Though I currently reside in Connecticut, Miami will always be a place I call home. After 15 years in and around Coral Gables, this long-requested guide is well overdue! What follows is a short list of my favorite spots to eat, drink and be merry in the Magic City. Heading that way? Reach out! Let’s talk hotels, shopping and danceable dive bars. For now I’ll leave you with one more piece of advice: Make. Reservations. (A month in advance!) Because while I might have gone North, everyone else flew South!
My all time favorite: Mandolin Aegean Bistro
Mandolin serves fresh, simple Greek and Turkish food in a beautiful courtyard oasis. The setting is magical – full of lush greenery and natural light. Little touches like fresh flowers and up-cycled coffee cans make it feel like you’re dining in someone’s home. And that someone is an excellent cook.
I always start with the olives, cheese and spicy Turkish peppers. Other favorites: Grilled Prawns and Ali Nazik with savory ground lamb over smoked eggplant yogurt. Don’t miss the special salad, especially if it’s tomato season!
Image courtesy of With Love From Kat.
Best Italian: Macchialina
Good Italian food can be hard to come by in Miami, but Macchialina never disappoints. It’s a space in Miami Beach with just a few tables and bar seats. Snag the corner two-top and order the Broccolini al Cesare, Creamy Polenta with wild mushroom ragu and the Cavatelli Macchialina with baby meatballs, porchetta and pecorino.
Image courtesy of La Cucina Italiana.
Best Pizza: Lucali
Just look at this picture, and go. Leave time to hit the bar next door for great cocktails and music. It might even be karaoke night!
Image courtesy of Infatuation.
Best for Sunset: Lido
Oddly enough, waterfront dining is hard to find in Miami. Even tougher: a waterfront sunset, being on the East coast and all. Enter Lido Bayside Grill, tucked away at the back of the Standard Hotel. Westward facing and opening out onto Biscayne Bay, Lido is the perfect setting for twilight cocktails. Though it’s not my favorite for dinner, Lucali is just a few steps away…
A Local Classic: Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
After more than a decade in business, Michael’s has established itself as many a good thing— the go-to after-work watering hole, the perfect spot for an al fresco lunch and the local gold standard for a solid meal. Start with something from the raw bar, then move on to the Whole Roasted Local Snapper with green olive salsa verde and the Steak au Poivre (my personal favorite) with green peppercorns and a brandy reduction. Round it all out with seasonal sides— many from local farms and purveyors.
Image courtesy of Eater Miami.
Best in Wynwood: KYU
Self-described as “wood-fired, Asian inspired,” Kyu might make you think of Wagyu Beef Brisket or Pork Gyoza with smoked truffle ponzu, and you should get both. But don’t miss the Roasted Cauliflower (right) with goat cheese and shishito-herb vinaigrette or the Korean Fried Chicken. Bonus: the 90’s hip hop playlist makes everything taste better.
Image courtesy of Infatuation.
Best in Coconut Grove: Sapore di Mare
Coconut Grove is my favorite neighborhood in Miami. Mellow and bohemian, it’s the perfect place for a sidewalk stroll and some boutique shopping. But strolling and shopping often work up my appetite, and whenever I want to snack, Sapore di Mare is my first choice. The Antipasto di Terra (left) is bountiful enough to make a meal, but if you’re feeling hungry for more, choose from any of the house-made pastas.
Best in Coral Gables: Hillstone
Hillstone, Houston’s— call it what you want. You’ve probably stumbled upon one of these iconic chains somewhere before, and they’re consistently excellent. Favorites include the Caesar Salad (far better than any other Caesar salad, anywhere), the Cheeseburger (right) and anything from the sushi menu.
Image courtesy of Bon Appétit.
Best in SoMi: Mi’talia Kitchen
Three words: Big. Fat. Olives. This little snack (upper left) is the perfect opener— briny olives, salty feta and creamy gigande beans all bathed in olive oil and fresh herbs. Yes please! Continue with the whipped ricotta toast (lower left) and the farro & pumpkin salad for the perfect lunch.
Best in Brickell: River Oyster Bar
While Brickell can be a bit of a traffic nightmare, should you be lured in that direction for shopping at the City Centre, River Oyster Bar is the place to eat. They serve some of my favorite ceviche and I regularly crave their Linguine & Clams with smoked chilis and crispy pork belly.