The other week, a trip to Miami kicked off what will be a crazy few months of work travel. Let’s be real, traveling for work is exhausting and I don’t think it tops anyone’s list of things they want to do with their lives. But, to be positive, it is a great excuse to try new restaurants and it doesn’t hurt when you have family and/or friends living in the places your company is paying to fly you to. Fortunately, my uncles live in Miami, so I had the chance to not only spend time with them, but I also received the inside scoop on the best restaurants to eat at in Miami.
My three favorite restaurants from the trip really encapsulated the spirit of Miami in very different ways, whether the menu showcased the best of local seafood or featured the soul of the Miami people. And of course, what would a trip to Miami be without a stop at a Cuban restaurant? Here are my top three choices:
The River Seafood Oyster Bar
My colleague, his wife, and I decided to venture out one night to see what Miami had to offer after being cooped up in our hotel with company meetings all day. The River Seafood Oyster Bar did not have any available reservations, but we decided to take our chances and snagged spots at the bar. The ambiance was low key, yet sophisticated, and the three of us were eager to dive into the local seafood showcased on the menu. Miami is known for stone crab claws, so we obviously had to sample. From there, we ordered several different dishes, but my favorites included the refreshing ceviche (comprised of shrimp, lobster, snapper, and passion fruit) and Thai-inspired mussels. To be honest, I don’t really think you can go wrong with their menu and highly recommend River Seafood Oyster Bar if you’re looking for a seafood-infused evening.
I’m a sucker for Greek food and wine, so when my uncles said they wanted to take me to their favorite restaurant that happened to be a Greek wine bar, I knew I was in for a treat. I felt right at home as soon as I walked in— the decor was warm and welcoming— and the live music immediately jump started our experience. The owner, a former ballroom dancer, worked the room and pulled diners up to dance with her throughout the evening. I felt like I was getting a real taste of the vibrant Miami culture and the overall vibe was a nice way to regroup after a long day. The wine list at BarMeli69 is extensive and includes vintages from all over the world. We went with a Greek wine, Tsantalis Rapsani, which paired well with the various dishes we selected. My favorite dishes? The grilled octopus with chickpea salad and the lamb meatballs. When it came time to leave, I was truly sad and wished we had a similar restaurant in San Francisco. Big props to the owner on a job well done of curating a familial environment with great food.
Sazón Cuban Cuisine
A trip to Miami wouldn’t be right without some sort of Cuban meal. My uncle is Cuban and when my Godfather told me Sazón’s food is almost as good as Joe’s cooking, I knew I had to make a stop. I corralled a few of my colleagues our last day in Miami and we made the short trip up the road from our hotel. The restaurant itself isn’t much to look at, but unassuming restaurants sometimes have the best food. We started our lunch off with the ceviche, the Sazón Combo to get a little taste of everything, and a round of mojitos. For lunch, I took my uncle’s suggestion and went with the Cubano and let’s just say I didn’t leave the restaurant hungry (the sandwich was massive!) Sazón proved to be a great way to wrap our trip up in Miami.
As I mentioned, I’ll be traveling quite a bit the next few months and would love to hear your restaurant recommendations for Minneapolis, Dallas, NYC, and Sydney. Please leave your suggestions in the comments section below and thank you in advance!