From Cubanos to Stone Crabs: The Miami Food Scene is Shining Bright
- Kristen Evans
- 5 Min Read
In the Miami food scene, the American melting pot rules supreme. With immigrant communities from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Haiti, the Magic City is known for serving up mean croquetas, Cubanos, and frita late into the night. It’s the kind of food that sticks to your ribs after spending long weekends chasing neon lights and hot club beats.
While Miami is still party central, the city has also mellowed over the past ten years. According to the New York Times, the city is anchored by “a thriving cultural scene sustained by a robust community of visual artists, musicians, designers and chefs who…[transformed] Miami into a multifaceted destination with global appeal.” That’s good news for Miami catering customers. Why order plain boxed sandwiches when you can bring global flavor into the office and spice up yet another lunch meeting?
Here’s everything you need to know about the Miami food scene—and how it can arrive on your doorstep in no time flat.
Meet Me in Miami:
A Foodie’s Neighborhood Guide to the Magic City
Will Smith puns aside, the Miami food scene deserves savoring. What better way to learn what the city has to offer than to explore each neighborhood one dish at a time? Here are your can’t-miss spots for fine eats, healthy treats, and impeccable office lunches:
Downtown / Brickell
If you’re looking for classic Miami features—white walls, sandy pinks, and ocean blues—you’ll have better luck in neighborhoods like Coral Gables and Little Havana. But even amidst all the practical office buildings, Downtown has plenty to offer the Miami food scene. If you’re dying to see whether all the fuss about Peruvian food is hype-worthy, taste the rotisserie chicken at Pollos & Jarras. For an upscale version, head to La Mar in Brickell for shrimp ceviche with sweet potato, or cilantro rice with calamari and salsa criolla. In need of an interesting office lunch from the comfort of your high-rise? Opt for chicken souvlaki and pineapple salad from Meraki Bistro or Mediterranean wrap platters from Pine Mediterranean.
Edgewater / Wynwood
Make the most of waterfront views in ritzy Edgewater. Restaurants here charge a premium, and one of the best is Mignonette, which offers both oysters and duck meatballs on its menu—and that’s just for starters. Further inland, you’ll find edgy Wynwood, with its graffiti murals and skate park at Wynwood Walls. Try the neighborhood’s hip new eateries, like Beaker & Gray, with its chimichurri roasted cauliflower and tamarind chicken wings. The Miami food scene in Wynwood is bursting with new microbreweries, too. Try out the trend at J. Wakefield Brewing, which pours an IPA bursting with citrus and tropical fruit.
If it’s vistas of “Mediterranean architecture, tony boutiques, and tree-lined streets” you’re after, join the food critics from the Miami New Times in Coral Gables. That’s where you’ll find hot new spots in Miami’s food scene, like Bulla Gastrobar, which caters to hip millennials on the hunt for cocktails and a dizzying array of tapas. Test the waters of Miami’s southern-style home cooking at Root & Bone, or fill up on ramen at Ichimi.
In Coconut Grove, enjoy waterfront views without the huge price tag. According to Eater, this neighborhood has a “hippie vibes” and a “laid-back spirit” to match. Grab traditional biryani or lamb vindaloo at Bombay Darbar, or crispy fried rice and shrimp vermicelli at Atchana’s Homegrown Thai. While you can find plenty of new American dishes inflected with Latin flare in Coconut Grove, the neighborhood has embraced the city’s Italian trend with affordable stunners like Strada in the Grove, too.
Yes, you’ll find Cuban dishes aplenty in Little Havana. But this neighborhood has an eclectic feel all its own, and features some of the best Thai, tapas, and fusion in the Miami food scene. Grab a Cuban spring roll at Ball & Chain, or skip right to dessert at the much-beloved Azucar Ice Cream Company. When it comes to traditional Cuban fare, you’ll have to try both La Carreta and Versailles and decide for yourself which joint deserves the crown.
