Best Bar- South Beach- The Broken Shaker
The Broken Shaker, the casual yet stylish bar at the quaint Freehand Hotel, is a bohemian speakeasy with a refined cocktail program at an accessible price point. It’s one of the quaintest, liveliest bars this side of Paris, which serves up the most delicious drinks, made from the freshest and most authentic ingredients you’ll find anywhere with such attention to detail that even the ice is precisely cut to match each cocktail. Oh, and the best part? Each drink and the delicious light bites won’t empty your wallet.
The Broken Shaker is a collaborative effort between the Sydell Group’s Roy Alpert, formerly a consultant for the One Group and Ian Schrager’s Edition Brand, and Elad Svi and Gabriel Orta of the Bar Lab, who brought you masterfully created cocktails at the W South Beach Hotel’s Living Room. The trio physically created the Broken Shaker with their bare hands, designing and building the bar at back of the hotel. Alpert told the 411, “Our vision was to create a local destination where people could converse, enjoy great food and drink, play games, and hang out in a laid back unpretentious setting.” Yet despite its casual door policy, the Broken Shaker attracts plenty of pretty people in the know, who gather to enjoy the eclectic ambience and music.
Best Lounge/Club South Beach- Rec Room
South Beach hotspot, Rec Room, at the sleek and stylish, Gale Hotel opened its doors earlier this year, to the delight of locals, New Yorkers and the international jet set. LDV Hospitality’s owners John Meadow and Curt Huegel, officially unveiled the cozy yet chic subterranean lounge, the Miami sister of the VIP upstairs lounge at New York’s, den-for-the-fabulous, No. 8, in January 2013. LDV Managing Partner and Miami nightlife veteran Joshua Wagner’s attention to service and quality keeps the lounge filled to the rafters Thursday-Saturday nights, with pretty young things and brilliant/entertaining not-so-young ones. Rec Room boasts an exclusive underground vibe and music that keeps guests tearing up the dance floor until the sun comes up. Rec Room’s success comes as no surprise, as the lounge is the result of the collaborative efforts of LDV Brand Partner, Amy Sacco, lauded as “Nightlife Empress” by the New York Times, well known for NYC’s famed Bungalow 8 (THE place to be a few years ago); LDV Co-founders and Principals, Meadow and Huegel, whose impressive roster of food and beverage outlets include some of the most critically acclaimed restaurants, bars, and lounges in the United States, and nightlife impresario, Bobby Rossi, who heads up LDV’s nightlife division.
The Miami Beach outpost transports guests back to a time where nightlife was about good friends and great drinks in an atmosphere where everyone’s a VIP. Rec Room is designed to resemble a friend’s intimate 1970’s basement, complete with wood paneling, accentuated by weathered palm tree prints; refurbished stereos and over 3,000 vinyl records which all add to the nostalgic atmosphere of the stylish yet understated lounge.
“We at LDV are extremely excited to provide a product that will complement the world renowned nightlife that South Beach offers. We will take our product seriously but not ourselves too seriously. With friendly, attentive service and an affordable product, the locals will have a place to call home, and anyone visiting our great city will be able experience a nightlife destination where they can taste the local flavor. At Rec Room, one should expect the unexpected,” says Wagner.
What does this mean? No lofty cover charge or door drama, quality cocktails and entertainment at an approachable price, a wide variety of fun dance music and surprise front-row performances by top musical acts.
Best Lounge/Club Wynwood- Cafeina
Ultra-hip, trendy hotspot, Cafeina, named for its caffeine-infused liquors and specialty cocktails, is a favorite hang-out for artists, hipsters, locals and those who love them. Located deep in the heart of Wynwood, this stylish boîte features low lighting, oversized lamps and comfy couches throughout two stories, an expansive garden and an art gallery. Cafeina is a must during Wynwood’s monthly art walk and hosts fun, special themed nights every week. We can’t recall a time over the past three years when we haven’t had the time of our lives at the chic, original Wynwood lounge.
Owner and founder Ivette Naranjo, recently unveiled The Mezzanine, a gorgeous second floor lounge transformed by interior designer Todd Corder. The new space is reminiscent of a 1920?s speak-easy- complete with one-off antique furnishings and also boasts a newly constructed private bar. The Mezzanine holds up to 50 guests, making it ideal for special events and group gatherings. “I wanted to honor our pioneering spirit by re-inventing ourselves yet again,” says Naranjo, who first opened Cafeina’s oversized steel doors during Art Basel Miami Beach 2009, making it the first official lounge in the burgeoning district to carry a full liquor license. “It’s been an amazing ride these past few years and I look forward to being part of the Arts District’s emergence as a fixture in Miami’s cultural landscape.”
