Coconut Grove, one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods is the perfect little enclave to escape some of the more obvious parts of Miami, i.e. obnoxious neon, purple Lamborghinis blasting Bad Bunny’s latest hits. However, the Grove is more than just a break from the usual flashiness of Miami; it’s easily becoming one of the best neighborhoods in Miami to grab a bite.
Two of its restaurants, Los Felix and Ariete have recently received Michelin stars. And chefs like Miami native Michael Beltran, Sebastian Vargas, and Wassim Baki are putting Coconut Grove on the map as a must-visit for foodies. But, tasting the best of Coconut Grove doesn’t always require a sport coat. No, some of the best Grove restaurants reflect the true nature of the area. They’re laidback, a little eccentric, and overall, a great place to grab a beer.
3441 Main Highway, Suite 21, Miami, Fla. (786)-353-2940
Walking into Chug’s feels like being transported back to the 1950s. With retro booths and bar stools reminiscent of “Grease Lightning,” Chug’s takes diners back to the age of classic Americana. It’s a place where you can’t help but order a Coca-Cola. However, Chug’s isn’t just your classic 50’s diner. Serving a variety of Cuban-inspired dishes, Chug’s pays homage to the true Miami Cuban-American experience which includes a lot of Cuban bread, fried croquetas, guaba y queso pastelitos, and 99-cent martinis.
The best things on the menu are the Chug burger, the masitas, and the yuca bites. The Chug burger is what every burger should strive to be: simple, no-frills, yet mind-blowingly amazing. It’s your classic burger with American cheese, lettuce, pickles, a house-made sesame bun, and a special sauce Chug’s makes in house. The masitas, juicy pork belly served over fufú de plátano with mojo onions, wins our stomach because it’s the perfect combination of sweet, salty, savory, and Cuban. And the yuca bites…if pao de queijo, yuca, and your favorite childhood memory had a baby, well, this is what you’d get.
3206 Grand Ave., Miami, Fla.
We first saw Minty Z at the Coconut Farmer’s Market during the pandemic and quickly fell in love with its spicy kimchi cauliflower and carrot sesame bao buns. And since it expanded to its storefront, we’ve remained loyal fans. From the food to the cozy, intimate atmosphere, Minty Z is the perfect place to go for a weeknight dinner date with your friends or to impress the new vegan/astrology girl you’ve just started talking to.
Our favorite things to order here are the carrot and sesame bao buns and the Cuban corn wontons. The bao bun itself is pillowy and fluffy, and the filling rides the line between umami and sweet. It’s also served with a coconut yogurt sauce that adds a nice contrast to the richness of the filling. The Cuban corn wontons come in a close second. And while we’re normally not big fans of “fake” meat, these Cuban corn wontons have us reconsidering our stance on vegan “ham” cashew cream. We’re not entirely sure what that is, but we do know that we would like another order, please
2550 S Bayshore Drive, Miami, Fla.
Disclaimer: you’re not going to Monty’s for the food. At best, it’s decent bar food with an island twist. At worst, you just spent $20 on shitty tacos. However, the atmosphere and drinks are fantastic. Overlooking Dinner Key, Monty’s has some of the best waterfront views sans the South Beach price tag. It’s a great place to go chat up the locals or have a lowkey first date.
College kids, Grove natives, and tourists all flock to Monty’s during happy hour for its $6 Pain Removers—drink with caution—, $1 oysters, and cheap beer. There’s usually live music throughout the week, and if you’re nice to the bartender, you will get some strong pours.
3540 Main Highway, Miami, Fla.
At surface level, Ariete is Cuban-French fusion restaurant that you want to dress up for a bit. It has all the swankiness of your standard French spot, complete with fancy cheeses and foie gras. However, it substitutes the snootiness of your usual French restaurant with a casual friendliness that only the Grove could pull off. The atmosphere is intimate, like you walked into someone’s backyard secret garden jungle, and the food…well, it’s clear why Ariete received a Michelin star. The chef, mastermind Michael Beltran has created a unique menu that pays homage to his roots and celebrates French cuisine all while sourcing fresh local ingredients. There are routinely rotating specials that reflect the best of what’s in season, but our favorites are the wood-grilled oysters with bone marrow butter, the wahoo, and the canard a la presse.
