Happily, more restaurants are starting to reopen and retool with safety protocols. Wherever possible, they’re looking to add space for outside dining, since surveys show that at this point diners prefer to eat outside. And, to that point, I’ve laid out my seven picks for outdoor dining in Miami. They offer different kinds of cuisine at varying price points. If you’re still on the fence about in- restaurant dining, don’t miss my post last week on a my first experience dining out since the onset of COVID-19. Click here for the post. IMPORTANT NOTE: Yesterday there were problems with the email program so the post didn’t go out to everyone. It’s about the Best Miami Fresh Fish Markets, one you don’t want to miss. To read it, click here.
Doma, a Mediterranean-inspired, southern Italian restaurant in Wynwood is a reliable choice for fine dining and stylish décor with a big plus, a garden courtyard. Its Neopolitan Chef Marco Giugliano has trained with some of the best chefs on Italy’s Amalfi Coast and in Mykonos, Greece and served as executive chef in Michelin-starred restaurants, including Quattro Passi in London’s Mayfair District and Taverna Estia in Brusciano, Italy.
The menu features classic Italian dishes as well as modern plates.The garden courtyard has a retractable awning in case it rains, and 8 tables accommodating 4 guests max per table. It’s featuring its new summer menu with dishes including linguine vongole & porcini, gnocchi prawns & burrata and fine herb marinated Hamachi crudo. Snag good values with their Miami Spice menus offered now through September. Reservations and walk ins are accepted, and they do takeout and delivery.Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Street parking. 35 N.E. 26th Street, T.(786)953-6946.
Smith & Wollensky, one of Miami’s traditional steakhouses with branches across the country, is always a solid bet for a casual meal or celebration. Adjacent to South Pointe Park, it features a lovely waterside, treelined setting with spacious outdoor patios, some seats with a roof cover ,and others with umbrellas. Together with an upper deck, it can accomodate over 100 guests outdoors while adhering to social distancing. Reservations are required. The menu of course is heavy with beef options and all the sides that make a perfect match, but also, popular seafood choices, salads and sandwiches.
I had the steak tartar with bone marrow and Szechuan string beans with a glass of wine, a perfect lunch. Takeout is offered with pre payment online, and they’re also offering a “S&W at Home” program of hand-butchered USDA Prime steaks as well as dinner packages with prepared sides, grill kits, and takeaway bottled wines at a 25% discount. It’s open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Valet parking is $9. 1 Washington Avenue, T.(305)673-2800.
Bakan is a place I hadn’t been, but it has been getting good reviews on online forums, so off we went. It was Mr. W’s first dinner out, and he was loving it. Tasty Mexican food is the name of the game here along with over 300 tequilas and mezcals, almost one for every day of the year. The menu was especially appealing , so there was a lot I wanted to try. We settled on the green mole, a dish that isn’t easy to find at Miami Mexican restaurants. Seabass was covered in the traditional sauce from Oaxaca made with mint, parsley, epazote, hoja santa, cilantro, tomatillo and serrano chile with crunchy pumpkin seeds, served with a side of rice and green beans. Delicious. Mr. W had a specialty, a dish from the wood burning grill that uses oak and cherry woods.
He opted for the prime rib eye taco which came with a small corn cob (elote), melted cheese filled poblano chile, refried black beans and tortillas. It’s a great choice if you want to sample a lot of the dishes and can’t choose which one. Tortillas here are the real thing — blue corn and baked rather than fried. When you come, be sure to get the guacamole which tasted uber fresh, and had just the right mix of chunky and creamy. Order churros for dessert. This space was built within a cactus wall and was inspired by the culture and sights of Mexico City, Guadalajara and Oaxaca. Forty one guests can be accommodated outdoors in a covered patio with cooling fans. Service is friendly and good. The full menu is offered along with happy hour Monday to Friday, 4 to 7. It’s open for lunch and dinner Monday to Friday. Reservations and walk ins are accepted. Delivery is available.2801 N.W. 2nd Street, T.(305)396-7080.
