Oh, pandemic birthdays. Those are two words we would be very happy to never use again - like “Zoom meeting” or “election season.” But the good news is that there are still restaurants where you can celebrate a birthday - and do so outside. These places will work great, whether you want to have several cocktails with a few friends or a low-key birthday involving excellent food.
Are you one of those people who considered asking for a sushi cake for your birthday? Well, instead you should save that money and spend it at Itamae, home to some of the best ceviche, tiradito, and sushi in Miami. The Nikkei (Peruvian/Japanese) restaurant is located in the Design District, has a lot of outdoor seating, and a small natural wine menu too. We have yet to find a dish here that doesn’t make a single tear of gratitude roll down our cheek, so order anything and everything. Then maybe someone will buy you something from the Louis Vuitton store.
Over Under is one of our favorite restaurants in Downtown. It’s equal parts bar and restaurant - and whether you come here for a couple of frozen drinks or a cheeseburger or (ideally) both, you’re going to have a good time. Their menu is constantly changing but some dependably good things you’ll find here include that cheeseburger, oysters, smoked fish dip, and a great fried chicken sandwich. This place is closer to a dive bar than a fine-dining restaurant (a good thing, in our opinion), so no one’s going to give you dirty looks for singing Happy Birthday too loudly. In fact, depending on how many $5 boilermakers they’ve had, they might join in.
In case you haven’t heard us singing the praises of Jaguar Sun’s many pandemic pivots, here’s a reminder. The Downtown restaurant has moved its operations to a lot in Little River, which they’ve now converted into a sort of outdoor steakhouse they’re calling “Sonny’s Someday Steakhouse.” We’re starting to lose count of how many times Jaguar Sun has reinvented themselves during the pandemic, but what’s most impressive is how damn enjoyable and delicious every one of their iterations has been. This latest pivot is no different, and works great for celebrating a birthday with a huge 40-day aged ribeye and the best martinis in town.
If “outside” and “cocktails” are both part of what you’re looking for, then Broken Shaker is always going to be an option. The classic Miami Beach bar has palm trees, poolside seating, and excellent drinks. This place will always be an essential outdoor celebration spot.
Have you been planning your birthday outfit for the last 364 days? Well, Wynwood’s Uchi is a good place to finally debut it. The Austin import is fancy and expensive, but if you’ve got a good excuse to come here, you should. It’s just an excellent restaurant - from the service to the food, which includes a lot of fantastic sushi and other Japanese dishes. There are really no bad choices on the menu, but we quite enjoyed the unagi, the hama chili, and the Hokkaido uni sashimi, which were four delicious lumps of uni topped with pineapple and wrapped in a shiso leaf. Oh, and the fried milk dessert is just as good as it sounds. You should try to make a reservation well in advance, because there are only a handful of outdoor tables.
If you’d like to celebrate your birthday with large piles of ridiculously good barbecue and perhaps some cocktails or natural wine, go to Allapattah’s Hometown Barbecue. They have a lot of outdoor seating that’s nice and spaced-out. It’s a casual warehouse set-up here, but that doesn’t mean the food isn’t worthy of a special occasion. Every meal we’ve had at Hometown has left us very full, very happy, and wondering whether or not we should sell our car and put a smoker in our driveway.
Boia De will work if you want your birthday dinner to be a little more intimate, quieter, and involve some of the best food you’ll find in Miami. They’ve pretty much moved the whole restaurant outside into the parking lot. And while we do miss sitting inside their downright charming dining room, we would eat this food anywhere. It’s that good - especially the baked clams with ’nduja, crispy polenta, and any form of pasta they happen to be making that night.
If you want your celebration to involve more drinks than food, Casa Florida could work. It’s one of our favorite outdoor spaces in Miami - nice and spread out with some booths perfect for parties of two and an old repurposed bus you can hang out in. There are larger tables that can accommodate more people too and you’ll probably need a reservation for one of those. They have food here - including some raw bar options - but it’s more of a place to throw back a few cocktails. We usually go with the tangerine negroni.
A pizza party is a solid birthday choice whether you’re turning five or 50, and Lucali’s new outdoor seating is the best place to have such a party in Miami. Lucali’s pizza is beautiful. It’s thin and crispy and topped with your choice of very good things like pepperoni or shallots and we really hope you’ve had it before because it’s so much more fun to eat than read about. They have cocktails too, but know that this place doesn’t take reservations so you might have to wait for a table. It will be worth it.
You’re not going to have a bad meal at KYU. We’re pretty sure it’s just impossible, even if you were to let a pigeon order for you. Everything here is good - especially the Korean fried chicken, Thai fried rice stone pot, and duck breast burnt ends. KYU’s a crowd-pleaser, which means you can come here with your parents or friends with equal confidence. And like a lot of Wynwood restaurants, they’ve converted some street parking into outdoor tables.
The South Beach Italian restaurant Macchialina has taken over the outdoor patio next door, which, fun and unrelated fact, used to be a hostel that was involved in a Jerry Falwell Jr. scandal. Thankfully, Macchialina is putting it to better use as an outdoor dining room where guests can hang out and enjoy the best pasta in Miami. Reservations are necessary and the outdoor seating is covered so rain won’t ruin your birthday dinner.