Miami is prone to a little cold snap now and again and usually a low of 50 induces a panic of ski jacket wearing and fur coats, but wait a few days and we’ll be right back to our gorgeous, warm winter weather. On those warm days, and even the cooler ones, you’ll want to take advantage of one of Miami’s true winter pleasures: patio dining. A cocktail, a light lunch, dinner by candlelight — life under the umbrella is what’s it’s all about here. Palm trees and great water views are usually part of the backdrop. Here are a few of our favorite places for soaking up outdoor living, Miami-style:
This hip spa resort off mainland Miami Beach enjoys a panoramic view of Biscayne Bay. Locals come here to have lunch on the patio deck of the Bayside Grill, where bright yellow umbrellas shade patrons while they tuck into Greek salad, skirt steak, turkey wraps or shrimp ceviche. The bar serves cocktails and organic, bio-dynamic wines.
Juvia – Miami Beach
High atop the Herzog and de Meuron–designed parking garage at 1111 Lincoln Road, Juvia serves contemporary Japanese, French, and Peruvian cuisine by Executive Chef Sunny Oh. Enjoy panoramic views of Miami from Miami Beach, and a vertical garden designed by an internationally renowned botanist. Whether dining indoors or out be sure to grab a few cocktails at the indoor bar.
Smith & Wollensky
Watch the cruise ships sail out to sea around 4 p.m. several times a week from this steakhouse located adjacent to one of Miami Beach’s prettiest parks. South Pointe Park attracts dog walkers, families out for a day at the beach, and anyone who wants to feel the ocean breeze in their face. Best dining views are upstairs on the patio deck, which overlooks the Government Cut entrance to Miami Harbor and the cruise ships. The outside patio bar is another hot spot.
Blue Marlin Fish House
Laid back is the best description of this tiny open-air restaurant located in Oleta State Park in North Miami Beach. There’s a view of mangroves and the Oleta River, and the place has been featured on the TV show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Regulars rave about the smoked fish dip and the lobster burger.
For budget dining with a view, it’s hard to beat Scotty’s. Located on the bay in Coconut Grove between the Chart House restaurant and Miami City Hall, this dog friendly fish shack offers live music and a local vibe. Conch fritters, cold beer and fish sandwiches are the highlights here.
Located at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, the Lighthouse Café is just yards from the beach and offers a great view of Key Biscayne’s historic 1846 lighthouse. The menu offers burgers, chicken sandwiches, fried calamari, ceviches and seafood dishes served with Latin flair. The snapper sandwich I sampled here was the freshest I’ve ever had.
The Restaurant at The Raleigh Hotel
This restaurant is the epitome of deco Miami glamour. From the shape of the pool to the furniture in the lobby and the terrazzo floors, the hotel oozes the cool glamorous vibe that so many associate with Miami. Sit at this poolside restaurant, which is located just a short walk away from the beach, and people watch, sip on tropical drinks and order up plates of food with locally sourced fresh ingredients perfect for eating in the sun.
This indoor/outdoor restaurant by New York chef Andrew Carmellini is at the W on South Beach. The Dutch’s beautifully designed interior and locally inspired menu only complement the luxury of eating outside in this al fresco space. Have breakfast, lunch or “supper” from menus of fresh food inspired by the nearby sea.
Outdoor Dining Areas
Walk along Lincoln Road, an outdoor mall and pedestrian friendly promenade, for more outdoor dining options along a single street than you can count on your hands - and feet. Italian cafes, bakeries, fresh Mediterranean, Cuban and sushi are among the many options you’ll have to choose from. Hostesses and glass cases with examples of the food solicit and entice you to stop and eat at their restaurants, and there’s a hustle and bustle on the street every day of the week.
All along Miami Beach it’s hard to find a block without an outdoor dining option; sidewalk cafes, rooftop bars, al fresco patios and more are all crowded onto Miami Beach.
Downtown Coconut Grove and Coral Gables are also outdoor dining hotspots where you can stroll the main streets and eye menus.
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