Miami’s Design District and midtown areas are shopping meccas where tourists and locals alike can purchase everything from bananas at Target to diamonds at Tiffany. These two adjoining neighborhoods have become much more than a place to fill your condo and empty your wallet. There’s public art, a live concert series, and fitness studios. With all those activities, you’re going to work up an appetite. Here are the ten best places to sate your hunger.
1. Mandolin Aegean Bistro. Romantic, friendly, and charming, Mandolin is housed in a vintage Miami cottage and spills out into a courtyard filled with greenery and lights. The result is the feeling that you’ve entered into the home of a charming host somewhere in the Mediterranean. The food is simple and real, with many herbs and vegetables grown on premises. A whole sea bass is grilled with olive oil and lemon ($38) and beets are roasted with tahini yogurt and mint ($13). If you fall in love with the tableware, Mrs. Mandolin, a quaint lifestyle shop selling everything from jewelry to plates, is just a block away. 4312 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-749-9140; mandolinmiami.com.
Double the happy hour, double the fun.
Courtesy of the Genuine Hospitality Group
2. Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. The neighborhood’s dining OG, Michael’s Genuine still impresses. Restaurateur Michael Schwartz’s strategy is simply serving fresh food made with care. The menu rotates seasonally, but expect classics like wood oven roasted octopus ($12), housemade tagliolini with Calabrian chiles ($19) and crispy pig’s ears ($8). The restaurant also has a lively weekday happy hour from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. where you can get a proper Manhattan ($6.50) and a half dozen oysters ($9.50) while you people watch at the bar. 130 NE 40th St., Miami; 305-573-5550; michaelsgenuine.com.
Courtesy of Ghee Indian Kitchen
3. Ghee Indian Kitchen. Chef Niven Patel’s original restaurant in Dadeland was so successful, he opened a second location in the Design District. Here you’ll find dishes made with vegetables grown from Patel’s own farm, Rancho Patel and seafood from local fishermen. A generous vegetable menu includes baby eggplant ($9), chana masala ($8), and local beets when in season ($9). Indian classics like chicken tikka masala ($15) and saag paneer ($15) are always available. 3620 NE Second Ave., Miami; 786-636-6122; gheemiami.com.
Peace, love, and guacamole bowl
Photo by Hannah Sentenac
4. St. Roch Market. Not sure what you’re craving after shopping at Dior? You’ll find something wonderful at this upscale food hall that features 10,000 square feet of options. Start with oysters at Elysian Seafood, then peruse the offerings. A hummus tower at Jaffa, freshly made pasta at Dal Plin, sushi with a Peruvian twist at Itame, or a hearty bahn mi from Tran Am are just some of the options. Wash it all down with a cocktail or local draft beer at the Mayhaw, the cocktail bar that’s the heart of the hall. 40 NE 39th St., #241; Miami; 786-542-8977; miami.strochmarket.com
Swan’s rose-colored interior.
Photo by Morelli Brothers
5. Swan and Bar Bevy. This collaboration between nightlife maven David Grutman and musician Pharrell Williams is new to the neighborhood, but it’s already a delightful addition. Downstairs, Swan is decorated in hues of rose, making the dining room feel like a glowing Parisian bistro meets a Victorian parlor. The menu, by Europe’s Top Chef Season 3 winner Jean Imbert, includes a Caesar salad shaped like a tower ($16); Pharrell’s favorite dish, Corn, Corn, Corn ($15); and a perfectly roasted chicken ($29). Upstairs, Bar Bevy oozes Mick Jagger-meets-Arabian Nights swagger with gemstone hues accented by black-and-white nudes. 90 NE 39th St., Miami; swanbevy.com.
Photo by Andrew Meade/Courtesy of MC Kitchen
6. MC Kitchen. Chef/partner Dena Marino knows her way around a plate of pasta. The tomato-obsessed chef’s garganelli Bolognese is nothing short of soulful, made with a hearty blend of ground veal, venison, and pork. A large woodfired oven churns out roasted octopus and roasted asparagus and cauliflower. Ingredients are fresh, local, and seasonal. 4141 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-456-9948; mckitchenmiami.com.
Photo by Juan Fernando Ayora / Courtesy of Kaido
7. Kaido. Though Kaido is a brand new addition, its pedigree lands it a spot on the list. Partners Bradley Kilgore (Wynwood’s Alter) and Nico de Soto (Mace in New York City’s East Village and Danico and Zebra in Paris) are at the top of their respective food and drink game. The result is a cocktail lounge that places equal emphasis on what you eat and drink. Share the uni fondue ($36), served with a plentiful array of seafood, vegetables, and scallions for dipping while you sip on a Sakura Negroni with gin, Italian bitters, sweet vermouth, and sakura. The lounge also houses a hidden, intimate reservations-only bar called Ama. 151 NE 41 St., #217, Miami; 786-409-5591; kaidomiami.com.
Wonton soup at Blackbrick at Midtown Miami.
8. Blackbrick. Blackbrick in midtown serves the Chinese food you’ve been waiting for. There are classics such as salt-and-pepper shrimp, Sichuan vegetables with hot oil fried rice, and steamed red snapper with soy, ginger, and scallions. Chef Richard Hales, who also owns Sakaya Kitchen and Bird & Bone, is behind the menu that’s inspired by his travels throughout China. The intimate space has a distinct rock and roll vibe and on weekends you might be serenaded by songstress Jenny “Wife” Hales and her band. 3451 NE First Ave., Miami; 305-573-8886; midtownchinese.com.
9. Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill. You can hear Sugarcane before you see it. The large indoor/outdoor bar is always lively with the sounds of people enjoying cocktails and oysters. The menu, by chef Timon Balloo, is diverse and global: small plates, meat, and vegetables from a Japanese robata grill, raw bar items, and sushi. Among the dozen or so robata foods, chicken yakitori is a favorite — soft, plump pieces of breast meat interspersed with snippets of thick, almost-leek-like Tokyo scallions, all lightly charred and glazed with a slightly sweet, mirin/soy-based tare sauce. 3252 NE First Ave., Miami; 786-369-0353; sugarcanerawbargrill.com
10. OTL. This casual cafe, a partnership between David Grutman, real-estate developer Craig Robbins, and the folks behind Manhattan’s popular restaurant and takeout concept the Smile, is the perfect antidote to chain coffee shops. This bright, cheery spot offers breakfast, lunch, and brunch. Items include overnight oats ($6), avocado toast ($10.50), and a black bean burger ($14). Choose a Zak the Baker pastry to go with your coffee and relax for a spell. 160 NE 40th St., Miami; 786-953-7620; otlmia.com.