The best restaurants in Downtown

Covering delicious pastas, a Japanese Omakase, and our favorite pizza in Miami

May
08
2024

Keep this guide handy when you’re in the area and are looking for the best restaurants in Downtown.

If you know Miami, you know that our Downtown is unlike any other major city. We wouldn’t say it’s hustling and bustling, overcrowded, or overwhelming and we mean that in a good way. Tourists are a rare sighting, and it’s truly a Downtown for locals. We wish it could stay like this forever but chances are, it won’t.

Lately, we’ve been spending some time in the Downtown area, and although parking is miserable we love it just the way it is, charming and laidback. This guide covers the best restaurants in Downtown for a business lunch as well as dinner spots that are truly special and serve some of Miami’s most badass food.

MANGROVE


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 Cheese, Half 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


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 now, with its exciting new location in Downtown Miami, Tam Tam is ready to captivate even more taste buds and create unforgettable experiences.

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.

MIAMI SLICE


Address: 1335 NE Miami Ct
Cuisine: American, pizza

Did you know that our favorite slice shop is open on Monday?! Miami Slice is located Downtown near the Arsht Center and it’s one of the best, if not the best pizza you will have in Miami. Truly ahead of its time.

When you think of a slice shop, you may think of a brightly lit, greasy, dirty NYC slice shop. Miami Slice is nothing like that.

It’s a fancy joint (but no need to dress up) with dim lighting and a cute open kitchen where you can see the powerful ovens and all the action. Come as you are, to this elevated experience. The best seat is at the marbled bar where you can see all the pizzas being finished and topped off with fresh grated Parmesan.

Their operating hours are Monday – Sunday from 5 PM – 9 PM. We recommend arriving at 4:45 to be the first one at the bar. Keep your party small, this will make the wait time less. They also have takeout available. You can order by the slice or a whole pie.

Ask for the “kicks” which are “IYKYK” type of add-ons like stracciatella and other good stuff to pimp your slice. Our recommendations include La Salsera with a kick of stracciatella and the Leeks on Bacon. But they’re honestly all good and you’ve never had a simple Margherita, this good.

JAGUAR SUN


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; Where we can always count on fun, original, and balanced cocktails. And where the food is delicious and consistent. Not an easy find in our city, especially in an obscure lobby of a residential building.

It’s the sort of bar/restaurant you wish was in your neighborhood. Come enough times and you’ll make friends with the team that has a deep understanding of great hospitality. 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 from 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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MR. OMAKASE


Address: 163 SE 1st St
Cuisine: Japanese

We’ve got the inside scoop on the ultimate sushi counter experience at Mr. Omakase. This spot is all about edgy, yet casual vibes and unpretentious charm, but don’t be fooled—prepare to be blown away by an elevated and intimate sushi outing. And here’s the dream team behind it all: the dynamic trio—Andrew Mayer and Ryan Leto, the minds behind Poke OG, alongside the sushi master himself, Chef Ryo Nato, previously of the Myumi sushi food truck. Expect top-quality nigiris enhanced with Chef Ryo’s spin, all while keeping the balance, essence, and true flavor of each fish.

Now, let’s talk about choices because these guys have ensured there is something for everyone. Starting with an entry-level Omakase, you can dive into 10 courses at just $89 per person. Feeling a bit more daring? Level up to 14 courses for $109. Now, we ran the numbers and did a little math for you as we recently stopped by not once, but twice (can you tell we love this spot?). Our final verdict?

Go all out for the full 18-course experience at $149. Why? Because adding by the piece (which you will, no arguments here) will turn out to be more expensive than committing to the worthwhile 18 courses. Look at the bright side, you won’t have to think, just sit back, relax, and let them take you on this culinary adventure.

We had Uni, Chu-Toro, Kama-Toro, ShirakoA5 Wagyu, and more. Trust us; the Wagyu with Uni combo is pure umami magic. Treat yourself to an elevated solo sushi date or go with three other friends (four is the maximum party size we recommend).

