Sunset Harbour is Miami’s Hottest Dining Neighborhood of the Year

Lobster pasta at La Moderna, one of a plethora of restaurants in Miami Beach's Sunset Harbour, our pick for Miami's top dining neighborhood of 2018. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.
Lobster pasta at La Moderna, one of a plethora of restaurants in Miami Beach's Sunset Harbour, our pick for Miami's top dining neighborhood of 2018. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Set against Biscayne Bay in the northwest corner of South Beach, Sunset Harbour is a pedestrian-friendly enclave (with bountiful parking) that teems with savvy fashionistas and locals in yoga pants. And did we mention the food?

Barely spanning three blocks, this micro-neighborhood is densely populated with both casual and upscale restaurants from some of Miami’s most beloved and under-the-radar chefs.

Peppered into the mix are locally owned indie shops, a gourmet grocery store, and chic beauty salons and fitness studios, giving Sunset Harbour a decidedly laid-back and original feel.

It’s unique to the rest of buzzy South Beach — and anywhere else in Miami — which is precisely its appeal. Here’s our culinary roadmap to our favorite eating ’hood in Miami.

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Illustration by Sean Lattrell.

The Sunset Harbour Originals

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Orecchiette at Sardinia. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Sardinia: Want to know the secret ingredient of Chef Pietro Vardeu’s sumptuous orecchiette with broccoli rabe and wild boar? We asked: Saffron broth. It brings out the dish’s sweet and acidic flavors. 1801 Purdy Avenue; 305-531-2228;

Purdy Lounge: Before there was Sunset Harbour, there was Purdy Lounge. The beloved bar has been a South Beach mainstay since 2000 for its wide selection of high-gravity craft beers (we like Chimay Blue), live music and low-key vibes. 1811 Purdy Avenue; 305-531-4622;

Pubbelly Noodle Bar: When Pubbelly opened as an Asian-Latin gatstropub in 2010, it ushered in a dining renaissance to this sleepy residential corner of South Beach. Now that it’s been reincarnated as Pubbelly Noodle Bar, go for the signature ramen with barbecue pork belly and bean sprouts in an aromatic lemongrass broth. 1418 20th Street; 305-532-7555;

Clean Living

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Ramen at Soul Tavern. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Soul Tavern: A vegetarian gastropub inspired by the five elements and founded by a doctor of Chinese medicine — where else would you go for a post-yoga bite? Start your journey with the Soul Salad, made with arugula, hijiki, yellow beet, apple, avocado, red bell pepper and seeds in an oregano-mustard vinaigrette. Then move on to the Soulful Ramen — a nourishing vegetable broth layered with yam noodles, mushrooms and the option of a pasture-raised egg.  1801 West Avenue; 305-925-0799;

Jugofresh: Current obsession: Kombucha floats. “They’re for when you’re a healthy adult, but still want to feel like a 12-year-old kid,” founder and CEO Matthew Sherman said. The frothy, flavorful concoction is made with locally brewed black tea kombucha, vegan cashew ice cream and superfood blue majik whipped cream with a splash of cold-pressed juice. All in the name of a healthy gut and glowing skin. 1935 West Avenue, Suite 102; 786-472-2552;

Dirt: Swing by Dirt for a fast-casual, organic bite with plenty of vegan, vegetarian gluten-free and paleo options. Breakfast is served all day, so try the Clean Bowl made with pasture-raised egg whites, avo mash, sautéed kale, roasted sweet potatoes and turkey bacon with a tomatillo salsa. 1834 Bay Road; 786-453-2488;

Sushi & Thai

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Chef Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, aka Chef Bee, at Naiyara. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Naiyara: Translated from Thai, Naiyara means “friendly, honest and hardworking,” all qualities that emanate effortlessly from Chef Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, more affectionately known as Chef Bee. The Thai-born chef got his start at Nobu before going out on his own at Oishi Thai in North Miami, which continues its successful run. Diners flock to Chef Bee’s upscale Naiyara for his to-die-for Salmon Tacos with avocado and truffle, Crispy Sriracha Chicken Wings, Drunken Udon Noodles and more. 1854 Bay Road; 786-275-6005;

Pubbelly Sushi: Pubbelly Noodle Bar’s sister restaurant specializes in inventive sushi layered with flavors you didn’t know were possible. Don’t skip the Spicy Bigeye Tuna Roll atop crispy “arroz pegao” drizzled in truffle oil and sea salt. 1424 20th Street; 305-531-9282;

