We’ve scoured the Internet, tapped local sources and experimented on our own to find you the top spots to grab a bite and get charged up to cheer for our beloved Miami Heat.
When compiling this list we considered proximity to the American Airlines Arena, (each restaurant is less than 10 minutes away by car), opening hours (each must be open by 5 p.m. so you can make a 7 p.m. game), type of food and price point (because we know you like to change it up from time to time).
We recommend calling the restaurant ahead of time to make a reservation and letting your server know you’ve got an appointment with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade for speedier service.
(In no particular order)
Michael's Genuine Food and Drink
130 NE 40th St, Miami
MGFD, as the locals call it, is a favorite among foodies and food writers including South Beach Wine and Food Festival founder Lee Schrager, who often tweets about the oven-roasted chicken and terrific brunch offerings. It just happens to be this writer’s favorite reasonably priced restaurant in Miami. The burger, served on a brioche is to die for, and the pork belly is a huge crowd pleaser, but you can put your money on just about any entrée created by owner, master chef Michael Schwartz. Three of Executive Pastry Chef Hedy Goldsmith’s desserts were ranked on the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” by celebrity chefs. Also, expect to see a celeb or two. Be sure to call ahead.
Sparky’s Roadside Barbeque
204 NE 1st St, Miami
Voted “Best Restaurant in Downtown Miami” by the Miami New Times in 2011, Sparky’s offers generous helping of all of your favorite barbequed grub at low prices. Each dish is expertly prepared under the supervision of the owners, one of whom studied at the Culinary Institute of America. The M.O. is "Low and slow" cooking over hickory and apple wood to bring out the best in baby-back pork, beef brisket, chicken thighs, and pulled pork shoulder. There are also lots of great sides to choose from.
2004 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Veteran restaurateur Steve Haas and acclaimed chef Tom Azar have created a stylish restaurant that offers gourmet comfort food at reasonable prices. The 6,000-square-foot eatery reminds us of WPA, back in the halcyon days of South Beach and “Glory Days” of our youth. Perhaps it’s the 80 foot-long art deco mural, created by artist Andrew Reid. (He also created the floor-to-ceiling mural for WPA, which we spent many a night admiring.) City Hall earns high marks on both Yelp and Urban Spoon. Favorites include the French onion soup, meatloaf, signature burger, pizzas and Rueben and Brisket sandwiches.
Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
3252 NE 1st Ave., Miami
According to Refinery29, Sugarcane in Midtown is another of Lee Schrager’s favorite restaurants. Helmed by Executive Chef Tim Balloo, this gorgeous bistro's offerings include taste bud defying creations including bacon-wrapped, chorizo-stuffed dates (our favorite), churrasco bites and the most delicious beef tenderloin crudo topped with arugula and black truffle aolil. Order two!
Cuisine: Latin American, Italian
1644 SW 8th St., Miami
Yelp gives this white cave on SW 8th street almost 5 stars based on over 100 ratings, with exceptional marks for food and service. Standouts include: the churrasco, pear and gorgonzola ravioli and tasty tapas.
Cuisine: Chinese Asian Fusion
119 SE 1st Ave., Miami
This inexpensive, family owned, Chinese hole in the wall serves up fresh, healthy tasty dishes such as Mongolian beef and honey garlic chicken, or you can order your choice of meat and/or veggies with your preferred sauce/preparation. The Bento boxes and noodle bowls are great values. Everything is fresh and made-to-order.
Miss Yip Chinese Café
Cuisine: Dim Sum, Chinese
900 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
It just doesn’t get any closer to the game than Miss Yip, which is located directly across the street from the AmericanAirlines Arena. Another bonus is the convenient $5 dollar valet parking - where you may actually be able to leave your car for the duration of the game - depending on your powers of persuasion. The food is good and the décor is a cross between the inside of Jeannie’s bottle and an opulent Shanghai teahouse in fancy Chinese cabinet. The dim sum chef stands in the center of the open kitchen creating some of the most delicious dim sum in town, with the diligence of the donut guy from the old Dunkin Donuts commercials (“Time to make the donuts.” Remember?) Top choices include the Shanghai Soupy Dumplings, BBQ Pork Bao, Pan Fried and Shrimp Dumplings - plus enough other varieties to put you in a certifiable dim sum coma. The rest of the menu includes typical Chinese cuisine featuring all your favorites: from the spare ribs to the spring rolls to several fried rice and noodle dishes that won’t break the bank.
Los Ranchos at Bayside Marketplace
Cuisine: Latin American
401 Biscayne Blvd., Suite N100, Miami
While Bayside Marketplace is typically reserved for tourists, we could not ignore its proximity to the AmericanAirlines Arena (next door). Our research turned up that Los Ranchos is a great place to hit up before a Heat game because of its bargain steaks and generous servings. Guests rave about the fried plantains, churrasco and the fried cheese. There are also extra good values at lunchtime, for those rare afternoon games.
PLACES TO EAT BEFORE A MIAMI HEAT GAME IF YOU DON’T MIND ARRIVING DURING THE SECOND QUARTER
270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami
Zuma is our favorite place to blow a mortgage payment, or should we say tied for first with db Bistro modern (see below). But considering that a hot dog at the AmericanAirlines Arena costs a million bucks, this is well worth it. From the spicy beef tenderloin to the Black Miso Cod - which will turn the staunchest meat lover into a “fish person” to the sushi, every dish is shear perfection. Sunday brunch is life changing (and scale breaking). Note: the parking is steep - at $13 but Zuma’s thrills are worth the price. Because of Zuma’s outrageous menu, you may want to linger a bit and show up by halftime…yes, sometimes you can be THAT fan.
DB Bistro Moderne
Cuisine: French, American
at JW Marriott Marquis Miami
255 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami
C’mon, this is Daniel Boulud’s place…how can you go wrong? This restaurant at the JW Marriott Marquis is totally worth the expense. Head here for a late game or before a Sunday afternoon game, as the restaurant doesn’t open until 6 p.m. on weekdays. More of a dining experience than a mere “place to eat” every dish is on point – actually beyond point. Do what we did - let the chef surprise you, you will not be disappointed. If you are fortunate to visit during White Truffle Season, go crazy and feed your truffle addiction. Favorites include: the DB Burger stuffed with truffles and foie gras, seafood tower and NY Strip. This “splurgeworthy” spot may also result in you showing up to the game by the second quarter - but hey, it’s well worth it!
The Capital Grill
444 Brickell Ave., Miami
Gayot ranks Capital Grill among its top three steakhouses, and it is the closest to the AmericanAirlines Arena. To get your steak fix, head to this opulent restaurant and select your meal from the enormous glass-enclosed meat locker filled with choice dry-aged beef. Executive Chef Innocent Utomi and his kitchen crew will turn it into one of the best steaks you’ve ever had. You may also choose from North Atlantic lobsters, grilled seafood steaks and dessert classics like crème brûlée and Key lime pie.
335 S Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Among the top ranked restaurants on Yelp, Il Gabbiano is a splurge. Patrons rave about the food, impeccable service and striking views courtesy of the wall-to-ceiling windows. The Osso Bucco, and mushroom stuffed ravioli bathed in a truffle sauce are not to be missed and complimentary aged Parmesan with balsamic vinegar, Bruschetta and fried zucchini are definite pluses.