By: Carolyn Keating & Shayne Benowitz
Discover a few of Miami’s best waterfront restaurants.
With the waters of Biscayne Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and the Miami River lapping against Miami from every angle, there’s ample opportunity for waterfront dining. Perhaps nothing is more pleasant than the salt breeze on your skin as you sit back with a delicious meal, an expertly mixed cocktail and gorgeous views of the sea. From Champagne and stone crabs to a frosty beer and a fried fish sandwich, there’s a waterfront dining experience for every taste in Miami. Here’s your guide.
La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key
Gastón Acurio, a star chef from Peru, has brought his innovative style to La Mar, the Mandarin Oriental’s outdoor restaurant. Savor ceviche, arroz chaufa (Peruvian Chinese fried rice), causas (a layered potato dish with many variations, served cold), and many other Andean-inspired delicacies along with decadent desserts. Brunch here is a feast for the senses. And the sweeping waterfront view of the Brickell skyline can't be beat.
Verde at Peréz Art Museum Miami in Downtown
Not many museum cafes offer knockout waterfront views, but Verde at Peréz Art Museum Miami does. This airy dining spot offers a chill place to relax after perusing the art. You can gaze out at palm trees and cruise ships while savoring creatively prepared salads, sandwiches, hot entrees, coffee, pastries and craft cocktails.
Zuma at EPIC Miami in Downtown
The Miami outpost of this internationally acclaimed Japanese restaurant boasts stunning views of the Miami River and the downtown skyline. Zuma is located at the EPIC Miami hotel. The restaurant’s izakaya style menu features grilled items, sushi and sashimi, fresh vegetables and meats, and an extensive sake selection. Yachts dock outside and from your table you can watch the drawbridge go up over the river. Cheers (with sake, of course) to that.
Garcia’s Seafood Grill & Fish Market on the Miami River
Located on the Miami River near downtown, Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market was established in 1966 by Cuban exiles and has been a Miami institution for fresh seafood and waterfront dining ever since. Grab a table on the deck outside and order from the day’s fresh catch. The setting is laidback and the food is down to earth and delicious. You can’t go wrong with the grouper, conch, mahi or lobster—all caught in Miami’s waters.
Seaspice on the Miami River
For an upscale twist on Miami River dining, Seaspice, just up the road from Garcia’s, has become a waterfront dining destination for the see and be seen crowd. Whether you arrive on your yacht or valet the Bentley, don’t be surprised if a celebrity is seated at the table next to you. Everyone from Beyonce to David Beckham has been spotted here. Expect a lavish menu of Champagne, lobster, stone crabs and fresh truffles shaved on everything. Sit back, relax and enjoy the good life as you watch boats traverse the river while you sip your bubbly and toast to the good life.
Lido Restaurant & Bayside Grill at The Standard on South Beach
Hotel guests at The Standard Miami and locals alike congregate at the Lido Restaurant & Bayside Grill. Bright umbrellas on the deck, a fresh Mediterranean menu, and sweeping views of Biscayne Bay are just some of the visual inspiration and meticulous design that make this a top outdoor dining spot in the city. Inspired by the traditional Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, healthy, sun kissed, whole and natural, Chef Mark Zeitouni has created a menu with an emphasis on high quality and organic meats and fish, olive oil, fresh herbs, grill cooking and organic and biodynamic wines. The menu features mix and match small plates, some with a healthy bent, some with a Latin flair, as well as creative cocktails to match. Go for the chicken empanadas, mahi reuben sandwich, calamari or burratina salad and try the Green Prophet, a vodka cocktail made with green apple, wheatgrass, mint and apple cider vinegar.
DiLido Beach Club at The Ritz-Carlton South Beach
Directly off the sands of South Beach, The Ritz-Carlton’s DiLido Beach Club boasts one of the only oceanfront restaurants in the vicinity. Located at the foot of Lincoln Road, it’s a central South Beach destination for lunch or dinner. Enjoy the breezy ambiance on a cushy lounge by a fire pit or at a wicker dining table and listen to live music as you dine on fresh seafood, small plates, steak or salads surrounded by palm trees and views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Smith & Wollensky in South Pointe Park on South Beach
This is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Miami. Located adjacent to South Pointe Park on Miami Beach, Smith & Wollensky offers prime steaks and an award-winning wine list. Regulars enjoy cocktails on the patio and watch the sun set, filling the Miami sky with dazzling shades of tangerine, lavender and pink. Cruise ships sail by as they leave PortMiami. Afterwards, stroll through South Pointe Park and South Pointe Pier for even more dazzling views of South Beach and the waters surrounding it.
Monty’s in South Beach & Coconut Grove
With locations in both South Beach and Coconut Grove, Monty’s is a laid back, outdoor restaurant situated on Miami Beach Marina and Dinner Key Marina. It’s popular amongst boaters returning to land looking for a casual bite and a strong drink in a somewhat rowdy environment. Expect crowds at the bar, live music and big groups of people soaking up the sun. There’s even a swimming pool if you can’t take the heat! Order a grouper sandwich or nachos and pair it with a tiki-inspired cocktail or cold beer.
Rusty Pelican on the Rickenbacker Causeway out to Key Biscayne
The Rusty Pelican offers one of the best views of the Downtown Miami skyline. The menu features Modern American cuisine with small plates perfect for sharing, a wine list filled with unique varietals and an impressive raw bar with fresh ceviche’s and fresh-from-the-docks shellfish. In the lounge and outdoor patio, enjoy cocktails under the stars with a selection of specialty libations, microbrews and wines by the glass. You can’t go wrong with classics like the seafood tower raw bar, crab cakes and the lobster risotto.
Lighthouse Cafe in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne
Located on Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is the home of a historic lighthouse built in 1825 and reconstructed in 1846. The lighthouse is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County, and is perched on one of Miami’s most beautiful beaches. Steps away from the lighthouse is the aptly named Lighthouse Café, where you can enjoy a fresh fish sandwich and other simply prepared dishes including pastas, paella and grilled sandwiches. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch.
Red Fish Grill in Matheson Hammock Park
Tucked inside of Matheson Hammock Park, Red Fish Grill is another one of Miami’s hidden gems. Situated in a historic beach pavilion, reserve a table on the windswept patio surrounded by palm trees and enjoy a romantic dinner of pan-fried red snapper with fennel, cilantro, yucca chips and a lemon-ginger vinaigrette. Don’t skip a slice of homemade key lime pie for dessert. It’s easy to understand why this pretty little restaurant is a popular wedding spot.
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