Miami’s Best Restaurants With “Ambiente”

Where the vibe is more important but the food is still good

Jun
03
2024

Keep this guide handy when looking for Miami’s best restaurants with “ambiente”.

Es viernes (el cuerpo lo sabe), you’re slamming your laptop shut ’til Monday and all you can think of is good food, drinks, and a vibey crowd.

Whether you’re planning a lively double-date, looking to have una cenita rica y divertida with friends, or even mingle with strangers, we’ve got you covered. This guide features restaurants around Miami con el mejor ambiente that still manage to serve pretty good food (and drinks, ooobvio). 

So, the next time your friend asks you “where can we go, que sea rico y chevere?” refer to this guide as your cheat sheet.

PASTIS


Neighborhood: Wynwood
Address380 NW 26th St
Cuisine: French

The iconic NYC staple, Pastis, expanded its presence from the Meatpacking District to the vibrant neighborhood of Wynwood. The restaurant stays true to its New York roots, offering the same menu filled with classic Parisian bistro-style dishes and an incredible ambiance that won’t make you feel like you’re in Miami.

You’re heading here for a chic lunch or dinner and sitting at their gorgeous outdoor patio decorated with ceiling fans, red patio umbrellas, and twinkly lights. We’d start with some drinks (of course), if you’re a spritz person looking to relax, start your meal with their St. Tropez Spritz made with St. Germain, lemon, aperitif, sparkling wine, and strawberries. But if you’ve had a long day (or week) then kick off your meal with a tiny Le Petit Pickle martini.

As for the food, we like to start with a few hors d’oeuvres for the table. We usually go for the Tuna Carpaccio with lemon vinaigrette, Escargots with garlic-parsley butter, Onion Soup, and Crispy Artichokes with garlic aioli. Moving on to the entrées we love their Chicken Paillard with almonds and picholine olives, and we always love to get an order of the Moules Frites with white wine and garlic for the table (don’t forget to dip the bread in the sauce). If you still have a little room, the grand finale is the airy Profiteroles, delicately filled with velvety smooth vanilla ice cream, and generously drizzled with warm chocolate sauce.

 

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JAGUAR SUN


Neighborhood: Downtown
Address: 230 NE 4th St
Cuisine: American, pasta

Jaguar Sun is probably our favorite place in Miami. Some may say it’s a cocktail bar, others, a restaurant with an awesome pasta selection. We’d like to think of it as a combination of both. And there’s something about the vibe that makes you want to chat with the person next to you.

Our favorite dishes include the Hokkaido Scallop, the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio with the most delish charred leek aioli, Agnolotti with blue crab, and the Spicy Rigatoni. Make sure to ask if there are any new dishes or off-menu items, sometimes they’ll have something to share with you. Leave room for a Wolf Whistle, their version of a tequila espresso martini paired with dessert.

Jaguar Sun is open Monday through Sunday from 5 PM to 1 AM, the kitchen closes at 11 PM on weekdays, and midnight on weekends. Happy Hour is available from 5 PM to 7 PM with $1 oysters, and $10 classic cocktails.

 

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MAMO


Neighborhood: Brickell
Address: 931 Brickell Ave
Cuisine: Italian

Mamo is where you want to go in Brickell and feel lux but not overwhelmed. It’s an intimate, brightly lit dining room with a beautiful beige bar. So yes, the aesthetic is classic Italian with white tablecloth and earth tones. Service is 10/10 and the food hits the spot.

You’re going to stop by with a big group that loves to wine and dine so you can share a little bit of everything. We recommend the Fried Artichoke seasoned with cacio e pepe, and the beef steak tartare with tomatoes, olives, capers, and lime mayo. Their specialty is truffle dishes so make sure you get the Raviolini with Fresh Truffle. We also enjoyed La Nostra Cacio & Pepe with fresh calabrian maccheroni, cheese, black pepper, lemon, sage; a non-traditional take to the cacio e pepe pasta and the Maltagliati Verdi alla Bolognese. Something we appreciated about Mamo is that they offer half orders of the pasta dishes, allowing you to sample a variety or opt for a lighter meal if you’re planning to stay out late.

 

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KOKO BY BAKAN


Neighborhood: Coconut Grove
Address2856 Tigertail Ave
Cuisine: Mexican

Koko is a super cool Mexican spot by Grupo Bakan in Coconut Grove that has a beautiful outdoor area as well as an active indoor and outdoor bar. The warm interior design is sleek and inspired by the natural landscapes and colors of Mexico. It’s a nice balance between a chic Mexican restaurant and comida caserita. Make sure to score a seat on their covered outdoor patio surrounded by a cacti backdrop.

