Savor the Sun: Miami's Best Patio Dining
Photo By: George Apostolidis
Photo By: George Apostolidis
Photo By: Lila Photo
Photo By: Emiliano Brooks
Savor the Sunshine
In a place nicknamed the Sunshine State, it seems a shame to be cooped up indoors. After all, studies do show that spending time outdoors improves overall well-being. And with mild winters and balmy breezes, South Florida is the perfect place to get outdoors, particularly with alfresco dining options of all descriptions. Want waterfront views? You got it. Street art? No problem. Prime people-watching? Of course. Here are the best places to dine outdoors, from South Beach to West Palm.
Smith & Wollensky
A perky offshoot of the Manhattan original, Miami’s Smith & Wollensky is a first-rate destination for steak dinner. Prime USDA cuts are dry-aged on site. Fresh lobsters are flown in every day. Every side and pastry is made from scratch. And then there’s the extensive, award-winning wine list. The Miami location is set right above the cerulean waters of Government Cut, the shipping channel, and the two-story building offers stunning views of Fisher Island, the Miami skyline and passing yachts. The Intracoastal Waterway-front patio has long been a local favorite for catching the sunset.
Once just another industrial neighborhood, Wynwood is now basically a free open-air museum, with buildings that have been decked with stunning murals by local and international street artists. The most-acclaimed collection may be at Wynwood Walls, where the exteriors of six adjoining buildings are the canvas for more than a dozen masters from Asia, Europe and the Americas. Set right on the property, Wynwood Kitchen offers the perfect place to admire the outdoor gallery. Snack on Latin-influenced small plates, such as ropa vieja empanadas and gambas al ajillo, while contemplating the massive Shepard Fairey mural 20 feet away. It’s also the ideal place to break for drinks during the monthly Art Walk.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Meade
After a full, well-deserved renovation, longtime grand dame Bimini Boatyard is once again one of the best outdoor dining spots in Broward County. Embracing the city’s yachting culture, the space is bright with nautical-chic touches, including a mix of vintage boathouse and sleek mid-century design. The interior features vintage porthole windows and an 800-pound chandelier made from 70 cascading oars. Outside, the restaurant offers dock space and boat valet services, so diners can sail right up for a meal on the 120-foot Intracoastal patio by the fire pit or beneath the 35-foot gumbo limbo tree. The rustic lanterns suspended from the branches illuminate the area with a soft glow, creating the ultimate backdrop for a meal of "seacuterie," Wagyu beef tartare and charred sous-vide octopus.
South Florida has no dearth of Peruvian restaurants. There are places for high-end takes, Peruvian-sushi, Peruvian-Chinese and mom-and-pop shops. It’s (almost) hard to find bad food from the Land of the Incas in Miami. Even so, La Mar stands alone. Headed by Peruvian wunderchef Gastón Acurio, the restaurant features haute riffs on the nation’s diverse cuisine. You’ll find perfectly sliced tuna in the Japanese-influenced Nikkei tiradito, as well as cebiche that proves the chef to be a master of his craft. The novo-Andean and Asian-Peruvian fare has a high-end nautical feel on the stunning outdoor terrace. Set on Brickell Key, the space — inside the Mandarin Oriental — is essentially on top of Biscayne Bay, offering idyllic views of the downtown skyline and unbeatable sunset vistas.
Hudson at Waterway East
Local boy and Hell’s Kitchen winner Paul Niedermann helms the kitchen at this waterfront spot in the heart of the Gold Coast’s culinary capital, Delray Beach. Great food and nice outdoor tables abound on Atlantic Avenue, but none can trump the covered patio here — or the quality of the food. The Intracoastal views are breath-snatching from both tables and the outdoor bar. The 80-foot dock means that diners are free to arrive by boat, if so inclined. Niedermann’s killer American menu includes an excellent crab cake, solid olive oil-poached shrimp and entrees like roasted local snapper, Delmonico rib eye and pork porterhouse.
One of the first pedestrian malls in the U.S., Lincoln Road has been a prime strip for people-watching since the 1950s. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the stretch is peppered with fountains, palm-filled gardens and Miami Modern buildings. Set among the high-end storefronts lining the lane, Meat Market is the ideal place to watch everyone strut their stuff, particularly from the tables and lounge chairs right along the walkway. And though it’s set in a tourist destination, the food here is superb. Chef Sean Brasel offers a menu filled with top-notch prime cuts of beef, fresh seafood and a diverse crudo bar featuring oysters, clams, ceviches and tiraditos. The cocktail program is nationally renowned. Kick back with a pisco sour and Wagyu carpaccio and enjoy the show.
Andrew Carmellini’s beloved New York City American restaurant gets a shore sojourn in Miami. Along with fashionable decor, there’s an oyster bar with East and West Coast options, as well as stone crabs (when available). Comforting roast chicken, red snapper and Florida mahi are served with seasonal ingredients. Here, a lengthy whiskey list trumps the omnipresent mojito. Fresh pies — including warm blueberry, banana cream and salted lime — are choice. Even better than the comforting fare is the partially covered outdoor patio. It’s just a stone’s throw from the ocean, yet it feels like a secluded escape, with lush vines draping around columns and windows, and potted plants spread throughout. It’s cool slice of NYC, but warm.
Photo courtesy of Mark Roskams
Pistache French Bistro
Just across the bridge from the prim and proper Island of Palm Beach, Clematis Street is home to a solid culture, nightlife and restaurant scene, including Pistache French Bistro. Open a few years, the French-Mediterranean restaurant has become the go-to destination for upscale dining both indoors and alfresco. The food includes bistro classics, such as moules mariniere, steak frites and coq au vin. The vibe is just as French, including red leather banquettes, large antique mirrors and Art Nouveau brass details. With Downtown and Intracoastal views, the outdoor tables are the perfect place to enjoy a glass of rosé while watching the world — and nightlife aficionados — pass by.
Apeiro Kitchen & Bar
Opened in October 2015, this Midtown hot spot is the second location of Delray Beach’s Apeiro, from restaurateur Burt Rapoport and Chef David Blonsky. The sleek Mediterranean eatery features the vivid flavors of North Africa, Spain, Italy and Greece with items like Moroccan-spiced lamb ribs, forest mushroom flatbread, gazpacho and orecchiette with merguez and saffron cream. During happy hour, locals congregate around the illuminated circular bar with seating indoor and out. Decorative partitions, potted plants and sleek white couches separate the veranda from the sidewalk, but you can still score a peek at the passers-by on the bustling street.
Kapow! Noodle Bar
Believe it or not, once-stodgy Boca is now home to a hot entertainment scene. At shopping destination Mizner Park, you’ll find French macarons, upscale Italian, lots of craft beer and multiple American eateries, all in one walkable outdoor plaza. The hippest of them all is Kapow! Noodle Bar, a funky, young spot conceived by the team behind several hot spots in South Florida. Every day and night, you’ll find artistic types slurping ramen and trying creative small plates like Vietnamese wings and bulgogi street tacos at alfresco tables and the indoor-outdoor bar. The cocktail program is just as creative as the food, with seasonally rotating drinks like the Spicy Lover, a margarita-inspired mix with cucumber, cilantro and green Tabasco that’s anything but stuffy.