Food & Drink

The Miami Food Bucket List: 50 Things You Need to Eat Before You Die

Published On 09/01/2015 Published On 09/01/2015
Courtesy of FINKA Table & Tap
El Mago de las Fritas
Courtesy of Shari Grunspan
Courtesy of Joe's Stone Crab
Courtesy of Azucar Ice Cream Company
Courtesy of Robert Is Here
Courtesy of Javier Ramirez
Courtesy of Ms. Cheezious
Courtesy of RandoMiami
Courtesy of Islas Canarias
Courtesy of Vagabond Restaurant and Bar
Courtesy of La Mar by Gastón Acurio
Courtesy of Cena by Michy
Courtesy of FINKA Table & Tap
Courtesy of Big Pink
Zak the Baker
Courtesy of Juan Fernando Ayora
Courtesy of RED, the Steakhouse
Courtesy of Miami Smokers
Courtesy of Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar
Courtesy of Mandy Baca
Courtesy of The Forge Restaurant
Courtesy of The Genuine Hospitality Group
Courtesy of La Latina
Matt Meltzer/Thrillist
Courtesy of Lokal
Courtesy of Blackbrick Chinese
Courtesy of Chicken Kitchen
Courtesy of Il Mulino
Courtesy of Zuma
Courtesy of Publix
Matt Meltzer/Thrillist
Courtesy of Sakaya Kitchen
Courtesy of Pollo Tropical
Courtesy of Gary James
El Palacio de los Jugos - Hialeah
Courtesy of Caviar
La Camaronera Seafood Joint and Fish Market
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1. El Mago de las Fritas 5828 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33144

El Mago de Las Fritas, or the Fritas Magician, celebrates the Cuban hamburger tradition of topping a seasoned ground beef patty with onions and a pile of tiny, wispy shoestring fries. Luckily, El Mago doesn't limit its Cuban touch to hamburgers, and extra-long hot dogs and egg sandwiches are similarly available with a topping of thin and crispy potato sticks. Sweet and savory specials like freshly fried chicharrones and flan are also worth ordering in the laid-back, diner space.

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2. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar 1600 Lenox Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Before Yardbird opened in 2011, Miami wasn't known for its Southern comfort cuisine, which somehow seemed odd for a city that's geographically part of the American south. All that changed when Top Chef finalist Jeff McInnis, along with restaurant vets Chris Romero and John Kunkel, opened Yardbird in Miami Beach and instantly made a name with their fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, and watermelon salad. The menu is chock full of quintessential down-home foods, and the well-stocked bar doles out house cocktails like blackberry bourbon lemonade and Bloody Marys with bacon-infused bourbon.

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3. Joe's Stone Crab 11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

You know about Joe’s Stone Crab, everyone does, Miami-based or not. Joe’s is a South Beach institution, and for over a century has been one of the city’s most famous restaurants. The old-school, art deco space is full of servers in tuxedos and stone crab claws that somehow taste sweeter here than anywhere else in the city. All sorts of other seafood dishes, as well as steaks, fried chicken, and standard steakhouse sides (if you don't get the Lyonnaise potatoes, you're making a huge mistake) make up the all-star menu that draws crowds, celebrities included, to its dining room on Washington Avenue. And what would a Miami Beach mainstay be without key lime pie? Joe’s knows, and it does it the best.

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4. Azucar Ice Cream Company 1503 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135

Smack in the middle of Miami's Little Havana, Azucar's ice cream and sorbet flavors are as diverse as the neighborhood. They're made from all-natural ingredients and are constantly changing, so you never know what might be in store for your taste buds.

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5. Robert Is Here Fruit Stand 19200 SW 344th St, Miami, FL 33034

Grab a gift box from one of SoFlo's oldest farmer's markets filled with all the cute crap she's predisposed to love because of genetics, from Key lime hot sauces to country-canned guava butters. The best part is you can get it wrong -- just give 'em a price limit, and they'll stock one up for you.

