If anyone knows how to re-open a store, it seems to be Armani Exchange. For the premiere, the Miami Beach’s Vice Mayor named it the “Official Armani Exchange” day and Hollywood stars traveled 3000 miles to celebrate and try on some of Armani’s sexy shades.
The new South Beach flagship is bigger and sleeker with futuristic steel accents and clean lines, while still keeping the art deco feel of Miami. The brand, which was created in 1991 to dress the urban, street-chic customers, still captures that fun, young, and sexy energy today. With the Miami essentials of tiny party dresses, smoky shades, and tight t-shirts, the new Armani Exchange is bigger in size and sex appeal.
Authentic Mexican has come to Lincoln Road on South Beach by way of Chef Todd Erickson’s latest venture, a casual and pet-friendly eatery Huahua’s Taqueria set on the quieter side of the famous street. Chef Erickson knows his Mexican cuisine, hailing from Arizona and spending much of his childhood also traveling to New Mexico.
You’ll know you’ve found the place when you spot the adorable grey cartoon chihuaha with the blue Mexican hat, bright silver chairs and shelves brimming with hot sauces.
Those 21 hot sauce varieties are perfect on their tacos and enchiladas. But start first with the grilled Mexican sweet corn topped with cotija cheese and fresh cilantro or the chips with queso blanco, a mild and flavorful cheese sauce perfect for dipping. It’s a nice change from the traditional tomato-based salsa. Then move on to either the chili rubbed shrimp taco topped with jicama, lime, cilantro and spicy mayo or the pollo al pastor taco with chicken topped with charred pineapple, cilantro, onion and lime crema.
There’s a reason for the doggie on the signage too, because they’re welcomed here. With just limited seating indoors, tables and chairs are outside and all of them equipped with nearby silver bowls in four sizes to accommodate the tiniest to the largest pooch.
They’re at 1211 Lincoln Road. Call 305-534-TACO (8226) or click here to visit their website.
Since today’s reality celebrities are always lumped in with A-listers, let’s consider Kendra Wilkinson (of reality television’s “Kendra on Top” on WE TV) stopping in at SoBe’s newest nightclub Mokai for a night of partying with girlfriends, a true celeb sighting.
The scene at Mokai is typical South Beach. Scantily clad dancers, sometimes alone but many times in pairs (or trios), set the scene for a night of revelry and debauchery like only SoBe can deliver. DJ’s pump the house music nightly, since the nightclub scene really never dies, while bottles of bubbly pop all night in the VIP section.
Weeknight parties here have kitchy names like Ransom Mondays, Relapse Wednesdays and Weekend Warrior Fridays. On Saturdays Gino G., Mike Russ, S1 spin while Weisson plays drums.
Nikki Beach in Miami is the hidden jewel of South Beach, located at One Ocean Drive along the beautiful Atlantic Ocean amid swaying palms trees and warm sunny breezes. Nikki Beach Miami has established itself as the landmark nightclub and venue for ultimate private parties, large celebrations, and always lives up to its reputation as a South Beach Miami party playground for jet setters, celebrities, VIPs, guests and visitors alike.
Narrowing down the top-five beaches in Miami is no easy feat, especially since South Beach gets all the glory, but there are four others (of course South Beach makes the list) that deserve a top spot too.
South Beach, from South Pointe Park to 14th Street is pure beauty, decadence and what put the area on the world map, once hailed as “America’s French Riviera.” There’s no shade here, just pure beautiful Miami sand, clear waters, plenty of eye candy and lots of bars and restaurants along Ocean Drive for fun before or after the beach. Click here for info on Miami Beach.
Further north in Miami Beach’s Surfside/Bal Harbour area there’s a great little stretch of beach along 94th to 96th streets. Behind the condominiums the water is pristine. Chair and umbrella service is available, showers are nearby and it’s quiet and uncrowded. Parking’s great too, plenty of it on the surrounding streets unlike South Beach where it’s a challenge. Click here for info on Surfside.
