If you follow us on instagram, you might have already seen some of the pictures from our recent trip to Miami for Josh’s 40th birthday. Neither of us had ever stayed in Miami before but we’d heard enough great things about the food (and beaches) to convince us that South Beach Miami would serve as a great celebratory destination.
We stayed in a great Airbnb condo on Collins Avenue. It was right on the beach and so close to a variety of amazing bars and restaurants that we had on our list. We decided to keep this trip simple and stayed in the South Beach area to really get a feel for the culture. Because we enjoyed so much of what we ate and drank around South Beach, we wanted to share our restaurant recommendations for where to go should you ever find yourself hungry and thirsty in this vibrant neighborhood.
The first dinner we had in Miami was at The Dutch. It’s located in The W South Beach Hotel and was literally just next door to where we were staying. Because we had been traveling all day and were exhausted, we knew we wanted to eat somewhere that could help us jump right into vacation mode. And boy was this place the right choice.
We planned to grab a seat at the bar because we didn’t want to make a reservation that first night without knowing exactly how long it would take to travel from the airport and get settled at our place. Turns out that it wasn’t that busy because it was a Monday but we stuck with our original bar plan in order to watch the cocktail process and just take our time.
The Dutch has a reputation for having a great raw bar, so naturally we started with oysters and champagne. We asked the bartender to just pick a variety of oysters for us to try and they were all superb. Served with a house-made hot sauce that was killer. No complaints at all.
Watching the cocktails coming out of the bar certainly convinced us (like we needed it) to order cocktails for the next round. I had a refreshing cocktail called “Pineapple Baby” with blanco tequila, pineapple juice, strega, lemon and cilantro. Best part of all–it was served in this awesome pineapple glass. If that doesn’t say vacation, I really don’t know what does. Josh ordered a “Blackberry Bramble” that was gorgeously fresh and tasty.
But the best was yet to come. The main courses blew us away. Josh ordered the Red Snapper dish that was served with a warm farro salad, heirloom tomatoes and clams. A most beautiful presentation that was thankfully captured on camera before we made that food disappear in record time. It was just that good. The fish was flaky and the flavor combinations were just brilliant. I ordered the Mahi served over grits, roasted corn and black beans with a salsa verde. Sounds kind of simple, but the impact was huge. Big props to the chef and bar crew who are making this place a stand out restaurant!
Regent Cocktail Club
This hidden gem is located deep inside the Gale Hotel on Collins Avenue. If you come in through the hotel, you wind around the halls until you get to the back of the hotel and go through a curtain into this romantic and cozy room. We later realized that there is an entrance that takes you directly into the club from 17th street, but then you don’t get to walk through that mysterious curtain. And that’s not nearly as fun, is it?
We sat at the bar because these bartenders are worth studying. They take their jobs very seriously, which is why their cocktails are so well done. They dress the part and really put on a great show. I especially appreciated the assortment of vintage glasses and bar tools that decorate the bar. I wanted everything I saw from the serving trays to the crystal bowls full of citrus fruits. This is definitely a place for cocktail enthusiasts to come and be impressed.
They have a daily cocktail menu that has a range of drinks that include classic cocktails as well as new variations. We tried a “Brooklyn” which is similar to a Manhattan with dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth and the addition of maraschino liqueur. It was dangerously smooth and delicious. We also seriously enjoyed a “Pink Lady”. A super fun drink to watch being made since it requires a lot of vigorous shaking to make sure that egg white is incorporated. It was served in a very non-traditional glass that the bartender shared he had just picked up at an antique store earlier that day. Just so happened that it was covered in the letter K, which made me feel like fate had brought me there to have that drink that night. That’s got to be it, right?
The Broken Shaker
If you are looking for a seriously chill and casual place to drink but still want to be impressed by the cocktail menu, you must go to The Broken Shaker. This small bar is nestled in the Freehand Hotel and Hostel and brings with it an awesome communal vibe. The bar is near the hotel pool so you can grab a drink and join the vibrant patio with comfy sitting areas and adorable decorative lights. We went here on Josh’s actual birthday for a drink before dinner.
Josh had a gin based cocktail called “Dutch Kills” that incorporated wonderful anise and fennel flavors with the fresh citrus and pineapple juices. It was a great first drink because it was refreshing but still complex and interesting. I ordered the girly looking “Voncey Cooler” which got it’s pink color from the raspberries. But get this, in addition to rum and lemon juice, this drink also had artichoke cordial and dill. I couldn’t believe how well these flavors combined in this drink and how impressed I was with this bar. I love being surprised with new flavor combinations! Thanks to the awesome crew at The Broken Shaker for helping our birthday evening celebrations get off to such a great start.
So after drinks at The Broken Shaker, we walked next door to the 27 Restaurant. It’s also part of the Freehand Hotel and Hostel but was added to the family much more recently, just in November of 2014. The restaurant is located inside a renovated historic house that really drives home the hand-crafted, locally-grown, communal vibe. We got there a few minutes before our reservation which allowed us time to go to the upstairs bar and enjoy drinks in one of their eclectic and intimate sitting rooms. A ton of mixed-matched couches and chairs with inviting pillows and even board games sitting around. I had one of my favorite drinks of the entire trip from this bar. It was called “Up in Smoke” and was a rye based drink with smoked strawberries, amaro and a candied orange slice for garnish. Gorgeous and so unique. I would highly recommend if you love a boozy drink but want something to switch things up a bit.
Of course I mentioned it was Josh’s birthday when I made the reservation, so they sat us at a great corner table in one of the side rooms. Again, the feel is so charming because it’s an old house that doesn’t seem to have been changed from it’s original floor plan–the result is a ton of great rooms that allow for a more romantic atmosphere rather than one large, boring room.
The menu is designed for sharing, which works perfectly for us since we both HAVE to try what the other is eating or else we might just die. We ordered several small plates to start including latkes with picked apple-relish and a pork shoulder with a super spicy slaw. Both were incredible! For our main course we had the arepa platter. Arepas are a traditional Venezuelan flatbread made with maize dough. I had never tried arepas before, so having these house made arepas stuffed with ropa vieja and queso de mano seriously spoiled me. I was so full but couldn’t stop eating them. Which was too bad because they brought a birthday cobbler with ice cream to the table that I only had room for one bite of! Thankfully we were in walking distance of our condo, so we were able to walk off some of our full bellies and talk about all the amazing things we consumed that night.
There were several other wonderful restaurants we enjoyed while visiting South Beach, including Beachcraft in the 1 Hotel right next door to our condo. We just thought we’d start with these highlights. If you have more recommendations please leave them in the comments. We sure hope to go back soon!