South Miami is a quaint neighborhood located just across the way from the busy student scene at the University of Miami. The campus and the leafy homes that surround it are anchored by a charming downtown with main-stay eateries that have long been favorites for students and families alike as well as newer spots catering to the latest foodie trends.
Since 1988, this laid-back cafe has been a favorite for outdoor dining and people-watching in South Miami. Locals will tell you about the pressed duck sandwich, roast duck on a hoagie with grilled onions and brie served with fries, which has a cult following. This menu caters to all tastes and won’t’ break the bank – you’ll find everything from hearty breakfast favorites, like pancakes and eggs Benedict, to burgers, fish tacos, fresh salads, and sandwiches. Don’t forget to ask about the specials. Owner Jahn is always testing out new recipes he’s collected from his international travels and giving them a go in this classic South Miami spot.
Miami’s Cuban food scene is competitive, but true aficionados of Cuban cuisine know that Mojito Grill’s no-frills approach to classic favorites is always a winner. Mojito Grill is a small spot, just a counter and a few seats outside, but you’re almost always likely to run into a line waiting for their Cuban sandwiches, like the pan con bistec, a thin, grilled steak on Cuban bread with the magical ingredient: potato sticks. What makes Mojito stand out is its ability to serve up the classics while having a few fresh contemporary spins on the menu, including the Cuban Wrap and the Cuban Bowl. Don’t forget an iced Cuban coffee that will give you the midday jolt you’re looking for on a hot Miami day.
Chefs Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis’ names may sound familiar to you as both competed on Bravo’s Top Chef, after which they went on to launch the buzzy Root & Bone in New York City. Now, they’ve surprised the foodie community with a second location for their award-winning restaurant when they chose residential South Miami over South Beach or the Design District. Open for lunch, brunch, happy hour, and dinner, Root & Bone Miami serves Southern-inspired cuisine like a Warm Pimento Cheese Dip with local fried green tomatoes, chicken biscuits with Tabasco pepper jelly and homemade pickles, a daily fresh fish catch, and shareable mains like spare ribs. It’s elevated comfort food done right, whether you’re eating it in South Miami or taking it home with you.
When Madruga Bakery opened a few years ago on the border between South Miami and Coral Gables, they became an instant hit, filling a need the community may not have known they had. Suddenly, home-milled bread and freshly baked seasonal pastries were a necessity for every weekend. This bakery and cafe pride itself on quality above all else. Madruga is now a favorite for a weekday lunch meeting, where you can order from their fresh salads, sandwiches, and coffees, as well as take a pastry to-go, for birthdays (their petite cakes come in flavors like chocolate and peanut butter as well as fresh fruit combinations), special occasions, and the occasional mid-day treat.
If you have a sweet tooth, you likely already know about The Salty Donut, a local donut shop with locations in Wynwood and South Miami. You can find some reliables on their year around menu like Guava + Cheese, Brown Butter + Salt, and yes, of course, a Traditional Glazed (it’s a 24-hour brioche with a vanilla bean glaze). Seasonally, look out for fun additions to the menu like Butter Beer, Boston Cream, and even a vegan option or two like the Vegan Blueberry Crumble. They serve Intelligentsia coffee because the only thing better than a donut is a donut with coffee.
In 1987, Lori and Eric Haas opened the original Sports Grill on Sunset Drive. The spot became known for its “famous Special Grilled Wings” and the welcoming, friendly atmosphere. Today, this feeling and their famous bar food can still be felt and tasted. Menu must-try includes the made-from-scratch slow-roasted pulled pork sandwich, the black and blue burger with special grilled bacon, and of course, the grilled wings, dipped in the Sports Grill sauce, then charbroiled and lightly washed with secret sauce. These mildly spiced wings come in a number of sauces like buffalo, jerk style, and glazed teriyaki. For lighter fare, opt for a salad or one of their many wraps.