Here are some of my favourite hangouts in the Miami. In no particular order…
- El Tucán
Dubbed the ‘Manhattan of the South’, Brickell – Miami’s financial district – was once an all-work-and-no-play kind of hood. Now, there’s a decent post-work scene, with new bars and restaurants popping up all the time, plus excellent hotels for those who prefer to stay in the heart of things.Founded by Michael Ridard and Mathieu Massa (who also own Bâoli in South Beach), El Tucán is a Parisian-Cuban-themed cabaret. Twice nightly shows entertain guests, and the Latin-inspired food and cocktails keep everyone in the the El Tucán, which comes in an ornamental brass receptacle, or splash out on a mega mojito for the table, which comes with as many straws as you dare to share. Word is that Will Smith was once spotted here once tearing up the dance floor. So, you know, dress to impress.
1111 SW 1st Ave, eltucanmiami.com.
- Little Havana
A short cab ride from EAST is the Cuban district of Little Havana. A hub of all things Latin American, the area is home to many Cuban exiles (Havana is just 90 miles from Miami), who have injected tons of their native culture here.Wander around Calle Ocho to check out the Walk of Fame on SW 8th Street (between SW 17th and SW 12th Avenues). Say hola to the old suntanned hombres playing dominos at Máximo Gómez Park, on the corner of SW 14th Avenue. Grab Cuban-flavoured ice-creams at Azucar, then stop in at Futurama gallery – home to many Cuban artists and Viernes Culturales, Little Havana’s popular gallery walk held on the last Friday night of the month. Then chill with some live music and a few Cuban cocktails at the famous Ball & Chain bar, which is a recreation of a venue that played host to Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Chet Baker back in the day. Que bueno!
If you like your nightlife served al fresco with plenty of hipster vibe, this is the place for you. Located under the interstate highway, within spitting distance of Little Havana, Sidebar has plenty of downtown Miami atmos. DJs and live bands play regularly so keep an eye on the events list.
337 SW 8th St, http://www.sidebarmiami.com.
Award-winning Elcielo is one of our favourite spots in Miami for fine dining. Run by Colombian chef Juan Manuel Barrientos, the food is imaginative, playful, and full of flavour. Book ahead to guarantee a table.
31 SE 5th St, http://www.elcielorestaurant.com.
- Blackbird Ordinary
For inventive, handcrafted cocktails such as the London Sparrow – a heady mix of gin, Aperol, passion fruit and cayenne – you can’t beat Blackbird Ordinary. It’s the sort of local joint we wish we had round the corner of our own homes. Though maybe for our livers it’s best not. Open 365 days a year until 5am. Now that is commitment.
729 SW 1st Ave. http://www.blackbirdordinary.com.
- Brickell City Centre Farmers’ Market
Every Friday and Saturday, close to the Metromover at 8th St, the farmers’ market occupies a little patch of land where local makers such as La Provence bakery and Pappardelle Pasta sell their wares. Check the Facebook page to see who will be there each week.
Between 7th St and 8th St, directly beneath the Metromover track.
- Cantina La Veinte
With a superb waterside setting, this upmarket cantina is a solid bet for excellent Mexican food. Ex-NOBU chef, Santiago Gomez, knows exactly how to create dishes for modern Miami customers – think delicate tuna ceviche and rib-eye Chicharrón. Happy hour runs from 5-7pm Monday to Friday. 495 Brickell Ave, www.cantinala20.com.
Just north of Downtown is the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) – a must-visit on any trip to Miami. As well as its permanent collection of 20th and 21st-century artwork, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions from international contemporary artists.After your visit, be sure to stop in at Verde – the museum’s modern-casual restaurant – which has outdoor seating, excellent pizza and wine, and sweeping views of the bay.
1103 Biscayne Blvd, pamm.org.
- Wynwood Walls
What used to be a fairly uneventful warehouse district is now a colourful outdoor gallery and trendy neighbourhood, full of murals, street art, shops and cafes. The urban landscape is a canvas for dozens of international artists, and spans the few blocks west of North Miami Ave and NW20th. While you’re here, make time for Panther Coffee, Zak the Baker and Wynwood Brewing Company for all-important refreshments.
- South Beach
No trip to Miami would be complete without a trip to South Beach. The sea is warm and turquoise blue, and there are bars aplenty in which to refresh and party. You can also take a walking tour of the Art Deco neighbourhood with the Preservation League. I heartily recommend this as the architecture is incredible, and the guide will explain the history behind it. Plus you get to peek inside the buildings.
Direct flights from London to Miami can be booked with Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Norwegian Air, American Airlines and Iberia.