The Best of the Gables 2023

Welcome to Our Annual Guide

Coral Gables is an exceptional city, having inherited the vision of its founder George Merrick and the City Beautiful movement of the early 20th century. It is a city endowed with an abundance of fine dining, high culture, elegant architecture, family entertainment, and retail options. With such an embarrassment of riches, it’s a challenge to decide what is best.

To help us figure that out, we enlisted the help of a blue-ribbon panel of 30 local luminaries from a variety of backgrounds. We also asked our readers to submit their votes in more than 80 categories. The results follow. Where our board (and staff) agreed with the readers’ choice, we offer just the one pick — and it is amazing how many times our readers agreed with our panel. Where the readers’ opinion differed, we list both. See if you agree — or disagree — with our picks, or those of the readers who participated.

Let us know what you think ( and we’ll share your insights. Now, read on. Hopefully you will find something new — or just have your opinion reinforced.

Best Restaurants by Nationality

Best Spanish: Bulla

From ‘Fermin’ Serrano ham to Basque sheep cheese to Galician white bean soup, this popular corner spot on Andalusia and Ponce is as Spanish as it gets, plus a great, cheery vibe.

Best Argentine: Graziano’s

The family came from Argentina, opened a butcher’s shop on Bird Road, started roasting meat on weekends, then went big with this large, boisterous gaucho institution. Good wines, too.

Best Italian: Bugatti

With a staff that has been onboard for decades, this popular ristorante used to be a pasta factory. It still serves fresh pasta daily to a loyal clientele.

People’s Choice: Luca’s Osteria Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli’s chic café creation, where Campari is the vibe. The food is as impeccable as it is imaginative.

Best Japanese: Su Shin Izakaya

Cozy haunt for authentic Japanese food that goes far beyond their sushi bar, with daily blackboard specials like diced pork belly, steamed manilla clams, fried Japanese eggplant.

Best Thai: Khaosan Road

The place for those with a more adventurous palate — traditional Thai street food and lots of spice. The whole fried fish with sweet chili paste is a must.

People’s Choice: Lotus Garden A quiet spot on Miracle Mile with all the standard Thai favorites that we love, like Pad Thai and chicken satay.

Best Peruvian: Aromas Del Peru

Great fish dishes in addition to 15 styles of ceviche, along with Peruvian style wok plates and traditional stuffed yellow potatoes, just off the beaten path on Ponce.

Best French: Frenchie’s

It feels like a small French café because that’s what it is, where you can order a great quiche or mussels with fries. Daily specials on the board.

Best Mediterranean: Tur

Chef Christian knocks it out of the park with beautifully plated dishes. Here, you can find goat, lamb, and the best pork in town in an elegant, upscale setting.

People’s Choice: Motek Winners of the best burger at Burger Bash two years in a row, they do even better with tzatziki.

Best Cuban: Havana Harry’s

All the standard Cuban dishes, but with huge portions and packed sides. Exactly what you hope to find in a spacious, family-style restaurant.

Honorable Mention: La Casita It still feels like the 1960s in here, and that includes the prices for great, basic Cuban dishes.

Best American: Hillstone

The only Gables restaurant where people wait in line to get in: comfortable booth seating, warm décor, excellent service, and a reliable menu ranging from sushi to steak.

Best Food By Type

Best Ice Cream: Whip N Dip

The best spot for locals in the South Gables, with soft serve and handmade ice cream, made fresh daily.

People’s Choice: Ben And Jerry’s A blast from the past. Who can’t claim a childhood full of Phish Food and Cherry Garcia?

Best Bakery: Chocolate Fashion

Eat in or take out. Either way, great baguettes, croissants, and brioches, along with a sinful collection of chocolate creations, from cakes to bon-bons.

People’s Choice: Bachour We’d call this more of a restaurant than a bakery, but those haute pastries are its claim to fame.

Best Steak House: Christy’s

This is the oldest steakhouse in the city, where tradition refuses to die, along with the best Caesar salad — and only prime rib — in the Gables.

Best Cocktails: Americana Kitchen

Elegant interior with a refined drinks menu — the perfect place for date night while you’re on an overnight staycation at the Loews Hotel.

People’s Choice: Cebada Strong pours with hilarious names and a rooftop setting that is both unique and romantic.

