Although more than two centuries have passed since Miami’s oldest neighborhood was founded in the late 1800s and later annexed by the City of Miami in 1925, the eclectic, welcoming, and laid-back atmosphere has hardly disappeared from the lush, tree-lined streets of Coconut Grove. Thanks to its early influx of immigrants hailing from Britain, the Northeast, and the Bahamas, residents and visitors can still enjoy traces of the Grove’s unmistakable bohemian roots, in addition to its vibrant and modern flair sparked by changing times.
Coconut Grove also boasts a culinary scene as rich and diverse as its history. Umbrella-shaded corner eatery GreenStreet Cafe offers a scrumptious brunch that continues to lure throngs of people. College-kid-approved Lokal satisfies burger-and-beer-loving diners by serving creative and sustainable menu staples. The family-friendly Ariete doesn’t disappoint with its sophisticated approach to progressive American fare. Plus, restaurants such as Bombay Darbar, Le Bouchon, and Atchana successfully pay homage to the classic cuisine of each eatery's culinary roots.
From long-running standbys to buzz-worthy new spots, discover the best restaurants in Miami’s first neighborhood — the good ol’ Grove.
1. GreenStreet Cafe. Because brunching is an Olympic sport in Miami, head to GreenStreet, the restaurant that set the standard for what a proper brunch soiree should be. Open until 1 a.m. Sunday through Tuesday and 3 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, this beloved all-day dining institution serves sweet breakfast dishes such as coconut-crusted French toast ($9) and cinnamon roll pancakes ($9), as well as savory lunch and dinner items including a juicy lamburger ($17) and filet mignon ($29). An assortment of healthy leafy greens and a lineup of well-crafted cocktails round out the menu. Pro tip: Sit on the patio for optimal people-watching. 3468 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove; 305-444-0244; greenstreetcafe.net.
2. Ariete. Much has changed in Coconut Grove’s dining landscape in the past few years — and for the better. Led by Michael Beltran, former chef of the Cypress Room and Tuyo, and Jason Odio of Sidebar, Ariete brings a touch of natural elegance to the neighborhood with a menu that fuses Beltran’s Cuban roots with new American cuisine. The result are dishes such as foie gras ($26) served with sour orange, temptation caramel, cocoa nibs, and fried plantains, and pork chops ($29) that have been brined, smoked, and lightly charred for optimal taste and texture. From 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, Ariete’s popular happy hour welcomes guests to nibble options such as fritas and smoked salmon sliders, as well as imbibe cocktail floats and select beer and wine. And as with all things at Ariete, its weekend brunch — filled with drool-worthy sweet and savory items — is a hit. 3540 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove; 305-640-5862; arietemiami.com.
3. Bombay Darbar. If authenticity and comfort are what you seek in your Indian food, look no further than Bombay Darbar. Husband and wife owners Danny and Nan bring the diverse flavors of their native Mumbai, as well as other regions of India, showcasing the mastery of aromatic spices through dishes such as tandoori lamb chops ($21.95), chicken tikka masala ($16.95) shrimp malai curry ($17.95), mushroom makhani ($14.95), and other flavorful variations. Most dishes can be ordered mild, low-medium, medium, high-medium, hot, or super-hot, depending upon your tolerance for spice. Cool those tastebuds with a sweet glass of mango lassi ($3.45), and order gulab jamun ($3.95), fried milk powder balls soaked in rose scented syrup, for dessert. 2901 Florida Ave., Coconut Grove; 305-444-7272; bombaydarbar.com.
4. Lokal. Perhaps the buzziest dish at Lokal is the My Childhood Dream burger ($15). A four-ounce Florida grass-fed patty, American cheese, and a fried egg sandwiched between two halves of a seared glazed doughnut from the Salty Donut is worth the hype. But don’t sleep on other decadent options. The sustainability-conscious gastropub slings comfort-food favorites using locally sourced ingredients, including a burger made from 50 percent Florida ground beef and 50 percent Florida ground bacon ($15), fried Florida chicken and Belgian waffles ($15), local alligator ($13) from Clewiston, and the zestiest key lime pie ($8), made with Florida key limes, that’s not to be missed. Join regulars at this graffiti-covered hot spot with a Funky Buddha Floridian in one hand and your four-legged pooch in the other — they’re welcomed with freshly made doggie treats and a special canine menu. 3190 Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove; 305-442-3377; lokalmiami.com.
