As cliche as it sounds, Miami is indeed a city of contrasts. Anchoring South Florida, The Magic City feels more like you’re in a Caribbean hotspot than in a state that’s known as home to the crazed Florida Man and as the fanny-pack wearing capital of the world (yes, we mean Disney World). And, while the beach is only steps away, locals are more likely to lounge at their pool than venture onto the touristy sand.
Croquettes, Cuban sandwiches, and cafe con leche (no skim milk here) rule the streets, but there are plenty of plant-focused restaurants and cafes to be found if you know where to look. These are the places where the food is as good as a day on the beach—minus the sunburn.
Nothing says Miami more than walking past the pool and through a fancy fitness center to get to the 1 Hotel’s newest restaurant. PLNTHOUSE is vegan celebrity chef Matthew Kenney’s plant-based cafe, featuring flavorful international cuisine like chickpea curry and bahn mi wraps with ginger roasted eggplant—and plenty of vegan and gluten free options. Smoothies are elevated with functinonal ingredients like reishi mushrooms, mucuna pruriens, and camu camu concentrate. If that’s too much, sip on ginger and turmeric shots while lounging in your luxe poolside cabana with panoramic views of Miami Beach. 2341 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
When you think of a Ritz-Carlton restaurant, you probably think of hefty steaks and creamy Caesar salads. But the Artisan Beach House at the Ritz Carlton Bal Harbour debuted a surprising new menu this past May. With the hotel’s location at the convergence of the intercoastal waters and the Atlantic Ocean, it’s only fitting that the sea would take center stage. Inside, eclectically patterned dining chairs cluster around white and beachwood-colored tables. Don’t miss the center bar whose lower tin paneling is painted a tropical turquoise—a casual contrast to the more marble trim and brassy finishes. Expect fresh seafood prepared with an international flair, like salmon with wakame, avocado, and yuzu aioli, or charred octopus with vadouvan carrots, yogurt, and fresh cilantro sauce. 10295 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour.
Earlier this year, James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Schwartz opened a new Latin American restaurant in one of Miami’s fastest growing areas, Edgewater, just north of downtown. The restaurant is hidden in the Paraiso District Beach Club, a clubhouse for the gleaming new Paraiso Bay condo complex, with panoramic views of Biscayne Bay and Miami Beach. The menu is largely influenced by Caribbean flavors like banana-leaf-wrapped cobia with mashed yucca and coconut chutney and wood-grilled calabaza squash with coconut pesto. 3101 NE 7th Ave, Edgewater.
Executive Chef Oliver Lange doesn’t hide behind heavy sauces at Zuma Miami, located at the Kimpton Epic hotel with Miami River views. Instead, he relies on a Robatayaki grill fueled by binchotan (white charcoal), which imbues a more subtle flavor to the simply prepared dishes. The Japanese izakaya-inspired menu features hot dishes, like grilled scallops with pickled plum, shiso, and mentaiko butter, and cold plates like sea bass sashimi with yuzu. Remember, you’re on Latin time, so if you plan to eat after seven, you’ll want to make a reservation. 270 Biscayne Blvd Way, Downtown Miami
One of Oprah’s favorite dessert spots in the country, Icebox Cafe also happens to be a go-to for healthier fare. The destination restaurant, owned by Robert Siegmann, is nestled in Miami Beach’s Sunset Harbor neighborhood. If your table’s not ready, hang out at the white leather couches (because, Miami); the vibe is cool-casual—expect a mix of business folks, locals hot in from yoga class and colorfully dressed tourists. Icebox is known for serving healthier versions of comfort foods like cauliflower buffalo wings and egg white frittata with quinoa, mushrooms and arugula. Their beloved vegan burger is made from Indonesian tempeh, mushroom, and quinoa. 1855 Purdy Ave, Miami Beach.