Best Seafood: Mesamar

The rock shrimp in their secret ponzu sauce is reason enough. And where else do they show you the fish that you are going to eat? (Clear eyes mean fresh.)

Best Salad: Sweetgreen

Welcome to the world of bowls, where they mix in great combos of veggies with chicken, shrimp, tofu, or hummus – or just keep it green. Informal, outdoor seating.

Best Sandwich: La Sandwicherie

The best sandwiches are the ones you customize to your liking, something La Sandwicherie is well aware of. And their secret sauce is a cult favorite.

Best Fried Chicken: Eating House

Seriously, is there anything Chef Giorgio can’t do? Just add perfectly fried chicken to the list.

People’s Choice: Doc B’s The place for casual American food, with over 15 chicken items. The boneless Southern fried chicken earns them this award.

Best Lunch Special: La Taberna Giralda

$13 for a high-class two-course meal (grilled salmon, fried calamari, pork tenderloin) and $5 wines, served inside, out front, or in their secret courtyard.

Related: Flamenco in the Gables

Best Coffee House: Café Demetrio

In the historic 1926 former home of the Miami News, with a charming shady courtyard, an old world vibe inside, and insanely good coffee and snacks.

People’s Choice: Threefold Cafe It’s an all-day breakfast place, after all, so it makes sense that they pride themselves on great coffee.

Best Hamburgers: Clutch Burger

Not even the newly opened Capital Burger could dethrone this Gables classic, where you have to unhinge your jaw to take a bite.

Best Pizza: Miami’s Best

It’s the “best” for a reason: New York-style pizza with a crust that is just thick enough — and great tomato sauce. Best time to go: during a UM home game.

People’s Choice: Pummarola This is Sicilian-style pizza, which means a soft crust with wet tomato sauce and mozzarella.

Best New Restaurant: Tullio

Elegant hospitality in an upscale setting, with a northern Italian seafood focus. Plus, amazingly great gelato, made daily.

Honorable Mention: Altagracia Serves stunning, inventive ravioli dishes (the best we’ve ever had) in a warm, intimate atmosphere.

Best Restaurant By Experience

Best Romantic Restaurant: Noma Beach

As the sun goes down over Biscayne Bay, you can share a plate of Chef Donatella’s famous meatballs and then take a walk along the Matheson Hammock beach.

People’s Choice: Zucca Upscale Italian chic with low lighting and a long bar. Honorable Mention: Fontana Beautiful courtyard, intimate atmosphere.

Best Breakfast: Bachour

Masters of the six-minute poached egg, the best Eggs Benedict in town, guava pancakes, world- class pastries, and a wide breezy courtyard to boot.

People’s Choice: Threefold Café Breakfast all day with some creative dishes and an utterly loyal clientele.

Best Brunch: Biltmore

It all starts in the Fontana courtyard, which provides a lovely setting for a cornucopia of offerings, from seafood to eggs to buttery croissants.

Best Cheap Eats: Barista Café

Tiny café just north of Miracle Mile, with traditional Colombian fare at wonderfully affordable prices. Best place to pick up a to-go order for lunch.

Best Outdoor Dining: Anywhere On Giralda

No cars allowed on this people promenade with Mexican, Thai, Peruvian, Japanese, Argentine, American, Cuban, Vietnamese, Basque, and Middle Eastern restaurants.

Best Happy Hour: Fogo De Chão

Every hour is happy hour at Fogo. $8 burgers, $5 bar bites and beer, and the best caipirinhas for $10 served all day in a sleek modern setting.

People’s Choice: Bay 13 Brewery It can be dangerous going here on a worknight when you’re tempted by half-off beers, wine, and $5 margs.

Best Local Hangout: John Martin’s

Newly remodeled and all but having tossed aside the claim of Irish “pub,” this new version of John Martin’s looks to be a local mainstay, with better food and a huge bar.

People’s Choice: The Bar One of the only spots in the city for a night out on the town. A great place to dance on weekends.

Best Fine Dining: Zucca

Haute Italian cuisine at its finest in a sophisticated setting from somewhere in modern Milan. The newest power lunch spot, at night it’s all glitter.

People’s Choice: Fiola Miami’s outpost for the famous Washington, D.C. restaurant. Fine dishes served with white glove elegance.

Shopping & Retail

Best Jewelry Store: Snow’s

Where diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Family-run for decades, Snow’s has a reputation for high-end stones, square deals, and great wedding rings.

