As a local, what comes to mind when you think of places like Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive? If you said, “tourist traps,” you’re right. These two areas are full of overpriced restaurants serving uninspired food. But amidst all the duds, there are still plenty of great restaurants worth your time and money.
The following six eateries are a cut above the rest, offering patrons value AND quality. So the next time you find yourself on Ocean Drive or Lincoln Road, stop by one of these standout spots.
A Fish Called Avalon
There’s one big reason that A Fish Called Avalon has stood the test of time on Ocean Drive: It’s actually good. For more than three decades, the restaurant has wowed guests with its sumptuous selection of seafood. From sesame seared ahi tuna and Chilean sea bass to macadamia-crusted snapper and orzo seafood paella, A Fish Called Avalon’s mouthwatering menu raises the bar for Ocean Drive – and Miami Beach – dining.
Despite the name, A Fish Called Avalon offers much more than just fish. Meat and poultry options also abound in the form of ribeye, free-range citrus chicken and baby back ribs. This is one place where dessert is always a must, as the eatery is the 2019 National Pie Champion. You’ll want the award-winning pecan-crusted key lime pie all to yourself.
A Fish Called Avalon is located at 700 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139. For more information, visit afishcalledavalon.com.
Hotel restaurants can be hit or miss. On some properties, food is an afterthought. But on other properties like Mariott Stanton South Beach, food is one of the stars. Azabu, one of the hotel’s two restaurants, invites guests to enjoy delectable Japanese fare in a stunning dining room sporting a gorgeous open kitchen.
The menu is family-style, meaning that you should bring a friend or two to make the most of your experience. Selections include classics like shishito peppers, karaage fried chicken, pork dumplings, and king crab fried rice. An entire page of the menu is reserved for Azabu’s ample sushi and nigiri offerings, which run the gamut from spicy tuna rolls and baked crab rolls to unagi (eel) and uni (sea urchin).
With so many things to try, make sure to save room for Azabu’s signature dessert: the Chokoreto. A chocolate lover’s dream, this combination of dark chocolate torte, milk chocolate cremeux, chocolate crumb, cocoa-nib tuile, sweet cream, and raspberry is surprisingly light despite its decadence. You definitely won’t feel guilty eating this.
Feel like splurging? Make a reservation for The Den, the eatery’s private sushi counter experience. Up to 18 people can fit inside the cozy space, where patrons will enjoy bites from Tokyo-trained chefs. Come with an open mind and let the chefs guide you through a fantastic omakase journey.
Azabu is located at 161 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139. For more information, visit their official website.
CJ’s Crab Shack
For no-fuss seafood fare, head on over to CJ’s Crab Shack, located smack in the middle of Ocean Drive. This is a place you’ll find both your local friends and where you’ll be taking your out-of-town guests begging for a night out on Ocean Drive. CJ’s has an honest family-run vibe with century-old recipes that have been passed on from generation to generation.
Dishing up just about any marine creature found in the Atlantic, this place is truly a seafood lover’s heaven. The menu overflows with crabs, lobsters, oysters, clams, calamari, scallops, and fish. For the meat lovers, there’s equally enticing steak, chicken, and burgers. CJ’s signature crab cake is the star of the show — crab meat deviled and baked in-shell. It’s a sharable portion, but you’ll probably want your own. Surely the way Grandaddy Gus intended it. As for entrees, luckily, you shouldn’t have a hard time choosing what to munch on. CJ’s conveniently groups everything into mouthwatering combos served with a choice of pasta alfredo, fries, or corn on the cob.
The hours have been cut back due to the ongoing curfew, but usually, CJ’s kitchen operates well into the wee hours of the night. Despite the pandemic, the CJ’s Crab Shack family will have you feeling warm and welcomed. So grab a Famous Rum Punch or Soon-to-be-Famous Margarita, lounge back on the outdoor patio, and watch the crowds pass on by. Oh, and perhaps it’s better to keep Ocean Drive’s best seafood shack a secret.
600 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach FL 33139; (305) 604-5951; www.cjscrabshack.com; Open every day, noon-11 p.m.
The Lobster Shack
For something a little more casual but equally delicious, The Lobster Shack on Lincoln Road is the place to be. As you’ve likely guessed from the name, the eatery’s claim to fame is its lobster roll — which indeed lives up to its reputation.
First-timers should definitely indulge in the classic roll, but they should also keep an eye on its many tasty variations. You can order it with cajun seasoning or jalapeno slaw for some kick, or go full “South Beach” with bacon and avocado. There are also shrimp and crab rolls if that’s more your style.
