Best of Miami

The Ten Best Mall Restaurants in Miami

Only in Miami can you have a waterfront meal at the mall.
Only in Miami can you have a waterfront meal at the mall. Photo by Michael Pisari
You've finally secured your coveted holiday shopping payload. Your mission was a success, and now you're famished. But — gasp — you're at a mall! There's nothing to eat except the usual chain food. There has to be something better. And there is.

Miami-area malls and shopping centers offer a surfeit of good restaurants. From the megamalls out west to the upscale retail districts near the beach, here's a list of the best places to eat while you do your holiday shopping.
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Inside Cantina Catrina
Photo via Cantina Catrina

Cantina Catrina at Dadeland Mall

7535 N. Kendall Dr., Miami

If shopping leaves you feeling a little "dead", why not stop for a break at this Dia de los Muertos-themed restaurant inside Dadeland Mall? Cantina Catrina brings color to the mall with its whimsical display of Mexican Catrinas, the fancy-dressed skeleton that's a beloved satire of Mexican high society. Wind down with a margarita or two before chowing down on favorites like street tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas. Vegans and vegetarians will appreciate a selection of meatless tacos.
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La Cañita gives you a reason to explore Bayside Marketplace.
Photo courtesy of La Cañita

La Cañita at Bayside Marketplace

401 Biscayne Blvd., Second Floor, Miami

If you haven't been to Bayside Marketplace since you were a kid, you're letting the tourists have all the fun. Besides shopping, there are boat tours, live cheesy entertainment, and a restaurant by beloved chef Michelle Bernstein. La Cañita offers a menu that combines Caribbean and Latin American flavors with fare that includes everything from a whole snapper and lechon asado to Jamaican jerk chicken wings. Vegans will want to try the vegan picadillo made with mushrooms and farro.

Le Zoo at Bal Harbour Shops.
Photo by Ra-Haus Fotografie

Le Zoo at Bal Harbour Shops

9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour

Restaurateur Stephen Starr has brought a bit of Paris to Bal Harbour with Le Zoo. His French brasserie serves authentic bistro cuisine, including veal Milanese and escargots with Chartreuse-spiked hazelnut butter. Maybe you can't afford to buy that Chanel handbag, but you can splurge on a second glass of rosé.
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Makoto at Bal Harbour Shops
Photo courtesy of Makoto

Makoto at Bal Harbour Shops

9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour

Stephen Starr doubles down on real estate at the luxe Bal Harbour Shops with Makoto, where you'll find yourself immersed in a world of fresh sushi in gorgeous surroundings. This upscale restaurant also offers robata dishes and specialities like Japanese risotto ($24).
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Cuban-American chef/partner Alberto Cabrera offers something for every generation to enjoy at Marabú.
Photo courtesy of Vida & Estilo Restaurant Group

Marabú at Brickell City Centre

701 S. Miami Ave., Miami

Paying homage to Cuba's culture and heritage, Marabú boats a central bar serving Havana-inspired cocktails (try the Marabu mojito, made with guava), as well as an outdoor pergola, drawing inspiration from cities such as Camagüey and Viñales. Chef Alberto Cabrera offers Cuban favorites like croquetas, vaca frita, and charred octopus, but items cooked in a Josper charcoal oven are outstanding. Order half a rotisserie chicken ($22), a sharable lechón asado ($42), or try the tasado, a salt-cured short rib ($40), in which the beef literally melts in your mouth.
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Ornos Estiatorio
Photo by David Varley/Mina Group

Ornos Estiatorio at Aventura Mall

19565 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura
Michael Mina's fourth Miami-area restaurant is a stunning homage to the Mediterranean. The dining room is decorated in neutral colors with accents the color of the sea from which comes much of the restaurant's seafood. The menu offers a full raw bar and fresh fish, wheeled to your table and described in detail by the restaurant's own fish sommelier. Classic Greek dishes such as lemon chicken, tzatziki, and hummus round out the experience.

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The cakes. You came for Pani's cakes.
Photo courtesy of Pani

Pani at Aventura Mall

19501 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 940, Aventura

This whimsical bistro in Aventura Mall's outdoor restaurant area is the perfect break from shopping. The robin's-egg-blue restaurant is lit by giraffes holding crystal light fixtures in their mouths. The restaurant offers various ways to rewind from the terrors of bargain hunting — from a perfect espresso martini to afternoon tea service. A full menu offers salads, sandwiches, and more but Pani's cakes — displayed in a jewel case at the front of the dining room — are a must-have. These outrageous creations are served in supersized slices large enough to share. Try the piña colada mooncake with a pineapple and coconut cream cheese frosting and mango topping, or the kat flora, a traditional Argentinian sweet tart made with sweet potato paste, dulce de leche, cream cheese, and Kit Kat bars.
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Swan in the Design District.
Photo courtesy of Morelli Brothers

Swan in the Design District

90 NE 39th St., Miami

Technically not a mall, the Design District qualifies as a destination where the well-heeled shop for luxury goods. All of that Gucci and Dior can make a person hungry, and there's nothing like a midday meal for some much-needed fuel. David Grutman and Pharrell Williams' swanky restaurant, Swan, is the perfect spot to fuel up on a chicken cobb salad or blackened fish tacos. The restaurant also offers shareable pizzas and a short rib for two. If lunch without cocktails is unthinkable, try a lychee mule or the restaurant's signature libation, the "Swan," made with Santa Teresa rum, curaçao, lychee, chamomile, and lemon.
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Carnitas tacos at Tacology.
Photo courtesy of Tacology

Tacology at Brickell City Centre

701 S. Miami Ave., Miami

Next time you go out for tacos, it should be a place that uses fresh ingredients that taste great. Tacology is exactly that kind of place, combining the activity and authenticity of a Mexican market with the convenience of a lively stateside restaurant. Here you’ll find not only tuna and mushroom tacos on tortillas made from non-GMO corn but also grab-and-go breakfast in the morning and alcoholic beverages such as tequila and margaritas after work.
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Warding off scurvy at Texas de Brazil
Photo courtesy of Texas de Brazil

Texas de Brazil at Dolphin Mall

11401 NW 12th St., Miami

Texans have few rivals when it comes to their love for steak. Few, that is, if you leave out the entire population of Brazil. Instead of taking this rivalry to a duel, the two camps can coexist seamlessly at this Texas-Brazilian steakhouse. Carvers greet you at the table with grilled offerings of beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and Brazilian sausages before escorting you to the accompaniment area, where you'll find more than 50 appetizers, soups, and salads that represent both locales. Top off the experience with a signature Brazilian cocktail, the caipirinha.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss
Douglas Markowitz is a former music and arts editorial intern for Miami New Times. Born and raised in South Florida, he studied at Sophia University in Tokyo before earning a bachelor's in communications from University of North Florida. He writes freelance about music, art, film, and other subjects.