Taking that exit onto Alton Road might be frustrating getting through that traffic, but it does open up your world to some pretty great possibilities. Not only is it one of Miami Beach’s main arteries, it’s home to some of its best local hangs for all moods. Focusing specifically on the South Beach sector, there are quite a few options for when you need a place to hop off and grab a romantic bite or just impressive someone over happy hour drinks. Check out some of our go-tos:

Macchialina

Miami New Times

This stylish yet intimate trattoria became a staple almost instantly and has managed to maintain its charm even after a few years. Their menu, although not as extensive as other Italian spots around town, is packed with authentic plates and flavors. Macchialina is a great date spot or family dinner destination, and don’t forget to venture over to their bar for some sweet sips.

Tanuki

Miami and the Beaches

It might occupy a large corner spot on the bustling street, but Tanuki still feels very up-close-and-personal. The Asian fusion restaurant specializes in a variety of Chinese and Japanese dishes in a low-key atmosphere. It’s great for meeting up with friends for a birthday dinner, and look out for their Miami Spice specials since they’re among the best in town.

Semilla French Bistro

Semilla Miami

Cute, tapas-style European bistro by day, bumping industrial hang by night. Semilla might seem unassuming in the daylight, with its sweet logo and sidewalk seating, but it sure packs a punch as the sun starts to set. It’s a very social experience, so we suggest going with a group and trying as much as you can.

Drunken Dragon

Drunken Dragon

Easily one of our favorite spots in town. What was once a signless, speakeasy-style Korean BBQ joint only locals could find by word-of-mouth is now a South Beach must-try. Drunken Dragon is a popular spot for locals and travelers, so we highly suggest getting there early. Their happy hour is an absolute stunner, so grab a friend and sit at the bar to chat up the staff and get great drinks while you’re at it.

Bodega

Miami New Times

Okay, it might not be exactly on Alton, but Bodega is another popular locale that we couldn’t omit. While it might get packed pretty early with a pre-game or raucous late-night crowd, we still think the quality of their tacos and the novelty of their speakeasy bar is still top notch no matter if a friend’s in town or not. Happy hour is key here.

GoGo Fresh

GoGo Fresh

We might get attacked for including this hole-in-the-wall on the list, since it’s such a hidden gem. When you’re looking for that perfect spot to stop in and get a quick, fresh, solid bite to eat, GoGo is your winner. Not only do they serve some of the best empanadas in town, but their salads are also not to be overlooked. Great for a pre or post beach feast.

Pasta-Go

TripAdvisor

By the same team behind the highly popular Gelato-go concept having stores all over Florida and California, this Italian eatery is as authentic as they come, regardless of the literal name. It’s always great to find affordable options on South Beach and those with high-quality ingredients are even more rare. For many locals nearby, Pasta-Go has become a weekly visit and we’re not surprised.

CAO Bakery

Burger Beast

Created by third-generation Cuban-American baker, Antonio Cao, this fairly new bakery & cafe has spread like wildfire across Miami. Known for their fresh-baked pastelitos and warm, fast-casual digs, CAO is a perfect option for that daily caffeine fix.

Akash

TripAdvisor

We don’t take Indian lightly over here at Culture Crusaders, and while Miami has so few options to get a truly authentic curry fix, Akash gets the job done. While the modern lighting and interior might give off a more Bollywood vibe, don’t let that fool you. Their fare is as real as it gets and you better believe we’re not skimping on the naan.

Apple a Day

Oliver Langhauser

Part-organic food market, part-healthy prepared food cafe, Apple a Day came highly recommended by locals when we researched gems for our South Beach map. Of course, the beach is in need of healthy options, being as wellness-obsessed as it is, and while usual concepts falling within this category tend to feel overpriced, this one keeps it real. And delicious.

Lucky Thai Food

Lucky Thai

The newest joint on the list, Lucky Thai Food has already made a good impression with residents. With an open kitchen bumping to the rhythm of fast-cooking chefs, it feels like you’re walking through the streets of Bangkok yourself. Apparently, their flavors are on point and the service is even more efficient, which we always love.

Cover photo: Drunken Dragon.