Even in this luxe city, there are plenty of places where a great meal for two can come affordably.

By Tom Austin
February 07, 2016
Rodrigo Moreno

This city is full of surprises, and the culinary front is no exception. Miami is home to many glittering, expensive restaurants, and countless multi-cultural gems: the options include perfect focaccia in an unusually elegant South Beach setting, sushi in a way-urban Wynwood food laboratory, and adept Peruvian ceviche in the heart of the suburbs. But they don't all have to tear your heart (or wallet) in two. If you want to take your date out for a top-notch feast without selling off your valuables, these affordable Miami outposts are just the ticket.

Elegant Italian

Need a break from that raucous, nocturnal wonderland that is South Beach? Pop into Rosetta Bakery, a chic refuge with soft romantic lighting and the sound of Ray Charles crooning in the background. Run by four Italian friends, Rosetta features a first-rate focaccia with olives ($5.20). A King Rosetta sandwich with Parma ham and mozzarella cheese ($16.00) feeds two people, and is supremely delicious. For dessert, try a fruit crostata ($6.40).

Heart Healthy

Nothing says I love you quite like a nutritious, healthy meal at Juice & Java South Beach. Despite being tucked into a strip mall, the joint has a hip vibe (think: New Wave music on the sound system) and offers all sorts of inexpensive wholesome dishes, including the Chicken Chop ($11.50), a blend of organic brown rice, chopped grilled chicken breast, and red bell peppers, and the Salmon Toss ($12.95), with smoked salmon and organic quinoa. On a balmy night, grab a seat outside.

New Age

Head to the Wynwood Yard, and every detail of your meal will be taken care of for you. This thoughtful culinary laboratory has such mentors as Julie Frans of Slow Food Miami, and boasts a garden, eco-conscious bar, and regular entertainment—cooking classes, singer-songwriter showcases, tribute bands, acro yoga—as well as a lineup of resident food trucks. Expect the likes of Myumi and its omakase sushi experience, or maybe Vibe 305, a non-profit food truck under the guidance of Brad Kilgore, of Wynwood’s Alter restaurant. Vibe 305 is a cafe-incubator hybrid that serves as a job development program for at-risk students. When they're parked in the lot, order Hope, a Portobello mushroom burger, for $8.00, or Empower: a crab cake sandwich ($11.00) that's good on many different levels.

Peruvian Gastrobar

With Celano Design Studios interiors (earthy tones, semi-circular booths, an open-kitchen, handmade concrete tiles), the Peruvian cevichery and gastrobar Pisco y Nazca was practically made for a romantic dinner date. For two, a meal should include traditional ceviche with flounder and sweet potato ($9.00), followed by lomo saltado, or stir-fry filet mignon with tomato wedges and arroz con choclo ($23.00). Two can share a Pisco Sour, with Pisco Cuatro Gallos, fresh lime juice, sugar, and pasteurized egg whites ($10.00). Come early for hora loca, when the house drinks are half price.

Global Getdown

Just a stone's throw from an array of indie bars on North Miami Avenue is Fooq’s, a cool little hipster spot on North Miami Avenue that boasts an eclectic menu blending Persian and Provencal French cuisine. For a starter, share Fooq’s Meatballs ($15.00), with ground brisket and Berkshire pork, and an endive salad, with radishes, walnuts, and breadcrumb—only $13.00. For dinner, split the Bucatini all'Amatriciana ($20), a pasta dish with smoked pancetta, sweet onions, Sicilian chile flakes, and pecorino Romano.

Tom Austin is based in Miami and covers the Florida beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @TomAustin__.