Crandon Park Beach
The remainder of the beaches on the list are on Key Biscayne where the water is quite different and a bit warmer. The area has a much more natural feel. Pay $1.50 to get on the island and just a few miles down the road on the right is Hobie Beach, shallow, no wave water, perfect for windsurfing. Further down are the Crandon Park beaches, known for great picnic areas, shallow, warm waters and cool sandbars. At the tip of Key Biscayne is Cape Florida/Bill Baggs State Park beach. There are several areas to drive in and park and one of the best is the one closest to the Lighthouse. Similar to Crandon, picnicking here is ideal with barbecues, a food stand, shady areas and nature trails . Click here for info on Key Biscayne beaches.
The door stays open, no velvet ropes or long lines here, The Abbey Brewing Co. is one of the most “un” South Beach spots on the beach. It’s a dark bar with no pretense, just a place to hang, talk and drink.
Unlike all the Irish pubs and other fancy prew pub spots around Miami, The Abbey has been doing hand-crafted beers since 1995, way before it became the trend. They’re proud of their award-winning brews here and boast about them on their website. There are plenty of bottled beers as well as tons of drafts. Stained glass, dark wood, dart boards and funky art make this place a beer/pub lover’s paradise. Some pub grub and quality cigars go great with the beer selection and complete the experience.
The Abbey, 1115 16 St., 305-538-8110. Click here to visit their website.
One of the newest kids on the South Beach nightclub scene is Vice Lounge located in the quieter side of Lincoln Road, the area that’s closer to the beach and not among the hustle and bustle of the pedestrian mall.
It’s all decadence in this place so best to check inhibitions at the door and the interior reflects this. Red carpeted stairs lead to the second floor, great viewing areas from here for the dance floor, multiple bars and VIP areas with bottle service galore. Singer Jon Secada has hung out here, live performances are the norm and DJ’s love playing here.
As is the norm in spots like this, they regularly host fashion shows here as well as happy hour parties. It’s a party every night, weeknights never stop any club on the beach and Vice is no exception.
Surviving in the same location on South Beach is unto itself a testament to longevity and Jazid can proudly boast they’ve done it for 14 years. It’s all about the live music experience at Jazid, something the area is not necessarily known for.
They don’t pigeonhole themselves into one genre here either, anything goes. The list of live performers screams diversity. Feneiva plays on Tuesdays, performing in both English and Spanish and blending salsa, reggae and acoustic. Afro Kumbe on Wednesdays is made up of members of Miami’s favorite Latin fusion band Locos por Juana who are lighting up the festival and nightlife scene all over Miami. On Fridays Kulcha Shok Muzik frees up the stage for reggae bands, a different one each week.
They don’t skimp on the drink specials here either, kamikazes one night and aguardiente, the drink of choice in many Latin American countries, another.
Jazid is located at 1342 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. 305-673-9372. www.jazid.net
Others may come and go, but the Delano is the hotel that set the tone for what has become hip and happening in the South Beach scene. That pool, ohhh that pool, sets the standard for the rest of what represents “livin’ it up” in Miami. Sitting beachfront and a stone’s throw away from Lincoln Road and its thriving nightlife, Delano is simply where it’s at.
Inside, the place is decorated by room so that each area provides a different experience. White is by far the predominant color with guest rooms awash in the crisp, clean hue, from the luxurious penthouse to the more subdued, but still uber cool, rooms and suites. A rooftop spa offers a 360 degree view of nothing but turquoise ocean as far as the eye can see.
And of course, stay for some great nightlife and dining. After all, there’s the classic Blue Door, the hotel’s original and award-winning restaurant, along with Plat Bleu, and for cocktails and people watching (ahem, celeb spotting), there’s the elegant Rose Bar.
The gem of South Beach performance spaces, the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater, has had several name changes, but the quality of performers and the elegant, commanding presence of the space is everlasting. The grandiose theater is treasured by locals and the many performers who grace its stage.
So beloved is the Fillmore, it recently underwent a massive renovation to restore it to its original beauty, and added some modern touches that brought it into the 21st century. The exterior is all Art Deco, with geometric lines and blue pastel coloring. The interior, though, is a cross between 1920’s elegance and a modern club scene, like the ornate grand crystal chandeliers that are hued with purple lighting.
