The Ultimate First Date Guide

Thanks to Ketel One Botanical, these are the Miami restaurants that will knock your date off their feet

May
26
2021
PHOTO CREDIT JOIA BEACH
BY NATALIE ORTIZ, DIANA RODRIGUEZ & ANDREA BECERRA

These restaurants for your first date have been hand-selected by The Hungry Post and are presented by Ketel One Botanical:

“Hot Summer” is approaching and most of us are either booed up, trying to get booed up or focusing on self-love. And with the varieties of restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges and markets it is hard to choose a place where the Miami scene doesn’t deliver an overkill on a first date.

We know you fellow Hungries want to make a good first impression, so we are giving you all the local Miami restaurants that will make your date say when is date number 2? Presented by Ketel One Botanical is a hand-picked list that will give you all the insiders tips on how to knock your date off their feet. Make sure you keep this list handy because ya tu sabes how the dating scene in Miami is like.

TIGRE


Neighborhood: Little River
Address: 620 NE 78th St
Book your table HERE 
Hours: Wed-Sun 6 PM – 11 PM 

Outdoor seating is available.

What you need to know

Tigre is a modern Argentinan concept inspired by traditional Buenos Aires cafes and neighborhood bistros or “bodegones”. This is where you bring that someone you’ve been friends with for a while when you’ve caught some feelings and are ready to take it to the next level.

Your life is unfolding like, When Harry Met Sally, except less cheesy. You won’t be saying things like, “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” You’ll show them.

A friendship–turned romantic relationship deserves a spot like Tigre. The sepia lighting and usage of gold and green hues will set the tone for your determining night out. No pressure, though. You’ll be okay. Trust us when we say, that the relaxing yet intimate setting will keep you as cool as a cucumber.

Call us crazy but something about the rounded finishes of the space makes us feel centered. When you’re inside, the feeling of co-existing in your natural habitat is present. The hanging plants, usage of wood and the woven rattan bar are all purposely incorporated within the restaurant to make you feel connected with this moment in time.

What you’re getting

We’d sit at the bar for a drink first. Award-winning cocktail creator Dave Simmons will be pouring your drink of choice. We tried the Membrillo Rosado a vodka-based drink with cava, lemon and quince hibiscus. It’s well balanced and easy on the eyes just like the cutie in front of you.

Wrap up that first cocktail and move to your table on the waterfront deck for a shared dining experience. Chef Deborah de Corral’s menu includes small plates of Argentinian classics with a modern approach. We’d get the Patagonian Red Prawn Roll (butter toasted brioche, prawn head alioli, old bay chips), Palmito Salad (grilled heart of palm, radicchio, shaved fennel & parmesan, preserved lemon vinaigrette) and Remolachas al Rescoldo (coal-roasted beets, cashew yogurt, tangerine, roasted hazelnuts and mint). You can thank us later.

JAGUAR SUN


Neighborhood: Little River
Address: Lot 6, 7357 NW Miami Ct
Book your table HERE 
Hours: Thurs-Sat 5 PM – 11 PM 

Outdoor seating is available.

What you need to know

If you didn’t know about Jaguar Sun when they were previously located in the X-Miami building in Downtown, not to fret. In adapting to the times of COVID-19 they have taken part in the Little River Series, as a temporary pop-up steakhouse at Lot 6. Sunny’s Someday Steakhouse takes the stuffy out of steakhouses and gives you a backyard ambiance that is certainly elevated for those special nights out. If you like martinis, Manhattans, meats and sundaes, then this is certainly the spot for you. With a show-stopping cocktail program and a banyan tree that makes you stop and appreciate the nature and ambiance around you, the hospitality and warmth of this joint will keep you and your date ready to sit and talk for hours. This is your picnic under the stars, the Carl and Ellie love story from Disney’s UP getting ready to blossom.

What you’re getting

In making sure you look like the professional diner we know you are, here are some hitters that will keep the smile on both of your faces all night long. The Wagyu Beef Tartare with grilled sourdough always hits the spot as a starter. And for those OG Jaguar Sun fans, if you are wondering if the Parker house rolls still exist? They absolutely do and they are still just as drool-worthy. And since it is a steakhouse, make sure you dive into the Hanger Steak. Plus, what’s a first date without ending the evening with something sweet. The Someday Sundae is for all you sweet tooth’s out there, just get it. Trust us.

CAFÉ KUSH


Neighborhood: MiMo
Address: 7700 Biscayne Blvd
Book your table HERE
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:30 AM – 10 PM; Fri-Sat 11:30 AM – 11 PM 

Outdoor seating is available.