While rolls are a big part of the menu, they aren’t the only things on it. Guests can dig into New England clam chowder, seared tuna salad, fried seafood baskets, and tacos, too. If you’re extra hungry, main plates like the snow crab dinner and live Maine lobster will fill you up with leftovers to spare.
A full bar is also available to help you wash everything down, and drinks are priced reasonably for the area ($10 for signature cocktails). In a place full of tourist traps, The Lobster Shack is a refreshing change of pace.
The Lobster Shack is located at 613 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139. For more information, visit their official website.
LT Steak & Seafood
LT Steak & Seafood is another restaurant that deserves your attention. Located on Ocean Drive inside The Betsy Hotel, LT Steak & Seafood is a New American concept from internationally acclaimed chef Laurent Tourondel. Even if you’ve never heard of the place, you’ve likely heard of their signature bread service: the addictingly cheesy popovers.
They set the bar high for what’s one of the best dining experiences on South Beach. The menu features a bit of everything: sushi, pizza, pasta, and steak – to name a few cuisines. It’s that last item on the list that’s arguably the venue’s biggest focus. If you like meat, this is the place for you. LT Steak & Seafood features hand-selected U.S.D.A. prime cuts like a 22-ounce bone-in ribeye and 10-ounce wagyu skirt steak. They’re certainly not cheap, but you get what you pay for.
For a more affordable taste, consider the popular Bouchon Burger. Fair warning: It is a monster. Cheddar, tobacco spiced onion rings, black pepper bacon, pickled jalapenos, and BBQ sauce all come together to make one giant flavor bomb. Other highlights include crispy black grouper tacos, a chermoula salmon, a spicy crispy rock shrimp roll, and a spicy soppressata pizza. If you’re with an indecisive group, bring them to LT Steak & Seafood – they’ll definitely find something.
LT Steak & Seafood is located at 1440 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139. For more information, visit their official website.
Located just off of Lincoln Road, MILA is the definition of cool. The 5,000-square-foot rooftop restaurant and bar is one of the hottest spots on SoBe right now – and for good reason. The “chic-bohemian” ambiance fits nicely into the nightlife scene, and unlike other glitzy spots, the food is actually good here.
Expect a mix of Mediterranean- and Asian-inspired fare, which MILA has dubbed “MediterrAsian.” The menu is large, with tapas, raw bar, and robata selections, sushi, and much more to help fuel your evening. Nosh on smaller bites like crispy chicharron, fried eggplant, and scallop crudo or opt for larger entrees like miso-marinated Chilean sea bass and roasted whole Maine lobster.
No matter what you choose, make sure a signature cocktail is involved. The innovative bar program offers a perfect balance of classics like the old fashioned and Manhattan alongside new interpretations like the Sun Salutation, a twist on the gin and tonic with lemongrass, dill, and pink peppercorn.
Fun Fact: MILA also serves weekend brunch, where you’ll find many dinner staples joined by fun items like crispy octopus and scallion pancakes, egg in a jar, shawarma wagyu gyoza, and shrimp cocktail. At $75 per person, the experience is one of the better brunch deals on South Beach.
MILA is located at 1636 Meridian Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139. For more information, visit their official website.
A stone’s throw north of Lincoln Road, Mister-01 was “that famous hidden place.” When the pizzeria first opened in a nondescript office building years ago, you had to find out about it through word of mouth; there’s no sign that would indicate you were steps away from some amazing pizza.
The secret’s been out for a while now, and Mister-01 has even expanded to the mainland with Brickell and Wynwood locations (and even Naples!). But there’s just something about the cozy SoBe dining room, where just over a handful of tables can fit.
First things first: If you don’t like pizza, this isn’t the place for you. While there are other items like salads and calzones, this is a pizzeria through and through. At Mister-01, you’ll find an assortment of traditional pies: pepperoni, ham, mushrooms, Hawaiian, meat lovers … the list goes on. These are all great, but you should continue on to the Extraordinary Pizza section, where more creative bites await.
On this page of the menu is where you’ll find the famous star-shaped pizzas like the Star Luca, stuffed with ricotta cheese, spicy salami calabrese, mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil. The Claudio, with its fresh burrata and white truffle oil, is another decadent highlight. For something a lot less traditional, try the Coffee Paolo with mozzarella, gorgonzola, honey, and coffee. The pizza is so good and the menu is so extensive that you’ll already be thinking about your next visit.
Mister-01 is located at 1680 Michigan Avenue, #101, Miami Beach, FL 33139. For more information, visit their official website.