Best of Miami

The Ten Best Mall Restaurants in Miami

Contessa offers northern Italian cuisine and an "emergency" Aperol spritz.
Contessa offers northern Italian cuisine and an "emergency" Aperol spritz. Major Food Group photo
It's that time of year: You've finally secured your holiday shopping list items. Your seasonal gift-giving mission can be considered a success — and now you're famished.

But if you're at the mall, don't fall for the usual fast-food-chain fare. There's something better.

In the past few years, Miami-area shopping centers have been amassing a surfeit of good restaurants, making it easier to fuel your errand running with hearty, wholesome dishes from some of the city's best chefs.

From the mega malls out west to the upscale retail districts by the beach, here's a list of the best places to eat while you do your holiday shopping.
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Hungry at the Falls? Your best bet is Bulla Gastrobar.
Bulla Gastrobar photo

Bulla Gastrobar at The Falls

8870 SW 136th St., Miami
If you overindulge by spending too much at the Falls, you might as well head to Bulla Gastrobar to indulge your appetite as well. This lively Spanish restaurant with several locations across South Florida is the best post-shopping pitstop, be it for brunch, dinner, happy hour — or even a dessert break. The sprawling menu offers something for everyone from tapas, platters, and seasonal dishes to creative cocktails, post-dinner digestivos, and an impressive wine list.
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A look inside Cantina Catrina at Dadeland Mall
Cantina Catrina photo

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.
La Cañita photo

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.
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Contessa is the perfect post-Design District pitstop.
Major Food Group photo

Contessa at Miami Design District

111 NE 41st St., Miami
If you've worked up an appetite after a few pricey purchases at the high-end stores that make up Miami Design District, Major Food Group has just the solution. The group recently opened Contessa as part of a two-story space in the famed development located at 111 NE 41st Street. Open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, the menu offers the old-world sophistication of Northern Italy’s iconic resorts and estates, making for an equally glamorous dining destination. Indulge in a carpaccio of Chianina beef, the most coveted Italian prosciutto, or tuck into a bowl of handmade tortellini en brodo. After a few glasses of wine from Contessa’s vast list, you'll forget all about how much you just spent shopping.
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Issabella's has a lovely bar.
Photo by the Louis Collection

Issabella's at Lincoln Road

1022 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach
After trekking the stretch of Lincoln Road, Miami Beach's beloved outdoor walking mall, you'll no doubt be famished. Make sure your shopping sojourn ends near Isabella's, where you can enjoy menu highlights that feature coastal-inspired fare from grilled Spanish octopus, tuna crudo, and langoustines a la plancha to decadent dishes like the yuzu truffle soy-marinated beef carpaccio or a charcuterie and cheese board for you and your fellow shopaholics to share.
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 delivered a touch of Paris to Bal Harbour when he opened Le Zoo. The French brasserie serves authentic bistro cuisine, everything from veal Milanese to escargots with Chartreuse-spiked hazelnut butter. Maybe you can't afford to buy that Chanel handbag, but you won't feel guilty splurging on a second glass of French rosé.
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Marabú's outdoor patio will spirit you to Cuba so you can forget about the money you spent in Miami.
Marabú photo

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 (like the Marabú mojito made with guava), as well as a beautiful pergola that channels the outdoor ambiance of cities like Camagüey and Viñales. Here, you can kick back and relax while supping on Cuban favorites like croquetas, vaca frita, and charred octopus for lunch or happy hour. Items cooked in a Josper charcoal oven are outstanding, from the half rotisserie chicken and sharable lechón asado to the tasado, a salt-cured short rib that 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 of the colors of the sea, making your trip to the Aventura Mall a secret escape to the Greek Isles. 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.
Pani photo

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 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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Dinner at Texas de Brazil
Texas de Brazil photo

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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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna
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

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