2727 Indian Creek Dr., Mid-Beach
The Freehand's restaurant is located in a historic 1930s house directly adjacent to the hostel—also designed by Roman & Williams, the interior has a colorful, beachy vibe complete with picnic tables, bright pink and green shelving, blue-and-white wallpaper, and tables lit with Virgin Mary candles. The menu is a hodge-podge of cuisines that's illustrative of Miami's melting pot, incorporating Caribbean, South American, and Middle Eastern foods in dishes like cheese bread made with cassava flour, banana fosters pancakes with Appleton rum, or arepas with ropa vieja and queso de mano. Don't leave without ordering one of their tiki-bar-inspired drinks, which are served with a garnish of orchids, plastic sunglasses, and upside-down nips of rum.
2395 Collins Ave., Mid-Beach
Tom Colicchio's restaurant inside the 1 Hotel matches the rest of the building's airy, beachy aesthetic, with woven chairs, light woods, brass light fixtures, and a generous patio overlooking Collins Avenue. It's a great choice if you're picky about meat and fish, as Colicchio serves only antibiotic-free meat and locally caught fish. There's also an excellent raw bar (perfect with a crisp white wine on a hot afternoon) and a peaceful Sunday brunch. If you can snag a reservation on a Friday or Saturday night, you'll be treated to live music performed by local musicians while you eat.
1700 James Ave., Mid-Beach
Casa Tua also has an Aspen outpost, and like its cold-weather sister, this location serves upscale Northern Italian fare—think burrata with organic tomatoes, tuna tartare, specialty risottos, grilled branzino, biscotti, and gelato. The restaurant occupies a luxurious Tuscan-style villa that's also home to a hotel and exhibition space; ask for a seat on the outdoor patio, which is lush and green and adorned with the subtlest twinkle lights and antique lanterns hanging from the trees. It's a great spot for a date night.
4385 Collins Ave., Mid-Beach
Tucked into the lush courtyard of the SoHo Beach House, Cecconi’s is the kind of place you’ll go for lunch and want to linger through sunset cocktails. Tiny lights are wrapped around the branches of the buttonwood trees overhead, small Edison bulbs hang from the wooden beams, and the flooring is a stripped antique Nile-green tile. The food is consistently good too: truffle pizza with goat cheese and zucchini blossom is worth the splurge, the garganelli Bolognese is a solid bet, as is the ahi tuna tartare. From Tuesdays through Saturdays they offer an awesome apertivo hour, too.
3201 Collins Ave., Mid-Beach
The only stateside restaurant of famed Argentinian chef, Francis Mallman (who was featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table), Los Fuegos at Faena Hotel Miami Beach serves some of the most memorable meals in Miami. It’s an open-fire kitchen—and glassed-in, so you can see some of the action unfold while enjoying a cocktail at Faena’s outdoor bar. If you’re going to enjoy a steak while in Miami, this would be a place to do it—but don’t pass on the wood-oven veggie sides.
2901 Collins Ave., Mid-Beach
Located inside the newly renovated EDITION hotel, the lauded Matador Room is helmed by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who—along with executive chef Jeremy Ford)—marries Latin American and Caribbean flavors in a gorgeous, dimly lit space overlooking the pool. Don’t miss the Florida Stone crab and sweet pea guacamole to start; any of the tacos are sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
2201 Collins Ave., Mid-Beach
Chef Andrew Carmellini, whom New Yorkers know (and love) for Locanda Verde, Little Park, Lafayette, and the Dutch in SoHo took his act on the road opening inside the W South Beach. (Fun fact: Carmellini’s grandfather ran the Surf Club down the street back in the 1950s.) The seafood-heavy menu features crowd-pleasers like the diver scallops and farde salmon; the Biscayne Platter (a dozen oysters, little necks clams, corvina ceviche, etc.) is good for a group while the sheep’s milk ricotta is a no-brainer. The dining room, designed by the New York-based Meyer Davis Studio (The Dutch SoHo, Lure), marries a mod beach look with driftwood beams overhead, light oak floors, and a zinc-top bar. At lunch, ask for a table outside in the garden.
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