5. Glass & Vine. To fully experience the energy of the Grove, take a seat on the massive patio at Glass & Vine, a casual garden oasis overlooking Peacock Park with glimpses of Biscayne Bay in the distance. With lush greenery and kiddie play areas within walking distance, the 200-seat eatery by Chopped champion and Eating House chef Giorgio Rapicavoli has become a dining retreat for those looking for simple, ingredient-driven dishes in the area. The menu, inspired by Florida classics and Latin and European influences, is divided into four sections: Snacks, Garden, Sea, and Land. Whether you’re coming for a light snack of chilled-shrimp tostada ($14), made with slices of Zak the Baker bread, salsa verde, tomatillo, lime and cilantro; a heartier sharable dish of bison churrasco ($26); or a refreshing craft cocktail before a night out on the town, Glass & Vine fits the bill. 2820 McFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove; 305-200-5268; glassandvine.com.
6. Atchana’s Homegrown Thai. Thanks to the recent opening of Atchana Capellini’s namesake in Coconut Grove, Southeast Asian-food enthusiasts can now enjoy her honest approach to Thai cooking. Using herbs and spices sourced from local farms, Atchana serves a rich blend of simple and vibrant dishes reminiscent of Capellini's childhood in a welcoming atmosphere. Try the larb gai ($15), light and flavorful Isan-style minced chicken brightened with lime and fresh herbs. Find a selection of curries, soups, rice, and noodles, but the pad thai ($17) and crispy duck ($35) are not to be missed. Pair your meal with craft beer from local microbreweries and you’ll feel right at home. 3194 Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove; 305-774-0404; atchanas.com.
7. Strada in the Grove. Between the compelling flavors of traditional Italian cuisine and the warmth of the contemporary space, there’s something uniquely comfortable about this gem. Choose from the eatery's high-end collection of more than 100 wine selections, including boutique labels from every region of the world. Brunch, lunch, and dinner menus are almost as extensive as the wine list, with a series of breads, appetizers, cured meats, salads, pastas, seafood, and meat dishes to please every kind of Italian food craving. Simple yet complex, the spaghetti ($12.50), made with garlic, red pepper flakes, and aged-anchovy elixir, does not disappoint. Neither does the tiramisu ($7) for dessert. 3176 Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove; 305-444-1312; stradainthegrove.com.
8. Le Bouchon du Grove. Chef/owner Christian Ville honed his skills as the head of the kitchen in restaurants in England and France before making his way to Miami in 1998. His quaint, long-standing café enchants guests during breakfast, lunch, and dinner via signature French delights, seemingly endless wine selections, and a je ne sais quoi that Coconut Grove needs. Never-fail starters include onion soup ($8) topped with Swiss cheese, and escargots en persillade ($12.50), a timeless creation of snails in garlic and parsley-laced butter. Standout entrées include roasted snapper with ratatouille ($26.50), traditional French red wine beef stew ($28.50) made with veal cheeks and served over a nest of fettuccine, and steamed fresh mussels ($20.50) made with white wine and shallots and accompanied by crisp fries. 3430 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove; 305-448-6060; lebouchondugrove.com.
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9. 33 Kitchen. Shake up your palate at 33 Kitchen, a casual, industrial-themed eatery named for many reasons: the Grove’s zip code, the number of vertebrae in the human spine, and Jesus’ age at crucifixion are a few. It’s the brainchild of Chilean-born chef Sebastian Fernandez and his Peruvian wife, Leslie Ames, who serve tapas-style cold and hot dishes, each exploding with abundant flavor. Get transported to Lima through dishes such as the causa limena ($18), a signature Peruvian potato dish served cold with avocado, spicy ají amarillo cream, microgreens, and a choice of seared tuna or shrimp; and lomo saltado ($18), made with slices of premium beef tenderloin, red onions, and tomatoes and stir-fried in sweet soy. Though the warm French toast bread pudding — dense on the inside and perfectly charred on the outside — isn’t Peruvian in nature, it’s a decadent dessert worth trying to complete your 33 Kitchen experience. 3195 Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove; 786-899-0336; 33kitchen.com.
10. Palmeiras Beach Club. Two years ago, you’d be hard-pressed to find phenomenal Mediterranean-inspired food at the swank Grove Isle Hotel & Spa, but now Palmeiras Beach Club remains at the forefront, with a high-quality menu showcasing Spanish, French, Italian, and Greek influences. Inspired by the stylish waterfront restaurants in Saint-Tropez, chef Alfredo Alvarez’s expansive indoor and outdoor bayfront stunner allows guests to indulge in a pan-seared ten-ounce filet mignon ($42), fresh branzino ($28), homemade pastas, and brick-oven pizzas. There’s also a 20-seat chef’s-table private dining experience sponsored by Perrier-Jouët and a Patron Tequila lounge. Palmeiras Beach Club is truly a breath of fresh air. 4 Grove Isle Dr., Coconut Grove; 305-858-8300; palmeirasbeachclub.com.