Sushi Garage: Made with soy sauce, butter, sesame oil, carrots, zucchini and mushrooms on a bed of sizzling fried rice prepared tableside, Sushi Garage’s Stone Pots are the ultimate sharing dish at this upscale Japanese restaurant. Add beef tenderloin to supplement all the fresh sushi you’ll down as an appetizer. 1784 West Avenue; 305-763-8355;

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Sushi Garage. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

The Newcomers

Sunny Poke: Sushi Garage’s Chef Sunny Oh recently expanded next door with his namesake poke bar, providing a casual, daytime alternative to sate your cravings for fresh tuna and salmon. Opt for the Classic Bowl made with tuna, avocado, wakame, red onion, tempura crumbs and crispy shallot, all doused in sesame soy sauce and served with a frosty probiotic yogurt. 1784 West Avenue; 305-763-8355.

Ofa: Shorthand for the classic Brazilian side dish farofa, made of pan-sautéed toasted yucca flour with butter and herbs, Ofa features the dish prominently on its menu. “There are tons of family recipes all over Brazil, and everyone’s mom or grandma makes it slightly different,” said Lucas Scudler, partner and operations manager. At Ofa, go for the Egg Farofa and sprinkle it over your entrée of picadinho filet mignon to play with contrasting textures. 1929 Purdy Avenue; 305-763-8766;

Bread, Cold Brew & Brunch

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True Loaf. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

True Loaf Bakery: Across a breezeway from Panther Coffee, True Loaf has developed a dedicated following for its sweets and savories, like perfectly pungent sourdough country loaves baked inside a steam-injected oven. 1894 Bay Road; 786-216-7207.

Panther Coffee: While it’s not the original Panther — that designation belongs to their Wynwood roaster — this Sunset Harbour coffee shop location solidified the area’s appeal. A loyal clientele flocks here daily for locally roasted, ethically sourced coffee. 1875 Purdy Avenue; 305-677-3852;

Icebox Cafe: With made-from-scratch cakes famously approved by Oprah, Icebox Café is still thriving after its big move from Lincoln Road to Sunset Harbour. While there are plenty of naughty indulgences — helloooo, Chocolate Delight Layer Cake — you could choose something healthier, like Avocado Seed Salad made with arugula and piquant grana padano cheese. 1855 Purdy Avenue; 305-583-8448;

Pizza, Tacos & Tapas

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Hard-shell tacos at Tequiztlan. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Tequiztlan: Serving an extensive menu of authentic Mexican specialties, there’s nothing quite like Tequiztlan’s straightforward Hard-Shell Tacos made with ground beef, lettuce, pico de gallo, cheese and crema to transport this writer back to her Southern California childhood. 1844 Bay Road; 305-397-8442;

Lucali: The denizens of Sunset Harbour have claimed this iconic Brooklyn pizzeria transplant as their own. Lucali wins fans with its pared-down menu and rustic, convivial atmosphere where the pies take center stage. Can’t go wrong with a classic: Pepperoni with garlic and fresh basil. 1930 Bay Road; 305-695-4441;

Barceloneta: Helmed by Puerto Rican-born Chef Juliana Gonzalez, Barceloneta is the neighborhood’s sophisticated Spanish tapas restaurant with a killer gin and tonic menu, as well as craveworthy classics like Patatas Bravas, Pan con Tomate and Iberico Ham and Manchego Cheese plates. Gonzalez trained under Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola in Madrid before cooking in Miami at The Restaurant at The Setai and Nobu. Now, she’s focusing her knowledge of global cuisine on Spanish food at Barceloneta. 1400 20th Street; 305-538-9299;

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Chef Juliana Gonzalez of Barceloneta restaurant in Sunset Harbour. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.


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Bay Club is Lucali's sister bar. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Bay Club: Lucali’s adjacent cocktail bar might just be Miami’s best kept secret. The bar draws a friendly crowd of young-ish professionals at happy hour and late night for creative craft cocktails and laid-back vibes. Pro tip 1: Order the off-menu cocktail Opening Day, with vodka, black pepper, basil and tomato. Clean and refreshing. Pro tip 2: Personal-size Lucali pizzas are exclusively served here. 1930 Bay Road; 305-695-4441;

La Moderna: La Moderna boasts an impressive Negroni program to pair with their regional Italian fare. The Florentine aperitif — Martin Miller Gin, Cocchi Torino Sweet Vermouth and Gancia Americano Bitters — comes in four varieties, including one that’s blended and then aged in an oak cask for six months. The flavor is satisfyingly smoky and rich. 1874 Bay Road; 786-717-7274;

Click here for our feature story on Stiltsville Fish Bar in Sunset Harbour