Dining al fresco has never been cooler (or more fortuitously socially distanced). And the settings in Miami are as diverse as the city's culinary offerings, providing a bounty of jungle-themed garden patios, sprawling shady spots, and ocean breeze-swept terraces.
Below, in alphabetical order, is our list of the ten best spots to share a meal, sip a cocktail, and breathe in some fresh South Florida air.
Bakan2801 NW Second Ave., Miami
Take a trip to Mexico by way of Wynwood at 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 hanging baskets to transport you 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 for a Mexican getaway minus the plane ticket.
Cecconi's4385 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Tucked away in the chic digs of the Soho Beach House, Cecconi’s is the property's idyllic outdoor establishment with a courtyard setting. The tile floors, plant-draped trellises, and cozy bench seating add up to a whimsical space beneath the room’s rough-hewn wooden beams and lantern-style lights, making for a romantic destination whether you've come for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Glass & Vine2820 McFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove
There's not a bad seat inside — or outside — this restaurant, located in Coconut Grove's Peacock Park. Here, diners take refuge from the South Florida sun on the establishment's expansive outdoor patio, which takes offers plentiful shade beneath the canopy of trees that line the spacious and chic open-air bar and restaurant. Glass & Vine's contemporary American menu offers a variety of locally sourced options and classics executed with a South Florida twist.
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. 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 Gardens, transporting diners to a veritable playground in the heart of Coconut Grove.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro4312 NE Second Ave., Miami
Founded by husband and wife Ahmet Erkaya and Anastasia Koutsioukis, this lovingly restored 1940s home offers one of the most notable outdoor patio spaces in Miami. You enter through blue gates and pass blooming bougainvilleas before you're delivered into an immersive dining experience that transports you to the tavernas along the Aegean coast. Here, the culinary team interprets the traditional recipes and seasonality of Mediterranean coastal fare with dishes like maroulosalata, an extremely refreshing toss of thinly shredded romaine leaves, feta crumbs, scallions, and fresh dill in light white vinaigrette, or whole sea bass simply presented with lemon and olive oil.
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink130 NE 40th St., Miami
After 14 years of service in the Design District, Miami restaurateur Michael Schwartz recently debuted a refreshed take on Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. Along with a new look and larger kitchen, guests now have the choice of dining on an outdoor patio among lush greenery. Schwartz says it was important to keep the spirit of the original Michael's that people have known for nearly 15 years, translating to a new courtyard that creates a nearly seamless extension to the renovated interior dining area. It's the perfect space to enjoy a mix of the chef's old favorites like stracciatella, wood oven-roasted octopus, and pan-roasted poulet rouge, along with a selection of new dishes.
Peacock Garden2889 McFarlane Rd., Miami
This hidden gem in the heart of Coconut Grove exudes serious "secret garden" vibes. Make your way in and you’ll find yourself surrounded by lush, exotic flora that feels magical whether you’re dining during the day beneath the shade of trees, or after dark under a clear night sky. The menu offers a plethora of options, from a seafood raw bar and pasta to meats, salads, and a selection of daily specials. The cocktail menu, which emphasizes botanical infusions, is inspired by the flowers that grow in the garden.
Red Rooster920 NW Second Ave., Miami
It's a sultry night in Miami in the 1960s. Muhammad Ali and Aretha Franklin step out onto a dimly lit outdoor patio. Ali is wearing a light linen shirt and impeccably pressed pants. His shirt is unbuttoned halfway, and the sleeves are rolled up. Miss Aretha is wearing a dress that sparkles. It's a scene you can re-enact at Red Rooster in Overtown, which opened last year as an offshoot of Marcus Samuelsson's New York City-based Harlem establishment by the same name. The open courtyard offers al fresco dining around a mature tree that rises over the restaurant like a natural umbrella. Chef Tristen Epps prepares food that speaks to Caribbean, Southern, and African roots, with dishes like a fire-roasted Wagyu oxtail to share, and shrimp and grits.
Sunny's Steakhouse7357 NW Miami Ct., Miami
Sunny’s Steakhouse, brought to you by the team behind Jaguar Sun, has reopened at Lot 6 in Little River. Sunny’s serves a wide selection of steaks and seafood, all cooked over a live fire. The unique outdoor setting makes for an upscale experience that feels campfire-cool. Expect to find all your favorite dishes from Sunny's original menu, along with expanded seafood and raw bar selections and several new vegetarian options. There are also new cocktails and Sunny's signature assortment of ice-cold martini and manhattan variations, poured tableside.
Villa Azur309 23rd St., Miami Beach
Villa Azur's outdoor dining area is more like an outdoor dinner party thanks to its chic setup. A South of France-inspired culinary and entertainment destination, it boasts a magical open-air courtyard where patrons can dine under the stars in style. Plush couches and luxury lounges combine with white-tablecloth service to make you feel as if you've been transported to a terrace in the Mediterranean. The menu offers Mediterranean fare such as pan-seared sea bass, a whole roasted chicken, and spaghetti alla chitarra — not to mention splurge-worthy seafood towers, caviar, and king crab legs.