Think of South Florida and your mind will probably conjure long stretches of palm-tree-fringed beach, spring break parties, and ritzy waterfront homes with yachts to match. And you’d be right. But if you look beyond the high-rises and sunbathers you’ll find a birders’ paradise dotted with incredible banyan trees and home to funky museums and art stores, peaceful state parks with great hiking, and a fun local gastronomy courtesy of the sparkling Atlantic*—which is never too far away—and the many immigrants (and Northerners!) who’ve settled here over the decades, from Miami’s Cuban population to the Trinidadians and Colombians around West Palm Beach to the area’s prominent Jewish retiree contingent. Thanks to years of suburban sprawl, you can’t judge an eatery by its cover: Some of South Florida’s best seafood is found not in fancy digs or beachside shacks but in nondescript strip malls. You may have to work a little harder to track down the real deal, but it’s well worth the GPS, we promise.

In this guide we are diving into an area we know well, and taking you to some of our favorite restaurants in South Florida: the must-eats of Miami, the best seafood in Dania Beach, the surprising diverse food scene around Lake Worth. There are endless places to eat in this area, and endless places to explore the beautiful natural landscape. Don’t miss our Florida blog content for more.

*Where applicable, we’ve tried to recommend seafood deemed “best choices” or “good alternatives” for the region by the Monterey Bay Aquarium sustainable seafood guide.