We love carbs. Bread, pasta, potatoes, you name it. However, we would gladly considering going keto if we could eat Ariete’s wood-grilled oysters slathered in bone marrow butter every day. The wahoo is also a must-order. Cured in citrus and served with pickled green papaya and papaya aguachile, it’s a good appetizer to get if you plan on ordering one of the heavier entrees…like the canard a la presse. Because, if you go to Ariete, you have to get the canard a la presse. Even if you’re not a fan of duck, the experience of this dish alone is worth it. A waiter wheels in a machine that looks part antique torture device, part weird knickknack from your grandma’s basement and then explains that this strange torture knickknack is actually used to squeeze various parts of the duck together to make a rich sauce that will ultimately grace the crispiest duck breast you will ever eat. The canard a la presse is also served duck pastelitos and a roasted calabaza duck tamal that we’re still thinking about.
2901 Florida Ave., Miami, Fla.
Miami’s not known for its Indian food, but Bombay Darbar is pretty damn good. The inside feels a little like a clubstaraunt with the purple neon lighting, but the food is what you’re coming for: chicken tikka masala, saag paneer, lamb vindaloo, garlic naan. Bombay Darbar is best enjoyed with people who have seen you…not at your best, i.e. people who won’t judge you for shoveling massive portions of butter chicken into your mouth and then mowing through two baskets of naan. It’s a great place to spend your weekend night if you have no energy to go out, but still want to have some form of social interaction with friends that doesn’t involve a bottle of wine, Netflix, and drunken Dominos orders.
Shore to Door
3380 Douglas Road, Miami, Fla.
If you don’t feel like driving 4 hours to Key West and dealing with tourists from Nebraska, but you still want to feel like you’re having dinner in a Jimmy Buffet song, head on over to Shore to Door. It’s an amazing yet unassuming seafood market/restaurant located in historic Coconut Grove. In true Jimmy Buffet fashion, you walk in to the back, take a seat at one of the wooden bench tables, grab an ice cold beer from a cooler, and squeeze lime on crispy fried fish bites all while enjoying the live band. It’s just the best Sunday afternoon we can imagine.
Dining at Shore to Door is an experience in itself, and there’s usually one one cook working the whole restaurant. So if you’re trying to make a six o’clock movie or have somewhere you need to be, don’t come. But if you have no plans for the rest of the day and you want to get a little buzzed off of $4 beers and eat some delicious fried snapper with friends, then this is where you want to be.
3414 Main Highway, Miami, Fla.
Taco Tuesday is always a fun excuse to eat half-priced tacos and get obliterated with $5 margaritas on a weekday night. However, you’re not going to Los Felix for another sloppy Taco Tuesday with your coworkers. You’re coming here for the food: pork cheek carnitas braised with oranges, chiles, and red onions; corn grits with grilled gambas and black truffle; teletas served with caramelized onions and grilled oyster mushrooms; and handmade blue corn tortillas that just make the world seem like a better place.
After dining here, it’s easy to see why the restaurant recently received a Michelin star. You know that feeling after you’ve finished a long day at work, and now you’ve just gotten a shower, put on your comfy clothes, and poured a glass of wine. That’s what eating at Los Felix feels like. It’s cozy and intimate. The food is like a hug from someone’s abuelita, and the service is that of a white tablecloth joint sans pretension and stiff clothes.
Insider Glutton Tip: If you’re coming here, order a drink with Nixta whiskey. Los Felix is one of the only places we’ve found in Miami that carries it. The thing that makes this whiskey special is that it’s made with cacahuazintle, a heritage variety of Mexican corn. Before being distilled, the corn goes through a process of nixtamilization, where the corn is soaked in a lime bath to enhance its natural flavor. Nixta is lighter than your traditional whiskey. It’s easier to drink, and like everything else in Los Felix, it feels like a warm hug.
3480 Main Highway, Miami, Fla.
If you go, the truffle rakakat, Amal’s hummus, and the pistachio kebab are must-orders. The truffle rakakat is essentially a Lebanese cheese roll that got a Kylie Jenner level glow-up. With Amal’s hummus, imagine some of the creamiest hummus you’ve tasted topped with juicy beef tenderloin and pomegranate seeds, and then imagine that you’re having this hummus while overlooking the Mediterranean with your Spanish lover. The pistachio kebab, a beef and lamb kebab encrusted with pistachios will make you upset that you decided to be cute and not wear sweatpants.