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6. Josh's Deli 9517 Harding Ave, Miami, FL 33154

Josh's Deli is a "homey", kosher-style deli that has a menu that offers breakfast, soups, salads, and obviously "sandwiches and stuff".

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7. Ms. Cheezious 7418 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

One of Miami’s best and most popular food trucks has gone brick-and-mortar, complete with a woodsy back area with games, plus a bar so you to wash down your grilled cheese with a local craft beer. Grilled cheese options go savory with bleu cheese and bacon; pulled pork melts; Frito Pie sandwiches (I know); and build-your-own's; or sweet (think marshmallows, Nutella, and ricotta).

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8. Knaus Berry Farm 15980 SW 248 St, Homestead, FL 33031

This farm has been family owned and operated for over fifty years, and sells strawberries, vegetables, baked goods, and ice cream. You can visit to pick your own berries or tomatoes, or just to have one of their fresh, sticky, cinnamon-y, rolls.

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9. Donut Gallery 83 Harbor Dr, Key Biscayne, FL 33149

As one of the only eating spots on the island, this 24-seat diner is like Cheers for the Key Rats. You can’t leave without ordering the TED, an open-faced English muffin with eggs, bacon, ham, cheese, and tomatoes.

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10. Jamaica Kitchen 8736 SW 72 St, Miami, FL 33173

Be sure to get the Jamaican patties when you're here. They have a ton of options including beef, beefy cheese, jerk chicken, curry chicken, vegetable, callaloo, and plantain tarts, plus a small hint of Scotch Bonnet peppers.

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11. Islas Canarias 285 NW 27th Ave, Miami, FL 33125-5119

Cuba isn't that far away, but it's pretty far to go for dinner. And so is Spain. So instead, head here and enjoy both cuisines. Pro Tip: Make sure you get Croquetas.

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12. Vagabond Kitchen & Bar 7301 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

Harkening back to the glamour of the early 50s, Vagabond Kitchen & Bar is all houndstooth and primary colors. While preserving the retro feel, they have managed to keep the romance of pulling into a diner in your DeSoto Firesweep alive while keeping its globally-inspired menu fresh and modern. Dedicated to organic veggies and fine dining, Chef Roberto Dubois whips up creations like salmon carpaccio, tuna pizza (fresh tuna, jalapeño, aioli, tomato, and onion), and cucumber gazpacho.

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13. La Mar by Gaston Acurio 500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami, FL 33131

Peruvian culinary maestro Gaston Acurio is mixing Andean and Asian flavors into a bold menu that highlights his home country at this chic restaurant inside the Mandarin Oriental. The menu includes made-to-order ceviche; tiraditos, or Peruvian-style sashimi; and causas, a traditional dish of potatoes whipped with seafood, avocado, tobiko, tomato, and egg. The drink selection is equally quintessential Peru, offering various takes on the pisco sour.

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14. Cena by Michy 6927 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

This follow-up to Michy's is still serving the same famous, incredible, fried chicken -- but they've limited it to only Wednesdays. Every week, you can get it with watermelon salad, southern slaw, biscuits, mashed potatoes, gravy, and brown butter peach cake.

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15. Finka Table & Tap 14690 SW 26th St, Miami, FL 33175, Miami, FL 33175

This homey gastropub serves unique Cuban fare with Peruvian and Korean influences. Surprisingly, its mac & cheese is one of the best in Miami with carne asada, bacon, scallions, and three (!) cheeses

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16. The Big Pink 157 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

The Big Pink's a family-style restaurant that plates just about every form of comfort food you can imagine, from waffles and pizza to the famous Big Pink TV Dinner. There's also a large number of flatscreen TVs lining the walls, allowing you to catch up on sports while you down your chow.

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17. Zak the Baker 405 NW 26th St, Miami, FL 33127

Bread is all but literally it's own food group, so the importance of good quality bread can not be overstated. Zak Stern’s barebones bakery, located a few blocks away from Wynwood’s main-street chaos, is where the ubiquitous Zak’s Bread is born. Zak saved Miami from it's pitiful bread state and brings countless varieties to carb lovers each day -- mere smell of freshly-baked sour doughs that engulfs this small outpost are enough to keep you around, despite the long lines.

