Happy Family Day weekend, everyone! I hope you enjoyed my last post with my recommendations for the best things to see and do in Miami. Of course, a travel guide for any city wouldn’t be complete without a list of the best places to eat, so as promised, here’s part two of my Miami guide! In no particular order, here are my favourite restaurants that we enjoyed in the Magic City:
La Mexicana Taco Bar – Ironically, the first spot on my list isn’t technically in Miami – rather in Wilton Manors, a city about 35 miles north of it – but it was the first stop on our trip. Flights to Miami typically fly into either Miami International Airport or Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the latter of which is anywhere from a half hour to hour-plus-long drive to Miami, depending on traffic. We flew into Fort Lauderdale and were hungry when we arrived. Not wanting to wait until we’d driven to Miami and checked into our hotel to eat, we headed to this Mexican restaurant that I’d pinned – it’s about 20 minutes north of Fort Lauderdale, but I promise the detour is worth it – it’s so much better than any of the chain restaurants surrounding the airport. La Mexicana is located in The Yard, a small enclave of Wilton Manors that’s home to various eateries, shops and studios. This artsy area is lined with murals and has a distinctly bohemian feel. La Mexicana is easy to spot with its vibrant patio, decorated in every colour of the rainbow. They offer crazy cheap food and drink specials, from $1 Margarita Mondays to $2 Taco Tuesdays (you’ll never find that in Canada!) I ordered a frozen pina colada – my favourite “slushy” cocktail – and the mushroom enchiladas, and Tania got the mushroom fajitas. Both were delicious (we shared!) and hit the spot after our flight.
Pura Vida – This health-conscious café has several locations throughout Miami, but we went to the one in the Design District. The décor is breezy and beachy: think white shiplap walls, shabby chic mirrors, oversized rattan pendants, blond wood furniture, and flowers everywhere. The patio is also very cute, with its pastel blue fringed umbrellas and Parisian bistro chairs. We each enjoyed a latte, and couldn’t decide between sweet or savory so we picked both, sharing a chocolate hazelnut croissant and two slices of avocado toast.
Cecconi’s – Located on the ground floor courtyard of Soho Beach House, this swanky Italian restaurant has a cozy and romantic vibe, thanks in no small part to the thousands of twinkle lights adorning the several trees around the patio. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: lighting is everything!) This is a very popular spot, so expect a wait. We stopped by around 8pm and the wait for tables was over an hour, so we opted to grab a seat at the bar instead, where we shared a pizza over a couple glasses of wine. Delizioso!
Cascade at The Biltmore – There’s nothing I love more than a ‘grand old hotel’ and the Biltmore certainly fits the bill! Situated just southwest of downtown Miami in Coral Gables, it was built in 1926 and is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. This medieval-inspired luxury resort (which is brilliantly, delightfully pink) has 271 rooms, an 18-hole golf course and an award-winning 12,000 square foot spa. Famous guests include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby. While a stay at the Biltmore was far out of our budget, lunch at their poolside restaurant, Cascade, is surprisingly affordable. We snagged a table right by the pool and indulged in a burger and a turkey club, with lots of French fries! The Biltmore has another restaurant, Fontana, which is renowned for their Italian food – we’ll have to check that out on our next trip!
Dreamer Miami – If you’re looking for a healthy start to your day – or a refreshing mid-afternoon treat – this cute café has you covered! They serve acai bowls, matcha lattes, smoothies, cold pressed juices, avocado toast and other health-conscious options. They have a few acai bowl options on the menu but I opted to build my own: I chose a blueberry base topped with more blueberries, shredded coconut and wildflower honey. It was almost too pretty to eat! Dreamer has two locations in Miami: one on 20th Street and one on Collins Avenue. We went to the 20th Street location and the décor was so beachy and cute! I especially loved the flamingo-print feature wall, rattan furniture and palm leaf throw pillows.
Little Hen – This popular brunch spot has to be one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in Miami. The interior is sleek and glamorous, with oversized floral print wallpaper, pink velvet chairs and gold statement lighting. But the patio is even prettier: with its fringed pink umbrellas, rose-covered trellises and hanging wisteria, it feels like a secret garden escape in the middle of the city. Tania got the traditional breakfast (eggs, toast, bacon and potatoes) and I of course had to try their signature menu item: rose petal pancakes, which are (naturally) pink and served with dried rose petals, powdered sugar and a side of rosewater-infused maple syrup. These tasted as good as they looked: the floral notes were the perfect complement to the sweetness of the pancakes.