Dr. Smood opened its doors to juicers and yoga lovers in December 2015 with a menu crafted by a team of in-house nutritionists and boasts menu items and GMO-free ingredients without preservatives, dairy, chemicals, HPP, pesticides or refined sugar. Menu items are color-coded to denote health benefits. Choose a yellow-sticker item for an “immunity” product, like Fruit Juice No. 2, a blend of pineapple, apple, lemon and turmeric. An orange-sticker product denotes “power,” like the wild-caught salmon sandwich made with vegan cream cheese and served on “performance bread” (made with organic spelt flour and millet flakes). You’ll find their shops in some of Miami’s hottest areas, like Brickell City Center, a new, luxury shopping center in the city’s financial district, or Sunset Harbor, a quieter Miami Beach neighborhood. 2230 NW 2nd Ave, Miami
Chef Michael Lewis offers up a healthy take at this Asian barbecue spot in the hip Wynwood Arts District. Japanese-style wood tables geometrically arranged oppose raw concrete walls to give the space a warmth that’s uncommon in other “modern Japanese” restaurants, even without a lot of natural light. At night, soft mood lighting gives a cozy glow making it a great place for date night. KYU balances Asian-inspired seafood options like Florida red snapper or grilled octopus with vegetable dishes like grilled shishito peppers and kale nam prix (crunchy kale served with a chili pepper Thai hot sauce. The star of the show is a whole-roasted cauliflower served with shishito herb vinaigrette—it’s a crowd pleaser for the whole table. 251 NW 25th St, Wynwood.
Located in the heart of the Miami Design District, David Grutman (of Miami Beach’s LIV nightclub) teamed up with The Smile (from New York City) and real estate developer Craig Robins to pacify hangry shoppers with organic food on-the-go, like cauliflower hummus and overnight oats. Inside, the ambiance is mid-century modern meets reclaimed urban loft with a splash of tropical turquoise and flamingo pink. Breakfast lovers gravitate here for avocado toast and black bean and scrambled egg burritos served all day. Try the charred long hot pepper tortilla Española, a Spanish take on a quiche served with paprika aioli. 160 NE 40th St, Design District.
One of South Beach’s newest restaurants, Planta is one of the only entirely vegan options in the area. It’s a collaboration between David Grutman and Canadian-based Chase Hospitality Group (known for Toronto eateries like The Chase and Palm Lane) to bring its upscale plant-based concept to SoBe. Chef David Lee sources many herbs and vegetables from its rooftop garden. Surprising dishes include a Meat Lovers Pizza with farro “sausage” and mushroom “bacon,” and coconut ceviche (young coconut meat marinated overnight and then mixed with lime juice, shallots, jalapeños, sliced avocado and other spices served with fresh tortilla chips). 850 Commerce St, Miami Beach
The Sacred Space Miami in the Wynwood Arts District is a wellness venue hosting yoga training, health-forward cooking classes, and a garden cafe, PLANT MIAMI, which offers vibrant vegan and Certified Kosher dishes in a minimalistic, indoor-outdoor space. Executive Chef Horacio Rivadero sources many of the ingredients from the restaurant’s own farm, Paradise Farms, about 45 minutes south of Miami. Specialty micro greens and 57 varieties (actually 57!) of edible flowers make frequent appearances in dishes like the Cacio di Funghi, gluten-free pasta made from kelp served with a Bechamel sauce that somehow manages to be free of both dairy and gluten. Spirulina is added to their nut-based cheese for an extra punch of iron and a slightly earthy flavor. 105 NE 24th St, Wynwood
The Can’t-Miss Shop: L’Appartement Concept Store
Where else could you find a Gebruder Thonet Vienna lounge chair or Joe Bear bookcase shaped like a polar bear? French interior designer Emmanuelle Bernard brings chic European-style furniture and decor to Miami. Situated between the Wynwood and Edgewater neighborhoods, L’Appartement highlights vintage pieces paired with modern design. The small corner shop feels larger than it appears from the outside, artfully arranged in micro rooms, showcasing different ways to furnish an apartment like a high-class IKEA. In the kitchen, you’ll find colorful Bazelaire ceramics, stackable Yuan Osorio table sets and tropical-print placemats. 2500 N Miami Ave, Wynwood.
A trip to Miami isn’t complete without a visit to the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, an ornate Italian villa commissioned by millionaire James Deering in 1914. It’s nestled on the southern side of Miami close to the Richebacker Causeway that arches across to Key Biscayne. Its eclectic European, North American, and Asian art collection and lavish Baroque-style and Italian Renaissance architecture is only matched by the vast gardens. An extensive outdoor sculpture collection speckles the ten acres, including the Formal Garden, which is reminiscent of the geometric hedge design of the Palace of Versailles. Venture out to the veranda that overlooks Biscayne Bay to see the Barge, an offshore gazebo only accessible by rowboat or gondola. While only minutes away from downtown (or longer, depending on the infamously terrible Miami traffic), this secluded artistic oasis is a peaceful way to get away from the craziness of the Magic City without actually leaving town. 3251 S Miami Ave, Miami