Having moved away from South Beach five years ago, yet returning multiple times a year makes me still feel like a local. Looking at the Miami Beach address on my drivers license, which does not expire until, 2020 could even count as evidence to outsiders that I am a local, however, not being 100% on top of the ever-changing scene, and actually relying on my local friends for suggestions and guidance of where to go out at night, is enough proof in my mind that I am no longer a resident and far from the queen of this town.
Regardless, every time I return, I try to reclaim my thrown, even if only for a few days. Always trying to fit every last hot spot and old favorite into the tightest of schedules, I make it work, revisiting those locales that, while away, I’ve been counting down the days until my return, aka “Survival of The Fittest” and the newbies, or as I refer to them as “Get Em While They’re Hot”!
Get Em While They’re Hot – Of course these come first, since they’re In today, but who know’s what tomorrow will bring. My hopes are that you’ll find these three under “Survival Of The Fittest” in a couple of years.
Dinner & Drinks: Juvia – With a view like this, I don’t know if there will ever be a rightful competitor for Juvia. Perched atop the Art Deco styled parking garage on Lincoln Road and overlooking this pedestrian paradise below as well as the whole of South Beach, straight out to the sea, I can’t even remember how my ceviche and sushi tasted, as I was mesmerized by the skyline enjoying the last minutes of sun reflecting off of the buildings as the city became a unique mix of twinkling lights and glowing pastel buildings, ok, ok, perhaps a little entranced by the few glasses of Whispering Angel rose that I was drinking. On all accounts, Juvia is one of those places where you must go for dinner or drinks your last night out in Miami just to take in the town one last time before departure.
A Chill Drink or Two: The Broken Shaker – Genius mixology in a poolside garden setting, where yes, the herbs used in your drinks are the same ones growing right next to you. The Broken Shaker defines the absolute perfect mix of cool and relaxed to enjoy one of the most refined and handcrafted cocktails in town, my recommendation, The Bitter Sweet, a pineapple infused tequila and mescal creation to die for! The trendsetting Freehand Hostel has created a new legend on The Beach!
Absolute Party: Hyde Beach at the SLS Hotel – Forget Ocean Drive when you come to Miami Beach, it’s Collins avenue between Lincoln Road and 23rd Street that has always ruled the nightlife, or shall we say, the nightspots where you’ll actually want to go once you’re beyond your college Spring Break years. Hyde Beach currently reigns as the top spot on the strip, partially due to the SLS Hotel being the new kid on the block and also with a clever group of promoters who keep the party going day and night, sometimes even crazier while the sun is shining. For all of those day drinkers out there, skip the sports bars or the Vegas pool party scene, Hyde Beach is where it’s at right now!
Survival Of The Fittest – They came onto the scene with a bang but are still explosive years later.
Dinner & Drinks: Hakkasan at the iconic Fontainebleau Miami Beach Resort – This was the only reason I used to leave South Beach and drive 20 blocks north to Mid Beach. Always one of my London favorites, their Miami locale, being the first in the US, I knew the classics that could be found here as well as the ever creative cocktail menu, including my all around favorite their Elderflower Aviation. My cravings however, always have me going back for the Short Rib starter, and the mains of Shrimp with Green Curry sauce or the Caramelized Chilean Sea Bass, each equally dreamy!
Dinner & Drinks: Doraku – Slightly less of a scene, but the Lincoln Road location of Doraku, combined with it being one of my favorite sushi restaurants in the country guarantee that it is always packed! Reservations are a must, but if you forget, or have a last minute sushi craving, typically you can be squeezed in at the sushi bar in the back and if you’re lucky perhaps you’ll have the opportunity to chat up Executive Chef, Todd Dae Kulper, while he creates his masterpieces. Paired with enjoying the best selection of sake in the area, a spur of the moment dinner at Doraku can easily turn into a full evening.
A Chill Drink or Two: Segafredo L’originale – Fourteen years and counting, reigning as Lincoln Road’s chicest place to hang out, have a drink and people watch day or night. Segafredo rocked the “Bohemian Chic” retro look before there was even a name for the eclectic décor style, and their inventive champagne cocktails and variety of mojitos keep them on the map in this era of mixology. You’ll know you’re there when you see the largest crowd of people gathering outside of one Lincoln Road establishment and the best dj mix is in wafting through the air.
Absolute Party: Wall Lounge at the W South Beach Hotel – This boutique sized club / lounge is where I turn to for the best international DJs visiting South Beach on a regular basis as well as the edgiest crowd of beautiful people to surround me in the mix. My recent Tuesday night plan to stop off at the Favela Beach party, my favorite night at Wall, and have a few drinks, dance a bit, turned into a 5:00 am bender, with the amazing music of DJ Falcon and the fashion forward party goers who inspired my Excessive Baggage Miami layout. Of course, Wall would make it onto my Survival of the Fittest list for South Beach, after all, it’s the brain child of Navin Chatani, the beach’s top promoter turned nightlife entrepreneur over the past 2 decades…yup, that’s right, he must have started in this industry as an infant!
Don’t waste your time debating where to go on your next trip to Miami, just visit these “Get Em While They’re Hot” locales before they’re gone in a blink of an eye *fingers crossed they’ll prove us wrong! And be sure to stop by to each of my Survival Of The Fittest and have a drink and a laugh with my old friends.