When you’re at the beach, it’s hard to focus on anything but the beach. It has a way of cleansing your head of all unpleasant thoughts, like the fact that you forgot to pay for parking and there’s probably a ticket sitting on your windshield right now. But as soon as you step off the sand, those thoughts come back into focus, including the fact that you’re starving.
But there’s a problem: you’re sandy, sweaty, and covered in sunscreen. You could go home and shower first, but you know you can’t last that long - you need to find a place that won’t care that you’re crusted in salt like a branzino and serves something that’ll be satisfying after a day spent baking like a potato on the hot sand. These 15 restaurants should do the trick, no matter what part of Miami Beach you find yourself on.
Both Taquiza’s South Beach and North Beach locations are casual enough to walk through in the noisiest of flip-flops. And at both restaurants, you’ll find some of Miami’s best tacos, which you can wash down with a margarita if that’s the sort of recovery meal you’re after. Start with the chewy totopos and guac, then move onto the taco of your choice. The camaron (shrimp) seems like an appropriate choice after a few hours of flailing in the surf like a crustacean.
Some foods seem designed specifically for certain situations: hot dogs and baseball games, popcorn and movie theaters, pints of ice cream and infidelity. You can add the beach and a fruit salad from Athens Juice Bar to that list. After a hot, salty day getting tossed around by waves, this is the most refreshing thing you can ask for. It comes with bananas, mangoes, oranges, and is topped with a syrupy fruit pulp they call “nectar.” Make sure to ask for it and skip the side of cottage cheese for a cup of their house fruit punch. It’s like a defibrillator of sugar, and that is what you need right now.
Sometimes you actually don’t look like a total wreck after the beach. Maybe the saltwater is doing something oddly helpful to your hair, or that new tan is already starting to show. If you don’t really mind being seen, Bodega is a good place to go. It’s quite popular during the day and at night the little club/bar in the back of the space has a line out the door. But people still mostly come here for the really good tacos. Grab an al pastor and one of the weekly rotating specials, maybe a frozen margarita, and come back at midnight in fancier clothes if you liked the scene.
If you spent an hour chasing your umbrella down the beach after an unexpected gust of wind and are now cartoon hungry - like, everything you look at is turning into a giant ham - then rush to La Sandwicherie. The South Beach sidewalk cafe is known as a late-night spot, so they’ve seen much worse than your sandy ankles, but this place is just as good sober and when the sun’s out. The sandwiches are huge, made to order, and stuffed generously with just about anything you can think of. Grab one to go or eat at the counter where you’ll have a big squeeze bottle of their amazing house vinaigrette at your disposal.
Just because you left the beach doesn’t mean you want to stop staring at the water. Shuckers can help keep the views coming with its dockside seating, which is really the best reason to come here. It’s also one of the only casual waterfront restaurants where the prime views don’t come with incessant house music and $300 bottles of rosé whizzing by your head. The food here is what you want in a breezy raw bar - they have good wings and seafood - but the best part of Shuckers is its wide-open view of Biscayne Bay.
If you have to cross the 79th Street Causeway to get back to the mainland, you’ll drive right by 222 Taco - and you can’t really miss it. The retro pink-and-blue exterior looks more like an arcade than a taco shop, but things are more subdued inside with seat-yourself service and a bar with some of our favorite margaritas in the whole city. They have your classic tacos, but also have a “Cali-style” style section of their menu with Mexican pizza and a french fry-stuffed burrito, which is the right move if you’re quite hungry.
You’re dehydrated and sun drunk so let’s keep this simple. Ignore the army of pastries in this little bakery on Collins and ask for the Venezuelan empanadas. Then make the very easy commute across the narrow restaurant to one of the high-top tables, locate the wonderful house sauce, and be careful not to burn your tongue off. These empanadas are outstanding - soft and chewy rather than the flaky variety. Get the one stuffed with queso or pabellón and, if you want to save your tongue from some serious trauma, try biting little holes in the corners and blowing the steam out like you’re playing an empanada saxophone before you bite in.
Spending an afternoon half-naked in public can make a person slightly more mindful about what they eat, and Under the Mango Tree is a very tasty option if you happen to be leaving South Beach with a newfound health obsession. They do very good versions of all the current juice cafe hits: acai bowls, juices, smoothies, and meatless sandwiches like their spicy kale melt. The store is small, with a lot of plants, indoor seating, and the personality of a yoga studio, which will help ease the transition of relaxing on the beach to screaming in traffic.
You already spent 45 minutes trying to find the perfect spot to put down your blanket, so it feels nice to put your decision-making skills on autopilot and just point at things that look delicious. That’s the experience at Buon Pane, a super casual and very small Italian bakery in South Beach that has a counter full of freshly baked Italian food. The pizza is fine, but branch out and try one of the calzones. Buon Pane’s versions are like little Italian hot pockets that can fit in one hand, and while the fillings change, they’re all excellent. There’s a second store on Española Way, which is also walking distance from the beach.
If you’re in South of Fifth and would rather sit down somewhere for a while that doesn’t require you to take out a loan, Lolo’s is the move. There’s a little outdoor patio and a nice-looking dining room with comfortable booths and a lovely pink/green tile floor. The food is standard Mexican and while there’s no must-order, just keep it simple with a few tacos, guacamole to share, and some margaritas if you’re in the mood.
Casual dining options in Mid-Beach are very hard to come by. It’s not like you can just walk into the Faena and drip saltwater onto their billion-dollar floors, but the Generator’s pool bar, Driftway, is one of the best exceptions to this. It won’t be the cheapest - their burger is $16 - but that’s still much better than any of the surrounding hotel restaurants. The food is good and eclectic, with everything from oysters and octopus a la plancha, to a wagyu sandwich and great cocktails - including a frozen selection. And if you order lunch, you also get access to the hostel’s pool, which is small but cute, much like the Generator itself.
The more casual conjoined twin to Joe’s Stone Crab serves the same stuff you’ll find in the fancy dining room next door. Except there’s no dress code here and you won’t have to wait nearly as long for your food. Get some stone crabs if they’re in season and you want them bad enough to spend $12 per claw. Otherwise, the fried chicken is less than $10 and really good with a side of Joe’s hash browns. Just remember that this place closes for a few months in the summer, so make sure to check the website to see if they’re open before you go.
This South Florida chain has been a favorite since 1959 - but why, exactly, is hard to explain. This place is dark and wooden, like the hull of an old ship, and both the wings (free every Wednesday if you buy a pitcher of beer) and ribs will give you the sustenance you need after helping your little cousin build sandcastles for six hours. The service is quick, and this place is both a solid spot for your post-beach comedown and a fascinating glimpse into the South Florida psyche.
We love a name that gets right to the point: oranges, Toys “R” Us, Big & Tall. You know what you’re in for - and that’s exactly the case with Burgers and Shakes. This isn’t the best burger in Miami, but it’s a convenient place to toast a successful day at the beach - which is only a football field away from the restaurant’s sidewalk seating. Stick with their classic cheeseburger. It’s enough to fill you up without making you uncomfortably full and messy like some of their more elaborate options. The shakes are also refreshingly straightforward with vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate flavors.
You may not immediately think of gyros after a beach day, but you probably should. It’s as filling and hearty as anything else you’ll find on South Beach, and Miami Mediterranean does the best ones in the neighborhood. It’s a low-key spot where you’ll probably see a bathroom door being propped open with a rusty kettlebell or drunk tourists on the hunt for something to eat. But what this little spot lacks in looks, it makes up for in slow-turning, juicy beef. You’ll have a prime view as they shave off slices just for you. Try not to look too creepy when you stare at it.