Moving from Miami to Gainesville was the biggest culture shock. I spent all my life raised in a melting pot of different cultures and cuisines, and the authenticity that’s associated with the food in Miami has yet to be replicated in Gainesville. With so many options across the entire city, indulging in food is one of my favorite (and one of the easiest) ways to socialize with friends.
Although eating out at restaurants isn’t the most COVID-friendly activity, that hasn’t stopped me from ordering takeout from my favorite spots. From pizza to late night snacks to healthier fare, below are my favorite spots in Miami that I will definitely be hitting up when I pay a visit home.
- Best pizza: Farinelli 1937
Located in Coconut Grove, Farinelli 1937 has the most authentic Italian pizza I’ve had in Miami. Copper-coated wood-burning ovens are used to create pizzas that are a twist on Italian classics and leave your fingers stained from the charred crust. As someone who is always down for pizza, the parma is a personal favorite of mine. The quality of ingredients and technique of the chefs make it difficult to replicate a pizza that lives up to the hype of Farinelli.
- Best burger: Pincho
The winner of multiple “Best Burger” awards, Pincho has locations all across Miami. Their toston burger with two fried plantains for the bun adds a unique Miami flare to an American classic. For your side, the fried cheese is a must. Not only does it balance out the burger, but it gives you a break from the sometimes boring side of fries. If you’re not a burger person, I highly suggest their California chicken wrap with their sweet mango sauce that cuts through the savory gorgonzola cheese added to it. Pincho takes on American classics with their own twist unlike any burger joint I’ve been to.
- Best Cuban food: Pinecrest Bakery
Nothing was better than the mornings when you woke up late for school and decided to stop at Pinecrest Bakery on your way because hell, you were already late—might as well get breakfast while you’re at it. This 24-hour bakery chain is perfect for early mornings or late-night snacks if you’re looking for the classic Cuban experience Miami has to offer. From pastelitos to cafecito, Pinecrest Bakery is the perfect spot for authentic Cuban food, and you can’t go wrong with a simple croqueta.
- Best brunch: Greenstreet Café
Another restaurant in Coconut Grove, Greenstreet Café is an essential brunch spot in Miami. Before COVID, Greenstreet would be packed every weekend, serving huge plates of classic brunch dishes that made it onto everyone’s Snapchat stories. Every time I go, I have to dine outside for the scenic view of the streets of Coconut Grove. I highly suggest any of their omelettes, which are made with seven—yes, seven—eggs. For drinks, their homemade watermelon lemonade is perfect for keeping you refreshed on a hot Miami day.
- Best late-night snack: Night Owl Cookies
This one may be a little biased because I find nothing better than a warm chocolate chip cookie. There is no better dessert, in my opinion. Night Owl Cookies’ loaded cookies are a prime example of what makes the ideal cookie. Not an inch of the cookie’s surface area is left without a sweet topping, whether that be sprinkles or white chocolate drizzles, making each bite better than the last. I can never leave without buying a full box of cookies to share among my family, and one cookie alone can feed two people. My box typically consists of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch (cinnamon-infused dough topped with the classic cereal), a birthday cake (white chocolate with sprinkles), an Ave Maria (guava and cream cheese) and a Brookie (brownie and cookie).
- Best tacos: El Taquito
Miami’s hidden gem, El Taquito, is a small taqueria that’s often overlooked because of how well it blends in with the streets of Coconut Grove. When it comes to tacos, I believe simple is best. A good taco doesn’t need more than seasoned meat, diced onions and cilantro, and El Taquito carries this idea out in their food. Their tacos are exactly what a taco should be: quick, cheap and full of flavor. Their staff treats you like you’re the only customer, even though there’s always a line out of the door, and their food never tastes anything but fresh.
- Best healthy food: Pura Vida
For healthy but fulfilling food, Pura Vida is the perfect surf-themed spot when you need a refreshing, healthy meal. They source their organic ingredients locally and provide quality food that fills you without making you feel guilty. I’m not the biggest fan of wraps, but Pura Vida nails their chicken and pesto tuna wraps. Their acai bowls are also some of the best I’ve had in Miami, with the Bali Crunch being my favorite.
- Best beach-day spot: Big Pink
Celebrity visitors like Cardi B, the Kardashians, Lebron James and the Jersey Shore cast make Big Pink a South Beach staple. This typical American retro diner has an endless menu of over 300 options along with huge portions of food, so there’s no way you’ll order the same meal twice. Stopping at Big Pink on the way home is essential to the perfect beach day and I never leave without a to-go box. There’s no way I can tell you my favorite dish because there’s too many to choose from! There’s something for everyone at Big Pink—you can never go wrong there!