What you need to know

Wherever you find yourself in Miami, chances are you have a Kush restaurant near you. Their food concepts are tasty with a casual vibe. And it’s easy to break the ice here, especially if you know your date loves dogs—or must love dogs. Bringing the pups on your first date is totally fine, just make sure to pick a table outside. Then you will be able to order from their dog menu. Don’t worry, there are plenty of options for the humans, too!

Café Kush is located at the Gold Dust Motel in what we now call the MiMo district. Their retro style seeps from the floral upholstery to their Miami twist on a Euro bistro menu. Expect color everywhere, so make sure your guayabera doesn’t clash with the décor. And if you really want to hit it off, stop by on a Monday for Comedy Night starting at 8 PM.

What you’re getting

You both been vaxxed? Then sharing is the way to set the mood. We recommend the Beef Carpaccio to start. It’s topped with horseradish mustard aioli, hard-boiled egg, and some mixed greens for contrast. Dip it real good with the Grilled Cheese N Tomato Soup made with gruyere cheese. Finally, bring it home with a sweet ending—Key Lime Pie that is. Simply the best (at least by popular vote).

PHUC YEA


Neighborhood: MiMo
Address: 7100 Biscayne Blvd
Book your table HERE
Hours: Wed-Thurs 5 PM – 10 PM; Fri-Sat 6 PM – 11 PM; Sun 12 PM – 9 PM 

Outdoor seating is available.

What you need to know

Known as the city of Miami’s first pop-up concept back in 2011, Phuc Yea has been in its brick and mortar location since 2016 and they have not stopped delivering the goods since. Half Vietnamese and Half Cajun you are getting a culinary melding from the wonderful chefs helming the kitchen front. With Aniece Meinholds Vietnamese heritage and Chef Cesar Zapata’s Colombian roots, they come together to provide soulful, family rooted plates that make you feel like you’ve been transported into their family’s home. The space is separated into three parts. The flourishing lobby lounge where one can sip on some tasty cocktails while enjoying the raw bar. Followed by the mezzanine level met with the semi-private/private dining zones. And a little garden, under red lantern lights that is the creme de la crème of Miami’s cozy outdoor venues.

What you’re getting

Start your meal with a cocktail from the “Liquid Courage” menu (the irony). Your date will be down for a little bit of everything because you wouldn’t be here if they weren’t the sharing kind. On that note, get the pan-fried Sesame Chicken Dumpling with szechuan nuoc cham, black vinegar, scallion, cilantro and the PY Noodles with garlic butter, oyster sauce, parmesan cheese. Your appetite is open for business and it’s time for the Seafood Curry with an assortment of veggies, the catch of day, octopus, shrimp and clams. If a second date is on the horizon, end your meal with the Classic Coconut Croissant Bread Pudding with coconut rum custard, condensed milk, and chocolate chunks.

MIA MARKET


Neighborhood: Design District
Address: 140 NE 39th St Suite 241
Hours: Mon-Sun 12 PM – 8 PM 

Outdoor seating is available.

What you need to know

Previously known as St. Roch Market, Mia Market still delivers exceptional selections of food concepts from all varieties of cuisine. And if you are not sure what your date will like, the market gives you a chance to play a little market roulette with all sorts of dishes. Offering you a chance to be indoors and outdoors, you can choose to be with the crowd or enjoy a little cozy table for two in the patio area. And for those of you who are loyal to the bar scene, the center bar located indoors has some of the most hospitable individuals you will ever meet. Don’t be afraid to ask for a dealer’s choice, you will surely be surprised at the magic they are throwing down behind the bar. We know first dates can seem a little daunting, so if you are looking for a little leeway here, go ahead and make it a double date. Or if this is your first time meeting your swipe-right winner, there is enough of a social crowd to ease those butterflies in your stomach.

What you’re getting

So, we told you a little market roulette is the route you’ll want to follow if you want a successful date night. But, don’t worry we aren’t going to throw you to the wolves without a little inside tip. We know that oysters are said to be an aphrodisiac, so let us start you off with the Kusshi Oysters at Ruby Dee’s. Creamy, fresh and with a hint of spice, it is the ice breaker that will get the conversation moving. Plus, their Hamachi Tartare and Soft Cooked Salmon make for great sharing plates for the table. Stop next door at Sushi Yasu Tanaka by Masumura, serving you different Omakase options and Handrolls. If you are in the mood for some Vietnamese, grab a bite or two at Tran An. Between, Veggie Shrimp Spring Rolls, Green Papaya Salad and Pho. You will be in for a treat.

LUCA OSTERIA


Neighborhood: Coral Gables
Address: 116 Giralda Ave
Book your table HERE 
Hours: Tues-Thurs 6 PM – 11 PM; Fri-Sat 6 PM – 12 AM; Sun 6 PM – 11 PM 

Outdoor seating is available.