 

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RISTORANTE FRATELLI MILANO


Address: 213 SE 1st St
Cuisine: Italian

We’ve been going to Fratelli Milano since we were teens and every time we go, were transported to a European cafe.

Twin Chefs Roberto & Emanuele Bearzi opened Fratelli Milano’s doors in 2006 and since then they’ve captivated the downtown neighborhood with their charisma and regional Italian cooking.

The all-day menu includes homemade pasta made fresh daily. Our favorites include the Pappardelle Milano with Filet mignon, porcini mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, Chianti wine, goat cheese, truffle oil, tomato sauce; the Ravioli di Aragosta with jumbo lobster ravioli, grape tomatoes, pink vodka sauce; and the Gnocchetti with your choice of tomato, pink or Alfredo sauce.

Make sure to stop by for lunch and dinner. To get the two vibes of the spot. Currently, for $29, you can get a three-course lunch. This special offer includes signature dishes like the Grilled Artichoke Salad, Bruschetta, Penne Tre Funghi, Chicken Milanese, and Sicilian Cannoli. Sit inside or outside, either way, you’ll feel like you’re in Milano.

NIU KITCHEN


Address: 104 NE 2nd Ave
Cuisine: Spanish, Catalan

NIU Kitchen in Downtown Miami is serving Catalan food. Chef Deme Lomas is pushing the boundaries with his creativity and bold flavors in this tiny space. The food speaks for itself and you’re unbothered by the typical chairs of your middle school classroom. The menu is constantly evolving so a reoccurring dinner on the calendar is a smart move. Dishes that might be there when you go are the Pa Amb Tomaquet; Octopus Carpaccio; Charbroiled Calmar; and the ous (poached eggs truffled potato foam, black truffle, and bits of jamon iberico sprinkled on top). Lovers of biodynamic wine will also thrive at NIU Kitchen. When looking through the menu you will find a message that says, “Have you tried ordering [dinner] without thinking close your eyes? Point to an item on the menu with your [right] index finger.” We say, go for it.

MOTEK CAFE


Address: 36 NE 1st St Suite 132
Cuisine: Israeli

Motek is a family-owned, kosher-style Israeli Mediterranean restaurant offering all-day brunch, dinner, and baked goods. Motek boosts “fast-casual food culture” by focusing on freshness and thoughtful, delicious Israeli food. The original location is in Downtown and great for a quick bite during work hours. They also recently opened in Aventura, Coral Gables, Brickell, and Miami Beach!

We love their selection of bowls, served with your choice of majadra rice, nana rice, or cauliflower couscous, and all bowls are topped with Israeli salad, hummus, and sumac onions.

Try the Faroe Island Salmon Bowl with harissa honey and shawarma spiced or grilled salmon. If you’re looking for an entrée, check out the “plates” section of the menu, which includes hummus, pita, and mixed greens. We also recommend the Arayes Burger, winner of SOBEWFF’s Burger Bash 2022. It’s a must-try with kosher grass-feed beef stuffed in grilled pita with tahini for dipping.

 

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SOYA E POMODORO


Address: 120 NE 1st St #2502
Cuisine: Italian

Our content creator Gaby Valdano stopped by Soya e Pomodoro for what she thought would be a typical night out. But little did she know, her life would be forever changed by a gnocchi dish at this classic Downtown restaurant.

Soya e Pomodoro is a neighborhood gem all about nostalgia and classic Italian dishes. It offers a kitschy dining experience with unmatched vintage furniture, family photos, and even a random snowman mascot that is part of the decor year-round.

During the day, we’d bring a hip client, and during the night, we’d bring a date. Both will fall in love with Soya e Pomodoro’s quirky ways.

Order the Fusillo Fresco Affumicato with homemade fusilli w/ sauteed arugula, mushrooms & smoked mozzarella in fresh tomato sauce. And of course, the mind-altering Gnocchi that made Gaby re-assess her relationship with this potato dish.  At Soya, the gnoochis are made by hand and are prepared alla Sorrentina, in a fresh tomato sauce, with mozzarella & basil

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PHOTO CREDIT MANGROVE