When visiting the Magic City, you really can't go wrong. Miami is known for its hot bodies, trendy restaurants, unique boutiques, and nightclubs with 24-hour liquor licenses, but it's always a good idea to have a local telling you where to go. Find our favorites below.
1. Fun in the Sun
As beautiful as Miami's beaches are, there are days when you just want to kick it with your girls or guys. The Four Seasons is your one-stop-shop for delicious food, refreshing drinks, and cabana service that will melt your weekly worries away.
Start out with brunch at EDGE Steak and Bar, which features Cuban-style delicioso from Chef Aaron Brooks. Not in the mood for some lechon asado? EDGE has a raw bar, taco station, and grilled-to-order meat option with flavors that truly represent Miami.
Local Tip: Book your cabana poolside and enjoy a fabulous day with a signature cocktail in your hand and a smile on your face. The Four Seasons has no limits. Treat yourself to a bottle of Veuve from dusk till dawn and de-stress.
2. Raging Bull
Dinner at the Matador Room in The Miami Beach EDITION hotel is a culinary experience like none other. Come hungry, then order everything. Jean-Georges Vongerichten has truly outdone himself at this iconic restaurant which combines interpretations of Caribbean, Spanish, Latin, and South American cuisines in an atmosphere so impressive that it actually rivals the food. Dine al fresco in the romantic gardens by the pool or, inside in the sunken dining room that's reminiscent of a 1940s supper club. Our favorite cocktail was the basil jalepeño maragarita, which pairs perfectly with the Florida stone crab (mustard sauce and dill dip), sweet pea guacamole (with crunchy tortillas), Florida corn (jalapeño and manchego), and all of his tacos and pizzas, especially the seasonal creations.
Local tip: Do not leave without trying JGV's unparalleled arroz con pollo (with crackling skin and lemon zest) — it's mind-blowing.
3. All Fired Up
Take a break from the South Beach scene and head to the Wynwood arts district for one of the hottest new restaurant openings this year, Kyu, The Asian grill comes from former Zuma partners Chef Michael Lewis and General Manager Steven Haigh and key highlights on the menu include: roasted cauliflower and goat cheese salad, crispy crab steamed buns, octopus with avocado and hearts of palm, and duck breast "burnt ends" with yuzu pickles. We also love the eco-friendly vibe of Kyu — not only do they have a waste composter on site, but they replant trees just to make up for the ones used to power the wood-fired grill that produces the aforementioned culinary delights.
Local Tip: Do NOT sleep on the coconut cake. It's Chef Lewis' grandmother's recipe and it is the most delicious thing ever.
4. This City So Pretty
If you're looking for a cocktail with a view, look no further than Area 31. Located on the celebrity-fave Epic Hotel's 16th floor, you'll get breathtaking views of downtown Miami and the intercoastal. If you want to see where the locals go or find someone cute to flirt with, visit during their famous Happy Hour from 5pm-8pm, Mondays to Thursdays.
No matter what time you decide to visit, you will find delicious food and great service. Favorites include the grouper ceviche, jumbo lump crab cake, and mushroom risotto.
Looking for more creative cocktails? Head on over to LILT Lounge and take a photo at their horseshoe-shaped bar while sipping a mojito. If it's something different you crave, LILT's mixologists host cocktail classes once a month for $35. Unleash your inner Tom Cruise circa 1988, and make some libations like a pro. Not only do you get to enjoy your creations, but you'll also get to sample Executive Chef Wolfgang Birk's charcuterie and cheese.
Local Tip: If you arrive at The Epic between 5pm - 6pm, the hotel hosts a free wine hour. Grab a vino blacno o tinto before catching the elevator for Happy Hour.
5. Island Hop
Whether you're a Miami local or just visiting, the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne can provide you with an escape from city living with its lush greenery and top-notch amenities. No, you won't actually be leaving the 305, but it will surely feel that way as you drive into Key Biscayne surrounded by the glistening ocean and blue skies as far as the eye can see.
