If you’re hungry and don’t know where to go, follow our tips below. With so many restaurants in the Miami Design District, there’s a place for every occasion.
For a quick, easy breakfast: ella
The brainchild of James Beard Award-winning Michael Schwartz, this pop-up-turned-permanent food spot is especially close to his heart because it’s named after his daughter. Spilling out onto Palm Court, this café is where you go for a light menu of breakfast, lunch, snacks. For breakfast the house-made breakfast sandwiches are a favorite or its daily-changing menu of out-of-the-box donuts (think: Vanilla Glaze, Chocolate Drizzle and Cocoa Nibs; Rhum Caramel Drizzle, Chocolate Icing and Oreo Crumbles; and Cookies N’ Cream). Pro tip: When they’re available, bring a box of those Cookies N’ Cream donuts back to the office, and you might get a raise. They’re that good. ella is open Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sundays, from noon to 5 p.m.
For a light lunch: Lemoni Café
This local, unassuming spot is most known for its long, affordable menu of paninis and salads. Grab a table inside this Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, which is covered in art, and nosh on mouthwatering sandwiches like the Lemoni Supremo with marinated chicken, pesto, brie, and cherry tomatoes, or the Ole Ole with chicken, spicy guacamole, sour cream and grilled tomatoes on hot-pressed Ciabatta bread. When you’re done, make sure you order the Tiramisu—it’s a recipe that was handed down from the owner’s very-Italian grandfather. Lemoni Café is open Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
For date night: Mandolin Aegean Bistro
Set in a whitewashed 1940’s house with blue-trim windows, this decidedly-romantic spot transports you to the Greek Islands as soon as you walk in. Brimming with bougainvillea, grab a “taverna” chair and a lantern-lit table under an old oak tree, and you and your honey can feast on delicious delicacies local to Greece and Turkey. Mandolin Aegean Bistro is open Monday through Saturday, from Noon to 11 p.m., and on Sunday, from noon to 10 p.m.
For a family celebration: Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
This Michael Schwartz original is what first put the Miami Design District on the map. Now in its 10th year, it’s just as popular for its unpretentious, but delectable cuisine and local ingredients as it was back then. The perfect place to gather your family and enjoy lunch, dinner or weekend brunch, MGFD is where you can pair a stiff, handcrafted cocktail with the type of cuisine that made Michael Schwartz famous: like Shrimp Toast “Banh Mi,” Sprouted Lentil Fritters, Deviled Eggs, Thick-Cut Potato Chips, and the chili-flaked Potato Kale Pizza. Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink serves lunch Monday through Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and snacks and drinks Monday through Saturday, starting at 3 p.m. It serves dinner Monday through Thursday, from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, from 5:30 p.m. to Midnight; and on Sunday, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday Brunch runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Because you’re craving something good: OTL
David Grutman, the unofficial nightlife king of Miami, surprised us all last year when he opened a casual café with the team from The Smile NYC in the Miami Design District. Now a definite favorite, OTL—which stands for “out to lunch”—serves a light, flavorful menu of healthy, delicious treats sure to satisfy any craving. Stunners include: the spicy Avocado Toast on Zak the Baker bread, the Grilled Cheese stuffed with melted cheddar and onion marmalade, and the star of the show, Super Seed Butter Toast with peanut butter-like super seed butter and fresh blueberries on toasted brioche. OTL is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For a very Miami dinner: Estefan Kitchen
Tucked in the corner of Palm Court, this Cuban fine-dining spot is the brainchild of mega-superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan. With its blue and purple mood lighting, glittering white pillars, mirrored walls and star-studded tables, this see-and-be-seen locale has everything you’d want from your night in Miami. The menu items — many of which are based on family recipes from the Estefans — include tasty dishes like award-winning Lechón Asado, Bacon-Wrapped Maduros, and Handmade Croquetas with Serrano ham, creamy béchamel sauce and a balsamic guava reduction. Plus, while you’re there, prepare to be entertained. In true superstar fashion, this restaurant comes with a live pianist, sultry lounge singers behind the bar, and weekly concerts in Palm Court. Estefan Kitchen is open Sunday through Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays, from 11:30 a.m. to midnight.
For a pizza lunch: Harry’s Pizzeria
This Michael Schwartz hangout is where you’ll satisfy your most indulgent cravings. Go here for pizza, but not just any pizza—we’re talking Short Rib pizza with gruyere, caramelized onion and arugula; Bacon pizza with caramelized onion, potato, gruyere and arugula; Rock Shrimp pizza with roasted lemon, Manchego cheese, scallion and cilantro; and more. Harry’s Pizzeria is open Monday through Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to Midnight; and on Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For wine and appetizers with the girls: MC Kitchen
Dena Marino is the unofficial queen of the Miami Design District, and her restaurant is her castle. Next time you want a date with your best girlfriends, head to the modern-Italian MC Kitchen. The wine list is pretty extensive, the cocktails are divine (get the Bunny Wigglesworth with sombra mezcal, ruby red grapefruit and eureka lemon!) and the appetizers are perfect for sharing. The Aspen’s Famous Truffle Fries are always a good idea, but for a real treat, order the Black Mission Fig Pizzetta with cippolini marmalade, Parma prosciutto, fontina cheese, arugula and saba. It’s everyone’s favorite. MC Kitchen is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.