Best Children’s Store: Boy Meets Girl

Where boy meets girl and girls and boys meet cuteness. Adorable designer kids’ clothes for newborns to 10-year-olds, plus toys and gifts.

Best Men’s Clothing Store: Artigiano

Not the easiest shop to find, just north of Merrick Park, but worth it. Tailored Italian suits and shirts; for shoes, they send your measurements to cobblers in Italy.

People’s Choice: Nordstrom If you must wear Michael Kors off the rack, this is your place. Wide selection, good sales.

Best Women’s Clothing Store: Neiman Marcus

Where the latest designer styles can be found, tailored to you. Plus it always smells nice when you shop there, thanks to an abundance of fragrances for sale.

People’s Choice: Nordstrom You can find an outfit for any occasion or price point, and the restaurant upstairs is a great place to take a break.

Best Furniture Store: Artefacto

Their showrooms along US-1 alone are worth an award by themselves. Modern design with a wide range of woods and fabrics assembled in Brazil.

People’s Choice: Victoria’s Armoire You’ll find more than an armoire in this charming shop on Ponce just south of Bird Rd.

Best Spa: The Biltmore Spa

Expensive? Of course. But the facials and massages here are to die for, with a huge range of menu options, in the warm embrace of the historic Biltmore Hotel.

Best Manicure: Gloss

Precise and clean, Gloss has always been at the forefront of nail care in Coral Gables, and there are great membership options.

Best Place To Buy Gifts: Violetas

Unique designer pieces, mostly in home décor, from lamps and candles to wall clocks and Fornasetti plates, along with reasonably priced jewelry.

People’s Choice: Books & Books There’s no better gift than the gift of knowledge, conveniently sized in approximately 300 pages.

Best Place To Buy Wine: Wolfe’s Wine Shoppe

Part of what makes Coral Gables a village is a wine shop where you can walk in and talk to the proprietor, and get thoughtful recommendations.

Arts & Entertainment

Best Live Theater: Miracle Theatre

Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre is the gem of Miracle Mile, with high-quality plays and musicals that range across all genres.

Honorable Mention: Gablestage The (generally) more serious side of theater, in an intimate space with dramatic, moving performances.

Best Live Music: The Globe

On Saturday nights, there is no cooler place to be in Coral Gables, especially when the Afro-Cuban jazz band Entre Amigos plays with their mesmerizing chanteuse.

Best Place To Dance: Copper 29

Not a place for conversation, this small, richly decorated bar gets packed on weekend nights to the tune of loud, boisterous music.

People’s Choice: The Bar There’s nowhere better to make mistakes than on The Bar’s dance floor on a Friday night.

Best Movie Theater: Coral Gables Art Cinema

The home of indie films, classics, documentaries, and more, the Art Cinema is an homage to what makes Coral Gables so special – its culture.

People’s Choice: The Landmark At Merrick Park A luxurious option to other nearby movie theaters. And $8 tickets on Tuesdays!

Best Art Gallery: Lowe Art Museum

Perhaps the most under-appreciated cultural venue in Coral Gables, with lovely, expansive galleries and an immense collection of European and world art.

People’s Choice: Cernuda Arte Master curator of Cuban art Ramon Cernuda now has three galleries, like museums, on Ponce.

Best Museum: Coral Gables Museum

Where local history meets modern art, the building itself is an exhibit, restored from Coral Gables original fire station. Great family activities.

Best Performance Space: Sanctuary Of The Arts

Historic repurposing at its finest, this former church across from City Hall is now a lovely, open theater for performances of dance and (mostly classical) music.

Sports & Recreation

Best Yoga Studio: Prana Yoga

One must bend oneself like an animal to release the pure energy and balance inside. Seriously, this is ground zero for the ancient art.

Best Place To Swim: Venetian Pool

There’s just something about ice cold water from a natural aquifer. Plus, the highly trained lifeguards give mom and dad a little chance to relax.

Related: A Day at the Venetian

Best Picnic Spot: Matheson Hammock

Take a blanket and spread out with drinks from the nearby NOMA Beach at Redfish restaurant. The lagoon is for kids, the sun and breeze is for you.

Best Gym: Lifetime

It’s not just the vaulted space and the army of gear and equipment. It’s the instructors and the classes, and those big ropes you can work out with.