No longer just an extension of the Magic City’s all-night party scene, Miami Beach is home to some of this town’s best eateries. The Stubborn Seed, an upscale farm-to-table concept from chef Jeremy Ford, serves up short ribs with miso mustard butter and nairagi (striped marlin) with fermented chili and Asian pear. At Pura Vida, you’ll find açai bowls and herbed salads galore. Stiltsville Fish Bar has some of the best oysters—and the best Southern-style cooking—in the Miami food scene. Need to impress some investors? Order flavorful vegan fare from Full Bloom.
Staying on Trend in Miami
While you’ll feel the Latin American influence everywhere in the Miami food scene, there are other Hispanic flavors to explore, too. There’s tapas at Bullo Gastrobar and paella at El Ray de la Paella. Or go for old-school Mediterranean, like chicken, eggplant, and tabbouleh from Mazza Mediterranean Cuisine.
The Miami food scene is known for its stellar seafood, from the stone crab legs at CJ’s Crab Shack to the ceviche at Cvi.che 105. But sushi is finally taking this city by storm. Blue Ribbon Sushi offers both sashimi and cooked dishes, like fried chicken and oxtail. Spots like YuGo Sushi Burritos and Poke make sushi affordable for the office, too.
It’s hard to say where the fascination with trendy Peruvian fare originated. But Miami has a few contenders in its eclectic food scene. There’s the Cilantro 27 food truck, for starters, which dishes out traditional ceviche and chorizo empanadas. For a more upscale feel, head to La Mar in Brickell.
Maybe it’s because Miami is synonymous with sun, surf, and sand, but it comes as no surprise that the Magic City has hopped on board national clean-eating trends. Check out La Esquina del Lechon in Miami Springs for housemade breads, sauces, and fine cuts of pork, or Chevys Fresh Mex in Doral, for easy-to-order mango chicken and carne asada.
With summer temps that regularly crack the upper ‘80s, the Miami food scene needs plenty of frozen treats to stay cool. Ice cream parlors like Azucar Ice Cream Company and Cocowhip deliver the goods. If your stomach can’t handle lactose, Cocowhip features coconut water-based frozen treats.
Pizza & Craft Beer
It may not be New York or Chicago, but the Miami food scene has a surprising number of pizzerias. Head to Mario the Baker in Downtown Miami for classic pies, or Di Papa’s Italian Restaurant for a taste of New York. The craft beer craze is finally hitting South Florida, too. You can find breweries with interesting drafts on tap, like Abbey Brewing Co. in Miami Beach, or Boxelder Craft Beer Market in Wynwood.
Claim to Fame: Dishes Unique to the Miami Food Scene
Don’t leave Miami without trying the stone crab legs at Joe’s Stone Crab. While there’s plenty to savor in the Miami food scene, few restaurants—or dishes—are more iconic.
If you haven’t tasted a Cubano in Miami, you’re missing out. This classic Cuban sandwich—ham, roasted pork, gooey Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles—is served to perfection at local favorites like Versailles.
This much-beloved appetizer is usually stuffed with ham and bechamel, rolled in breadcrumbs, and fried to crispy, golden perfection. Sample the dish at Islas Canarias to taste traditional Miami at its most delicious.
This traditional Venezuelan dish has migrated throughout the U.S., but in Miami, you’ll find cornmeal patties stuffed with everything from sausage to chicken and avocados. Head to Bocas Grill in Miami Springs for some of the city’s best.
The frita is a Cuban take on the hamburger, and it’s a staple in the Miami food scene. Seasoned beef, juicy pork, shoestring potatoes, and onions jockey for position on a Cuban bun. Order one from El Mago de las Fritas the next time your appetite is supercharged.
Key Lime Pie
What better time to eat key lime pie than when you’re within spitting distance of the Florida Keys, where the limes that give this dessert its signature flavor grow? Order a slice from Joe’s Stone Crab—if you still have room after all that delicious seafood.
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