What you need to know

There is dim lighting, outdoor seating, and a menu that will make your mouth water. Osteria Luca is the newest addition to the Rapicavoli family. Based on tradition and fine technique, a first date here means winning. Although you might find familiar names on the menu, each dish brings a new touch of originality.

On the pretty end of Giralda Avenue, if you prefer outdoor seating, dine under their large umbrella. Their indoor dining area also has bar seating and tables accommodating up to four, in case you’re making it a double date. Touches of gold warm up the room, along with a neutral palette. Moving on to the menu—expect to order half of the antipasti.

What you’re getting

For sure you’ve seen this on the gram: Patate Fritte. It’s their soft potato balls/bites covered in Parmigiano fondue, egg yolk, and black truffle specks. Yes, get this. The Wagyu Beef Carpaccio was a favorite among meat lovers. Pasta aficionados looking for a classic must-have the Cacio e Pepe with smoked pecorino Romano, Parmigiano, and black pepper. Since you already know it is fate, splurge on your lover and go for the Osso Buco alla Milanese. It’s a 24oz veal shank prepared with saffron and Parmigiano risotto. Dessert is needed—and a great place to hide the bling-bling when it’s time. The Italian Ice Cream Sandwich is the one. Here, pistachio and chocolate gelatos dance merrily between puffed pastry dough.

JOIA BEACH


Neighborhood: Miami Beach
Address: 111 Parrot Jungle Trail
Book your table HERE 
Hours: Wed-Fri 4 PM – 11 PM; Sat-Sun 1 PM – 11 PM 

Outdoor seating only.

What you need to know

You met on an app and the conversation is flowing ridiculously well. This person checks all the boxes. It’s almost too good to be true but your gut is telling you, they’re the one. You’re a romantic at heart and the mood of a place is everything for you. For this special first night out, you’re going to Joia Beach. Miami’s oceanfront destination on the sand where you can feel the fresh breeze and hear the waves.

You’ll feel like you’re in Bodrum with a touch of Miami. Celebrity sightings aren’t rare. However, you’re not bothered by what’s happening around you. You’re engaged in the conversation with that special someone.

What you’re getting

The first thing you’ll need is a cocktail. If you’re looking for something spicy get the Pure Joia with Don Julio Reposado, lime juice, grilled pineapple, ancho reyes, and mezcal. Care for something refreshing? Go for the Jungle Glam with Ketel One Botanical Cucumber & Mint, St Germaine, lime juice, mint. All the dishes will go to the center of the table, as sharing is the best way to enjoy Chef Erhan Özkaya’s menu. We’d go for the Tasmanian Trout Crudo with dried lemon, Spanish BoqueronesTzatziki with cucumber and labneh and the Greek Salad. For dessert, please get the Baklava with pistachio gelato.

MACCHIALINA


Neighborhood: Miami Beach
Address: 820 Alton Rd
Book your table HERE 
Hours: Mon-Thurs 6 PM – 11 PM; Fri-Sun 5 PM – 11 PM

Outdoor seating is available.

What you need to know

First dates can be intimidating, but menus don’t have to be. At Macchialina, expect comforting handmade pasta, and lots of options to keep you and your date comfortable. Their new “Giardino” seating gives you the chance to share that noodle with plenty of air circulating. Nearing their 10-year anniversary, find Macchialina nestled in the quieter side of South Beach.

Whether or not you need your wingman present is up to you. Ready to cozy up to your new boo sans mask? Make your way indoors and ask for a table in the back corner. Okay, okay, we know no one puts baby in a corner; trust us on this one. The warm lighting and vino-colored seats are welcoming, and booth seating creates space for your double date (shall they be needed). And if you’re looking to impress, ask about their monthly Wine Collective.

What you’re getting

Start with bread, add on the Massa, and wrap it up with a pastry craving. Any of these options are fantastic: Sullivan Street Filone with shallot and her oil, or the Local Burrata prepared with heirloom tomatoes and tomato vinaigrette. The homemade pasta will start the conversation if you won’t. Keep it classic with Spaghetti Pomodoro—we can already smell the basil. Or go in deep with the Cavatelli Macchialina. It is served with baby meatballs, porchetta & pecorino. Hungry for more? Macchialina offers a five-course tasting menu with the choice of added wine pairing. Do it. Just make sure you all Uber home—whoever’s home…

NAVÉ


Neighborhood: Coconut Grove
Address: 3540 Main Hwy
Book your table HERE 
Hours: Tues-Thurs 6 PM – 10 PM; Fri-Sat 6 PM – 11 PM; Sun 11 AM – 3 PM & 6 PM – 10 PM  

Outdoor seating is available.

