Miami’s South Beach is legendary for beautiful beaches and beautiful people, but even sun-kissed models have to eat—and so do the rest of us. Trouble is, finding somewhere worth stopping along the table-crammed sidewalks of Ocean Drive and Española Way, with their tourist-trap restaurants and watered-down fishbowl margaritas, can be a heck of a challenge.
We’re here to help! While researching fun new scavenger hunts in Miami, Senior Writer Ryan Greene found a few food-and-drink spots he totally loved. From a quick bite to a fancy meal, these five places to eat and drink are actually great.
One of the Best Bars in the World
That would be Sweet Liberty, a 2017 newcomer that almost instantly earned a reputation as one of the top 50 bars on the planet. A mix of classic and new, with more than a little cheek, the menu ranges from deviled eggs and gin gimlets to cauliflower nachos and fruity vodka-prosecco-elderflower concoction called the Basic Bitch. In keeping with the theme, I paired a classic margarita with a plate of mushroom toast—sort of an earthy twist on avocado toast for fungus lovers like me. Unsurprisingly, they were both excellent. Sweet Liberty, 237-B 20th St., mysweetliberty.com
A Quick Bite
Sometimes necessity—like, say, needing to escape the blistering Miami sun and immediately toss some food into your famished belly—breeds serendipity. That’s how I chanced into Andrix Cafe, an unassuming corner bakery across the street from the eatery-studded Española Way. Their various pastries and caffeinated beverages looked and smelled amazing, but the squares of fresh, flavorful Roman-style pizza hooked me and brought me back more than once for a delicious (and blessedly affordable) lunch. Andrix Cafe, 1443 Washington Ave., andrixcafe.com
Speaking of Española Way…
As much a tourist spot as Ocean Drive, the two-block stretch between Washington and Pennsylvania avenues is a riot of samey-seeming restaurants with pushy hosts who tirelessly try to lure any and every living thing to take a seat and start eating. What a treat, then, to discover the tiny four-seat bar inside of Mercato della Pescheria. Lingering over a good book and some happy-hour wine ($6.50, not too bad for Miami prices), I enjoyed the bustle of the partially open kitchen to my left and the gabble of Italian-speaking waiters zooming in and out to deliver cocktails to diners outside. Mercato della Pescheria, 412 Española Way, mercatodellapescheria.com/miami
Let’s Get Fishy
There are plenty of fish in the Miami food scene, and Grillfish deserves a taste or two. All high ceilings, classic murals, and a wide stone bar, the seafood-centric eatery cuts a dashing figure and serves up a long list of gilled goodies in various preparations. My shrimp scampi practically sagged with jumbo shrimp, diced tomatoes, and garlicky goodness. And the watermelon martini wasn’t half bad, either. Grillfish, 1444 Collins Ave., grillfish.com
If, like me, you’re unable to resist getting a little touristy, indulge in a meal at Larios on the Beach. Gloria Estefan and her husband opened this ’50s-inspired, mosaic-tiled Cuban restaurant some 30 years ago, and its popularity endures. After an avocado salad and an enormous skillet of arroz con pollo with maduros, you could say I had a little trouble getting on my feet. Or maybe that was the fault of the Glorious Cosmopolitan—Gloria’s very own recipe, the menu proclaims! Larios on the Beach, 820 Ocean Drive, lariosonthebeach.com
Before joining Watson Adventures in 2014, Senior Write Ryan Greene worked as a reporter and an assistant editor—and occasionally a food critic—for newspapers and magazines in New Jersey.