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Seasons change and new and exciting openings pop up in cities across the country. I asked Lifestyle Editor Shayne Benowitz to tell us what’s new in Miami.
Fall is perhaps the most relaxing time to make a visit to Miami. It’s the calm before the storm of “season” and crowds (as well as hotel room rates) are at their lowest, plus the sweltering humidity of summer starts to give way to, well, slightly less sweltering temperatures (read: highs are still in the 80s).
There’s also plenty to explore by way of new restaurants, bars, hotels, art exhibits and more. Here are 10 new things to see and do in Miami if you make a visit this fall.
1. Hilton Cabana & L’echon Brasserie
While there are many hot hotel openings on the horizon in Miami’s mid-beach slated for Fall/Winter 2014 and early 2015 (Edition, Thompson South Beach, 1 Hotel & Homes, Faena), the best laid plans in Miami’s hotel scene often get delayed. For points collectors in general, and Hilton HHonors members in particular, the 231-room oceanfront Hilton Cabana Miami Beach is newly open and taking reservations. With two pools, modern guest rooms designed with the beachgoer in mind and a dining concept by Pubbelly Group (responsible for Miami mega hits Pubbelly, Pubbelly Sushi, Barceloneta and more), it’s more than your average Hilton. At L’echon Brasserie executive chef Jose Mendin presents a modern and truly creative take on classic French fare with a distinctly Miami twist. The result is absolutely craveworthy dishes, like the soupe d’oignan gratinee, suckling pig with summer squash remoulade and a mustard sherry jus, or simply the L’Echon burger. Save room for the decadent chocolate croissant bread pudding for dessert. The property is a Hilton HHonors category 9 and is offering 1,000 bonus points per night through December 19, 2014. Free nights start at 50,000 HHonors Points.
2. Vintro Hotel & Kitchen
For a boutique hotel experience and the intersection of hospitality and art, consider a stay at the newly opened Vintro Hotel & Kitchen, tucked away in desirable Collins Park in South Beach (right near the W, but not on the beach). With guestrooms and common areas curated like a contemporary art gallery, all of the art is for sale and listed in an in-room catalogue. The rooms are spacious and decidedly sexy with peek-a-boo showers and plush white beds. While the hotel is intimate at 50 rooms, the smartly conceived public spaces beg to be lingered in and make the hotel feel larger than it is. Have a drink in the lobby’s Scorpion Bar, linger in the adjacent library or enjoy a meal at the restaurant overlooking the Collins Canal. TPG just went last week and raved about the octopus, tuna tartare with egg and mushroom risotto are must tries. The rooftop, with a plunge pool and rainbow-colored hammocks, makes for an excellent spot to watch the sky change color at dusk.
3. Drunken Dragon
The hottest new restaurant in South Beach is located far from the typical glitz and glam of the trendy hotels and clubs of Collins Avenue. You’ll find Drunken Dragon in a derelict strip mall on construction-laden Alton Road behind blacked out windows and a glowing sign that reads “Market,” flanked by Dominoes Pizza and Subway. Once you set foot inside, though, it’s an entirely different story. The bustling restaurant is awash in a subtle golden glow with an intricate Douglas fir wood bar and heavy ropes for décor. The Korean barbecue joint features select tables with built-in grills for DIY bulgogi (request one when you make a reservation), as well as modern Asian small plates by executive chef Xavier Torres and boozy, tiki-style cocktails by local mixologist Gui Jaroschy. If you’re there with a group, a good ordering strategy is one of everything, but not to miss items include the tuna tataki pizza, peking bao duck and the tenderloin and octopus for the grill.
4. James McNabb and Nick Gentry at Robert Fontaine Gallery (Wynwood Arts District)
It’s safe to say that Miami has one of the most exciting contemporary art scenes in the country and it can be found in the Wynwood Arts District, a neighborhood swirling in mural art with over 70 galleries, as well as hip bars and restaurants. Start at one of its top galleries, Robert Fontaine Gallery, showcasing a range of emerging, mid-career and master artists from the origins of Pop Art to today’s cutting edge international street artists. This fall, he presents two solo shows by two very different artists. Come out October 11 to 31 for Philadelphia-based artist, designer and craftsman James McNabb. Most famous for his “City Series” featuring complex, geometric urban landscapes derived from scrap wood representing a woodworker’s journey from the suburbs to the city. From November 8 to 14, the gallery’s marquee artist, London-based Nick Gentry will be back with new works created with obsolete pieces of technology, such as floppy discs and film negatives. The result is a hauntingly realistic portrait that’s not quite human. This method is meant to tell a collective story of the data and information stored on the technology manifested as a traditional portrait. If you’re in town on the second Saturday of the month, come to Wynwood in the evening for Art Walk and the opening parties of both shows.
