Miami Valentine's Weekend - Food Fest
I will be visiting Miami for a Valentine's weekend with my fiancee on Feb 13-16. We are both big foodies, and would love to have a very food filled extended weekend.
Specifically looking for (we're coming from Toronto):
1. Higher-end Cuban/Latino food
2. Seafood place (specifically showcasing Florida/southern seafood) - Stone crabs?
3. Unique Miami dining experiences - both at the low-end and the high-end.
4. Romantic dinner spot (could be any of the above) for the actual Valentine's day
5. Other "street food" type things unique to Miami (tacos? cuban sandwiches?)
6. Other places to catch a drink/cocktail on the beach/hang out in the evenings
We will have access to a car, but will be staying in the Brickell and South Beach areas - so hopefully something that is less than 30 mins away from each.
Thanks in advance.
1.) no recommendations as I dont eat Cuban food too often
2.) Area 31 is very good and in Brickell, River Oyster Bar also in Brickell area, Joe's (I've lived here 8+ years and have only got takeout but everyone raves about it). I think Red Light puts together some great seafood dishes as does Michael's Genuine. Sardinia also has a good number of seafood dishes that I like, especially the salt crust branzino. Francesco in Coral Gables does fantastic ceviche and peruvian-influenced dishes (grouper VSOP is one of my favorites). Jaguar in Coconut Grove also has tasty "new age" ceviches served on spoons and a few good seafood dishes and the Grove is a different part of Miami that you should check out if you can (5-10 mins south of Brickell)
3.) Depends on what you're looking for. I think the most unique experience you can have in Miami and one of the most unique experiences I've had anywhere is at NAOE in Sunny Isles which is about 20-30 minute drive from Brickell (I drive 30 mins from Coconut Grove and its worth every traffic laden second). Omekase menu only that starts with a 4 compartment bento box and soup and then goes to sushi in 2-piece "rounds" until you tap out. Contents in the bento box are inspiring and educational. Seafood is sourced from local marinas or flown in fresh from parts of the US (MA, OR, CA) and Japan. Sake from chef's family sake brewery in Japan is served and is delicious. That's about as unique as it gets.
4.) Michael's Genuine (if you like a classy but busy spot with arguably the best food in Miami), Talula (quiet atmosphere, fantastic food), Sardinia, Gibraltar (I haven't been yet but I used to go to Baleen and while the food was just OK there, the atmosphere is very romantic), Scarpetta @ Fontainebleau, Meat Market (again, if you want fantastic food in a sexy atmosphere that can get a tad busy). I guess Hakkasan too for the atmosphere although the "oonce, oonce, oonce" music doesnt really lend itself to romance...
5.) Gastropod is the best. Get the slider "dirty" and the Ol Dirty Dawg. Nuff said.
6.) I eat and drink at bars often and here are my favorites based on alcohol stock, drinks, food, and vibe... Michael's Genuine (best bar selection in Miami, especially if you like bourbon like me, great vibe, busy, great bar to sit at for drinks or dinner), Sra Martinez (great drinks and bartenders who are "mixologists" and can talk booze all night), Meat Market (sexy bar, good drinks, good vibe, great steaks, great scene), Hakkasan (sexy as hell, best restaurant design in Miami if you ask me and the bar is part of that, great drinks, ok vibe)
1 - higher end Cuban/Latin - Ola or De Rodriguez; Ortanique for "Nuevo Caribbean".
2 - seafood - Area 31, Altamar (not been myself but hear good things), Joe's Stone Crab. Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Red Light, Pacific Time also do well with local seafod though neither are "seafood" restaurants. If it's open by then, Fin, a new restaurant from Pacific Time chef Jonathan Eismann, will be focused on local seafood.
3 - unique - Michael's, Michy's, Red Light. Hiro's Yakko-San (Japanese izakaya - not entirely unique, but very good). Naoe (Japanese, entirely omakase [chef's choice] menu, fantastic food). Depending on where you're from, Hakkasan (upscale Chinese).
4 - romantic - hmm ... not my forte, apparently. Hakkasan is a very cool-looking dining room. I love the outdoor patio at Talula on South Beach, which also has excellent food. Casa Tua gets high points for atmosphere but less consistent reviews for the food (I've not been so no personal opinion).
5 - street food - just starting to catch on in Miami - check out gastroPodmiami and LatinBurger on twitter
6 - I think the bar at Sra. Martinez in the Design District has fantastic drinks, though it's tiny (6 seats); also great food there. Scotty's Landing in Coconut Grove is a great casual place to have a beer and gaze at the bay. I'm no longer so familiar with the South Beach bar scene.
Here are some ideas:
1. De Rodriguez Cuba on South Beach - new, upscale Cuban. Delicious mojitos.
2. Joe's Stone Crab (for, clearly, Stone Crabs), for other seafood, in Brickell, River Oyster Bar, for a more local casual spot, Garcia's on the River
3. Search the threads for local cuban spots, Joe's is a Miami experience
4. Hmm...maybe Gibraltar at the Grove Isle Hotel, the restaurant is newly opened (used to be Baleen), not sure if anyone has been yet, but supposedly it's gorgeous, tables right on the water, etc.
5. I don't know many of these places in Miami.....
6. Two of my favorite spots for drinks in Miami on the water are: Smith & Wollensky (the outdoor bar -- don't eat there) in South Pointe Park, and The Standard Hotel's waterside restaurant/bar on the Venetian Causeway