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18. Red, The Steakhouse 119 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Once voted Sexiest Steakhouse of the Year (by Playboy, no less) and beloved by A-listers, Red delivers on all the swanky fronts. But we suggest you let the food -- from appetizers like seared foie gras and caviar with crème fraiche to the steak and seafood entrées -- do the talking. Throw in a fully-loaded wine list, and the fact that Red is one of the few places in the country to use Miyazaki beef (like Kobe but more marbled), and you've got a steak night to remember.

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19. Casola's Pizzeria and Sub Shop 2437 SW 17th Ave, Miami, FL 33145

Pizza and subs are always important, and Casola's understands that -- which is why they stay open until 2 am Monday through Thursday, and until 5 am (!!!) Fridays and Saturdays.

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20. Miami Smokers 306 NW 27th Ave, Miami, FL 33125

If you're a fan of smoked, cured, or grilled pork, you need to visit Miami Smokers. Their pork is natural and cured to perfection to turn it into bacon, salami, jerky, sandwiches, and more.

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21. Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar 11510 SW 147th Ave, Miami, FL 33196

Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant in Kendall is, point blank, a nice suburban restaurant. It's not a de facto steakhouse, but it does serve a solid selection of black Angus beef and New Zealand lamb racks. The menu sticks to high-class standard American dishes, like an iceberg chop salad and salmon cooked three ways. The spot is dark and almost sultry with white tablecloths and wine bottles stacked behind the bar.

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22. Barton G 1427 West Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Barton G’s skipped a full shower to spritz some (admittedly very nice) Cool Water, resulting in a revamped, super-luminous, orchid curtain-lined dining room, plus an updated menu with plates like Gruyere & lobster pop-tarts, a confit-filled Chinese duck decoy, and a "Bucket of Bones" filled with beef/ pork ribs, baby lamb chops, and chicken wings. There’re also fresh cocktails including one with vodka, lychee, cranberry, and a nitrogenized pop of pear vodka, coined the Buddhalicious, which will have you speaking plenty of truths, precious few of them noble.

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23. Yisell Bakery Cafeteria 1356 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135

Classic pastelitos at this Little Havana bakery are the cheapest you'll find, but the quality is approved by local abuelitas.

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24. The Forge Restaurant & Wine Bar 432 W 41st St, Miami Beach, FL 33140

If you think New American food tastes best when consumed in a space with all the opulence of Jay Gatsby’s mansion-meets a medieval library-meets a Tim Burton-themed wedding a la Martha Stewart, well -- you should probably try to grab a highly coveted reservation at the Forge. Regulars rave over gussied up comfort food like the black truffle macaroni and cheese pot pie, decadently tempting enough that you’ll likely ignore the server’s advice to “let it cool.” Fortunately, the cavernous wine cellar – one of the largest in Miami – features enough chilled wines to offer a cooling respite.

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25. Eating House 804 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Miami, FL 33134

Eating House isn't a regular restaurant, it's a cool restaurant. Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli's spot began as a pop-up in 2012 before it took a permanent, brick-and-mortar turn in Coral Gables a few years later. It's hard to decide what Rapicavoli does better: local ingredient-driven dinner or over-the-top brunch. Whatever it is, all the dishes coming out of the kitchen -- like Cap'n Crunch pancakes or black truffle carbonara -- are similar in their sheer creativity.

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26. Etzel Itzik 18757 W Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL 33180

Unless you've got a good tip from some locals, you might not even know this place exists, but you should. You’ll receive a grand selection of salads with pita bread the moment you sit down, and it’s one of the few places in town that serve chicken heart. Oh, and if that's not for you, they also have Moroccan spicy sausage, kebab, and falafel.