5. Mignonette (Edgewater Neighborhood)
The brainchild of chef/owner Daniel Serfer, who brought crave-worthy comfort food to Miami’s Upper East Side with the laidback Blue Collar, Mignonette is his take on classic oyster bar fare just north of downtown on NE 2nd Ave. With a rotating selection of fresh oysters (as well as a Rockefeller preparation baked with Pernod), seafood towers, shellfish and caviar-galore, the menu also offers prime rib, chicken “Thanksgiving” and a variety of seafood entrees. The lunch menu features a selection of sandwiches including a lobster roll and fried conch po’ boy. Order a bottle of Champagne or rosé from the excellent wine list, and you’re all set. TPG went last week as well and couldn’t say enough good things about the monkfish and fish roe entree!
6. Better Days (Brickell)
The pop-up bar phenomenon has found its way to Brickell with Better Days, tucked away through a vintage shop on the first floor of the 500 Brickell Building with a kooky dead flamingo logo. The eclectic digs feature wood-paneled walls, a kitschy mish-mash of furniture, oriental rugs, TVs and a pool table, as well as an outdoor space, creating something of a friendly hipster hideaway. The bar serves a menu of craft cocktails and beers with special attention to Mexican libations, like the Paloma (made with tequila, grapefruit juice, soda and lime) and Micheladas (cerveza with a hit of lime, spice and peppers). Swing by for post-work cocktails or as one last stop on a night out, as the bar stays open until 5 a.m.
7. Beatriz Milhazes retrospective at Pérez Art Museum Miami (Downtown)
The Pérez Art Museum Miami opened just in time for Art Basel last year, forever shifting the landscape of downtown and the city’s art scene. As it makes its way towards its first anniversary, there are a number of new exhibits not to be missed. The structure, itself, is something to marvel with minimalist lines, hanging gardens, a giant portico and picture windows overlooking Biscayne Bay. Opening Friday September 19, Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes (born 1960) will have her first major U.S. retrospective with “Jardim Botânico.” Her unique and colorful acrylic painting style mimics collage, graffiti and applique. While at the museum, take a break at the cafe Verde for new menu items, like snapper tiradito with citrus and aji amarillo or saffron spaghettini with tomato and parmesan butter. The museum, with its permanent collection and various rotating exhibits, is a manageable size to conquer in an afternoon visit without fatigue.
8. INTERMIX Lincoln Road
South Beach’s Lincoln Road is still ground zero for shopping, idle strolling and people watching, and there’s a new fashion boutique along its pedestrian promenade. While the uspscale, multi-brand women’s apparel shop, INTERMIX isn’t exactly new to Miami Beach (there’s locations in Bal Harbour Shops and on Collins Avenue in South Beach), it’s new to this highly-trafficked, locals friendly shopping stretch. Featuring brands like Rag & Bone, Chloe, Missoni and Valentino, you can shop a new look from head to toe for your stay to Miami.
9. Ball & Chain (Little Havana)
Nightlife in Little Havana is seeing a resurgence with the reopening of the historic Ball & Chain bar and lounge on Calle Ocho. The long shuttered site was once a venue for jazz greats like Billie Holiday and Chet Baker in the 1930s and ‘40s. Now, Ball & Chain is back, thanks to a trio of local entrepreneurs committed to neighborhood preservation. The new venue hopes to emulate its predecessor with today’s tipplers in mind, featuring live music and expertly mixed classic Cuban cocktails created by veteran mixologists Julio Cabrera and Danny Valdez.
10. Hydrafacials and Surfset Workouts at The Spa at The Viceroy (Downtown)
If it’s a little rest, relaxation and rejuvenation you need during your stay in the Magic City, look no further than the 28,000 square-foot Philippe Starck-designed Spa at The Viceroy downtown. Their new Hydrafacial MD machine delivers medical grade facials with a wand (similar to microdermabrasion) that works in a sucking and cleansing fashion for lymphatic drainage, detoxification, exfoliation and extractions. Before your treatment, get an endorphin rush from their new Surfset group fitness class utilizing surfboard-like machines for instability training focusing on the core. After all that, it’s time to hit the hotel pool, the longest in the city, to soak up Miami’s fall sunshine and magnificent views of Biscayne Bay.
What are you looking forward to checking out in Miami this fall?
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