The Miami Heat are back on the court, which means fans will be making regular trips to Downtown again. If you’re one of the few Miamians who actually show up early to events, we’ve rounded up a list of restaurants around FTX Arena to check out before a game.
BBQ & Craft Co.
BBQ & Craft Co. isn’t walking distance from FTX Arena, but this Brickell gem is a quick MetroMover ride away. Trust us that the trek is worth it: This is some of the best BBQ in Miami. There’s just something about their dry rub wings, beef brisket, and pulled pork that turns customers into regulars. Everything is reasonably priced and portioned, so a big group can really do some damage here (and we suggest you do). BBQ Craft & Co. boasts a full bar, too, with prices way cheaper than the arena; make sure to take advantage.
For a fast bite and cocktail before (or after) the game, few places are more convenient than Jaguar Sun. The beloved Downtown restaurant and bar is a stone’s throw away from Bayside Marketplace and FTX Arena; you can chow down on some pasta, slurp some oysters and throw back a few drinks with plenty of time to spare. Try to come a little earlier than usual, though: The place is tiny and fills up very quickly. And if you only try one food item here, do the parker house rolls—they’re a classic for good reason.
Jaguar Sun is located at 230 NE 4th Street, Miami, FL 33132. For more information, visit their official website.
If you don’t mind walking a little, Motek hits the spot for Mediterranean-inspired fare. There’s an all-day brunch menu if you want some breakfast-y bites before the game, but we’re partial to items like the fried halloumi cheese, crispy chicken schnitzel, Turkish lamb kebabs, and babaganoush. Lighter bites include Greek and Israeli salads, hummus and pita, and a crispy cauliflower with spicy harissa honey glaze—it must be experienced. Alcohol options are lacking, so if drinking is on the agenda, get something to eat here and get your drinks elsewhere.
Motek is located at 36 NE 1st Street, Suite 132. Miami, FL 33132. For more information, visit their official website.
Got time for a leisurely dinner? Pop into NIU Kitchen for some tasty Spanish cuisine. You can easily split some charcuterie and wine and call it a day, or go all out with a multi-course affair with bites like steak tartare, pan-seared foie, clams, and New York steak. The place is big on “ordering without thinking” and just trying new stuff—the flavors here are incredible. While you’re at it, you should also take a peek at NIU Wine, the restaurant’s neighborhood wine bar and shop. That store has its own food menu and an even longer wine list. Needless to say, this is our favorite Downtown block.
NIU Kitchen is located at 104 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33132. For more information, visit their official website.
Cheap beer and burgers await at Over Under, another popular Downtown Miami watering hole. The laidback bar features a delicious menu of bar staples done really well—the aforementioned burger and OU’s chicken sandwich pair well with pregaming for a basketball game. One thing to keep an eye on: the weekly specials. The kitchen here is always cooking up cool stuff, and the specials are a nice change of pace if you’re feeling adventurous. Try to visit during their daily happy hour for even more affordable options.
Over Under is located at 151 East Flagler Street, Miami, FL 33131. For more information, visit their official website.
Toscana Divino is another one of those places that aren’t walking distance from the arena, but a short MetroMover ride away (and totally worth it). Located in Mary Brickell Village, the restaurant has a reputation for exquisite Italian cuisine, with a menu that changes seasonally (and sometimes more frequently); no two visits are alike except in quality. There are a few favorites that tend to stick around, though: the braised duck leg pasta is a must, as well as the restaurant’s signature lasagna. And getting a mushroom risotto for the table is always a good idea. Wine-wise, expect hundreds and hundreds of bottles to choose from; try not to get too tipsy before the game.