Dining Go Big in Miami: Restaurants That Welcome a Crowd

by Jessica Colley Clarke | May 16, 2019

Photo courtesy of Swire Hotels

Brunch with a bay view? A bridal shower in a Japanese speakeasy? Miami is full of memorable restaurants for group dining — if you know where to look.

Beyond the usual suspects, we've tracked down the unexpected, unique and underground. Restaurants with lush gardens, private wine cellars, cozy fireside spaces and hidden sushi counters — that also like a crowd — are spread throughout Miami, from South Beach to Wynwood and beyond.

Here’s where you can go and, of course, what to order when planning a night out with your whole crew in Miami.

Quinto La Huella

788 Brickell Plaza / Brickell

How about dinner and a show? At Quinto La Huella, an Uruguayan restaurant in Brickell, diners watch as their meal is being cooked over a wood-fired grill or traditional parilla. “You are so close you will hear the wood crackling while it burns,” says chef Nano Crespo. Move between the grill room overlooking the parilla and a lush terrace, over the course of an evening.

Rib-eye steak, whole fish, octopus, chorizo and rack of lamb are all cooked over open flames, and groups can request special off-menu meats, such as goat, in advance. Groups can also take advantage of the Tablas de Carne options: large meat boards that are customized to scale depending on party size and meat cut preferences.

veiew of main bar and dining room at Quinto La Huella

Photo courtesy of Swire Hotels

Azabu

Marriott Stanton South Beach, 161 Ocean Drive / Miami Beach

Slip past the kitchen at Azabu to reach The Den, an 11-seat sushi counter with a speakeasy feel, hidden within this high-end Miami Beach restaurant. Away from prying eyes, Tokyo-trained chefs serve an omakase, or tasting menu (starting at $120) of chef’s choice sushi, including seafood flown directly from Japan.

“It is truly chef theater at its best,” says Mahmood Abousalem, managing director at Azabu. Chefs engage with groups (book the entire room!) as the meal is prepared at the counter. The constantly changing menu may feature dishes such as Japanese abalone, an uni tasting or wagyu risotto. With a hotel upstairs, it's a convenient spot for out-of-town guests, too.

Counter at Azuba

Photo courtesy of Azabu Miami Beach

The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

1101 Biscayne Boulevard / Downtown Miami

The most surreal group dining experience in Miami may be at a table set beneath the 500,000-gallon aquarium under the Oculus at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. “Hammerhead sharks, schools of tuna and rays swim above your head,” says Lourdes Ramos, director of events at the museum. “The azure glow adds an indescribable magic to your event.”

All events are customized and can range from an intimate dinner for two (such as proposals or anniversary celebrations) to a tasting menu for 10 or lively cocktail party. Menus are varied and include vegan options such as Moroccan cauliflower with pickled red cabbage and quinoa. Insider tip: Ask about the chocolate cake station.

Gulf Stream Aquarium Oculus at Frost Museum of Science

Photo courtesy of Ra Haus

Ariete

3540 Main Highway / Coconut Grove

Take over the underground wine cellar at Ariete, a Cuban-influenced restaurant in Coconut Grove, for a family-style meal (starting at $51) or chef’s tasting menu (starting at $150). This elegant and intimate stone-lined subterranean cellar dubbed “The Cave” is lit with tapered candles and can accommodate up to 50 people.

Pass plates around the table, including dishes like local fish with paella rice and pickled tomatillo, wood grilled chicken with salsa verde or pastrami-style smoked short ribs. Customize your private party by adding wine pairings for each course.

dining room at Ariete

Photo courtesy of Blue Shell Media

Sugarcane Raw Bar

3252 Northeast First Avenue / Midtown

“When I go out with a group, I want a place where we can be loud,” says chef Timon Balloo. “A place we can be ourselves.” At Sugarcane Raw Bar there are three spaces for groups to be themselves: a lush all-weather garden, a private dining room or an intimate esquina, or corner, behind the bar. The crowd-pleasing menu is designed for sharing.