They make their tacos with fresh tortillas from organic corn, and their meat and seafood come straight from the wood-fired grill. They also have an insane selection of over 400 mezcals and tequilas.

Their menu has options. Some of the dishes we recently tried and loved include the Zucchini Flower Quesadillas with epazote; Enchiladas de Pato en Pipian Rojo made with crispy duck carnitas, peanuts, almonds, dried chiles, spices, white onion, goat cheese, and cream; and the “Al Pastor” Cherry Wood Organic Chicken Rotisserie served with a grilled poblano chile stuffed with Oaxaca cheese, refried black beans, grilled corn, guacamole, and grilled knob onion.

 

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KISSAKI


Neighborhood: South Beach
Address500 South Pointe Dr Suite 160
CuisineJapanese, sushi, omakase

From NYC, Kissaki is the latest restaurant to open in South Beach. You’re going here when you’re in the mood to see and be seen. So, first things first, we suggest you dress the part! This is a great spot when you want to impress on a first date.

Picture a sexy, velvety, elevated night out with top-quality sushi and drinks. You’ll be able to choose either their á la carte menu or their personalized 15-course Omakase experience at the bar priced at $185 per person (excluding service charge and sales tax). Go for the latter.

Here’s how your night will go: arrive a little earlier, check-in, and sit at the bar. Order a dirty martini (they make a solid one) as you wait to begin your Omakase experience. Once you’re seated at the sushi counter let them handle the rest. Before we continue, here’s a little insider’s tip: switch gears and order the Sohomare “Heart and Soul” Sake.

It all starts with three appetizers, followed by 10 nigiris, a final hand roll, and of course, dessert. Our favorite appetizer was the Crispy Nori topped with grilled corn, toro, caviar, and truffle; the loveliest combination of sweet and salty. From the sushi lineup, you can expect Baby Shrimp that tastes like butter, Akami with almond crunch and shitake, Chutoro with caviar, Otoro, and more. Oh, and if you still have a little space before dessert, order an extra hand roll and let them get creative. In our case, they gave us a Madai hand roll with shiso, truffle soy, and honey!

 

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KLAW ROOFTOP


Neighborhood: Edgewater
Address: 1737 N Bayshore Dr
Cuisine: Seafood, steak

It’s not easy to find a restaurant that provides good views and good food. And a rooftop? We would have said good luck until Klaw came into the picture.

The rooftop has a more condensed menu in comparison to the main dining room. However, you can still order the Norweigan King Crab Legs.

Additionally, order the Black Grouper Crudo with caviar, yuzu kosho, finger lime, scallion, avocado, and leche de tigre; the Baby-Size Crab Tacos with spicy dashi butter, avocado, lime, and kimchi; and the Stracciatella with grilled black mission fig, shaved speck ham, buttered croutons aged balsamic, toasted walnuts, basil oil, and herb salad. Order the Maine Lobster Roll and Picanha which are only available at the rooftop lounge.

BARCELONA WINE BAR


Neighborhood: Wynwood
Address: 310 NW 25th St
Cuisine: Spanish, Mediterranean, South American influences, tapas, wine bar

If you went to college or have spent some time as a young professional in our nation’s capital then you’ve been to Barcelona Wine Bar. Our friends that lived in D.C. can’t shut up about it. And now that they’ve opened up a location in Miami, we decided to venture off into the wild world of Wynwood to check it out.

At Barcelona Wine Bar, you won’t feel like you’re in Wynwood, and we mean that in a good way. Sure, there’s a great Mural by Patrick Church by the name of Dearest Boy on the exterior of the building. But, once you step inside, it’s giving: moody tapas bar with wood finishes. Bring a group of friends, cool clients that want to go to Wynwood or a date to Barcelona Wine Bar. You’re going to sit at the bar for happy hour or order off the full menu. Their kind staff is happy to uncork any bottle of wine, helping you discover the precise flavor profile you want to sip.

