Much like the neighborhood, Downtown Miami’s food scene doesn’t fit into a neat little box. Downtown’s filled with an eclectic range of restaurants, from local staples that have defined the community for decades, to experimental fusion cuisine that’s started tickling our tastebuds in just the past year. We talked to members of The New Tropic community, who shared their go-to places for cheap eats, late bites, and date nights.
This place is part burrito, part sushi, and all delicious. In the perfect marriage of Asian and Mexican cuisines, this Downtown spot uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients to craft the perfect sushi rolls — in the size of a burrito. Each burrito roll is customizable, so you can add more rice, cut out the mushrooms, or even nix the seaweed all together. There are a number of vegan and vegetarian options on the menu, as well. And you’ll love the new delicious wonton chips, which come with every roll.
Manolo y Rene Cafeteria
Craving a delicious cubano at 3 in the morning? Look no further. This iconic hole-in-the-wall Downtown spot’s been serving up cafecitos and medianoches 24 hours a day for almost 40 years. Serving up fresh sandwiches like pollo a la plancha and pan con tortilla, at just $5 a pop you can have two. They’ve also got one of the best café con leches in town. But be prepared with some dollar dollar bills, ya’ll, because this spot is cash only. The good news is you won’t really need that many bills.
Inspired by Dali’s melting clocks and Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia, this Catalan eatery is anything but ordinary. It inconspicuously popped up between an optometrist’s office and a mini-mart a little over a year ago, relying on word of mouth and locals to garner a steady stream of customers to its quaint Downtown locale. It’s easy to miss when walking along N.E. 2nd Ave., with its green awning blending in with that of the supermarket next door. However, after trying their eclectic and delicate Catalan-style small plates, paired with the perfect glass of wine, this will be a meal you’ll surely never forget.
(Photo Courtesy of Stephan Goettlicher)
Soya e Pomodoro
This charming Italian restaurant is full of romantic nostalgia. Hailing from the Italian city of Pompei, it’s no surprise that former owner Armando Alfano chose a Great Depression-era bank as the site of his Downtown restaurant, with the giant bank vault the backdrop for nightly jazz performances. Guests sit on mismatched tables and couches, dining on impeccable Italian delicacies served up by chef Cristian D’oria, ranging from vegetarian-friendly options like the sfoglia di melanzane, a baked layer of eggplant, smoked mozzarella and fresh tomatoes topped with a puff pastry, to the more meatier filetto alla provola, a fillet mignon medallion pan seared & served with smoked mozzarella & sautéed spinach with homemade mashed potatoes.
Located inside the gorgeous Perez Art Museum, this waterfront restaurant offers a uniquely artistic urban dining experience. With a sleek white interior and a rugged wood patio, guests can enjoy both the comfort of air conditioning during Miami’s brutal summers and take in the fresh air while looking out onto the bay during our cooler months. The menu options range from crowd-pleasers like thin crust pizza to the more sophisticated bistro steak. Coffee and craft cocktails are available as well.
If you haven’t been to Bali Cafe yet, you’re messing up. It’s basically the ONLY Indonesian restaurant in Miami, so that alone should make you drop everything and go there ASAP. It’s in the heart of downtown, so parking can be kind of a pain, but it’s worth it. The staff is super friendly, and if you’re not sure what to order, they’ll suggest something dope. You can’t really go wrong with the Nasi Goreng Special, a special Balinese stir fried rice. And the chips, don’t forget about the chips. This place is cash only.
Raja’s Indian Cuisine
Given the lack of Indian food options in Miami in general, Raja’s is a spice-filled oasis in Downtown Miami. They close pretty early, so this is mostly a lunch spot when you’re craving that mid-day chicken tikka masala. With a lunch special for $8 that gives you a smattering of dishes, from samosas to sesame rice, you can’t go wrong. There’s plenty for veggies, too. It’s not the classiest of establishments, but hey, it gets the job done.
This family-owned and operated Italian restaurant has been on the Downtown scene for a decade. Twin brother chefs Roberto and Emanuele Bearzi work side-by-side in the kitchen. Roberto serves as the executive chef while Emanuele cooks up the delicious pastries. Open for lunch and dinner, they use local produce and serve up fresh seafood daily, too. We hear the pear gnocchi is a must.
If you’re craving something healthy for breakfast or lunch, Ten Fruits is where it’s at. They’ve got killer acai bowls, for starters, but there’s also great coffee, empanadas and salads too. They also sell juice cleanses if you’re looking for a fresh start. Feeling something a little more decadent? Try one of their croissants or cheese danishes.
Le Chat Noir
If you’re into wine, cheese, jazz, or all of the above, this cozy little French wine cellar tucked away in a nondescript spot in Downtown should be your go-to. The best nights are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, when live music livens up the room. And if you’re craving a meal, they’ve got a mean panini menu, too.