The Old School Miami Restaurant Guide

Our favorite classic restaurants in Miami

Feb
22
2023

The Old School Miami Restaurant Guide covers our favorite classic restaurants in Miami. Here you will feel at home and taken care of. What makes a classic, “classic”? Longevity, consistency, and staying true to who you are.

All of the restaurants on this list have been operating for more than 33 years. And the oldest restaurant in this guide has been around for 100 years! If you go often and chat with the staff, you’ll learn that most of the people working at some of these spots have been there for 10 to 20 years.

This guide is for nostalgic locals as much as it is for those that have recently moved to Miami and are looking to feel the tradition of these old-school restaurants. Some are informal, where you’ll order at the counter en Español. While others make the white tablecloth and oversized chandelier work. Oh, and of course, we’ve included Miami’s most important local chain.

Continue on if you’re looking for stone crabs, ribs, cafecito Cubano, Dim Sum, steak, sushi, sandwiches, pasta, croquetas, and Middle Eastern specialties.

JOE’S STONE CRAB


Neighborhood: South Beach
Address: 11 Washington Ave
CuisineSeafood, American
Good for: classics, birthdays, clients, eating out with suegros, special occasions, out-of-towners.

Joe’s Stone Crab is the oldest restaurant on this list. It’s been around since 1913. That’s 100 years of stone crabs and the most glorious fried chicken. We always pick up from Joe’s Take Away. The food is the same quality as their high-end restaurant. But for this guide, we recommend you take a seat in their brightly lit dining room. 

Joe’s is a Miami institution, so you will run into tourists. But Miami locals love it and will be there too. We always go for the select-size stone crabs. Make sure to dip them into the mustard sauce. You also can’t miss Joe’s fried 1/2 chicken, the stone crab bisque, and the ice-cold slice of Key lime pie. 

FLANIGAN’S


Neighborhood: Various locations
CuisineAmerican
Good for: classics, big groups, budget-friendly, day drinking, eating at the bar, happy hour, sports.

We usually don’t talk about chain restaurants, but there is one exception. Flanigan’s or Flanny’s is Miami’s favorite family-run Florida chain that has been around since 1959. If you live in Miami and haven’t been here, it’s probably best; you keep that to yourself. 

It’s laid-back, all about the massive plates and lots of deals. No matter what you end up eating, get a fountain soda that comes in a reusable dark green cup with Joe “Big Daddy” Flanigan’s face on it. Leave it in your car cup holder as that subtle sign that you belong in Miami. Or bring it home and use it as the perfect size bucket to bathe your newborn. Trust us, it’s a thing. 

Every Flanigan’s is special and of course, there is consistency in the fishing and boating decorations. Our Flanny’s is the one in Coconut Grove but we also like the one on 127th and 88th in Kendall. 

Everyone has their Flanigan’s order. Ours is always going to be the chargrilled baby back ribs smothered in their tangy-sweet BBQ sauce with curly fries. We also really like the pasta Caesar that comes with tricolor rotini pasta and Caesar salad plus an add-on of BBQ chicken stickers.

ISLAS CANARIAS


Neighborhood: West Kendall
Address: 13695 SW 26th St | 3804 SW 137th Ave
CuisineCuban
Good for: classics, budget-friendly, eating alone.

Islas Canarias is a family-run Cuban restaurant and bakery that has been around since 1977 in Kendall. We’d go here for breakfast. It’s fast-paced, loud, and unpretentious. 

They have two locations. One is a full restaurant and bar serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It also has a ventanita which is perfect for ordering Cuban baked goods and cafecito. The other is a cafe/ bakery that only serves breakfast. Our favorite way to experience Islas, is with a café con leche and a croquetica on the go. 

GRAZIANO’S RESTAURANT


Neighborhood: Coral Gables | Westchester
Address: 394 Giralda Ave | 9227 Bird Road
CuisineArgentinian
Good for: classics, birthdays, big groups, clients, eating out with suegros, special occasions.

Martinis, steak, and the best sobremesa in Miami?! That’s Graziano’s. This classic Argentinian steakhouse has been around since 1962. We love the food and the attentive hospitality. No one is going to rush you out of here. You can literally be here for more than two hours. 

Consider ordering the roasting fest of your dreams. A Parrillada with certified Angus beef, raised by three-generation family ranchers and naturally aged for at least 21 days. Our favorite cuts are the skirt steak and Picanha.

We’d also get the mussels with leeks in a Marsala wine sauce, the melted Provoleta cheese, the polenta with parmesan in a tomato sauce, and the mashed potato. For dessert, order the crepes with dulce de leche.

 

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LA CAMARONERA SEAFOOD JOINT & FISH MARKET


Neighborhood: Little Havana
Address: 1952 W Flagler St
CuisineSeafood, Latin
Good for: classics, budget-friendly, eating alone.

