We know that Kendall–and all its distinct corners and neighborhoods–isn’t always presented in the good light it deserves. Even still, those Miamians raised in the West and South are proud to be from “The 88” and with good reason. See, it’s more than just FIU and The Youth Fair down there. It’s a sprawling area of lakes and hammocks, colorful hidden gems, nostalgic pastimes, and some of the best eats South Florida has to offer. We asked you all what your favorite Kendall spots were and after receiving over 50 awesome suggestions, we narrowed it down to this first edition of great reasons to visit:

Comfort Food

For those going to high school in the area, Hungry Bear and their epic subs were a perfect reason to play hookie. Milly’s Empanada Factory though new, has made a name for itself among the greats with their mouth-watering baked goodness. For a while, Tacos & Tattoos has been a household name in the neighborhood and all over Miami–you can guess what they’re known for. Mr and Mrs Bun is that perfect mix of a family-owned, Latin and Asian fusion spot not asking for much else but enjoying their creations and low-key atmosphere. Finally, if you didn’t know Kendall was home to some of the best Jamaican patties in town, you’re sleeping, bro. Both Jamaica Kitchen and Sonia’s Jamaican Patties came highly recommended.

Photo courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Bun

Breweries & Vineyards

If you’re a beer or wine geek like us, you’ll find Kendall will make you happy there. Let’s start with Lincoln’s Beard Brewing Company, easily one of the funnest breweries Miami has to offer. Been a fan? Get excited for the upcoming Strange Beast Brewery coming soon, but one of the original team members at Lincoln’s Beard. Next comes the Spanish Marie Brewery, a warm and intimate new beer outpost. Then there’s Vacillate Wine and Beer Bar, an epically grape-savvy charmer with a selection that’ll blow your taste buds.

Photo by Verjano Communications

Italian Goodness

Expect to read about a lot more food as you continue to read this, but let’s continue with the stuff that matters: pasta. Secreto is, well, a true secret gem but we’re happy to share it because that’s what we’re here for. It’s a true trattoria with flavors as romantic as its name. The crown jewel of Italian grub here is Osteria, which has been drowned in accolades and is considered one of the best in Miami.

Photo by thegolfclub.info

Badass Female Chefs

We know female chefs are rare in the industry, but Kendall actually embraces these two heavy-hitters with pride. Eileen Andrade’s Cuban fusion locale, Finka was whole-heartedly appreciated almost instantly, and her newer concept, Amelia’s 1931 is an equally wonderful ode to her family and roots under one roof. Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant is one of those undercover juggernauts that’s been holding down their culinary highly-decorated fort with some of the best sangria and dinner pairings ever. Seriously.

Photo of Chef Eileen Andrade by Medium

Surprise Activities

This is an ode to anyone’s childhood well-spent among birthday parties and sweaty bowling sessions at Don Carter’s (RIP). Surprisingly enough, there’s actually strawberry picking at the Strawberry Fields of Kendall which is just as fun as it sounds. You can spend a whole afternoon and into late evening playing all kinds of video games at Arcade Odyssey, downing beers and reliving Super Smash Bros tournaments. Of course, there’s Super Wheels which actually is popping just as hard as ever and has 18+ nights on Mondays featuring cameos by some of Miami’s best DJs. Then there’s the South Florida Center for Percussive Arts which is a true hidden gem and has fun classes, shows, and great performances.

Photo courtesy of The Arcade Blogger

Sushi All Day

While there’s a seemingly endless list of great spots to dig in and we’re sure we’re missing a lot of them here, there are two Japanese eateries that came so highly recommended that we had to single them out. First there’s Fujiya, a homey eatery with a sushi bar & lengthy menu of traditional Japanese fare, plus happy-hour specials. Then there’s Fuji Hana, although newer, a highly-rated traditional Thai and Japanese kitchen offering a big menu of sushi, noodles and more, plus a charming patio for better savoring.

Photo from Postmates

Latin Flavor

Yes, the reason we’re all here. We have to start with Islas Canarias, long-believed to be one of the greatest Cuban spots in the city and the heavy-weight champion of local croquetas. Los Perros is easily home to epic guilty Colombian pleasures, the traditional eats covered in those staple sauces. Dr. Limon has been a Kendall staple reigning supreme in all things ceviche. Finally, and we’ll end on a lesser-known secret, Fritanga Montelimar is the Nicaraguan king down there and a can’t-miss choice for satisfying plates.

Photo from Uber Eats

Cover photo of Finka Table and Tap from Travel + Leisure.