I do tend to be some dubious when it comes to restaurants and food in Miami and South Florida in general and I’ll defend that at least from the perspective that most restaurants are either just bad, or the restaurants that might be contenders for good, or even great, typically screw it up by having at least one, if not a combination of really bad service, astronomical prices, questionable quality, hideous décor, the list of potential faux pas is endless. To be fair, that can be said about so many other cities and restaurants, but Miami always has a way of making its failures that much more pronounced and spectacular.
All that said, especially in the past few years, the food scene has been getting better. It may have something to do with the greater influx of New Yorkers who are passing by Palm Beach and hitting up the younger hipper Miami area, or it could also be that the younger crowd who are moving in to, or back to the city are a little more entrepreneurial and really trying to make a difference. Either way, the food scene is improving, if you know where to go.
There are some many better websites than ours for finding restaurants, but sometimes they suffer from having too much information. Having lived on and off in South Florida for some 20 odd years, we feel confident to give opinions based on our personal favorites. Obviously, on an ongoing basis your best bet is to simply search through our restaurant tags, but for a couple quick suggestions we’ve put together a simple:
The best restaurants in Miami have more or less moved off of the beach, you can still get an OK meal on South Beach but they are really gunning for the tourist dollar, locals know that if you want to see what is happening on the culinary scene, you need to head in to downtown somewhere. Wynwood might be a little too hipster-ish but that doesn’t mean they don’t have good food. The Design District is over priced and was much better a few years ago, now there’s maybe only one or two places worth going to.
The Upper East Side, which is roughly from the 60’s to the 80’s on Biscayne is taking over from the old beach spots. A lot of the restauranteurs who got priced out of South Beach are now opening up smaller, cozier more friendly places that are kind to the wallet and sit well in the tummy.
Generally speaking if you are craving meat, which oddly enough I am a big steak fan, there’s always Smith and Wollensky on the beach, but you also need to find any of the amazing Argentinian or Uruguayan grills that are still around town.
Update: I recently started back up with a new Yelp profile For Circa The Beaches exclusively (my old one from years ago is long lost). I am going to try very hard to maintain only reviews of area places that I’ve been to and that I think are worth reviewing.