PEOPLE's 24 Hour Food Tour: Miami

Whether you're looking for a classic, local staple or a buzzy celeb hot spot, here are all the restaurants where you should eat in Miami

<p>Getty</p> Miami skyline


Miami skyline

Shay Spence is a freelance food and travel writer based in Key West, Florida. A self-proclaimed “professional eater,” he has become a viral sensation with over 1.6 million subscribers on TikTok @theshayspence. Spence was formerly a food editor at People and competed on season 2 of Fox's Next Level Chef.

Though it’s one of America’s most lively cities, Miami is not always known for its culinary scene — at least if we’re talking about the actual food. Many people go out for a night in South Beach in flashy club attire, hoping to see and be seen at the trendiest new spot…but that doesn’t always equate to a quality meal. Fortunately, there is so much to explore in this city if you go in with a plan and know the right spots, from tiny dives showing off the local Cuban cuisine to those aforementioned celebrity-frequented restaurants that actually serve incredible dishes. Follow this guide to have the perfect day of eating in Miami!

Breakfast: Enriqueta’s

David Beckham once declared Enriqueta's his “favorite place in Miami” on his Instagram story during a visit in 2022, but it’s not anything like the celebrity hot spots you’ll find over in South Beach. This small diner-style Cuban spot has been around since 1964, and they’re perhaps best known for the pan con bistec (a thinly-sliced steak sandwich loaded with fried potato sticks) — but locals know the best time to come is in the morning for the breakfast sandwich with the soft scrambled eggs and cheese practically melting into the buttery Cuban bread. And of course, no Cuban breakfast is complete without a cafecito.

Lunch: Dulce Vida Mexican Restaurant

<p>Dulce Vida Mexican Restaurant</p> Dulce Vida Mexican Restaurant in Miami

Dulce Vida Mexican Restaurant

Dulce Vida Mexican Restaurant in Miami

Cross the bridge over to South Beach and it’s much harder to find a decently-priced meal that’s quick and delicious, but this standing-room-only little taco shop defies the odds. Come to Dulce Vida Mexican Restaurant for the best birria around, including the “birria pizza” (which is really just a massive, super cheesy quesadilla). Though my favorite thing on the menu are the shrimp birria tacos, with the beautifully tender seafood providing a lighter, fresher component to this typically heavy dish.

Dinner: Zaytinya

<p>Shay Spence</p> Zaytinya in Miami

Shay Spence

Zaytinya in Miami

Celebrity chef José Andrés recently opened the third location of his award-winning Mediterranean restauarant inside the Ritz-Carlton hotel, and the menu is a glorious fusion of Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisine. Zaytinya is one of those can’t-go-wrong places, but must-order dishes include the impossibly smooth hummus with harissa chili crispy, whole grilled Mediterranean sea bass and the crispy Brussels sprouts (probably the most famous food on the menu.) Also, you have to order some mujadara — a humble lentil and rice stew that my Lebanese mother made for us every week. Andrés fancies it up with crispy fried shallots and a dollop of soubise yogurt.

Drinks and Dessert: Rao’s

<p>Shay Spence</p> Rao's in Miami

Shay Spence

Rao's in Miami

The original New York City location of Rao's (yes, it’s where the jarred pasta sauce comes from) is probably the hardest restaurant reservation to snag in the country — you have to have a standing table that goes back generations, or be invited by someone who does. This latest outpost in the Loews Miami Beach hotel, which opened earlier this year, is decidedly much easier to get into, though in my experience your best bet is to go later at night and sit at the bar. The best thing I’ve had on the menu here — and truly one of the best desserts I’ve had in my life — is the peanut butter tart, which has a graham cracker crust and an almost cartoonishly perfect pour of chocolate ganache on top.

Late-Night Spot: La Sandwicherie

<p>Shay Spence</p> La Sandwicherie in Miami

Shay Spence

La Sandwicherie in Miami

While the Cuban sandwich reigns supreme in Miami, this al fresco French sandwich counter in the heart of South Beach serves the best late-night food in the city. Get the Frenchie, which is made with salami and brie, and be sure to have them load up the cornichons and douse in their homemade creamy French dressing. La Sandwicherie is also conveniently located right across the street from one of South Beach’s only true dive bars, Mac’s Club Deuce, which Anthony Bourdain once called one of his “favorite places on Earth.”

Celebrity Hot Spot: Lucky Cat by Gordon Ramsay

<p>GRNA</p> Lucky Cat in Miami


Lucky Cat in Miami

One of the newest on the South Beach scene, this upscale Asian restaurant has already been frequented by celebrities like Gloria Estefan and Lisa Hochstein. If you opt to dine at the 8-seat private chef’s table ($225 per person), you’ll get a regularly changing line-up of ten courses that are expertly crafted right in front of your eyes — and maybe even a surprise appearance by Chef Ramsay himself, who has shown up multiple times since Lucky Cat first opened in February.

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