Best Restaurant for Celeb Sightings- Zuma
Celeb hotspot, Zuma, boasts an internationally acclaimed style of modern Japanese cuisine with a “WOW” factor that’s been gaining international attention since its opening. The brainchild of German chef Rainer Becker, Zuma offers sophisticated Japanese cuisine in an informal Japanese dining style called Izakaya. Becker honed his skills and developed the concept behind Zuma during his six year tenure in Tokyo, before launching the first Zuma restaurant in London’s Knightsbridge. Such was the enormous success of the restaurant with London’s international clientele, that demand supported the development of additional Zuma restaurants across the globe. Since then, Becker has opened Zuma restaurants in Hong Kong, Istanbul and Dubai before bringing it to Miami.
Zuma Miami’s success results mainly from its perfect dishes, which are served in a sleek, stylish and spacious setting. The menu is categorized to satisfy the pickiest palate, and the servers are well-versed when interpreting the chef’s specialties. The best thing on the menu, by far is the marinated black cod wrapped in a hoba leaf. Even those, who, like us, are NOT fish fans are sure to find the cod, to quote SNL’s iconic, Linda Richman to be “Like Buttah!’” “Discuss!” Other favorites include: Gyu no tataki or seared beef with soy, ginger, lime and coriander; Gyuhire sumbiyaki karami sauce zuke or spicy beef tenderloin with sesame, red chilli and sweet soy; and the sushi, which is outstanding. The desserts at Zuma seem to have been inspired by the name of the building, as they are “epic.” On any given night, expect to rub elbows with A-list celebs and super star athletes, who count Zuma among the top places to dine in Miami.
Runner up: The Forge Restaurant/Wine Bar
Cecconi’s Miami Beach, the stunning outdoor garden restaurant (with a retractable roof) in the posh and private Soho Beach House serves a fun and delicious Sunday brunch prepared by Executive Chef Sergio Sigala, who uses only the freshest ingredients. Cecconi’s brunch includes delectable items like eggs any style or omelets, made to order with bacon, avocado and additional accompaniments; a Sweets Station, waffles and ricotta pancakes, pastries and fresh-baked croissants, and homemade torta; Raw Bar: oysters, salmon tartar, shrimp and fish salad; Carving Station: complete with roasted beef and pork, quinoa salad, meatballs and macaroni and cheese; and a traditional Cold Cuts spread. There’s live music playing during brunch and a great crowd with whom to swap stories of the previous night’s adventures. The brunch is priced at $45 per person; for reservations, call 786.507.7902, www.cecconismiamibeach.com.
Best Weekend Brunch (Saturday and Sunday)- Zuma
Zuma more like the most delicious all-you-can-eat decadent dinner in the middle of the day, than a typical brunch, offers three overflowing, artfully prepared buffets with the most delectable, Asian-inspired Robata grill delights and sushi bar, arranged on countertops which overlook the open kitchen. The sushi bar includes some of the freshest and most delicious portions this side of Tokyo, the ribs are a “don’t miss” and the salad selections are outstanding. While you enjoy the buffet, you can watch the chef prepare your main menu selection – a chicken, fish or beef entrée. Through it all, the attentive wait staff will guide you through the buffet items and keep you hydrated with bottomless champagne or signature cocktails.
Best Steakhouse- South Beach- Red, The Steakhouse
Red, The Steakhouse stands strong as THE place to get a perfect steak cooked to perfection. Red is all about the food, not that the excellent service and wine selection (over 500 varieties) are anything to scoff at. If you want a perfect steak, go to Red, period. Tucked away in the South of Fifth neighborhood, Red exudes owner, Brad Friedlander’s zeal for perfection in the kitchen, which is exceeded only by his intense passion to please his guests. “We’re passionate about what we serve. We are consistently dreaming up ways to exceed our guests’ expectations and thrilled to bring our unique style to an exciting and vibrant city like Miami.” That “style” includes a décor that is anything but stuffy, right down its polished wood floors, red banquettes, black bar, white brick walls and glass-enclosed private dining room. There’s also a rooftop area perfect for watching fireworks on July 4 and New Year’s Eve and throwing a bash or two. True to its Cleveland roots, Red features Certified Angus Beef® brand Prime, the highest quality meat available, on and off the bone, but there’s something on the menu created by Executive Chef and partner, Peter Vauthy, to please just about any palate- our favorites (aside from the New York Strip, of course) include: Brad’s hot stuffed peppers, jumbo garlic butter shrimp, Alaskan king crab which comes hot and shelled, and sides such as parmesan tater tots, spicy green beans and garlic truffle mash. There are pastas, too, but seriously, stick to the sizzling steaks, which are prepared with oil, kosher salt, and black Tellicherry peppercorns. Angioplasty, please!