“We wanted to recreate the feel of the holiday table — the sharing, talking and laughing,” says chef Balloo. Fill your table with seafood from the raw bar including oysters, ceviche and chilled lobster before moving to dishes from the open-fire robata grill such as spare ribs, bone-in ribeye and whole fish. Insider tip: Don't miss the rum flights.

exterior entrance to Sugarcane Raw bar

Photo courtesy of Sugarcane Raw Bar

La Mar by Gastón Acurio

500 Brickell Key Drive / Downtown Miami

Bring your appetite and private party outdoors at La Mar by Gastón Acurio, a Peruvian restaurant located in the Mandarin Oriental hotel overlooking Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline. Family-style meals (starting at $75 per person) can be arranged with waterfront views.

Begin with ceviche, a traditional dish in Peru, made of snapper, shrimp, octopus and sweet potato. Share large-format entrees such as crispy whole pork shank with tamarind sauce reduction, whole snapper and churrasco a lo pobre (rib eye with chimichurri, rice, and beans) while sipping pisco sours as the breeze blows off the bay.

dining room at La Mar by Gaston Acurio

Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Miami

Chef’s Table at Casa Tua Miami

1700 James Avenue / Miami Beach

Groups can experience Miami’s exclusive members club Casa Tua — membership includes access to events like art exhibitions and fashion launches — by booking a private evening in the kitchen at the 22-seat Chef’s Table. Located in a Mediterranean-inspired villa on South Beach, Casa Tua draws regulars with its Italian fare including fettuccine with black truffle and parmesan fonduta and classic tiramisu.

The lantern-lit patio is a popular place to dine, but in-the-know groups can reserve the intimate Chef’s Table (from $120 per person) for their own private festa.

dining room of Casa Tua Miamai

Photo courtesy of Casa Tua

Hiden

313 NW 25th Street / Wynwood

Mariachi music and the scent of fried tortillas welcome groups to Taco Stand in Wynwood, but savvy diners seek out the hidden door to one of Miami’s most exclusive Japanese restaurants instead. “Diners receive an email with a unique entry code and instructions on how to find us,” says Julian Hakim, owner of Hiden.

Behind a secret door is an 8-seat hideaway serving a 15-course omakase ($170 per person) with a menu that changes daily. Groups can take over the space for a tasting that includes cold and hot dishes, a selection of sushi and uni straight from Hokkaido, an island in northern Japan.

dining room at Hiden

Photo courtesy of Hiden

5 Miami Food Events

Looking for more ways to please a hungry crowd? Explore a food festival — generally a less formal and more budget-friendly way to explore a range of cuisines. Mark your calendar for these upcoming Miami eating events. 

  • Taste of the Nation: Chefs and food lovers are coming together to raise funds and awareness for No Kid Hungry during this three-hour event complete with food and drink from 50 of South Florida's top restaurants. (As a presenting co-sponsor, Citi cardmembers can enjoy preferred discounted pricing on tickets and entry into Citi's exclusive lounge.)

     

  • Cochon555: Five chefs prepare a pork-centric feast during this event. Part culinary competition, part tasting tour, Cochon 555 is a celebration of all things pork. (As presenting sponsor of Cochon555 Tour, Citi cardmembers can enjoy preferred ticket pricing, early event access and special onsite benefits and perks.)

     

  • Redland Summer Fruit Festival: Tropical fruit straight from trees in South Florida is the focus of this warm-weather food festival. Sip smoothies and sample rare fruits during this seasonal event.

     

  • Vegandale: This food and drink festival for "the vegan and vegan-curious" showcases the possibilities for plant-based cooking, complete with live entertainment and a DJ.

     

  • Miami Spice Months: Experience the best of Miami's dining scene for less during Miami Spice Months, with prix-fixe three-course meals at participating restaurants throughout Miami.
Jessica Colley Clarke

loves any excuse to corral a crew for dinner. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, AFAR magazine and SAVEUR.