FOCUS: The best small restaurants in Miami Beach. We took to the streets to give you the lowdown on our all-time favorite South Beach spots. Our go-to’s, our comfort palaces, our pillars of zen where food conquered our zones of fulfillment and enabled a release of dopamine and serotonin that can only be equivocated by sex. We stand by our hipeRATED standards with great pride. We are meticulous with are reviews and we take them seriously. We will never do you no harm nor lead you, our readers arwy. Hat’s off to the locations that made our first ‘best of’ list.
Apple A Day Market
In a town of glitz and glam, this is one of South Beach’s best kept secret. Not only do they serve the best cold pressed juices I’ve ever tried, they also make a MEAN acai bowl. The best in Miami. The main reason is because they don’t cut any corners. They use Nativo brand Acai, which is the best and purest brand I’ve found with no added sugars. Using only a banana to get that ice creamy texture, Apple A Day doesn’t water down their recipe by adding ice like I’ve found many other spots do in South Florida. If you are unfamiliar, acai bowls are usually served with fruit and granola on top. This can easily become gluten free by subbing out the grains for almond butter on top. Drizzle on little honey and you are in acai heaven. The entire menu is very good but our particular favorites include:
- Gluten Free Vegan Pancakes – so good I think they might have some gluten in them 😀
- Quesadillas (GF Wraps available)
- Chicken Waldorf Wrap
Apple A Day Market is located in a small shopping center on Alton Road on 16th Terrace.
Jimmy’z Kitchen has been a staple in the South Beach community for years now. With new locations in Wynwood and Pinecrest, you don’t have to be on the beach to experience all that they have to offer. The go to here is by far the Seared Ahi Special served with white rice, tomato avocado salsa and a soy ginger dipping sauce. I’ve literally have let my NY friends yearning for this dish and constantly send them pictures of it before I dig in.
Jimmy’z is one of those places where the entire menu is basically flawless. They also offer Mofongo, which although I am not a huge fan of seems to be a staple amongst the local population when it is served. Some of our other favorite dishes are:
- Churrasco or Salmon with white rice, black beans, sweet plantains, chimmichuri and Jimmy’z Hot Sauce on the side
- Chicken Pommodoro Sandwich
- Ahi Tuna Salad
- Tuna Salad Salad
- Chicken / Shrimp Creole
- Cottage Fries
The best subs on the beach bar none, hands down, it ain’t even close. Whether you’re going for a turkey / fresh mozzarell, a salami and swiss or prosciutto on either a bomb ass french baguette or a delicious buttery croissant you and your taste buds are in good hands. The menu is extensive, the vegetables are super fresh with some of the reddest tomatoes you’ll ever see. You can even toast it up with a croque monsieur but no matter what you order, make sure to douse it with La Sandwicherie’s exclusive French Vinaigrette dressing also known as ‘The Magic Sauce’. It consists of a Dijon Mustard, Canola and Olive oil, horseradish, salt and pepper and is an absolute GAME CHANGER. Things don’t stop there. Every sandwich is available as a salad and the smoothie bar has an extensive selection. Finish off your meal with a fresh espresso or chocolate brownie. If they have them in stock believe me when I tell you that you will be in brownie heaven. La Sandwicherie may actually have the best sandwiches in the entire state. It is located 2 blocks form the sand on Washington and 14th street and has a Brickell location for your convenience.
Juice & Java
If you’re looking for a nice sit down restaurant with a foreign feel and clean food, look no further than Juice & Java. They have everything you need for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Wraps, soups, juices and smoothies galore, crepes.. I am getting hungry just thinking about it. One of my go to dishes here was the turkey burger platter and the mahi wrap with brown rice, chic peas, avocado and pesto. Once you take a look at the menu you’ll see the choices of protein that come along impressive sides of brown rice or quinoa and a side salad. No matter what you’re craving you cannot miss at J&J’s South Beach location.
