Yes, South Beach is filled with tourists wearing "I'm in Miami, Bitch" T-shirts. But that's only one side of the Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue fence.
The neighborhood boasts eateries that source fresh local seafood, offer the finest cuts of meat, and employ chefs who have won international accolades
The Bazaar by José Andrés1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
What's not to love about Spanish celebrity chef and dynamic personality José Andrés' gastronomic wonderland? Dinner at the Bazaar is like a trip down the culinary rabbit hole. Start with liquid nitrogen caipirinhas and work your way through unexpected dishes such as onion soup with foie gras cappuccino and the airbread Cubano, chock full of Swiss foam and topped with house-made pickles and Ibérico pork that literally explodes in your mouth. Try a bevy of fusion tapas that pay homage to the Caribbean, Asia, and the Americas while keeping a Miami taste and feel.
Joe's Stone Crab11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
For more than a century, people have flocked to Joe's Stone Crab for fresh seafood. Founded in 1913, the restaurant is older than the city of Miami Beach, which was incorporated two years later. Over the years, Joe's has become a multimillion-dollar business; it was named the second-highest-grossing independently owned restaurant in the United States by Restaurant Business. Though Joe's boasts a wide selection of fresh seafood and steaks and employs full-time fish and meat butchers to cut perfect pieces of flesh, it's the stone crabs that lure customers from around the globe. The claws, served with the restaurant's signature mustard sauce, are the reason multiple generations have celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, and just a Thursday evening at Joe's.
Macchialina820 Alton Rd., Miami Beach
They say the way to the heart is through the stomach, and in the case of Macchialina, that maxim couldn't be truer. Not only can you feel the love that business and life partners Jen Chaefsky and former Scarpetta chef de cuisine Michael Pirolo have put into the cozy and quaint space, but you can also taste it in every bite of Pirolo's house-made pastas and creamy polenta loaded with sausage ragu. On a good night, you might be offered à la minute risotto, making Macchialina the best Italian restaurant not only in South Beach but also in the entire city.
Planta South Beach850 Commerce St., Miami Beach
David Grutman of LIV fame is the man behind this plant-based paradise for celebrities, influencers, and Miami's sexiest so-and-so's. Cousin to Planta Toronto, the alluring, tropical-inspired restaurant serves vegan food that even carnivores will scarf down with glee. The menu is extensive and on the culinary cutting edge, offering impressively creative dishes such as ahi watermelon nigiri, melt-in-your-mouth cauliflower tots, an omnivore-inspired meat lover's pizza, and a savory burger.
Red the Steakhouse119 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
Red the Steakhouse's allure is its perfectly charred steaks, pristine seafood, and well-executed small plates such as truffle whipped potatoes, four-cheese macaroni and cheese, and Parmesan tater tots. The menu, created by executive chef Peter Vauthy, transcends season and trend through items that will never go out of style. Try the toothsome 40-day dry-aged rib eye, Miyazaki Japanese A5 Kobe, or giant Alaskan crab as big as a house — Vauthy handpicks the proteins with the same care jewelers select fine diamonds.
Stiltsville Fish Bar1787 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach
James Beard nominee Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth, both Top Chef alumni, serve fresh local seafood at their Sunset Harbour restaurant. About 115 pounds of seafood is delivered daily by fishermen from Key West, Key Largo, and Miami. Before opening for dinner, the restaurant prints "Daily Catch" cards, which list each fish, the preparation (baked, grilled, seared), and a few descriptors, such as "flaky," "sweet," "subtle," or "medium firm." McInnis' famed fried chicken also makes an appearance as a Stiltsville entrée. Brined for 24 hours with bay leaves, citrus, and a pinch of fennel, the bird is crunchy on the outside, moist in the center, and faintly tangy. It's worth a try despite the restaurant's seafood focus.
Stubborn Seed101 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford has worked with venerable chefs such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Los Angeles' Ludo Lefebvre. Now, in Miami Beach's tony South of Fifth neighborhood, Ford shines solo at Stubborn Seed. The interior design of his 70-seater is industrial chic, allowing the food to be the focal point. If you have time, opt for a five- or nine-course tasting menu with luxury embellishments that change seasonally.
Sweet Liberty237 20th St., Miami Beach
In 2016, restaurateur David Martinez, Blackbird Ordinary's Dan Binkiewicz, and world-class bartender John Lermayer opened a Miami Beach bar meant to be a hangout where locals could gather for proper cocktails and a killer menu by chef Michelle Bernstein. This neighborhood joint — adorned with a pink neon sign that urges patrons to "pursue happiness" — quickly became one of the most revered bars on the planet. Sweet Liberty has been named one of the World's 50 Best Bars and has won several Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. Even Lermayer's untimely death couldn't stop the plucky bar and restaurant from staying true to its mission to serve good drinks and good food in a lively and friendly atmosphere. After all, it's a rare place that combines a James Beard-winning chef's food and some of the best drinks in a convivial setting that's unpretentious and downright fun.
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Taquiza1351 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Steve Santana imports dried blue corn from small Mexican farms for his freshly made tortillas at Taquiza. He then fills them with slightly spicy, charred poblano strips called rajas or the tangy corn fungus known as huitlacoche. It's this precision that sets the standard for tacos in a region where the dish is booming. Wash your tacos down with one of Taquiza's bespoke margaritas. Choose your favorite tequila, then add fresh fruit and herbs for a custom cocktail. Try a strawberry basil or pineapple mint margarita — if Taquiza has the fruit and the herbs, they'll gladly turn them into a libation.
Time Out Market Miami1601 Drexel Ave., Miami Beach
Time Out Market Miami is foodie heaven. Packing 17 eateries, a demo cooking area, and three bars into 17,000 square feet, the media brand's first U.S. food hall offers some of the finest local chefs' food stands. The elite lineup includes Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford's take on Korean dishes, Michael Beltran's wood-burning-oven-cooked fare at Leña, Pho Mo from the people behind Phuc Yea, and Norman Van Aken's two new concepts — Beach Pie and K'West — the latter a homage to the chef's love affair with the Florida Keys. Leave room for Antonio Bachour's gorgeous pastries or a scoop of ice cream from Azucar.