One of Miami’s most iconic seafood restaurants and markets that has been around since the 60s. This family business is a trusted source to many Miami natives for fresh seafood. Stop by for a chill lunch or dinner and get the OG Minuta Sandwich with freshly caught snapper, lightly bread with tartar sauce on a Cuban bun; and conch fritters.

 

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CHRISTY’S RESTAURANT


Neighborhood: Coral Gables
Address: 3101 Ponce de Leon
CuisineSteakhouse
Good for: classics, clients, eating out with suegros, special occasions, out-of-towners.

Those that romanticize a black-and-white, Frank Sinatra sort of New York will feel right at home when checking out Christy’s. This classic Coral Gables steakhouse has been around since 1978. Inside the regal space, you will find dark red walls, a portrait of Benjamin Franklin, and crystal chandeliers. 

Christy’s is for an after-work dinner with clients. Suits and ties are commonly worn. But it could also be for the fam or a hot date where you’d wear red lipstick and be extra. If someone is bringing you here, we’d say it’s all right to feel important.

Dirty Martini with stuffed blue cheese olives is the way to start. As far as appetizers go we’d share Christy’s famous Caesar salad with house-made rustic croutons, fresh grated Parmesan, and anchovies; The escargot (which you don’t usually get in an American steakhouse) with a classic white wine, garlic, herb butter and the potato skins with sour cream, chives, and caviar.

They have a selection of signature steaks and are known for their Prime Rib of Beef which is hand-carved to order. We’ve yet to try it but we’ll be back for that. If you’re looking for something other than steak, don’t miss the herb-crusted rack of lamb (make it a full rack and lollipop) with a Greek yogurt mint sauce and a sherry honey glaze on a bed of mushrooms and asparagus ragout.

We’re suckers for potato sides so had to go with the potato gratin that was creamy and beautifully layered like a mille-feuille. If you want to finish the night with an over-the-top spectacle, get the Baked Alaska. They flambé the meringue table-side so you can go out with a bang.

 

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MONTY’S RAW BAR


Neighborhood: Coconut Grove
Address: 550 S Bayshore Dr
CuisineSeafood, American
Good for: classics, big groups, budget-friendly, sports, happy hour.

Monty’s Raw Bar has been around since 1969. There are two locations, but our favorite is the one in Coconut Grove. The iconic and tiki-inspired eatery serves tropical drinks and seafood fare dockside for all ages and has outdoor-covered seating. 

Happy Hour is available from Monday – Friday 4 PM-7 PM. Specials include $6 pain removers, mojitos, and frozen drinks; as well as, $1 oysters, $1 shrimp, and pacific stone crabs at a discount. Our order includes the house-smoked fish dip with Applewood smoked Mahi & wahoo, peel and eat shrimp with Old Bay, the curly fries which are literally a huge brick of seasoned curly fries, and the Baja fish tacos.

VERSAILLES


Neighborhood: Little Havana
Address: 3555 SW 8th St
Cuisine: Cuban
Good for: classics, big groups, budget-friendly, out-of-towners, eating alone, late-night munchies.

If you ask anyone to take you to the most iconic Cuban ventanita, 99% will bring you to Versailles on Calle Ocho. This Miami bakery and restaurant is frequented by locals and tourists. Stop by Versailles when you’re feeling chatty and want to strike up a conversation (that might turn into a debate) with a stranger. It might get political with all the personalities that visit this ventanita and you should be okay with that. It’s part of the experience.

We love stepping up to the window and ordering a cortadito. You can also sit down inside and order a full meal. We haven’t done this in a while but if we did we’d go for the grilled palomilla steak with white rice, black beans, and sweet plantains. 

SIR PIZZA


Neighborhood: Key Biscayne
Address: 712 Crandon Blvd
CuisinePizza
Good for: classics, budget-friendly, takeout.

This one is filled with nostalgia and has been around since 1969. We go here for the way it makes us feel. After a long week of work where you feel like a train ran over you, you just need Sir Pizza. The thin, squared, cheesy, and crispy pizza will take you back to when you were 15. You’re getting ranch dressing on the side, the pepperoni pizza with cubed pepperoni, and a Crusader Blanket. If you know, you know. We also dabble with black olives on our pizza, don’t @ us.

THE ORIGINAL DAILY BREAD MARKETPLACE


Neighborhood: Coconut Grove
Address: 2400 SW 27th St
CuisineMiddle Eastern, Lebanese
Good for: classics, budget-friendly, takeout, eating alone.

This Middle Eastern marketplace and fast-casual restaurant opened in 1975 by the Mazzawi family. We love passing by and stocking up on grape leaves, labneh, dates, pita bread and olives. Try their fun flavored hummus, such as the basil hummus, and the kalamata hummus. Once you’re done with your home groceries, head to their freshly prepared food station. Here you can order our favorite Greek salad with lots of cabbage, a delicious gyro platter, shawarma, and Kibbie by the piece. Don’t miss the dessert counter filled with Baklava, lady fingers, and Mammoul.