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27. Harry's Pizzeria 3918 North Miami Ave, Miami, FL

If you're looking for a standard plain slice, Harry's is not your place. But if you're looking for Michael Schwartz to transform ordinary pizza into unique new creations, go here where they're dishing pies like the Oyster Mushroom, Slow-Roasted Pork, and MGFD Bacon -- all of which will not disappoint.

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28. La Latina Miami 3509 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137

This Venezuelan arepera serves traditional, um, arepas using the freshest ingredients, and they've also got a slew of gluten-free and vegan options for you to choose from.

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29. Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop 186 NE 29th St, Miami, FL 33127

This Wynwood hole-in-the-wall has a well-deserved reputation for affordable and authentic Cuban sandwiches, most notably, the Cubano. The Miami (or Tampa, depending who you're talking to) -born sandwich is classically made with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and in a not-so-classic but welcome twist, croquettas. Other sandwiches are just as tempting, especially the medianoche, which replaces the Cubano's crusty bread with a challah-like sweet egg dough. Plastic seats and formica tabletops crowd the dining room, but if you're here solo, opt for a stool at the counter.

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30. Lokal Burgers & Beer 3190 Commodore Plz, Miami, FL 33133

Don’t let the graffiti-covered brick walls and cassette tape mosaics fool you: far from an average dive bar, the Lokal is a sustainability-conscious gastropub, slinging surprisingly healthy bar fare. Regulars frequent this Coconut Grove spot for favorites like the Fidy-Fidy burger, made with house-ground beef and bacon, finished with melted Monterey jack cheese and sweet onion marmalade, as well as smaller bites like the perfectly crispy sweet potato fries. We suggest ordering a craft beer and heading for the patio: given the special food menu for dogs, it’s a popular spot for puppies.

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31. Blackbrick 3451 NE 1st Ave, Miami, FL 33137

Blackbrick pust a Floridian twist on Chinese with stuff like General Tso’s Florida Gator and Swank farms eggplant with Oyster sauce.

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32. Buena Vista Deli 4590 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137

From Claude Postel, the French force behind deeply loved Buena Vista Bistro, and whose family's been making other people meals for seven generations in Paris, BVD's a Franco-style deli/cafe with a menu scribbled on chalkboards, two big counters full of pa

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33. Chicken Kitchen 7315 Red Rd, Miami, FL 33143

There're a slew of Chicken Kitchens across Miami (your "healthy" addiction, they claim), so you'll have no trouble finding a spot to get your poultry fix. They're famous for their Cuban Chop Chop, which's made with yellow rice, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes and mojo-marinated chicken breast, plus a healthy serving of honey mustard sauce.

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34. Il Mulino 840 1st St, Miami Beach, FL 33139

This SoFo spot is cooking a lot of the food in the actual dining room at remote cooking stations and giving you bruschetta with mussels and fried zucchini before you even order. Be sure to try the Champagne truffle ravioli.

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35. The Pit Bar-B-Q 16400 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33194

This Tamiami Trail spot is located right before the Everglades and embraces its Florida roots. Expect a menu full of fry biscuits, Blackjack Oak smoked meats, and gator bites, burgers, and sausage. We think that The Pit serves up some of the best Bar-B-Q in Miami, but we encourage that you stop by and see for yourself.

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36. Pincho Factory 9860 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165

Pincho Factory specializes in two things: burgers and kebabs, but it's the burger that catapulted the fast-casual resto to must-try status. Owner Nedal Ahmad's signature Toston burger, topped with jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and homemade cilantro sauce then sandwiched between two fried plantains, won the annual South Beach Burger Bash in 2015. Since then, Pincho Factory has made a mark with its menu of greasy and good street food, which includes customizable kebab wraps, rice bowls, and salads.

