This kind of merger — harmonious and infinitely enchanting — is surprisingly scarce in Miami. After all, the food has a lot to live up to when a killer setting is its counterpart. But luckily, there are a handful of eateries perched on winding canals, bustling bays, and blue oceans that offer the whole package.
Just travel downtown to longstanding Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market, overlooking the Miami River, and enjoy freshly seared scallops and mahi-mahi fingers. Or catch sweeping oceanfront views while reveling in a good steak at South Pointe Park’s Smith & Wollensky.
There’s no better way to switch up lunch or dinner than dining al fresco with the Magic City’s glittering skyline and waterways as your backdrop. Below, in alphabetical order, are ten of the best restaurants to do precisely that.
Amara at Paraiso3101 NE Seventh Ave., Miami
James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz will be the first to tell you he has a special spot for his Edgewater establishment, a place he calls his "love letter to Miami." Sunsets offer a golden glow on the buildings across Biscayne Bay to the east. And the food is stellar, blending Latin American flavors and local ingredients for dishes that change weekly to highlight specialty offerings cooked on a wood grill and Josper charcoal oven.
Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market398 NW N. River Dr., Miami
For nearly half a century, the same family has been running Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market, overlooking the Miami River. Since its opening, the laidback restaurant just west of downtown has remained a hit with locals for the freshest of fresh seafood and a beautiful vista. Choose from a cornucopia of catches, from swordfish and grouper to yellowtail and shrimp. Pair your choice with relaxing views, and you have a taste of old Miami that's unparalleled.
La Mar by Gastón Acurio500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami
The Mandarin Oriental's signature waterfront restaurant offers a prime setting overlooking Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline. It's the perfect backdrop for the La Mar's signature ceviches, freshly grilled anticuchos, and specialty cocktails. Abetted by spacious indoor and outdoor seating along with three bars, each providing distinctive culinary experiences, the menu ranges from upscale Andean fare to Asian-Peruvian fusion and traditional ceviches.
Ocean Social4525 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
This newcomer to the Miami waterfront scene offers elevated coastal dining done in classic Miami style. Set within the iconic Eden Roc Hotel with unparalleled views of sea and sky, Ocean Social is the perfect place to enjoy an upscale dinner, a leisurely lunch by the sea, or a sunset aperitivo. The vibe is warm and inviting, the menu filled with approachable, feel-good dishes that highlight locally sourced ingredients. Wood-fired bites, colorful salads, well-crafted cocktails — dishes and drinks alike are fresh, ingredient-forward, satisfying, and designed to be shared among friends and family.
Petralunga7601 E. Treasure Dr., North Bay Village
This Italian establishment offers a quiet respite from tourists and crowds plus stunning views of Biscayne Bay, with the North Bay Marina and Miami Beach as a backdrop. Enjoy the chef's take on contemporary gourmet pizzas — there's even one topped with caviar — and Mediterranean fare that covers salads, fish, pasta, and meat.
Redfish by Chef Adrianne9610 Old Cutler Rd., Miami
Redfish in Matheson Hammock Park is known far and wide for its breathtaking location. This is where you come to celebrate those extra-special date nights, anniversaries, birthday milestones...and these days, simply getting out of the house. The waterfront property is no stranger to closures; it was shuttered by hurricane damage in 2017 but reopened under the vision of chef Adrianne Calvo, who transformed the space to suit dishes like ahi tuna sashimi with crisped shaved Brussels sprouts and pear, topped with ponzu aioli, soy, and truffle; and herb-stuffed branzino flavored with lemon and garlic.
Rusty Pelican3201 Rickenbacker Cswy., Key Biscayne
It’s hard not to be taken aback by Rusty Pelican’s beautiful vistas as you gaze out the clear bay windows or sit outdoors. The view is the draw, but there’s a dash of magic in the air at sunset when splashes of pastel pink, orange, and purple color the sky. Then again, the brunch menu is a must-try. Order day-boat scallops and eggs for a hearty serving of wild-caught seared scallops, large sunny-side-up eggs, hash browns, and bacon mimosa Brussels sprouts. Then walk it off along the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Seaspice422 NW N. River Dr., Miami
This chic white boathouse with wooden accents sits right on the Miami River, offering cool breezes that are as peaceful as you could imagine. But Seaspice’s staff knows how to turn up the party vibes — especially on Sundays. Raw selections, seafood plates, pizzas, pastas, and wood-fired casseroles fill the food menu, and there's an extensive cocktail menu to match.
Smith & Wollensky1 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
Situated at the southern tip of Miami Beach in South Pointe Park, Smith & Wollensky is the perfect place to soak in the sunset to the west and the views of Government Cut and the ocean to the south and east. People- and boat-watch over serious slabs of dry-aged steaks and impressive wines. After a glass or two, Fisher Island will seem closer than ever, and the $69 you spent on an 18-ounce New York strip will seem like pocket change. But soon you’ll see — as with everything else at Smith & Wollensky — it’s worth it. And you deserve it.
Tigre Miami620 NE 78th St., Miami
On the banks of the Little River canal — and surprisingly out of earshot of the honking traffic on Biscayne Boulevard and the 79th Street Causeway — this Argentine restaurant offers swordfish steaks, a 36-hour beef rib, and front-row seats to watch manatees and paddleboarders drift idly by. The intimate dining room is a three-dimensional Pinterest board of geometric tiles, whimsical wallpaper, wood paneling, and a curvilinear ceiling. Outside, everything is green: the tiles, the tables, the ferns spilling out of their pots, the bougainvillea that crawls up the trellis. Patrons lucky enough to snag canal-front tables get dinner and an aquatic show starring plummeting seabirds, leaping fish, and sun-kissed fishermen plying their dinghies.