Alfresco dining during the summer in Miami is corporal punishment. With soaring temperatures and humidity, eating a thick steak or a hearty bowl of pasta becomes torture instead of pleasure.
Not only do these restaurants boast cold A/C, but also their indoor atmosphere is as impressive as the outdoor landscape. So whether they're dazzling vistas from Sunny Isles Beach or breathtaking views off Key Biscayne, skip the sweat and indulge at one of Miami's coolest waterfront restaurants.
Baleen Kitchen at Solé Miami17315 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach
Nestled inside the understated Solé Hotel, Baleen Kitchen overlooks the ocean in Sunny Isles Beach. Enjoy the sounds of the sea alongside a tropical brunch or a sophisticated dinner in a posh dining room that offers changing vistas depending upon the time of day. The restaurant specializes in seafood dishes such as lobster sliders ($17), mahi-mahi tacos ($18), and Caribbean conch chowder ($12).
Cantina La Veinte495 Brickell Ave., Miami
Catch views of South Florida's cotton-candy skies at Cantina La Viente. The chic eatery along the bay serves Mexican cuisine and spicy margaritas in Brickell. Grab a cool drink and enjoy a choice of make-your-own tacos such as pork confit with cilantro, serrano chilies, and chopped onions; queso fundido; sautéed octopus in a lime-cilantro-serrano sauce; and braised pork.
Kiki on the River450 NW North River Dr., Miami
The swanky Greek restaurant with blue and gold accents sits pretty along the Miami River. Find a table around sunset on Kiki's charming patio to enjoy the ever-changing pink sky. The view — along with the rustic furnishings, whitewashed walls, and lush greenery — is enchanting. Nosh on a selection from the handsome raw bar or opt for a classic Mediterranean dish such as chicken souvlaki ($16).
Rusty Pelican3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne
The Rusty Pelican has been serving looks for decades. The iconic destination is effortlessly romantic against the vibrant backdrop of the sparkling Miami South Channel, and every seat offers water views. The Pelican boasts extravagant caviar-and-champagne pairings and a lavish weekend brunch, but the best value is the weekday happy hour. Every Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., the lounge offers arguably the most striking view in South Florida with some of the top deals: $6 beers, $6 glasses of house wine, and $7 well drinks such as martinis, mojitos, and margaritas. Small bites such as corvina ceviche ($8) and serrano ham croquettes ($10) are musts.
Zuma270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami
Large glass windows offer optimal water views from Zuma. The posh sushi spot inside the Epic Hotel in downtown Miami serves refined plates such as the pirikara hamachi maki — a spicy yellowtail roll with serrano pepper and wasabi mayo — along with large sake selection. But the best time to go is during the restaurant's Saturday and Sunday brunch, which for $95 per person offers tables upon tables of sushi, sashimi, oysters, baby-back ribs, chilled soba noodles, and desserts. Also enjoy unlimited umami marys, champagne, and lychee martinis — all with a spectacular view of the Miami River and beyond.