Best Steakhouse Brickell- Edge, Steak and Bar
Edge, Steak and Bar, at the Four Seasons Miami, is Brickell’s hottest steakhouse, featuring the freshest seafood, paired with delectable sauces and steaks cooked to perfection. Chefs Aaron Brooks and James King’s dinner menu showcases expertly prepared Creekstone Farm meats charbroiled at 1800 degrees in an infrared grill after being rubbed down with Edge’s signature “Cutting Edge Rub”. Tantalizing seafood fresh from local waters and sides made with the best farm-fresh ingredients round out the dinner menu. Don’t miss the basil crusted corvina, the lobster corn chowder or the bone-in Tomahawk steak- worthy of Fred Flintstone. Diners can enjoy the expansive dining room, sit at the stylish bar or lounge in the gorgeous outdoor terrace, overlooking Miami. The terrace provides a convivial gathering place to enjoy Edge’s cuisine and hand-crafted cocktails, while overlooking the stunning views of glistening Biscayne Bay and the hotel’s two-acre pool deck. Just as it did with Edge’s chic, modern interiors, James Beard Award-winning design firm, AvroKo created an outdoor “living room” that provides guests with a casual, yet intimate, retreat and varied seating options.
Best Burger South Miami- Rok:Brgr
Rok:Brgr located in the heart of South Miami, a much-needed gourmet burger joint and gastro pub with Chicago-style brick walls, dark wood accents and huge outdoor patio complete with built-in bars and leather banquets welcomes guests to settle in for a drink, a date or late night bite.
Merging their knowledge and experience in the hospitality industry, Marc Falsetto, Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Mughabghab and Charles Hazlett created Rok:Brgr, along with Chef Robyn Martinez, whose menus include Certified Angus Beef burgers and hand-cut French fries. Martinez has worked in several of South Florida’s top restaurants, including China Grill, Shula’s and Falsetto’s own Primo’s Italian Restaurant (Primo’s meatballs on Rok:Brgr’s menu — get them!). There’s a wide range of choices, including create-your-own options with a variety of toppings to choose from — all reasonably priced. Burgers include “The King James” burger: American Kobe, topped with red onion marmalade, creamy brie cheese and pork belly confit with a truffle aioli. The award-winning Prime Burger, which is topped with pecan-smoked bacon, is a must. Be sure to order the lobster mini-corn dogs and good ol’ truffle mac as starters. The truffle and sweet potato fries are among the best in town. The Cuban burger is topped with Ropa Vieja that could rival any Cuban grandmother’s.
Rok:Brgr’s brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays features all your favorite comfort foods. The restaurant also has also a full liquor bar that serves hand-muddled cocktails, martinis, 60 craft beers and 40 bourbons. You must try their signature drink: bacon-infused bourbon made in house with Canadian maple syrup and orange bitters.
Runner-up: Shake Shack (South Beach and South Miami)
Best Burger North Miami- BurgerFi Aventura
BurgerFi picks up where the other “better burger” (read “pricier) joints leave off. First, BurgerFi focuses on all-natural, grass-fed Angus beef- that tastes better, and is better for you- with no chemicals, and no additives. The flavor and tenderness that we’ve come to expect in a fine steak, is prevalent in BurgerFi’s burgers, which are made fresh daily. Also, where others limit their menu to just the basic, no-frills options, BurgerFi has built a menu with specialty items like Kobe beef hot dogs, gourmet toppings, delectable desserts, craft beer & wine, and an overall focus on a healthier menu selection.
More than just great food, dining at BurgerFi is a unique experience- one you can feel good about. Each BurgerFi store is built according to environmentally sustainable best practices, and includes earth-friendly elements, like chairs that are made from recycled Coke bottles, tables made out of compressed recycled wood, and large fans that use 66% less electricity. BurgerFi maintains a low carbon footprint, and maintains strict recycling programs for oil, cardboard, bottles and cans.
Don’t miss the cheeseburgers, the Chicken Apple Dog, the fries that are to die for and be sure to get some onion rings. The veggie burger, is hands down the best in town. Be sure to save room for a delicious shake!
Best New Local Restaurant- The Local House
The Local House, the intimate, chic Hamptons-style oasis on the first floor of the Sense Beach House is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Known for its fresh, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, the restaurant serves tasty dishes all day, in a relaxed setting. Our favorites include: the best Grouper Sandwich around, top-notch crab cakes, the Crab Benedict, Goat Cheese Croquettes, Fresh Oysters, and a sensational seared scallop dish with one-of-a-kind cous cous that will keep you coming back to the Local House for more!