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37. Zuma 270 Biscayne Blvd Way, Miami, FL 33131

Izakaya-inspired restaurant Zuma in Downtown Miami combines a bright, modern setting with exquisite presentation of its ocean-fresh sushi dishes, like the Dynamite Spider Roll with soft-shell crab, chili, and wasabi tobiko sauce. From the robata grill, opt for tender beef and shishito pepper skewers with smoked chili soy, or baby artichoke with truffle wafu dressing. If it’s something crispy you’re craving, crunch on rock shrimp tempura with lime and chili mayonnaise, lobster tempura with spicy ponzu, or grouper tempura with chili onions. Brunch offerings include a selection of premium sushi, sashimi, and maki rolls.

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38. Keg South 10417 S Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL 33156

Born-and-raised Miamians will swear Keg's 6oz of flame-broiled perfection is the best burger in the city no matter how many fancier, artisanal, or build-your-own joints open up. The original Keg South on South Dixie Highway is the place to go classic eats and a friendly, neighborhood vibe.

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39. Sakaya Kitchen 3400 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33137

A hip, colorful little counter service spot with bistro tables and an open kitchen crafting a menu of pan-Asian dishes, Sakaya's from a chef whose tutelage at NYC's famed Vong inspired him to travel the streets of Southeast Asia in search of unique cookin

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40. Sports Grill 1559 Sunset Dr, Miami , FL 33173

You can't claim to be a 305 local until you've devoured the wings at Sports Grill, which is... a sports grill. The wings here are flame-grilled before they're fried; and their savory, charred flavor reigns supreme in the South Florida wing scene. You're basically required to order them with the sweet and spicy Dale sauce, an addictive flavor combination of chilis and barbecue sauce named after a longtime Sports Grill regular, whose name is... Dale. We're not sure if Dale has tried any of the burgers, wraps, or fried appetizers on the menu, but it's safe to say they pair well with the wings and domestic craft brews.

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41. The Federal Food Drink & Provisions 5132 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137

The Phuc Yea! crew's homey spot on Biscayne is serving comfort food that you can wash down with 15 wines, beers on tap, and cocktails... just not all at once. Their light, fluffy biscuits have been ranked as some of the best in the country and are just a little sweet with a honey apple cider glaze. This modern American tavern serves up lunch, dinner and boozy brunch, and their Bloody Mary, made with Southwestern-style chipotle, cilantro, horseradish and agave wine, is not one to miss.

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42. El Palacio De Los Jugos 14300 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33144

This Cuban fast-food joint in Flagami, Florida has seen visits from Bobby Flay and other celebri-chefs, but it is best known for all of its made-in-house, fresh juices. It's also a mecca of pork and for good reason; the chicharrones (fresh pork rinds) are so good that people revolve their trip around them. This place has got the whole nose-to-tail theory down pat, using other parts of the pig for its juicy sandwich.

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43. Blue Collar Restaurant 6730 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

Blue Collar's mission is to give off a true neighborhood hang-out vibe, which it successfully does with a huge menu of comfort food staples. Every day, the kitchen serves a different rib dish (baby back, short ribs, spare ribs, etc), parmesan dish (chicken, veal, pork, eggplant, etc), and a braised dish (brisket, pot roast, ox tails, pork shoulder). There's a whole chalkboard of vegetable sides to counter the meaty entrées, and appetizers like definitely-order-or-you'll-regret-it potato latkes. Don't even get us started on brunch -- just make sure you get there early.

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44. La Moon 97 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33130

This Downtown spot serves Colombian dishes like arepas and pinchos, plus some tricked-out hot dogs. The Colombian hot dog comes topped with cheese and five different sauces.

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45. La Camaronera 1952 W Flagler St, Miami, FL 33125

Fresh snapper is battered and deep-fried with the tail on, placed on a Cuban bun and topped with chopped onions and secret sauce -- aka the The Original Pan con Minuta, aka what you need to order here.

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46. La Esquina Del Lechon Pork & Steakhouse 8601 NW 58th St, Doral, FL 33166

This restaurant is known for their whole pig roasts, which they do from Thursday through Sunday. When it's ordered, they bring the whole pig in tableside to carve it. They also serve steaks, chicken, and fish.