MATSURI


Neighborhood: Coral Gables
Address: 5759 Bird Rd
Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi
Good for: classics, budget-friendly, takeout.

Matsuri, located inside a casual strip mall off Bird Road, offers top-quality sushi at a reasonable price. The space is clean and minimalist. We highly recommend you arrive at 5 PM or 9 PM to avoid waiting. This modest spot has an extensive menu of soups, sushi, sashimi, rolls, and Matsuri’s New World (modern dishes with Japanese ingredients).

When you just want sushi and sashimi, go for the Masa Special for three. It comes with 24 pieces of sashimi, sliced shellfish, 15 pieces of sushi, and two fish rolls. For a more premium boat platter go for the Go-To-Ren Special. Count on 28 pieces of sashimi, sliced shellfish, 22 pieces of sushi, and three fish rolls.

Matsuri is one of those local gems that gets packed. Here are some tips on how to score a table. But if you’re not feeling patient or in the mood to deal with the crowd waiting outside for a table, you can now schedule your pickup order HERE and indulge from the comfort of your couch.

LA SANDWICHERIE


Neighborhood: South Beach
Address: 229 14th St
CuisineSandwiches
Good for: classics, budget-friendly, eating alone, late-night munchies.

The original La Sandwicherie, located in Miami Beach, has been around since 1988. This sandwich shop has seen it all and is probably most known for soaking up most of Miami’s tequila intake.

When ordering a sandwich, make sure to get extra cornichons and their French Dijon-based vinaigrette. You can also buy a bottle of their signature sauce to take home. Our favorite sandwich is the SOBE Club with turkey, brie, and avocado.

They have five locations. Their Brickell, Wynwood, and Miami Beach locations are open until 5 AM, just in case you need a giant sandwich after a long night. 

 

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ENRIQUETA’S SANDWICH SHOP


Neighborhood: Edgewater
Address: 186 NE 29th St
CuisineCuban, Sandwiches
Good for: classics, budget-friendly, eating alone.

Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop located in the not-so-crowded area of Wynwood is a full-fledged restaurant that has been serving breakfast, Cuban sandwiches, and daily specials since the 1960s.

You can take a seat inside or order at the ventanita. It usually has a small, manageable line, and your wait time will depend on your order.

We’re getting a cafe con lechetostada, and freshly squeezed orange juice. If it’s closer to lunch or your need something to cure your hangover, we’d opt for a sandwich. Choices include Pan con Bistec, Media Noche, Pan con Lechon, and many more.

TROPICAL CHINESE


Neighborhood: Westchester
Address: 7991 Bird Rd
CuisineChinese
Good for: classics, big groups, budget-friendly, takeout.

We hadn’t been to Tropical Chinese in at least 7 years, but last week when we were thinking about this guide, we decided to return. The run-down Tropical Chinese that we once knew has received a serious facelift.

The kitchen is now on display and you can take a peek at all the action through the glass window. The wallpaper with the animated dim sum keeps Tropical Chinese vibrant and modern in a way that feels right. And we love that they proudly display 1984, the year they opened, on that same wall.

Get the leek & shrimp dumpling; the chicken song tossed with pine nuts, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and shitake mushrooms; salt and pepper prawns; and the Peking duck of course. The duck is roasted daily. It’s served in two courses and carved table-side. The first course is 10 duck pancakes wrapped with crispy duck skin, scallions, cucumber, and hoisin sauce. The second course is a duck wok with vegetables. Both are delicious and worth it.

CAFFE ABBRACCI


Neighborhood: Coral Gables
Address: 318 Aragon Ave
Cuisine: Italian
Good for: classics, clients, eating out with suegros, special occasions, out-of-towners.

You’re going to want to binge the Sopranos after dinner at Caffe Abbracci. This Northern Italian restaurant has been serving delicious and oversized pasta dishes since 1989.

When you step inside Abbracci, it’s like stepping inside a time capsule back to the 90s. It seems like nothing has really changed. The friendly team has remained pretty much the same. And it’s always a good sign of hospitality when most of the staff has been around for 10 to 30 plus years. Truly attentive and charismatic service is what you will find at Caffe Abbracci.

Stop by with the mindset of sharing large plates. We recommend the thinly sliced Vitello Tonnato, the oven-baked Bocconcino Baci with mozzarella, and a porcini mushrooms and capers sauce from the appetizer section. Followed by the linguine with clams, penne della Nonna with eggplant and marinara sauce, and the veal Scaloppine “Piccata” with a side of fries (yes, do it).

 

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The Old School Miami Restaurant Guide