North Beach has every kind of Latin American food you can think of, plus Jewish delis and Italian spots that date back to the neighborhood’s earlier presidents.Making the rounds of North Beach restaurants is like taking a trip through Latin America — the neighborhood’s got cuisine from Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Peru, and Mexico… to name just a few. Plus, there are the stalwart Italian restaurants and Jewish delis that have been around for decades, and a couple top-notch Asian restaurants as well. Basically, you can find it all, and none of it is going to break the bank.
Buenos Aires Bakery
The empanadas, guys. :sigh: Not to dismiss their many other delicious offerings, but Buenos Aires Bakery is where you go on North Beach for that empanada fix. Full stop. You’ll often see a line, whether it’s breakfast or afternoon coffee time. It’s no surprise that locals and visitors alike are in agreement that this bakery don’t play.
Burgers & Shakes
When done right, there is nothing more satisfying than a juicy burger, salty fries, and a thick milkshake. Burgers & Shakes gives you that, just off the beach boardwalk, plus a good beer selection. Their beef burgers are great, and so are their Portobello mushroom burgers. We especially love the crispy, lightly salted sweet potato fries, which can be hard to track down in Miami. And if you still have room for dessert, their milkshakes, while simple, are creamy and thick and pretty much just hit the spot.
Cafe Prima Pasta
This place has been serving up fresh, authentic Italian food on North Beach for more than two decades. Opened in 1993 by the Argentinean Cea family, brothers Gerardo and Fabian run the restaurant while father Arturo runs the kitchen and their mother Carla bakes bread and desserts. The happy hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. can’t be beat, with half-off the standard menu. If it’s a special night, make reservations because it’s usually packed.
Dolci Di Sicilia
This Sicilian bakery is as authentic as it gets in Miami, and anything with their ricotta cream is amazing (although they have a bunch of other flavors as well). Their menu sounds like a (delicious) Italian poem: cannoli, sfogliatella, bombolone, arancine, calzone, and pizetta, to name just a few. Best of all, everything is super affordable.
El Rancho Grande
This might be one of the best Mexican restaurants in Miami, and that’s saying a lot considering we’ve got some fire tacos in these parts. They’ve got it all: tacos al pastor, quesadillas, enchiladas. Most importantly, their guac game is ON POINT. If you’re feelin’ particularly famished, there’s always the burrito grande, a grilled burrito stuffed with chicken or steak, rice, refried beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, crema Mexicana, and of course, that guacamole.
Sometimes you want an elegant meal without all the pomp and circumstance (or the price tag) of a fancy restaurant on neighboring South Beach. Enter George’s. Since 2000, this restaurant has brought low-key style to the North Beach area. Enjoy sipping a glass of wine and a plate of lobster ravioli just steps away from the North Beach Bandshell and the ocean shore.
A sign on the wall announces, “We closed our website August 2013.” There are enough forbidding signs and peculiar procedures that it’d be comical if the proprietors weren’t totally serious. If you don’t mind playing by the rules (no phones, no photos, no computers, and so on), the sushi is some of Miami’s best. Chef Michio Kushi apprenticed in his hometown of Katsura, Japan, and worked at Miami’s first sushi restaurant (Sushin) in the 1980s before opening here. The best experience is omakase, where the chef chooses what to make you.
What they do: Sushi
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Address: 1412 79th St Causeway, Miami Beach
“A Jewish deli done wrong,” proclaims owner/chef Josh Marcus of his chill spot in Surfside. Marcus worked in many of Miami’s famous restaurants, but Josh’s Deli is a departure: it’s classic food made with fresher ingredients, creative twists (a softshell crab croissant, octopus and grits, spicy tuna latkes), and homemade everything (even the bagels). The experience is deeply unpretentious, which we love. Josh often runs the kitchen himself, everyone’s chill, and inside-joke photos of fellow chef Danny Serfer (of Blue Collar and Mignonette) cover the wall. You won’t have a better breakfast. (Photo Courtesy of Josh’s Deli)
Katana Japanese Sushi
There will be a line, but the best things in life are worth the wait and Katana is no exception. It’s quite small and the seating is bar style. The sushi is plated and set adrift on little rotating boats. The novelty of grabbing dinner right off these little boats is more than a little charming and the sushi is incredibly fresh and ridiculously cheap (people also rave about the octopus salad). What more can you ask for? (Note: We kinda have a crush on the hot chef with the dreadlocks. Staring at him preparing the sushi is part of the ambiance.)