Cafe Del Mar
Hidden on the corner of 7th and Washington amidst not your most glamorous parts of South Beach is the hidden 24 hour gem that is Cafe Del Mar. What you’ll find here is quality cold cuts, wraps, salads, paninis and platters. My go to’s here are the Avocado delight salad with added jalapenos and a side of pesto as well as the turkey and swiss wraps with your choice of mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, mayo, etc.
Gogo's Fresh Food
Gogo’s Fresh Food don’t play. They have epic salads with a lime cilantro dressing that is to die for. What really sets this place apart are the empanadas. They have a pretty nice set up at www.gogomiamibeach.com for you to check out the selection.
Located in a wonderful section of West Ave, right across the street from the Mondrian hotel, Oliver’s Bistro has quietly remained a mainstay in South Beach’s dining choices. With Sunday and Saturday brunch being their main staple, Oliver’s hosts a strong variety of dishes and cuisines and is one of the only family restaurants on our list. There’s something for everyone, but our personal favorite is the spaghetti bolognese with whole wheat pasta coming as a nice option. Bring your kids here, bring your date here. Either way you’ll see why Oliver’s is hipeRATED.
Taco Rico is no longer located on Alton Road, it is now on the eastern part of 15th street near the corner of Washington Avenue. I have admittedly not eaten in their new location, but I used to frequent there at least three times a week, and it showed :D. Our favorite part about this tex-mex haven is the price, the portions and most importantly the sauces. The chips and salsa to start always hit the spot and the sauce bar stays fresh with pico de gallo, salsa verde and other unique blends that are easy for you to access through out the meal. Order of choice? Chicken Quesadillas, add raw onions with a side of guac.
Coyo Taco is not located on South Beach. It is actually right across the bridge in the Wynwood district. We love this place and consider it Taco Rico’s South Beach rival with also maybe a little higher quality in certain ingredients. What Taco Rico lacks in Coyo Taco makes sure to clean up. My only frustration with Coyo taco is a lack of pickled jalapenos. Order of choice, you guessed it.. Chicken quesadillas and the salad bowl with bioth chicken and beef.
Pura Vida boasts the 2nd best Acai bowl on the beach with our number 1 spot going to Apple A Day. While the acai itself feels a little bit “icier” and less creamy, it’s fruit is more freshly cut and has a better variety. Pura Vida also hosts a variety of soups, salads, wraps, platters, vegan options and has a dijon mustard vinaigrette similar to our friends at La Sandwicherie. If you are on the South Side of the island and need healthy bite, it’s hard to miss at Pura Vida.
Dirt: Eat clean
With 2 locations in South Beach, Dirt: Eat Clean has also opened a Brickell location. Dirt is another one of your progressive, “clean eating” restaurants that promises you the freshest ingredients at a fair price. With great coffee, juice options and a variety to choose from on the menu you won’t be disappointed. Order of choice? Avocado toast with a side of scrambled eggs and a side of steak.
Ice Box is another one of our not so small restaurants that makes the list simply because we wanted to give it an honorable mention. It’s quality can’t be understated and the coffee there is better than it’s neighbor “Panther Coffee” coffee shop, which is a good thing to note if you’re in the area. The Sunset harbor crowd is a bit more uppity, which separates it from our other choices that are a bit more casual. This is Miami though, so a tank top, shorts and sandals during the day is still acceptable. Their online menu is currently not working but trust us when we say the order of choice is the Wasabi Crusted Salmon served on thai flavored quinoa.
The go-to here is breakfast and brunch, all day everyday. This doesn’t mean Balans doesn’t have a great choice of dishes outside of this time slot – it’s just when I have frequented most over the past 5 years. If you’re getting over a hang over or just meeting with friends Balans sure has the stuff to pick you up for the rest of the day. Our order of choice is no longer on the menu so you’ll have to ask the server to customize it for you. It goes 3 eggs, side of Balans potatoes, sausage and chorizo and maybe even bacon on the side. The ‘Jumbo Breakfast’ and French Toast options are also a pretty good choice.