7 Rad Restaurants, 7 Scene-Stealing Views

Attention, hopeless romantics: We feel you. We understand your daydream tendencies (we're even guilty of some wishful thinking ourselves), and totally appreciate your sentiment that everything, from casual dinners to milestone dates, should really feel special. And in Miami, the land of top-notch dining and exquisite scenery, it isn't hard to make every meal a memorable one.
But, according to our entirely unscientific opinion on the matter, the thing that makes a night out spectacular is a totally bangin' view. From beachside bistros with the sun practically setting in your lap to rooftop boîtes nestled inside our twinkling skyline, we've got seven jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring restaurants with real scenic appeal. And, even if you're not a diehard romantic, these panoramas might just make you fall in love with Miami itself.
Get an eyeful at these awesome Miami eateries with breathtaking views.
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The Patio At Area 31

Want to feel literally in the center of everything? Atop EPIC — a Kimpton Hotel — sits Area 31, which boasts an outdoor terrace that overlooks the river, Biscayne Bay, and the fun modernity of 500 Brickell. Famous for its drinks and cocktails, its proximity to downtown makes it an ideal pick for a scenic cinq-a-sept.

Though mostly known for seafood (its name comes from the area in the Southeast where they source their fish), the braised pork shoulder is unbelievably tender. Other seafood fare is also on tap — oysters, lump crab salad, and tartare, crudos, and ceviche — and everything tastes better from a 16-story view.

Area 31, The 16th Floor of EPIC Hotel, 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way (at Brickell Avenue); 305-424-5234.

Photo: Courtesy of Get Ink PR
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The Waterfront Terrace At Cafe Sambal

Now this, this is the good life. Cafe Sambal nights don't happen all the time, but when they do, we know we are in for a treat. Waterfront fine dining is surprisingly rare, and Cafe Sambal (along with its connected hotel, The Mandarin Oriental) is placed directly across from downtown on Brickell Key. The dining is Miami-meets-the-East, with charred sea bass, dragon shrimp tempura rolls, and crafted (if slightly sugary) drinks from M Bar (the martini bar in The Mandarin). Succulent Asian fusion is Sambal's speciality, with cross-cultural offerings like an open-faced duck quesadilla or a kobe beef burger.

The nice thing about this spot is that it feels like a destination trip, minus the travel. Even on the balmiest of MIA nights, the breeze off of the water will keep you cool, which is a nice treat after being blasted all day with AC. And, trust us, the view is worth it.

href="http://www.mandarinoriental.com/miami/dining/cafe_sambal/">Cafe Sambal, Mandarin Oriental, 500 Brickell Key Drive; 305-913-8358.

Photo: Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental
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The Outdoor Cantina At Lucy's Cantina Royale

The idea behind Lucy's is a California-style Mexican restaurant right on the edge of the Atlantic — successfully bridging the country. Which is lovely, but not as lovely as the bent palms and the seaside respite, best enjoyed with fresh guacamole or the deceptively drinkable Cucumber Cooler (which is a sweet vodka drink). Oh, and the margaritas are worth the trip alone.

Not exactly the ritziest date spot, the laid-back vibe of Lucy's is a good way to get out without going deep in your wallet. In fact, the 2-for-1 happy hour treats and beachside scenery is a perfect solution if you want to let the cares of your day simply melt.

Lucy's Cantina Royale In The Shelborne Hotel, 1801 Collins Avenue (at 18th Street); 305-531-1271.

Photo: Courtesy of Tara Ink
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The Terrace at Zuma

Zuma is known for its jaw-droppingly good Japanese offerings, with dramatically served dishes and creatively paired maki offerings. A lesser-known, though no less important Zuma fact is that it is the only establishment in the Biscayne Bay that allows boaters to dock and dine. Because of its on-the-water proximity, hungry yachters can pull up to downtown Miami, secure their boat, and grab some seabass sashimi with salmon roe.

Yes, the seafood is divine, but the restaurant also prides itself on incorporating Japanese flavors into their drinks, like the Zuma Mai Tai, which mixes plum sake with rum. If you are looking for al fresco brunch, too, the traditional offerings (like grilled sea bass with spicy burnt tomato) will tempt the adventurous. Interestingly, the view is very similar to the one at Area 31, except this one is at ground level!

Zuma, 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way,(at Brickell Avenue); 305-507-0277.

Photographed by James Shearer
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DiLidio Beach Club at The Ritz-Carlton

The Ritz's DiLidio can boast being one of the few oceanside dining options on South Beach, which immediately sets it apart from the pack. But having a star like Chef Andrew Balick at the helm means the food is to-die-for...or it would be, if we weren't already in heaven.

While the decor is minimal — simple wicker furniture and large beach umbrellas — we could be sitting on logs and still enjoy the unobstructed ocean view. The seafood fare is fresh and well-made, with Miami favorites like ceviche and pan-seared crabcakes. Remember, though, this is only for lunch, so lighter dishes are offered, like a local grouper sandwich with remoulade or a surf and turf wrap with churrasco and grilled shrimp. Or they were offered, at least: The menu changes frequently, depending on seasonal goods.

The DiLido Beach Club, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, One Lincoln Road; 786-276-4000.

Photo: Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
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The Rusty Pelican

We couldn't leave out The Rusty Pelican, especially after its recent (and much publicized) facelift. Sitting back on those Key West-style chairs and viewing the city across the water makes any meal exquisite.

The menu is extensive and slightly overwhelming, with sashimi next to burgers next to duck confit, so there is certainly something for everyone. But the real appeal is grabbing a brew and enjoying the view of the city. Oh, and the key lime pie, too.

The Rusty Pelican, 3201 Rickenbacker Causeway; Key Biscayne; 305-361-3818.

Photo: Courtesy of The Rusty Pelican
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The Top of the Miami Culinary Institute at Tuyo

Nestled atop of the Miami Culinary Institute (often students make money by bussing or waiting tables), diners are smackdab in the middle of the Miami skyline and can see The Freedom Tower while they are noshing on fresh ceviche.

James Beard-inductee and executive chef Norman Van Aken has helmed a type of cooking called "New World," which fuses Brazilian flavors with traditional touches like foie gras or roasted lamb. The menu is solidly land and sea, so savor the unfamiliar flavors of queso fresco stuffed squash blossom or pork with an updated approach to molé. The best seat in the house, of course, is as close to the panoramic windows as possible.

Tuyo, On the roof of the Miami Dade Culinary College, 415 N.E. Second Avenue (at City Avenue); 305-237-3200.

Photo: Courtesy of Tuyo