All hail the breakfast sandwich at Chug’s.

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How to Spend a Perfect 72 Hours Eating Your Way Through Miami


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There’s nothing quite like stepping out of the arrivals doors at Miami International Airport, when the olfactory wave of salt air and warm humidity and jet fuel rushes over you. To me, it’s the opening note to a soundtrack of taste memories from my years in Miami — morning pastelitos and midday oceanview lunches and late-night dinners that start after my current bedtime.

By the time I’m in an Uber outside MIA, I already know what I want to eat, and I’m on my way. 

For those of us coming down for Miami Art Week — Nov. 29 to Dec. 4 this year, concurrent with Art Basel Miami Beach — the matter of where to eat is top of mind.

You may have already embraced our essential dining suggestions for visitors, and insider picks from South Florida locals looking to escape the commotion. But what if you only had, say, 72 hours — Thursday morning to Sunday morning — to make the most of your Miami eating experience?

Here’s your plan.*

* Recognizing that Miami’s local restaurant scene has blossomed in recent years, these are all independent restaurants that originated in Miami. We know that travelers from New York, D.C., and beyond hoping to try the Miami outposts of their favorite restaurants can find them if they wish!

Thursday Breakfast: Chug’s Diner

Coconut Grove

Your first stop: Head south from the airport to Chug’s, chef-owner Michael Beltran’s all-day Cuban American diner. The coffee is appropriately strong, so order a cortado, café con leche, or espresso and tonic to start (here you get a double shot poured over a Cuban-style soda of your choice: Jupiña, Materva, or Ironbeer).

Awarded a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide’s Miami debut, Chug’s excels in all corners of its menu, but for breakfast the thick cast-iron pancake is not to be missed. Slow-cooked in clarified butter and served with warm maple syrup, it’s just the right balance of savory and sweet. Be sure to also order a breakfast sandwich — runny fried egg, melty American cheese, creamy Duke’s mayo, crunchy shoestring potato crisps, salty Taylor ham, all on a Cuban roll.  

Find more info here.  

Thursday Lunch: Blue Collar

Upper East Side

Thanks to repeat appearances on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, chef-owner Danny Serfer’s Blue Collar is best known outside Miami for its comfort-food carnivore options like the ultra-meaty Big Ragout. What gets less attention is the 20-item-strong board of vegetable specials. Serfer cooks veggies that are every bit as craveable as the rest of Blue Collar’s menu but feel less weighty and nap-inducing. 

Make a lunch entree out of four vegetables for $26; with options like veggie fried rice, Anson Mills cheese grits, and sweet plantains with flaky salt, you won’t leave hungry. My pick-four plate? Sautéed kale with red pepper flakes with wine, butter, and shallots. Sweet corn with herbed butter. Charred sweet potato with chile brown butter. And angel hair pasta with pesto. 

Find more info here.

Thursday Dinner: Old Greg’s

Design District

A pandemic pop-up that morphed into a permanent brick-and-mortar restaurant, Old Greg’s is helping to lead the path of Miami’s pizza renaissance. A smartly curated selection of a half-dozen pies — available round or rectangular — lets standout ingredients shine. 

Old Greg’s lamb sausage pizza stars lamb from Proper Sausages crumbled over a tahini mornay with mozzarella, red onions, mint, parsley, and lemon zest. Hoagie options — like a limited-release Italian with cured meats, provolone, shredded cheese, and zesty dressing on a fresh-baked seeded roll — rival South Philly’s best. 

Make reservations here.

Friday Breakfast: Rosie’s

Little River

After the doors to their Copper Door Bed & Breakfast closed during the pandemic, the doors to Jamila Ross and Akino West’s new brunch spot — Rosie’s: The Backyard — opened. Lucky for Miami eaters, Ross’ easy hospitality and West’s U.S. South-meets-Italy brunch dishes are available in a banyan-shaded Little River oasis Thursday through Sunday. 

For a Friday start, consider the perfect marriage of a chocolate croissant glazed with guava. Or opt for something more substantial, like wild mushroom polenta topped with charred kale and a plump poached egg. A rotating list of creative, hand-crafted cocktails and non-alcoholic refreshers rounds out the morning. 

