How to Savor the Tasty Group Dining Scene in Miami and Fort Lauderdale
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Miami. Photo credit: L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Miami
Award-winning restaurants, hundreds of diverse cuisines and chef stars of the culinary world make dining a pleasure for groups in these top Florida destinations.
Last June, The Magic City got some good news when the inaugural Michelin Guide Miami, Orlando and Tampa announced recipients of their coveted stars. Sixty-five Miami restaurants were honored in the 2022 Michelin Guide. There were 11 restaurants given stars, 19 received Bib Gourmand (“good quality and good value”) distinction and 35 were awarded Michelin Recommended status (“above average, well cooked”). Ten Miami restaurants were awarded one star and L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Miami in the Design District was awarded two stars.
Known as the gateway to South America, Miami certainly has its share of Latin-inspired fare, but Michelin winners came in all flavors—French, Japanese, Italian and Korean, among others.
The Bib Gourmands included Thai, Cuban, Indian, Mediterranean and Peruvian eateries.
“We’ve always had a diverse dining scene that truly reflects our multicultural destination, but it’s grown exponentially these last few years—and the buzz surrounding our Michelin-starred restaurants makes it even more attractive to meeting professionals considering Miami and Miami Beach,” said Carol Motley, senior vice president of convention sales and services at the Greater Miami CVB.
On a recent FAM hosted by the Miami CVB, food writers from around the globe were treated to several Michelin Starred, Recommended and Bib Gourmand restaurants in Miami—restaurants that all welcome groups. Here are just a few to keep on your radar:
- Billing itself as “The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant,” the Versailles Cafe & Bakery is a Michelin Recommended Restaurant. Located in Little Havana, it has been serving Cuban sandwiches and cafe con leche since 1971, mainly to Cuban exiles. The eclectic decor is fun and it’s a great stop for visitors to Little Havana. While the restaurant will take reservations for 30 or more guests, groups should avoid weekends and holidays—there’s just too much traffic from locals and tourists.
- The Surf Club, at The Four Seasons Hotel Surf Club in Surfside, was awarded one Michelin star and is famous for its celebrity chef Thomas Keller. Specialties include beef wellington, lobster thermidor, lemon meringue tart and coconut cake. For private dining, groups can occupy the Club Room Dining Room for up to 60 guests for lunch or dinner, the Banyan Dining Room for up to 40 guests and the Banyan Terrace for up to 100 reception-style, 48 seated for lunch or dinner.
- Another one-starred restaurant worth noting is chef Michael Beltran’s Coconut Grove mainstay, Ariete. Lush with greenery, this restaurant welcomes with a French/American menu to dazzling effect. Entrees include grouper encendido with dirty rice and plantains, truffle chicken and pastrami-style short ribs. Groups can enjoy the underground private wine cellar, The Cave, offering a seven-course tasting menu for up to 20 guests. Ariete can accommodate buyouts in the main dining room for 60-70 for a sit-down dinner.
Cocktails and other nightlife venues are plentiful in Miami as well. Groups of up to 800 will revel at Cerveceria La Tropical in the Wynwood section of the city. The 28,000-square-foot space features a taproom, a restaurant and a stage for nightly music. Outdoors, a 10,000-square-foot botanical garden— Jardines La Tropical—recreates a feeling of the original in Cuba. Guests can wander through the garden sipping brews and taking in murals by local artists. The star of the show is the beer, concocted by the resident brew master who boasts 20 handcrafted beers infused with local ingredients like lemon, lime and passion fruit.
With a unique harmony of South Florida's tropical fruit and old-world sophistication, the wines at Schnebly Redland’s Winery bring a totally new taste sensation. They have crafted the only tropical wines produced in the U.S. made with zero grapes. Wine tastings for groups and outside dining in their three Tiki Huts are available. One holds 20, another, 50 and the third outdoor Tiki Hut holds up to 300. The brewery holds up to 1,500.
Just north of Miami, restaurants catering to groups are many—and with 31 distinct cities and towns, groups are bound to find a variety of fare to suit every palate.
“The food scene in Greater Fort Lauderdale is phenomenal and the options are endless. We have so many restaurants, unique venues and hotel eateries that are really group friendly,” said Camila Clark, senior vice president, marketing and communications, for Visit Lauderdale.
And with 300 miles of navigable waterways, Fort Lauderdale is the place to dock and dine, Clark added.
“Greater Fort Lauderdale has yachts, cruise ships, boats and pleasure crafts groups can use to enhance the groups’ experience,” she said.
One of the most popular eateries on the Intracoastal Waterway is Shooters Waterfront, where groups can watch the daily parade of boats. Shooters has private event and meeting spaces totaling 6,000 square feet and can seat up to 175 guests on the second floor, where floor-to-ceiling windows allow unobstructed water views. There’s also a 2,500-square-foot waterfront event space for up to 100 or the outdoor patio for semi-private dining. Restaurant buyouts are also available. Popular are the grilled soy-ginger glazed salmon, rib eye steak and Cajun shrimp fettuccine. With 340 feet of dockage and valet parking, groups are welcome to arrive by car or by boat.
The water taxi in Fort Lauderdale has 10 stops and one is to Mastro’s Ocean Club for luxurious private and semi-private dining (buyouts are also available for up to 350 guests.) Luke Vossen, director of events, says the restaurant has myriad prix fixe menus for groups and is known for its steak and seafood entrees and butter cake for dessert.
Of note is Dune by Laurent Tourondel, helmed by the acclaimed Michelin-starred French chef who now owns a plethora of restaurants throughout the country (including BLT Steak in Miami). Dune is next to the oceanfront resort Auberge Beach Residences & Spa and has three private ocean view indoor and outdoor dining spaces which can accommodate 10-500 guests. Specialties include grilled branzino, Moroccan grilled prawns, Australian lamb chops and Spaghettini fra diavolo.
Another oceanfront find is the Sky Deck, a spot with more than 20,000 square feet of meeting and reception space and unobstructed ocean views at the 290-room Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach. The space also boasts a 2,046-square-foot Sky Lawn and 7,560-square-foot oceanfront terrace. During breaks, guests can enjoy the Sky Deck pool, private spa suites and seaside all-suite accommodations with private beach access.
This December, the Conrad debuted Spinnaker After Dark, an intimate lounge on the 6th floor Sky Deck. It can seat up to 50 guests for evening receptions.
Cocktails and ale aren’t in short supply in Fort Lauderdale. The Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery is perfect for groups wanting a diversity of food and drink all under one roof. The sprawling food hall has plenty of inside seating for large parties, including semi-private and private areas for events. Dream State Brewing features selections from the onsite microbrewery, as well as a range of popular local and imported craft beers and ales.
Visit Lauderdale Ale Trail is great fun for groups. Thirteen breweries offer deals on this self-guided tour, which comes through a phone app. Funky Buddha Brewery is home to the largest tap room in South Florida and offers more than 20 draft beers, brewery tours, private events banquet space and more. Another, 3 Sons Brewing Co., is a family-owned ale house with a full scratch kitchen specializing in wood fired pizzas.
Greater Miami CVB