Any artist would want to grace such a majestic stage, and they do, from all genres and eras. Where else does legendary singer Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, indie rockers Arctic Monkeys, and comedian Chelsea Handler of the “Chelsea Lately” late night talk show appear in the same venue? It all comes together at the Fillmore Miami Beach.
Inching ever closer to an epic status is Mynt Lounge; around for seven years (with no itch in sight!), it’s still going strong. Located just close enough to the heart of South Beach, the place is abuzz with supermodels, celebrities and the local beautiful people. A perfect complement to such crowds, where Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez, Paris Hilton and Mickey Rourke (to name a few) have all partied, is a tough velvet rope rule whose policy has made it one of the hottest- and hardest- clubs to get into.
Once inside, live performances and stellar DJ’s are a nightly occurrence; and more often than not there’s a VIP event held at this exclusive nightclub. No matter who you are, everyone who gets past the velvet rope is treated like a star at this staple in SoBe.
Lincoln Road has evolved into an eclectic mix of well known chain stores, smaller boutiques and stand-alone restaurants, but the one place that has stood the test of time on this pedestrian strip of road is the Van Dyke Cafe, where the jazz is always playing.
The place is reminiscent of a speakeasy jazz club with soft lighting, intimate seating and stellar performances of Latin jazz, AfroCuban, soloists and jazz quartets. Local legend Maryel Epps still performs at Van Dyke and has been for more than a decade! And joining her are local faves Palo! and Conjunto Progreso.
Catch a vibe from another era at this classic spot, a perfect way to either start or end an evening on South Beach.
No matter where a Mr. Chow restaurant opens, it instantly becomes a spot where everyone must go, especially celebrities. In Miami – in South Beach’s swanky W Hotel no less- Mr. Chow is brimming with elegance and style.
The Asian food here has to be called cuisine, because of offerings like fresh steamed sea bass filet and fresh lobster noodles – lobster tails sauteed in ginger sauce served on a bed of handmade noodles. The flair and creativity with which the dishes are prepared is unequaled and so stands the reputation of this hot bed of Beijing-inspired yummy. Don’t come looking for honey chicken, General Tsao’s or special fried rice here, it’s non-existent.
Housed inside a former hotel and looking more like a Key West-inspired structure than anything resembling Art Deco, the hotspot for dining south of Fifth Street on South Beach is Prime 112. Walk through the doors of this quaint yet brightly colored restaurant — seriously, it’s a cheery yellow wooden structure with white trim — and the sense of “this is the place to see and be seen” is immediately evident. Celebrities and all-star athletes love to celebrate here, seeing as the food and ambiance are amazing.
Known for the killer steaks — filet mignon, Kobe, strip, porterhouse, rib eye — they’ve got them all and then some. The seafood selections, including local swordfish, crab crusted grouper, wild salmon and Chilean sea bass, are perfect for seafood connoisseurs. And the ridiculous amount of of potato-inspired sides and other traditional fare makes ordering here that much more entertaining. Obviously, reservations are strongly recommended.
Many Hollywood types head to the warm beaches of Miami for New Year’s Eve and many of them will be headed to the elegantly chic Mondrian Hotel on South Beach. Ring in 2010 with class and luxury poolside or in a private cabana with you and your friends. An open bar runs all night from 9pm until 2am, while multiple DJ’s spin until 4 am. The Mondrian shows you how to have a New Year’s Eve party Miami style.
It’s housed in a grand Art Deco building in the heart of South Beach, but what’s inside the Wolfsonian Museum is a design collection that’s unlike the Miami architecture, spanning from the late 1800s to the mid-1940s and featuring European and American pieces.
The multi-level structure is a vast wonderland of art, furnishings, objects, and memorabilia to suit any art lovers’ taste. Collector Micky Wolfson has amassed a thinking man’s collection focusing on the thought-provoking era of Decorative and Propaganda Arts. The Museum’s exhibitions and programs are an extension of the permanent collection’s theme and explore the important role of design during the industrial age through social, political, and technological topics.