Being able to stare at large bodies of water is one of the biggest perks of being a South Floridian (right behind free mangoes and shorts being considered acceptable formal wear). At these restaurants, you can take advantage of that perk while also eating good things and (if you want) drinking four glasses of sparkling wine. Here are some very solid waterfront spots that are open with outdoor seating right now.
Shuckers is one of the few waterfront restaurants in Miami where the prime views don’t come with incessant house music and $300 bottles of rosé whizzing by your head. It’s casual, and the food here is what you want in a breezy raw bar. They have good wings and decent seafood - but the best part of Shuckers is its wide-open view of Biscayne Bay. There are also a ton of TVs, and chance are they’re playing whatever game you want to see.
Cafe Kush is a MiMo restaurant from Kush Hospitality, who seem to be incapable of producing a bad restaurant. Cafe Kush is like the original Kush in Wynwood if it took a French vacation. They have some burger options, but also steak frites, a croque monsieur, and fried frog legs. Their outdoor seating offers a view of Little River, which isn’t a huge body of water but does give you an above-average chance of spotting a manatee.
Garcia’s is a classic seafood spot right on the Miami River that’s currently open for outdoor dining. This is a casual spot with no dress code and excellent fish dip, cracked conch, grouper, snapper, and many more things that once lived in the ocean. Reservations are suggested. Call (305) 375-0765 to make one.
Lido is an outdoor restaurant located inside The Standard in Miami Beach. The view here is definitely the main attraction. There are small plates you can share, like hummus or shrimp cocktail, as well as burgers, sandwiches, and steak. This is a hotel restaurant on Miami Beach - a waterfront one, nonetheless - so be prepared for that burger to be $20. But they do have a Happy Hour Mon-Thu from 4-6pm, with $5 beer and select snacks from $4-8.
Amara in Edgewater is back open for dinner and weekend brunch. The upscale waterfront restaurant has a good amount of outdoor seating (all with a pretty nice view of Biscayne Bay) and they serve some really good seafood dishes too - like golden tilefish ceviche, grilled snapper, and tuna tostadas. Grab a reservation online.
If you’re trying to eat and drink outside next to the water in Coconut Grove, the answer is pretty much always Monty’s. This big, outdoor seafood restaurant/tiki hut on steroids feels a little more like Key West than Miami. Happy Hour here (Mon-Fri from 4-7pm) is a good call if you want to have $6 frozen cocktails and $1 oysters. Reservations aren’t required.
The upscale Peruvian spot on Brickell Key is open for outdoor dining, which is where you’d want to sit at La Mar even under normal circumstances (remember “normal circumstances?”). The outdoor tables have a pretty great view of Biscayne Bay and the Brickell skyline. To eat, expect a lot of Peruvian classics: ceviche, lomo saltado, arroz con mariscos, and papa a la huancaina. You’ll probably need a reservation. Make one online.
This casual Key Biscayne restaurant is right next to a marina, so you can watch boats get pulled out of the water while you wash down perfectly fine fried gator bites and coconut mahi nuggets with frozen drinks that taste very good after a long day in the sun (or, if you’re lucky, on a boat). This place also faces west, so you’ll want to be here for sunset. Reservations aren’t required.
If your goal is to eat as close to the beach as possible, then Mid-Beach’s Malibu Farm is an appropriate choice. Of course a restaurant this close to the sand - especially one that’s inside a hotel - is going to be pricey. But if you’re OK with that, and really want to be able to smell the ocean while you eat decent fish tacos or an avocado pizza, then you might like it here. Reservations are available online.
We could pick you up, blindfold you, and drop you at Boater’s Grill, and you’d probably think you were in the Keys, not Miami. And you’d be half right. This place is located inside Key Biscayne’s Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, sitting next to a quiet cove where you might possibly befriend a manatee. The food is fine, but the view is a lot better. Admission to the park is $4-8 if you’re coming in a car. Just a head’s up: Bill Baggs is currently operating at reduced capacity, so call ahead if you plan on coming to make sure they’re still letting people into the park.
Even though you can’t really see the water from the outdoor tables (at least if you’re sitting down), we still consider Mike’s a waterfront spot at heart. This rooftop Irish pub is right by the west end of the Venitian Causeway, and if you stand up and take a very short walk to the building’s edge, you get a pretty great view of Biscayne Bay and the Downtown skyline. The mostly-fried things you eat here aren’t quite as stunning, but they’re just fine if you’re craving chicken wings or calamari and coconut shrimp. You won’t need a reservation.