Best Tennis Courts: Salvadore Park

Probably the place where most Gableites went to swing their first ever racket. Just make sure to book your courts ahead of time.

Best Golf Course: The Biltmore Golf Course

Home to America’s No. 1 golf school, the Biltmore course recently underwent a multi-million facelift. Considered one of the top public courses in the country.

People’s Choice: Granada Golf Course More easily accessible, with more of a locals’ flair. Fit it in your schedule with just nine holes.

Best Way To Walk Your Dog

Have your furry friends walked by Equipaws — the pros when it comes to the loving care of Gables canines — especially when you’re away.

Architecture & Public Places

Best Place To Walk Your Dog: Granada Golf Course

Just make sure your four-legged friend (and you) can make the whole two-miles-plus trek — or cut it off halfway and grab a gelato at Le Parc.

Best Historic Landmark: Biltmore Hotel

Built in 1926, just before the big hurricane hit. After falling into disrepair, now refurbished to its glory days. Stunning lobby, biggest pool in Florida, always a “wow.”

Best Place We Miss The Most: Burger Bob’s

This classic Coral Gables 1950s-era diner closed during the pandemic but is expected to return sometime next year (hopefully).

People’s Choice: Tarpon Bend It’s been years, but we’ll always remember our favorite happy hour spot, where the crowded bar spilled out onto the sidewalk.

Best People-Watching Spot: Miracle Mile

There’s nowhere else in the city with such a high volume of people, and no better place to get a glimpse of Gables style; a veritable parade.

People’s Choice: Giralda Plaza Choose any restaurant, grab a seat, and eavesdrop on your neighbors. Or view passersby from the Cebada rooftop overhead. Jammed with humanity on weekends.

Best Place To Take Out-Of-Towners: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden 

What other city is lucky enough to have an 83-acre botanical garden, dense with rare plants, palm groves, a butterfly house, and grand vistas for festivals and public events?

People’s Choice: Giralda Plaza No better place to show off the Gables’ foodie scene to your jealous friends from up north.

Best Public Art: The Plaza Coral Gables

The Plaza has been controversial for its size, but the quality is undeniable, including an array of courtyard sculptures and fountains that are world class.

Related: Art for Everyone

Best Park: Salvadore Park

It was the best park (with the best tennis courts) even before its new renovations, but now it has a zipline and inclusive playground features too. Woohoo!

Related: A Passion for Parks

Best Place To Meet Men: Mankind Grooming & Services

This place doesn’t just have to be for men — women can come play a round of pool, have a beer, or enjoy the cigar room upstairs.

People’s Choice: Hillstone The counterpart to Ms. Right are the well-dressed, eligible bachelors with high-paying finance jobs. We’re just saying.

Best Place To Meet Women: The Gramercy

Come for brunch or an evening drink and leave with a date. This is where all the gals come dressed to impress.

People’s Choice: Hillstone The post-work happy hour spot for professionals over 30, with a bevy of beautiful, well-dressed, successful women.

Best Place To Meet Intelligent Men/ Women: Books & Books

At least you know they read! Plus, what better way to get a date than “accidentally” reaching for the same copy of “Catcher in the Rye”?

Related: Your Summer Reading Guide

The “Best Of” Board of Advisors

Ashley Airaghi, attorney; Patrick Alexander, writer; Rodney Barreto, Barreto Hospitality; Karelia Carbonell, historic activist; Ray Corral, Mosaicist; Ashley Cusack, realtor; Meg Daly, Miami Underline; Swanee DiMare, philanthropist; Sissy DeMaria, publicist; Lani Drody, realtor; David Evensky, financial planner; Danny Guiteras, The Globe; Vince Lago, mayor; Israel Kreps, publicist; Matthew Meahan, entrepreneur; Paola Mendez, social influencer; Ben Mollere, healthcare executive; Michael Moore, attorney; Patrick O’Connell, Realtor; Jose Ortega, developer; Silvia Ortiz, art gallerist; Martha Pantin, city media; Susan Rodriguez, Coral Gables Garden Club; Marc Schwarzberg, developer; Don Slesnick, attorney and former mayor; Mary Snow, Coral Gables Community Foundation; Mark Trowbridge, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce; the staff of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce; Francesca Valdes, retail strategist; Rosanna Weber, attorney.