Lists

The Best Waterfront Restaurants in Miami


No marriage is perfect, but there’s always an exception. Take, for example, the flawless union of stunning waterfront views and stellar meals. 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 the cajun-marinated rib eye at South Pointe Park’s Smith & Wollensky.

There’s no better way to switch up lunch or dinner than dining alfresco with the Magic City’s glittering skyline and waterways as your backdrop. Below are ten of the best restaurants to do exactly that.

Grove Bay Grill

3381 Pan American Dr., Coconut Grove
786-866-9854
facebook.com/grovebaygrill

Yes, we miss the beloved Scotty’s Landing, but its reincarnation, Grove Bay Grill, offers the same look — green-and-white-striped canvas awning included — but with a spruced-up menu. And when you take into account stunning bay views, a semicool breeze, and affordable booze, it’s hard to leave out this Coconut Grove seafood spot. So although management has changed, stick to what you know will never fail: a mahi-mahi sandwich and an ice-cold beer.

Smith & Wollensky

1 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
305-673-2800
smithandwollensky.com

Sitting on the southernmost 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 world-renowned dry-aged steaks and impressive wines. After a glass or two, Fisher Island will seem closer than ever, and the $58 you spent on a 16-ounce bone-in filet will seem like pocket change. But soon you’ll see — like with everything else at Smith and Wollensky — it’s worth it. And you deserve it.

Rusty Pelican

3201 Rickenbacker Cswy., Key Biscayne
305-361-3818
therustypelican.com

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 real draw whether you go for brunch, lunch or dinner, but there’s an extra dash of magic in the air during sunset, when splashes of pastel pink, orange, and purple color the sky. Nonetheless, the brunch menu is a must-try. Order the day boat scallops and eggs ($31) for a hearty serving of wild-caught seared scallops, large sunny-side-up eggs, hash browns, and bacon mimosa Brussels sprouts. Then walk it all off along the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market

398 NW North River Dr., Miami
305-375-0765
garciasmiami.com

For almost half a century, the same family has been running Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market, overlooking the Miami River. Since its opening, the laid-back downtown restaurant has remained a hit with locals. The seafood is as fresh as it gets — without the flailing. 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.

Seaspice

422 NW North River Dr., Miami
305-440-4200
seaspicemiami.com

This superchic 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 Sundays. Raw selections, hot-stone meats, seafood plates, pizzas, pastas, and wood-fired casseroles fill the food menu, and there's an extensive cocktail menu to match. Two popular items are the coconut salmon ceviche ($24), with spicy Thai vinaigrette, microcilantro, and fried garlic, served in a young coconut, and the Gorgonzola, pear, and black truffle pizza ($24).
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Maureen Aimee Mariano is a freelance food writer for Miami New Times. She earned a bachelor of science in journalism from the University of Florida before making her way back to the 305, the city that first fueled her insatiable appetite.