Make reservations here.

Friday Lunch: Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

Design District

Every city deserves a restaurant like Michael’s Genuine. Open since 2006, it remains as comforting and familiar to those who have dined there before as it is exciting and adventurous to first-timers. 

For a return visitor, MGFD is the perfect place to get something you’ve had before and know you’ll love — classic pan-roasted chicken or wood-roasted local fish, I’m looking at you — along with something new that’s calling your name, like an uni sandwich on a buttered potato bun or steak tartare with mushroom conserva and truffle. If it’s your inaugural visit, you can’t go wrong with the house-smoked bacon cheeseburger, short rib panini, or a falafel mezze platter.  

Find more info here.   

Friday Dinner: Macchialina 

Miami Beach

Sure, you could order anything off Macchialina’s rustic Italian menu and be happy. (If you do this, don’t miss the Broccolini al Cesare with toasted garlic flakes and parmesan!) But it’s even better — and one of the best deals in town — to hand yourself over to chef-owner Michael Pirolo for a five-course, $70 tasting menu.

Your dishes will span Pirolo’s antipasti — just go ahead and ask them to include the broccolini! — housemade pastas like luscious tagliolini with chanterelles, and entrees like textbook veal Parm. If tiramisu is a dessert option, you’re in for a treat.

Make reservations here.

Saturday Breakfast: El Bagel 

Upper East Side

In the late-2010s early days of El Bagel, it was a scramble to line up outside the food truck in hopes of ordering a hand-rolled, long-fermented bagel with a schmear or as a sandwich before they sold out. Now, thanks to a permanent shop and online ordering, it’s much easier to lock in what you want and pick it up when they tell you. 

Egg-and-cheese lovers should consider the 18-hour smoked pastrami version, built with American cheese and fresh Florida eggs. The Avo Spesh is a creamy-crunchy mash of avocado, cream cheese, watermelon radish, and cucumber. A cool hibiscus iced tea from Miami’s JoJo Tea is an ideal sip to start your day.    

Find more info here.

Saturday Lunch: The River Oyster Bar


Here’s the deal with Miami during Art Basel: You’re going to get stuck in traffic at some point, and it’s going to make you hangry. If it happens to you, say around the Miami River drawbridge in Brickell, my advice is to find the nearest parking spot, take it, and walk over to The River Oyster Bar. 

Chef-owner David Bracha’s Miami mainstay is the perfect place to tuck away for an hour or two with a platter of ice-cold oysters and an even colder dirty martini. Round it out with simply grilled local mahi and a side of fried cauliflower with green goddess dressing. Hangry no more.

Make reservations here.

Saturday Dinner: Phuc Yea

Upper East Side

One of the classic only-in-Miami restaurants, Phuc Yea showcases Vietnamese-inspired dishes with influences from the Gulf Coast and Cajun cuisine. It’s a reflection of owner Ani Meinhold’s Vietnamese heritage and chef Cesar Zapata’s time training and cooking in Texas.    

Prime your palate with green papaya salad, a mountain of fresh herbs and crispy shallots in briny fish sauce. Signature P.Y. Noodles are a toss of fresh egg noodles with umami-rich oyster sauce, garlic butter, and parmesan. You can be fancy — and you should — by adding optional salmon roe for $5. 

Find more info here.

Sunday Brunch: Broad Shoulders Sandwiches

Fort Lauderdale

Pro move: Book your flight home through Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to avoid the crowds at MIA. Double-pro move: Snag a gourmet sandwich from chef-owner Tom Azar’s new Broad Shoulders Sandwiches in Fort Lauderdale before you head to the airport. 

A Chicago native with fine-dining roots in New Orleans and Miami, Azar flexes his culinary muscles the most through sandwiches that pay homage to those cities. Check out his Chicago-style Italian beef for a taste of The Bear’s signature dish in real life, his shrimp po’ boy for a nod to Nola, and his Cuban with roasted pork and housemade pickles to bring back for a friend at home.

Find more info here.  

Evan S. Benn is senior director of special projects at The Philadelphia Inquirer and former food editor and restaurant critic of The Miami Herald. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. Follow Resy, too.