There's no denying the coronavirus pandemic has hit Miami's foodservice industry hard. And while the closures and restrictions imposed on Miami restaurants hamper dining out with friends, that doesn't mean the city's residents (and about 45 percent of Americans) aren't eager and willing to frequent socially distanced seating at restaurants — particularly those with outdoor seating.
Even in Florida's notorious summer heat, dining al fresco has never been cooler (or more socially distanced). From sweeping rooftop views to jungle-themed patios and terraces, here are the best spots to safely share a meal, sip a cocktail, and still remain at least six feet away from your fellow patrons.
Astra2121 NW Second Ave., Miami
Are you in some far off Mediterranean city, or...Wynwood? The owners of Astra will bet you won't know the difference thanks to their garden-themed patio terrace decked out with a Mykonos vibe. Here you can groove to the DJs while noshing on an ocean-inspired menu that highlights dishes like grilled octopus carpaccio, ceviche, and seafood risotto while sipping signature cocktails and boozy Greek specialties like mastika and ouzo. Sure, it would be great to get away to Greece, but Astra's 10,000-square-foot space complete with lushly planted walls, AstroTurf flooring, and wood-thatched seating area illuminated by whimsical wicker lamps do a pretty good job.
Bakan2801 NW Second Ave., Miami
Take a trip to Mexico by way of Wynwood every time you visit Bakan. Here, a resort-style ambiance has elevated the typical outdoor dining experience. The restaurant's cacti-lined outdoor bar and terrace have been artfully decorated with inverted wood-pyramid canopies and illuminated brown and green hanging basket to transport you straight to the streets of Tulum. By day, the shaded area provides an open-air experience, while soft lighting makes for a dreamy escape by night. Sit back and sip a variety of colorful cocktails and equally vibrant fare — say, the Tulum Vive (made with mezcal, triple sec, lime juice, and house-made cucumber syrup) and the Vuelve a la Vida ( a blend of shrimp, calamari, octopus, scallops, avocado, guajillo and ancho chile, and avocado doused in a citrusy blend of lemon and orange).
Jaguar3067 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove
Jaguar's terrace, better known as the "outdoor habitat," is quickly becoming the perfect spot for lunch, an after-work happy hour, romantic date night, ladies' night, dinner, or Sunday brunch. The restaurant's chef, Oscar del Rivero, has revamped the space into a mini-jungle so guests can soak up the views along with a cocktail or three. The entire outdoor patio has been decorated with dozens of flowering plants from nearby Kreative Garden, transporting diners to a veritable Jaguar habitat in the heart of Coconut Grove. The "Hora Jaguar" happy hour is offered Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., when you can pair the menu's Latin American-inspired cuisine with $4 beers, and $5 glasses of wine as well as a wide selection of small bites for $5 apiece. If you’re feeling extra thirsty, full pitchers of sangria are half-price during happy hour at $30 each, or $17 for a half-pitcher.
La Mar by Gastón Acurio500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami
The Mandarin Oriental's signature waterfront restaurant drips outdoor atmosphere with its prime setting overlooking Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline. It's the perfect backdrop for the restaurant's signature ceviches, freshly grilled anticuchos, and specialty cocktails. Offering a mix of spacious indoor and outdoor seating along with three bars, each providing distinctive culinary experiences, the menu ranges from upscale novo-Andean fare to Asian-Peruvian fusion and traditional seafood ceviche. What more could your socially distanced heart desire?
Macchialina820 Alton Rd., Miami Beach
For anyone who has visited, Macchialina is that intimate, dimly lit Italian spot on Alton Road that’s just about always packed. This is why the restaurant recently reopened with a new outdoor dining room to make way for plenty of very-well-spaced socially distant noshing. The new experience is thanks to a covered outdoor patio the owners have affectionately dubbed il giardino, or "the garden."
Monty's Raw Bar2550 S. Bayshore Dr., Coconut Grove
Since 1969, Monty's Raw Bar's iconic location hasn't just served up the food and the views — it has also served as the backdrop for TV series, music videos, and movies, including Miami Vice, Burn Notice, and Marley & Me. These days, the waterfront-tiki-hut setting allows you to forget about life for a while as you soak up the bay air and enjoy a meal with friends and family. Since reopening in June, the restaurant has rearranged its outdoor deck to allow for safe distancing. Visitors can also avail themselves of Monty's new high-top tables equipped with umbrellas, which extend onto the boardwalk. That makes now the perfect time to indulge in Monty's infamous Pain Remover cocktail; a pitcher sells for $45 and pours up to a dozen drinks (depending on the strength you order).
Phuc Yea7100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
No one can turn down an evening on Phuc Yea's eclectic front porch patio. The lantern-lit dining area allows everyone to dine out with a view, and the lush foliage pairs nicely with the menu's Vietnamese-Cajun-style cuisine created by chef Cesar Zapata and co-owner Aniece Meinhold. Enjoy weekly specials like $1 oysters (served daily from 5 to 7 p.m. and all day Sunday); Pho Wednesday, when $25 nets you a three-course menu; and a new fried-chicken special every Thursday. (Promotions are for dine-in only.)