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Lively atmosphere, good looking people & decor, top food: still possible in South Beach?

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Good evening, my husband & I are going to Miami Dec 29 to Jan 1st. We are looking for quality dining yet trendy and lively atmosphere (with a bar maybe?). Currently we are looking at Casa Tua (we had terrible service there before, hoping to change it), Hakassan & Mr Chow... any suggestions? I have been to all these before and want something new and cool. Does SLS have any good restaurants to offer? Especially for New Year's eve and Sat Dec 29, we would like something happening... Thank you in advance!

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  1. I'm sure tpigeon....the Queen of SoBe will chime in here and follow that advice!....I'm a BIG Casa Tua fan....sorry to hear about the poor service).....If Frodnessor pops in he is also an incredibly credible source when it comes to dining in this area.....

    EMac
    Ft. Pierce, FL

    1 Reply
    1. re: LargeLife

      Being a guy, I think there would be many other people who want the Queen of SOBE title so, while I appreciate the accolade, I will pass.

    2. Bazaar at the SLS + Bar Centro outside completely fits the bill. Also the Dutch in the W.

      1. Thank you so much EMAC and Frodnesor!
        What do you think of Cecconi's for Saturday night?
        Casa Tua a better option or not?
        Dutch appears like a better option for dining during the day no?
        While on the subject, do you have any good & cool cuban options that would be good options for lunches? What is our best option in the Design District?
        And top sushi spots?
        Thank you for this valuable info!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Tanidup

          Cecconi's is very similar to Casa Tua - mostly outdoor patio seating, mostly a fairly traditional Italian menu - and they poached Casa Tua's chef, Sergio Sigala. I've only eaten at Cecconi's once, and Casa Tua not at all, Food was fine but didn't excite me.

          Dutch is good for lunch or dinner.

          Cuban depends on whether you want to stick with South Beach or not - if you're willing to roam, search this board for "best Cuban" and you'll find plenty of info.

          Design District best bet is MIchael's Genuine. Newly opened Oak Tavern is also nice, I've only tried once. In nearby Midtown there's also Sugarcane, Salumeria 104, and more casual at a lower price point, Sakaya Kitchen, Acme Bakery.

          Sushi also depends on whether you're talking South Beach or broader. On South Beach there's not much I can recommend. I haven't tried Katsuya yet and haven't been to Bond St. in ages but that would likely be where I start. Otherwise, if you're serious about sushi, do a 3-4 hour omakase feast at Naoe in Brickell Key. Or Makoto in Bal Harbour is very good.

          1. re: Frodnesor

            I would do dinner, not lunch at the Dutch. Lunch at the dutch is usually dead (which is why I go there a lot for lunch). Dinner is a good scene.

            What about the place that cannot be named?

            If I were the OP, I would skip Mr. Chow entirely and go to the Dutch instead. Hakkasan is sort of a scene but does not have the best people watching because it is closed off in cubes of 4 tables. The food there is very good and especially for dinner, very expensive but I would go there 10,000 times before chow.

            Bazaar is an excellent rec.

            I would consider Florida Cookery for lunch.

            1. re: tpigeon

              If you are choosing between Tua and Cecconi's, I would do Cecconi's if for no other reason you have not been. It has a good scene too, probably better than Tua as it is newer.

        2. The bazaar is the call. Has everything you want. Neither Tua or Cecconis are exciting. Had a few lackluster meals at Cecconis. Dutch also a great call. Lunch time people watching on outdoor patio of Dilido Beach is also good time. Food won't amaze you but is serviceable and great sangria. Sip some while you watch interesting people walk the beach boardwalk w/ ocean view. That or Spris on Lincoln Rd good for lunch & people watching.