Locals Only: Where to Avoid the Snowbirds in Miami

By Michelle Muslera  |  February 29, 2016

Snowbirds. They invade our beaches during the cool months, hogging parking spaces and snagging the good seats at our favorite restaurants. This is their season in Miami, and while we may not be able to help much with the parking situation, we can at least suggest 10 tasty spots where you'll find a locals-heavy crowd. 

Blink and you might miss this Italian spot just a block off Collins Avenue. It serves Italian antipasti, pizza and homemade pasta and a great selection of regional wines for a reasonable price, making it a rare gem given its location. The staff is mostly Italian and very friendly, and there’s always a row of chatty locals drinking at the bar. The lush patio feels miles away from South Beach's hustle and bustle.

1925 Liberty Ave.; 305-673-3959

This Sunset Harbour gastropub got some good exposure when it opened a few years ago, but the buzz has quieted a bit with all the hot new arrivals in the area. But its menu of Asian-inspired, pork-centric small plates is still a solid choice for a bite before a night of drinking at nearby bars and clubs. Note: its sister property Pubbelly Sushi, located right next door, is always a good bet too.

1418 20th St.; 305-532-7555

Visa O1
This Neapolitan-style pizzeria is in a prime tourist location (right off Lincoln Road), but it's hidden from street view, tucked away in an unassuming commercial building. Its thin and crispy pies have gained local acclaim, particularly the signature star-shaped rendition (pictured) made with spicy salami and ricotta-stuffed edges. And while snagging one of the 18 seats on the weekend might not always be easy (make a reservation), you can always get your pie to go. 

1680 Michigan Ave.; 305-397-8189

You can often find restaurateur David Foulquier working the room at this cozy Downtown spot, smiling, pouring wine and offering menu suggestions. Located off the beaten path and just a few blocks away from Club Space, the charming eatery specializes in European and Middle Eastern dishes, offering French, Italian and Persian-accented plates like the beloved bucatini all' amatriciana and Persian lamb shank.

1035 N. Miami Ave.; 786-536-2749

Mina’s Mediterraneo
"Middleterranean" cuisine has been a hot trend recently, and you can get a taste at this family-friendly, neighborhood joint specializing in housemade dips with puffy pita bread, Middle Eastern platters and a variety of exotic pizzas. Extra draws include a popular weekend brunch with Egyptian-style breakfast and mascarpone pancakes, plus a spacious, light-strung terrace and an outdoor bar.

749 NE 79th St.; 786-391-0300

Blue Collar
Danny Serfer’s Upper East Side diner lives up to its name, serving large portions of comfort food in a low-key setting. Expect American classics like burgers and shrimp and grits, rotating daily specials and a nice range of vegetable dishes. Brunch happens on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 11 AM, and delivery is also available.

6730 Biscayne Blvd.; 305-756-0366

The back of a museum may not exactly sound like a locals-only place, but if you try going there during lunch, that is exactly what you’ll find. Popular among the Downtown office crowd, this New American spot at the PAMM offers  a locally sourced menu and a weekday fixed-price lunch menu that keeps the regulars coming back for more. The view overlooking Biscayne Bay doesn’t hurt either. 

1103 Biscayne Blvd.; 305-375-8282

Nothing says good times quite like a Spanish-style happy hour. Offering half-off drinks from 5–7 PM every day of the week, it’s easy to see why this high-end gastropub has gained such a strong following among the Coral Gables crowd. Try a plate of regional cured meats and cheeses or the signature, truffle-infused huevos Bulla (pictured above), but go easy on the beer sangria — it’s surprisingly strong.

2500 Ponce De Leon Blvd.; 305-441-0107

At this Coconut Grove burger mecca, there’s a great selection of craft beer, friendly service, a low-key vibe and some knockout, locally sourced burgers. You really can’t go wrong. Try the namesake Lokal version, made with grass-fed beef, housemade honey mustard, tomatoes and melted jack cheese. Also great: the place is pet-friendly and even offers a doggy menu with treats and nonalcoholic beer made especially for canines.

3190 Commodore Pl.; 305-442-3377

El Carajo
Enter the BP gas station on Coral Way and walk past the quickie-mart to find, astonishingly, a charming Spanish tapas restaurant. We love the generous portions and the fact that you can get a fantastic bottle of wine without breaking the bank. Bonus: the adjacent wine shop offers an impressive selection of bottles to take home.

2465 SW 17th Ave.; 305-856-2424