Gianni’s at the Villa – This was a bucket-list restaurant for me! It’s located at Casa Casuarina – more famously known as the former Versace Mansion – which was the lavish Ocean Drive residence of Gianni Versace, who lived there from 1992 until his death in 1997. The estate is now a luxury boutique hotel and restaurant, and it’s arguably the most popular reservation on Ocean Drive, so my recommendation is to book as far ahead as possible (we booked over a month in advance!) The one thing that pleasantly surprised me about Gianni’s is that it’s relatively affordable compared to other restaurants in the area. Their lunch special is $34 and includes your choice of an appetizer, main and dessert. I had a Caesar salad and the spinach and ricotta ravioli, and Tania got the fried shrimp and roasted chicken with potatoes. We each finished our meal with a slice of carrot cake. The food was very good, but the star of the experience was, of course, the exquisite setting. The restaurant interior is beautiful with its ornately decorated dining rooms, but I recommend trying to get a seat on the patio if you can. The view of the sparkling blue pool on a sunny day is absolutely gorgeous. And just visiting such an iconic place is a pretty incredible experience on its own!
Monty’s Raw Bar – This waterfront tiki bar in Coconut Grove is a laidback and casual spot for a fun night out! Serving classic ‘beach bar’ vibes, the patio has oversized thatched umbrellas, picnic bench seating and a great view of the Coral Reef Yacht Club marina. Monty’s is famous for their happy hour: every weekday from 4-7pm, they serve $6 cocktails, $5 well drinks and $3 domestic beers. I took advantage of the happy hour special and got a frozen pina colada – my favourite – which was delicious! Monty’s is also famous for their raw bar, which serves oysters, stone crabs and peel-and-eat shrimp. I’m admittedly not a big seafood fan, but Tania and I shared some delicious calamari and chicken tenders. Monty’s hosts live bands every Monday to Thursday from 5-9pm, and DJs every weekend from 6pm until close. On the night we went, the band was keeping everyone entertained with reggae music – they were amazing!
Versailles – Located in Miami’s Little Havana neighbourhood, this iconic Cuban restaurant is one of the city’s most famous. According to their website: “Soon after it opened its doors in 1971, Versailles quickly became the gathering place and unofficial town square for Miami’s Cuban exiles. Today, it remains the unrelenting gauge of the community’s pulse.” The restaurant’s interior décor is delightfully retro, and I don’t think it’s changed at all since 1971. Its modest vinyl chairs and cafeteria-style tables pose an interesting juxtaposition to its drippy chandeliers and walls of ornately patterned mirrors (a nod to the Palace of Versailles’ famed hall of mirrors.) This was our last meal in Miami – we came for an early supper just before heading to the airport – and it gets my vote for the best meal we had on our trip. Not only that…it was also the cheapest! Our meal for two was under $30 and not only were we stuffed, but we even had leftovers to take for the plane. I had to get the classic Cuban sandwich – made with sweet ham, roast pork and swiss cheese – and it was perfect. Tania got a roast pork and onion sandwich, which she really enjoyed. We finished off our meal with tres leches cake: this traditional Latin American dessert is a sponge cake that’s soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk and whole milk (‘tres leches’ means ‘three milks’.) If you’ve never tried tres leches cake, you are seriously missing out: it’s honestly one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten, and Versailles makes a fabulous one. Just beside the restaurant is a bakery, so even if you don’t have time for a sit-down meal, you can swing by and get a slice of tres leches cake to go. Bonus: they’re open every night until 1am (2:30am on Fridays and Saturdays) so you can satisfy your late-night cravings!
As you can see from the list above, Miami’s culinary scene truly has something for everyone: whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner, an Insta-worthy brunch, beachside pub grub, or authentic Cuban cuisine.
And now I’m craving tres leches cake… the only downside of writing these food-centric posts is that they always make me hungry!
Next week, I’m excited to share my Palm Beach travel guides with you all. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great rest of their long weekend!
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