What you need to know

After being cooped up at home most of 2020, you’re ready to put yourself out there. In a tasteful way of course. You’re not necessarily looking for something serious but you won’t close the door on someone worth it. You’re determined to make a first good impression and we’ve got the spot for you.

When choosing where to dine out on multiple first dates, pick Navé. Chef Michael Beltran and Justin Flit are behind the concept. Located in Coconut Grove, Navé shares an awesome outdoor patio with sister restaurant Ariete. It’s approachable and they make seriously delicious food heavily focused on seafood delicacies.

What you’re getting

From the raw bar, we’d get the Scallop Crudo with ajoblanco, grapes and Marcona almonds. The Steak Tartare is presented non-traditionally on a thick toast with a chilled au jus complimenting the flavors of the steak. The broiled Miami Clams are also a must with medianoche butter and melted gruyere cheese.

Don’t leave Navé without one of Chef Justin’s pasta dishes. All the pasta is hand-made in Navé’s temperature-controlled, glass-enclosed pasta room. We’d go for the Rigatoni Bolognese with veal, beef and pork. Share the Whole Fish with a side of the Potato Pave. If you’re meeting up for happy hour, arrive between 5 PM – 7 PM for drinks and bites like the Gnocco FrittoSmoked Fish Dip and those Miami Clams we were just raving about. And if it’s going well, stay for dinner.

LUCALI


Neighborhood: Miami Beach
Address: 1930 Bay Rd
Hours: Mon-Sun 11:30 AM – 11 PM 

Limited outdoor seating is available.

What you need to know

There is basically one thing on the menu—carbs. Just kidding! You can have the salad. But if you’ve been counting their reps at the gym, and finally got the digits, bring them here. Find Lucali on Bay Road in Miami Beach where their name hangs proudly over lush greens growing up the wall. Cozy and casual is what we’d call this spot. And when you finish talking about your gains, check out the menu and spend some time picking out toppings.

What you’re getting

Start off simple and work your way up. These pies are large enough to feed you both for a long weekend—if you decide to stay in. Order the Signature Plain Pie and add the toppings. We recommend meatball crumbles and basil. Then it’s a slice for you, a slice for me, and so on. If your date is a plant-based athlete, then take one for the team and get Marco’s Vegan Pie. You can have your way with the toppings then, but maybe sausage on your half.

Salads are super fresh as they are committed to using farm-fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Smash out your leafy greens intake with a Kale Caesar Salad, or balance out your macros with a Farro Salad. You can always add chicken to any. Their sides are also good for two. And since you skipped artichoke on your pizza topping, then you must have Plain Baked Artichoke on the side. Now, would the Nutella Pie be pushing it too far past just being a cheat meal? Don’t think so. 

STUBBORN SEED


Neighborhood: Miami Beach
Address: 101 Washington Ave
Book your table HERE 
Hours: Sun-Thurs 6 PM – 10 PM; Fri-Sat 6 PM – 11 PM 

Limited outdoor seating is available.

What you need to know

Season 13 Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford helms the kitchen at this local hotspot in Miami’s south of 5th area. With neighbors such as Joe’s Stone Crab, Milos and Papi Steak, Stubborn Seed has remained a constant talk of the town. With a menu paying homage to local and seasonal ingredients, the evolution of these plates unearths a craving that keeps you coming back for more. And if that doesn’t make your jaw drop, centered in the restaurant is a window to see all the action taking place behind the line (now who doesn’t love a little entertainment with dinner). So with a little bit of rock’n roll playing throughout the restaurant and mood lighting, the level of first dates will be raised here. And if you find yourself wanting a little more privacy and enjoy people watching go ahead and grab a seat outdoors. Stubborn Seed is the first date that will transform your relationship from hot summer to power couple, so dress to impress and dine like the Hungries we know you are.

What you’re getting

We told you local and seasonal ingredients is what Stubborn is known for, so here are some dishes that truly highlight the beauty of homegrown ingredients. Start off with their Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Tartare with a delectable dashi emulsion. And if you want to wow your date enhance the dish with a little royal Siberian caviar. Then dive into the most delicious and pillow-like House-made Ricotta Gnudi. Now we can’t just leave you with that. Make sure you get an order of the Crunchy Truffle Bravas. I mean cheese, truffles and garlic crumbs, that right there is a home run. But, don’t forget to save room for dessert because you will regret not throwing down some Choux Buns from Pastry Chef Ana De Sa Martins.

THE HUNGRY POST 
First Date Restaurants