As you arrive into the grand lobby, you will feel enveloped by the elegant, yet warm, atmosphere full of cozy couches and one serious floral arrangement (450 roses to be exact). Retire for lunch or dinner outdoors at one of their various restaurants, including the popular Mexican spot, Cantina Beach. Not only will the sweeping beach views enchant you, but when you pair their specialty blend tequila with their authentic cuisine, you will swear you've crossed the border.
If you're feeling adventurous, ask the chef to select his favorite dishes for the table. No matter what the kitchen prepares for your party, your palette will definitely be pleased.
Local Tip: You come for the food and the views, but it's the rum and salsa dancing on Friday and Saturday night that will keep you coming back. Their newly-redesigned rum bar features more than 85 varieties of rum and a variety of other liquors including pisco and cachacas.
6. Celebrity Status
We can't think of a better time to get a makeover than while you're on vacation. When you want to return home looking relaxed and glowing so that all the chicas at the office can die of jealousy, the only person you need in your life is celebrity stylist Gabriel Samra. Samra, who is an ambassador for Pantene and Pantene Mexico, has worked with top celebrities including Maite Perroni, Paulina Rubio, Juanes and Adriana Lima. There's should be no doubt left as to why he is professionally known as "El Mago de la Belleza."
At his salon, you will be treated like a celeb by Samra and his team to get the makeover of your dreams. They are equipped for cuts, styling, coloring, mani/pedi, waxing, makeup application and lessons, and even special Keratin treatments. If you're planning a wedding, you can also book the team to hook up your bridal party locally or at the salon.
7. Dim Sum and Then Some
Hakkasan. You need no other name in the 305 when you're looking for the absolute best in Chinese food. Yes, it's fancy — but you deserve it! If you visit on Saturday or Sunday, you can have your dumplings steamed, seared, or deep fried for $28 per person from 12pm-2:45pm.
Local Tip: You come to Hakkasan for the food, but you stay for the drinks. Long after your hunger has been satiated, the drinks keep on coming from some of the city's top bespoke specialists.
8. Party Like a VIP
Celebrities have made hot nightclubs like LIV, Story, and Mansion pretty popular, but the newest trends are prohibition-style lounges that are still kept on the down low. Our favorite is Bodega, which is hidden behind an inconspicuous wall that looks like a porta-potty! The sounds are hot, the drinks are unique, and the crowds include many local VIPs and celebrities.
The best thing is after imbibing at the bar, you can leave and dine on their wide variety of tacos, tortas and salsa offerings. Their questo fundido is also a can't miss treat.
Local Tip: Forget your hangover and visit Bodega for their special brunch tacos. You can nibble on huevos rancheros and an egg torta as the rest comfortably inside their signature fresh tacos before heading back home for a siesta.
9. Contemporary Cuisine
Peruvians have been influencing kitchens all over the Magic City pretty heavily in the last decade. Coya brings a contemporary twist to the South American kitchen with their delicious dishes and colorful decor. If you're not ready for a full meal, select a few of their smaller dishes including, anticuchos, fritas, or salads. Why not pick a variety of each and make a tasting out of it?
Do yourself a favor however, and return when you're ready to eat a full meal. Their seafood is fresh and if you close your eyes, you could almost imagine you're hearing the waves crash in Peru's seaside city Miraflores.
Don’t forget to stop by the famous Pisco Bar for some to-die-for cocktails. Our favorite was a tie between the "Coya Mule" and the "Chilcano Thyme," but you really can't go wrong.
Local Tip: If you live or work near the Brickell area, stop by for their three course lunch for $29.
10. Taste of Spain
When there's an item on the menu that consists of eggs, homemade potato chips, Serrano ham, potato foam, and truffle oil — we're in. Bulla Gastrobar is the stuff tapas foodie dreams are made of, thanks to their signature Heuvos 'Bulla' dish, but other strong contenders are: croquetas de jamón (Ibérico ham croquettes, fig jelly) and the albondigas (veal and pork meatballs, stracciatella, tomate frito). Wash everything down with a Spanish marg (Cazadores Reposado, Grand Marnier, amontillado sherry, lime juice, agave nectar) and definitely save room for the churros.
Local Tip: Book one of the three private rooms upstairs that hosts up to 110 guests, or the balcony that seats 30, for a baby or bridal shower. The views overlooking the streets of Coral Gables are unbeatable!