remember growing up and ordering five different meat dishes to share so everyone could taste everything. Today, food is still the focal point, but it has expanded to include not only the social experience but a unique cultural experience as well. Miami is a city rich with a distinct mix of cultures, marrying Caribbean and South American vibes. A perfectly charred Argentine choripàn; a golden, flaky Jamaican patty; or a compact, delicious Colombian pandebono—Miami has it all. Where else could I have a 24-hour Cuban bakery with unlimited supplies of papas rellenas, flan, and cortados? I’ve concocted your food-centric Miami travel guide with a tasty list of restaurants that will tour you through the city like a local. Be sure to indulge and enjoy. Happy eating!
2751 N Miami Avenue
The famed arts district of Miami, known as Wynwood, holds a myriad of tasty treats, but SuViche is one of the most popular Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurants in the city. You can choose from a list of ceviche and pair it with a freshly made sushi roll. While I am a fan of the Natural Ceviche, I recommend the iconic SuViche Ceviche that blends the traditional Peruvian flavors with Japanese spices. That, paired with the spicy tuna roll, will change how your taste buds understand flavor. Snagging a seat outside allows you to enjoy the Miami heat from the comfort of large swings and see some of the street art that Wynwood is famous for. While there are other locations, I recommend this SuViche spot for dinner because it’s right down the block from the Wynwood Yard and a 10-minute walk from the main focus of 2nd Avenue’s bars and galleries. It’s the perfect start to a relaxed night out.
1220 16th Street
In the infamous South Beach lies one of my favorite speakeasies. Picnic tables line the outside of the taqueria, with a full menu of tacos and more, where you’ll find an out-of-place porta-potty covered in graffiti inside the restaurant. Walk through the blue porta-potty door and you’ll find yourself in a dance-bar. Grab a custom cocktail and dance and prance to killer live music or a fun, hyped local DJ. Luckily, when fatigue kicks in, you can wander back through the rabbit hole to find a plethora of Mexican food awaiting you. Elote corn is the only way to begin the order. Steak chimichurri and pescado tacos should shortly follow. Truly one of the best taquerias in the city, the food and atmosphere will have you buzzing with happiness. Both locals and tourists agree that Bodega has the perfect sustenance to revive you on a night out in the beach.
3555 SW 8th Street
Opened in 1971, Versailles is one of the most important landmarks in the history of Miami’s Cuban exile community. Serving traditional Cuban food, the restaurant stands as a beacon to immigrants as an unofficial meeting point, like when congregations formed in the street the weekend that Fidel Castro died. When the “wet foot, dry foot” policy—which stated that anyone who fled Cuba and made it to US soil would be able to apply for residency a year later—was repealed, news stations flocked to the parking lot to report on the repercussions. Whenever I take out-of-towners, I order as many plates as there are people so we can sample everything. Try a medianoche or croqueta preparada for sandwiches, ropa vieja and picadillo for entrée choices, croquetas de jamón for snacks, and tres leches or pastelitos de guayaba y queso (guava and cheese) for dessert. If you’re in a hurry, you can order cortaditos and pastelitos to go through the bakery window. Don’t forget to wash down the sweetness with a cafecito—it’ll give a much-needed kick start to your heart and day.
104000 Overseas Highway
Start off a relaxed Florida Keys experience with a stunning view of the water at Big Chill. Perched on the water, Big Chill serves fresh, locally caught fish along with specialties like white truffle lobster mac and cheese, conch fritters, and fish tacos. Stuffing yourself until you’ll surely sink straight to the bottom of the ocean is the only way to dine here. Sitting back with a piña colada or mango mojito while you look across the ocean will make you feel like you’re sunbathing on a cruise deck.
1731 SW 8th Street
While Miami is not necessarily known for its Asian restaurants, Lung Yai is a godsend for a former New Yorker. After going to school in Manhattan, I sometimes go into withdrawal for Asian food while in Miami. Lung Yai helps fill that void. Located in the predominantly Latinx Little Havana, Lung Yai serves Thai tapas at its L-shaped counter during lunch, only adding outdoor patio seating for dinner. Lung Yai doesn’t take reservations, so there’s always a line around the front of the building. There’s only one chance to order and a common courtesy to eat, pay, and relinquish your seat to the next hopeful, hungry customer. I highly recommend the steamed shrimp dumplings, beef noodle soup, tom kha soup, and green curry.
749 NE 79th Street
A bit farther north in the upper east side of Miami, also known as Little Haiti, sits this Valhalla of Middle Eastern fusion known as Mina’s Mediterraneo—the first of its kind in the area. While its brunch has already been named one of the best in the city, the dips and small plates during dinner should also be awarded a medal. The kebab plate is one of my favorite dishes. With lamb and beef skewered over rice, salad, and tzatziki sauce, one bite transports me back to seaside Aegina in Greece. The patio also holds a large number for several garden concerts throughout the year. Even though it is a bit of a trek out of central Miami, Mina’s is well worth every mile traveled.