Want the experience of watching a soccer, er, football game in Brazil but don’t have the cash to fly there? Drop into Little Brazil on game day to get that feel. We love it because it’s a family style, no frills type of place where you can enjoy the match and nosh on delicious home cooking. Our faves include the picanha (sirloin), stroganoff de pollo (creamy chicken perfection), and the camarão no coco (coconut-grilled shrimp). If meat isn’t your thing, the sangria alone may be worth the visit. Saude!
This place is not about the flair and fanfare. It’s just a chill place to go with friends or family, with really tasty Argentinian food and a large array of desserts. We had no idea Argentinian pizza was so good! We regret that all our lives we’ve been eating basic pizza when we could have been having Argentinean pizza. And their dulce de leche churros? They’ll incite anger in your personal trainer, but they’re so worth it. Bonus: futbol is literally ALWAYS on, so it’s great for catching a match.
Merkado 31 On the Beach
Or maybe it’s Cholo’s Ceviche & Grill. We’re not really sure why there are two names for this place, but when you taste the food you won’t even care. This Peruvian restaurant has got that ceviche on lock and the rest of the menu — with things like quinoa-crusted shrimp and lomo saltado — follows suit. And with wood-paneled walls and open layout with white table tops, the warm ambiance compliments the delicious fare.
Mi Colombia Cafeteria Y Restaurante
This hole-in-the-wall is where you can get some of the best Colombian food in Miami. It’s delicious and cheap, with a friendly staff and homey feel. It’s been owned by the same family for three generations, after all. One reader suggests a hearty calentado for breakfast with jugo de mora and pan de bono.
Moises Bakery (Panaderia) La Chispa Venezolana
This spot has four different types of empanadas — Venezuelan, Argentinian, Chilean, and Colombian. Need we say more? There are also a bunch of other delicious meat-filled pastries, so eat the many varieties of portable stuffed dough to your heart’s content. Then when you’re done get a cortadito to fight off that the itis.
Normandy Isle’s Rouge is an unexpected experience in Moroccan-French cooking. It’s part luxurious garden, part Casablanca (there’s live jazz at the grand piano every Wednesday), and your best bet for an upscale meal in North Beach. Moroccan born chef/owner Nabil Hach Al-luch bought the space in 2012, and created a menu with dishes like Moroccan braised duck and apricot, rabbit stew, and branzino en papillote.
When it comes to authentic Thai food, this place gets it right in every way. This North Beach staple is frequented by regulars because the flavors are on point and the portions are perfect. They’ve recently remodeled and expanded, but it still has that intimate feel. The lunch specials here are killer. The service is not overly friendly, but you won’t even mind because the food is THAT GOOD. Oh and the best part? It’s BYOB with no corkage fee.
Sazón Cuban Cuisine
If you’re in North Beach and find yourself craving some legit Cuban cuisine, this is your spot. Go for breakfast and go hungry. Get the ham and sweet plantain omelette and wash it down with a cortadito, or some fresh-squeezed OJ. Then go back for dinner, because that’s on point too. Vaca frita, churasco, ropa vieja, served a block from the beach. What more can you ask for?
Shuckers Waterfront Grill
Let’s face it Miami, we all have a special place in our heart for Shuckers and their special grilled chicken wings. The decor and service may be more miss than hit, but the 25-year-old spot is an institution that dominates the waterfront sports bar market (have you seen that view?) and is one of our go-to happy hour spots. Did we the mention wings?