Another top favorite, The Deck at Island Gardens has always one of my favorite places to dine well, enjoy a signature view of Miami’s skyline, and soak in a “buzzy”, glamorous atmosphere.The Executive Chef is Alfio Longo, former executive chef of Le Cirque New York and in Casa de Campo.The Deck’s dining area is covered by a full awning with large umbrellas covering walkways and fans keep the restaurant cool. Cabanas are fully covered.
Tables are appropriately spaced throughout the expansive dining area, including cabanas. About 100 diners can be accommodated, with a maximum per table of 6 if it’s the same family. On reopening it will feature its summer menu with new additions including Chef Alfio’s famous lasagna al forno, The Deck Burger and Homestead Farm tomato salad. It’s open Thursday through Sunday for dinner and Saturday and Sunday, also for lunch with dishes including berry stuffed pancakes and carbonara pizza.
Takeout and delivery are also available. Reservations are encouraged but walk ins are accepted if capacity permits. Parking is $10. 888 MacArthur Causeway,T.(786-627-4949).
For more on The Deck:
Award winning chef Antonio Bachour’s namesake restaurant and bakery features a Spanish style outdoor courtyard for 72 that’s covered to protect it from sun and rain. This year, Bachour was named a semifinalist for Pastry Chef of the Year as part of its 2020 Restaurant and Chef Awards by The James Beard Foundation. In late 2019, Bachour was named Esquire magazine’s top pastry chef in the U.S. and the only South Florida-based chef included on the list.
The restaurant is serving its full menu and delectable pastry creations along with new dishes including Wild Salmon with Summer peas Fricassee, Slow Roasted Bone In Short Rib, quiche croissants, and Spanish Egg Scramble. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday; Sundays and Mondays for breakfast, lunch and late-night snacks. Takeout and delivery are also offered. Reservations are preferred. Bachour Restaurant & Bakery, 2020 Salzedo St,, T.(305)203-0552.
Azabu Miami Beach is low key, but those in the know, know about the cuisine of famed Chef Yasu Tanaka: Head Sushi Chef. Tanaka’s culinary talent and dedication propelled him to positions in Michelin-starred restaurants around the world. In Tokyo, he worked at the renowned Sushi Iwa for three years. He later moved to New York City and joined the team at Sushi Azabu. After three years, Tanaka moved to Miami Beach to open The Den at Azabu Miami Beach. His specialty is traditional Edomae sushi. In the outdoor courtyard 30 diners can be accommodated. It’s protected from the rain and has cooling fans. Dinner is served seven days a week, a limited menu. Takeout and delivery are also offered. Reservations only. Valet is offered for $15 when validated. 161 Ocean Drive, T. (786) 276-0520.
A Coral Gables/South Miami favorite, Fiola, is offering its veranda retooled for social distancing for those wanting to eating outdoors. The full menu is offered, inspired by regional Italian classics and with an artistic eye on presentation. There are also new dishes including a raw bar with West or East coast oysters, Amalfi style tomato salad with produce from local farms, charcoal grilled pork chop, hand made pasta with vegetables and tiramisu that uses five year aged Madeira. Dinner is offered Tuesday to Saturday, two seatings at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 7 p.m. Reservations are required. Delivery and takeout are offered. There’s also the Fiola Market on Sat 12 pm – 4 pm where you can shop Fiola’s premium ingredients to cook at home. Valet parking. 1500 San Ignacio Avenue, T. (305)912-2639.
More Places for Outdoor Dining in Miami: In shopping areas including the Village of Merrick Park, Brickell City Centre, Miami Design District, Giralda Street in Coral Gables, and Bal Harbour Shops, many restaurants with outdoor dining have reopened. With the closing of Ocean Drive, restaurants are expanding their outdoor seating as part of a new pilot program and many eateries along Lincoln Road and Espanola Way are also open. Given the more limited seating, in more popular restaurants like those in Bal Harbour Shops it’s best to reserve as they can fill up quickly.