The menu features Spanish tapas with Mediterranean and South American influences. We’d kick off the evening with their charcuterie and cheese deal. For $19.50 pick your favorite three. We love the six-month Aged Manchego, the soft Tetilla from Galicia, and the Mahon from Islas Baleares that has been aged four months. Or if you’re looking for something bigger for $26 go for the Aperitivo Board with Jamón Serrano, Fuet, Mahón, Drunken Goat, Pickled Vegetables, Olives, Pickled Guindilla, and Patatas Bravas. Additionally, on happy hour, you have 50% off all bottles of sparkling wine, and $7 gimlets, dirty martinis, and espresso martinis. Happy Hour also includes Potato Chips & Lomo Iberico; a Montadito with housemade ricotta, and Orange Mermelada; and a Gilda with boquerones, Guindilla Peppers, and olives. Oh and for a plot twist, their tortilla is served with a chive sour cream.

CLUB ROOM BAR AT THE SURF CLUB RESTAURANT


Neighborhood: Surfside
Address: 9011 Collins Ave
Cuisine: Modern American

When there is a big name attached to a restaurant, expectations are always high and The Surf Club Restaurant by Thomas Keller does not disappoint.

Chef Thomas Keller is famously known for The French Laundry in Yountville, California, and Per Se in New York City. If and when you decide to stop by The Surf Club Restaurant, chances are that Chef Keller won’t be there. But it doesn’t matter. Excellence exists here. And we want to celebrate any major life achievements at the Surf Club Restaurant. But we also just want to go to their regal bar and feel like a million bucks.

The best way to experience the bar there is by arriving relatively early. We’d say before 7 PM. Start the night with the refreshing Basil Smash with gin. And then stick to small plates for sharing. The generous portion of French Onion Dip and Kettle Chips is a must if you’re just having drinks. However, if you plan to eat, order the best crispy, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake of your life, Hass Avocado & Garden Vegetable Louie, and the Hand-cut Steak Tartare.

CHAMPAGNE BAR AT THE SURF CLUB


Neighborhood: Surfside
Address9011 Collins Ave
Cuisine: Italian

At the Four Seasons Surf Club’s Champagne Bar, it’s not just about the exquisite setting—this place takes you back in time. And when you first enter the open space, you’ll know the best seat is at the bar.

You’re on a journey to an elegant oasis with a palm-lined lounge, where the cocktail menu isn’t just a list; it’s a Miami Timeline, offering a variety of concoctions from different eras.

From the glamorous Champagne selection—Miami’s largest—to innovative riffs on classic cocktails inspired by global travels, there’s a sip for every taste. We’re talking expertly crafted drinks like the 747, a refreshing blend of vodka, St-Germain, watermelon, and basil, or the WWW, teasing the palate with Absolut Elyx and Cocchi Americano. And for those seeking a personalized touch, the Cocktail Trolley is an adventure waiting to happen, where an $85 investment leads to a bespoke drink tailored to your preferences, perhaps uncovering a new favorite courtesy of skilled mixologists.

DOYA


Neighborhood: Wynwood
Address: 347 NW 24th St
Cuisine: Aegean, Turkish, Mediterranean

Doya located in Wynwood is serving Aegean flavors from the coast of Turkey. We are talking dips, local produce, refreshing and light plates, plus an amazing octopus’ dish that keeps us coming back for more. We blindly recommend it for all types of occasions. It’s great for a birthday, large groups, date nights, double dates, and families. It also has a lively vibe at the bar if you’re interested in making new friends.

At Doya you are stopping by for the top-notch hospitality and the meze dining experience. Order for the center of the table, because you’re sharing. We love the Cretan Feta Dip, the Manti (beef dumplings drenched in a garlic yogurt sauce), and the Adana Kebab with lavash bread. Oh, and if they have the Dolmas Cabbage Leaves, get them.

Join them on Sundays from 12 PM to 3 PM for brunch. Their menu is packed with sweet and savory Turkish meze. For $68 you can feel like you’re in Çeşme with the full Aegean Breakfast Table. It includes cheese, veggies, olives, olive tapenade, the Fistik Ezmesi (pistachio paste), fig marmalade as well as Turkish buns, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), fruit, pastrami, and more.

KAORI


Neighborhood: Brickell
Address871 S Miami Ave
CuisineModern Asian

Kaori is a modern Asian restaurant that is a literal gem amid all the Brickell craziness. More people need to know about this place but at the same time, we love the intimate vibe of their downstairs bar and lounge area. When thinking about places that have a good crowd, drinks, food, and music, we’d go to Kaori. Stop by for happy hour at the bar every day from 5 PM to 7 PM. You can also pass by around 7 PM Thursday – Saturday and listen to vinyl jams by local DJs.

