When most people think of places to dine in South Beach, their first thoughts are usually of glitzy special-occasion spots where the ambiance evokes a sexy feeling akin to that of a nightclub, the prices are sky-high, and reservations are hard to come by. But over the past few years, the little neighborhood of Sunset Harbour has become a flourishing scene for foodies, fashionistas, and fitness fanatics.
Locals and tourists alike flock to this bayside alcove to enjoy all it has to offer — from spinning classes, yoga studios, and fancy gyms to designer consignment shops, beautifully curated boutiques, and juice bars. What was once home to a small marina and residential area is now a buzzing hot spot for some of Miami's most talented chefs. While mainstays such as Pubbelly and Sardinia opened nearly ten or more years ago to lead the way, over a dozen eateries have come onto the scene to make it an ideal destination day or night, no matter the occasion, with a more laid-back, casual feel than the rest of South Beach. Here are just a few of the many options to try in Sunset Harbour right now.
Delicious Raw1828 Bay Rd., Miami Beach
A newcomer to the scene, Delicious Raw in Sunset Harbour is the sixth location for this Florida-based concept. Don't be deterred by the name, though — not everything here is served completely raw. The name, rather, is intended to evoke a healthy-living mindset in creating tasty options that are made from scratch onsite using fresh, unprocessed, plant-based ingredients. More than just a juice bar, Delicious Raw also offers smoothies, superfood bowls, and satiating entrées available all day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nearly everything on the menu is vegan, such as the righteous waffle ($10), with whole grains, house-made vanilla almond milk, cinnamon, and a choice of blueberry-lemon compote topping, fresh mint strawberry preserves, or vegan pure maple butter. Vegetarians can enjoy the lentil meatballs ($14), served in a tomato-basil sauce with herbed ricotta and crostini, or crispy eggplant croquettes ($14) with a citrus salad off the summer menu.
Icebox Cafe1855 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach
Known for its award-winning desserts that have been blessed by Oprah herself, Icebox Cafe is kryptonite for any sweet tooth. However, the offerings at this stylish spot go beyond the pastry counter. Popular brunch dishes include guava-filled French toast ($15) and latke and eggs ($16). The lunch and dinner menu includes kale and quinoa fritters ($13); a vegan bowl with vegetables, lentils, and curry sauce ($18); ropa vieja lettuce wraps ($15); and enough salads and entrées to appease a wide variety of palates. Plus, this might be the only eatery in South Beach serving pigs in a blanket ($5) to make you feel like a kid again. Don't miss the restaurant's three-course, $35 dinner special, Summer Lovin', which also includes select wines by the bottle at half off, until the end of September.
NaiYaRa1854 Bay Rd., Miami Beach
Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, known to regulars as Chef Bee, incorporates his Thai roots with his sushi chef background at top spots such as Nobu to offer the best of both at his NaiYaRa. The award-winning Chef Bee offers traditional Thai items such as lemongrass soup ($10), pad thai ($18), and various curry dishes, as well as sparkling-fresh sushi and sashimi. If you're looking to splurge, among the signature nigiri by the piece is the $27 "U" toro, packing o'toro (bluefin tuna belly), uni (sea urchin), caviar, black truffle, and gold flakes into one decadent bite. In addition, the cocktail menu offers a refreshing list of options to pair with the cuisine.
Stiltsville Fish Bar1787 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach
Named for the wooden stilt houses just off the coast, this Florida-inspired restaurant has seemlessly nestled into the relaxed Sunset Harbour vibe. Helmed by culinary husband and wife Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth, Stiltsville specializes in fresh, local seafood with Florida-inspired ingredients and preparations. The impressive daily-catch display presents the fish on ice in a giant white clawfoot tub, displayed at the entrance for all to see. The menu offers a variety of raw bar offerings, small plates, salads, and large plates to make any pescatarian salivate. Meat offerings include a surf 'n' turf burger ($36) topped with butter-poached lobster. The Big Fish to Share (MP), when ordered crisp, arrives as a whole fried yellowtail snapper curled around accompaniments of key lime aioli and cilantro basil sauce. Weekend brunch, with a bloody mary station and specials on bottles of rosé and champagne, is also a big draw.
Sunny Poke1784 West Ave., Miami Beach
Sunny Oh, who is also the chef/partner of Juvia and Sushi Garage of the same restaurant group, offers fresh, wholesome ingredients for neighborhood locals. The fast-casual spot is perfect for strolling in with wet swim trunks and flip-flops, and the menu isn't overwhelming. Signature bowls include salmon avocado, classic tuna, spicy tuna, spicy noodle tuna, and spicy crab, or you can build your own. Bowls range in price from $14 to $17.