Food & Drink

Best Things To Eat In Miami On A Budget

Miami Beach is a beautiful microcosm of beach vacation life, but between the ritzy resorts and the club lifestyle, it can be really tough on your budget. If you plan to go to bars or clubs while you’re there, know that at some places a beer will cost you at least $10 and a cocktail will be upwards of $15-20 (!). In addition, many of the hostels in Miami don’t have a great kitchen space for you to cook your own food and there aren’t very many decent grocery stores to stock up on the basics. I’ve put together this list of the best things to eat in Miami on a budget after spending six weeks living there. It’s by no means exhaustive and some of these are South Florida chains, but these were my favorites:

Happy Hour on Española Way

There are two great streets for al fresco dining in Miami Beach—Lincoln Road and Española Way. Lincoln Road is home to some great high-end shopping, but if you’re looking for something a little bit more cozy and intimate, Española Way should be your go-to. This pedestrian-only street is full of Italian restaurants and makes a perfect setting for a romantic dinner with bae, but the entrees can get a little pricey.

However, if you go for an early dinner around 5-7pm, you can grab some delicious food and drinks at happy hour prices, and stay and watch the fairy lights come on as the sun goes down. It’s pretty magical and a great way to feel fancy without breaking the bank. Each restaurant will have people lined up on the street to convince you to try their fare, so choose the one with the happy hour food that appeals the most to you and enjoy!

And for my vegetarians, you will absolutely be able to find some delicious Italian dishes here!

 

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You can’t come to Miami and not try Cuban food

If you’re tight on time and can’t make it out to Little Havana, or you made it there and loved it so much that you want to eat Cuban food for every meal (like me), be sure to check out Las Olas Cafe (6th and Euclid Ave) for some massive portions of delicious Cuban cuisine. The plates are HUGE so if you’re not a super hungry person, bring a friend to share or take some home for a second dinner.

 

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Another awesome spot for counter-serve Cuban fare is the Playa Cafe (Collins Ave between 15th and 16th). It’s also open until 4am for all your late night snacking needs. If you work super weird hours (or go out all hours), South Beach Munchies is another Cuban cafe that’s open 24 hours and has large, decently priced portions (17th and Lincoln Rd.)

PS. Cuban food is unfortunately not always vegetarian-friendly.

Give me that greasy, fast food fix

If you’re looking for pizza, my personal favorite spot was Pizza Days, on the corner of 5th and Ocean Drive. It’s not necessarily the cheapest pizza in South Beach, but it’s one of the best things to eat in Miami. To get the freshest of the fresh, call on your way over so they can pop a new pizza in the oven and have it waiting for you when you arrive, and then take it down to the beach and live your life.

Other good cheap pizza spots are Pizza Rustica (9th and Washington), Pizza Bar (Lincoln Rd. and Collins Ave.), or Groovy’s Pizza (multiple Lincoln Rd. locations)

 

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For good, cheap burgers and fries that don’t come from one of those soulless national chains, check out Top Burger, a South Florida Chain (8th and Washington), or BurgerFi (13th and Washington). However, if you’re visiting from outside the United States, looking to try some high-quality American fast food, and don’t mind a bit of a walk, hit up Shake Shack (Lincoln Lane and Lenox Ave).

I’m not sure about BurgerFi because I went there as a meat-eater, but Top Burger has got a decent veggie burger as well!

 

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I don’t know about you, but I eat tacos at least once a day.

Tacos are my primary food group, so I know just about every place to get a taco fix in South Beach. If you’re looking for cheap, filling, and satisfactory, check out Taco Rico (a chain)—they’ve got a great lunch special that comes with tacos, rice, beans, and chips for under $10, which is awesome. There’s one at 16th and Washington (which happens to be around the corner from WeWork, for my digital nomads).

 

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Another good spot is Alma Mexicana for good, decently portioned tacos, burritos, and other Mexican fare. The portions are not as generous as Taco Rico, however, they are both delicious (and they’re both chains).

 

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If you’re looking for hole-in-the-wall Mexican food, check out the very descriptively named Fresh Mexican Taco Bar on the corner of 13th and Washington. There’s not much inside seating, but the food is delicious.

And of course, you can’t forget sushi.

If you’re looking for cheap sushi, be sure to visit Hiro’s Sushi Express near the corner of 15th and Washington for some delicious and filling sushi combos (under $10!)

Another sushi place that I LOVE is Fung Kü (17th and Collins)—it’s a little bit more expensive but also they have a live DJ in the evenings and their sushi is surely one of the best things to eat in Miami, so it’s worth it to pay a little bit more. Also, their cocktails are pretty good too, which makes it a great place to have some food and pregame before going out for the night.

 

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I’m sure there are other delicious places to get some grub in South Beach that I’ve missed, but after living there for six weeks, these are, in my opinion, the best things to eat in Miami. And, if you get bored of Miami Beach, you can always venture across the bridge into downtown Miami for a plethora of exciting culinary options as well.

Suggested next reading: Miami To Key West: The Ultimate Scenic Road Trip or Miami’s Best Instagrammable Spots That’ll Explode Your IG Feed

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