If you get hungry, the food is so good here! Try the Beef Tartare, an unexpected dish in terms of flavor with yuzu kosho, avocado mousse, gochujang, roasted cashews, and black rice cracker. Or go for the Wagyu & Foie Gras Gyozas with a salty & slightly sweet doubanjiang sauce and creamy sesame goma dare.

 

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CAFÉ LA TROVA


Neighborhood: Calle Ocho
Address: 971 SW 8th St
Cuisine: Cuban

Cafe La Trova is a vibrant, festive, modern Cuban destination in the heart of Little Havana. With cuisine from James Beard award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein and a bar program from world-renowned Julio Cabrera. You might not be able to have a deep conversation here but if you’re looking for live music and ambiente, this is a great spot.

It’s also perfect for large groups because you won’t break the bank. You can share empanadascroquetas, and sliders; while sipping on some of the best tropical cocktails, you will find in Miami.

At midnight on Friday and Saturday, they open their 305 80’s bar which is one of the best things you can do in Miami. The vibe is super relaxed. You’ll bump into tourists, viejos, anyone and everyone. You can literally wear whatever you want and yes the vibe is 80s with a little 90s here and there.

MANGROVE


Neighborhood: Downtown
Address103 NW 1st Ave
CuisineJamaican, Caribbean

Mangrove is a Caribbean restaurant, bar, and lounge that just opened in Downtown aiming to unite food, music, and community. Here, Chef Wayne Sharpe stays true to and honors Caribbean and Jamaican flavors, while sprinkling in his family traditions and the diverse culture of Miami.

With an eclectic and fun menu, a curated vinyl selection, bar stools, booths, and mix-matched glassware – you kind of feel like you’re in a retro film with all your best friends, in the best way. On their menu, you can find dishes like Jerk Mac and CheeseHalf Jerk Chicken (or a whole if you’re sharing), Rasta Pasta with pepper bechamel, and even Vegan Coconut Cheesecake to end on a sweet note. We highly recommend the flavorful Curry Oxtail that is served with your choice of side. We went for the Coconut Rice & Peas.

You’re going to want to come here Thursday – Saturday for a more lively dinner that could turn into some dancing once they start playing the music louder. Follow them on Instagram for more info on their DJ lineup.

 

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TÂM TÂM


Neighborhood: Downtown
Address97 NW 1st St
Cuisine: Vietnamese

Tam Tam, a lively Vietnamese spot that went from pop-up to permanent restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Miami. Drawing inspiration from the concept of “quán nhậu,” which represents the joy of gathering with friends while enjoying food and drinks, Tam Tam has mastered the art of creating an atmosphere that guarantees a memorable time and you’ll want to stay hanging for as long as your reservation allows for it.

Start with their Shimeji Mushroom creation, where earthy mushrooms take center stage in a savory La Vong sauce with scallions and peanuts. And make sure to save room for their Tamarind Glazed Pork Ribs: tender and juicy pork ribs, meticulously cooked to perfection, boasting a beautiful caramelized glaze infused with the bold flavors of tamarind. As you take your first bite, the meat effortlessly falls off the bone, revealing a harmony of sweet, tangy, and savory notes dancing on your palate. And no meal is truly complete without a touch of sweetness, order Isabel’s Cheesecake and thank us later. Oh and if you are into karaoke, make sure to visit the bathroom.

BEYBEY


Neighborhood: South Beach
Address: 1330 18th St
Cuisine: Lebanese, Mediterranean

BeyBey is the cool girl on the block. It’s a new concept in Sunset Harbor with plates to share, good music, and cocktails. The vibes are tropical and cozy, and it’s one of those places we’d explore with a group of friends for a late dinner, and stay through the night on Friday and Saturday.

It’s giving my friend’s supper club energy, which if you’re anything like us, you’ll love. The menu is not only graphic designer-approved, but also full of Mediterranean, Spanish and Lebanese dishes meant to be shared. They just launched a small refreshing menu in collaboration with Chef Giacomo Spadacini and Chef Geoff Lee. Our favorite dishes were the Hamachi Aguachile with grapefruit, green finger chili, and Persian cucumbers; Tipsy Tomato with buyuut feta, arak vinaigrette, and a homemade pesto; Lamb Flat, a flatbread with pulled lamb ragu, mint salsa verde, marinated goat cheese, baharat oil, and pickled herbs and the 24 Hour L’entrecote, a thinly sliced short rib, chimichurri butter, and Lebanese batata harra potatoes.

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Miami’s Best Restaurants With “Ambiente”
PHOTO CREDIT MAMO