It’s Time To EscapeThe Cold Of NYC & Flee To The Warm Weather & Blue Skies of Miami & South Beach

Several weeks ago, when the thermometer plunged below 20 and indoor dining was still being met with caution. New Yorkers as myself was wondering, “what the hell am I still doing here?”

On East 60th Street, patrons at the once buzzy Le Bilboquet were huddled in outdoor cubbies, wearing hats and scarves while nibbling on Cajun chicken and sipping Bordeaux. One block up, 10 tables at clubby La Goulue struggled to share four heaters while diners gripped bowls of onion soup for extra warmth.

But just a short flight away — in sunny South Beach and Miami, Fla., we have outlined some places for you to dine, stay and enjoy during your exodus from Manhattan. Although masks are required inside commercial establishments throughout the county, people are, of course, allowed to remove them while eating or drinking, and there are no specific spacing rules — so it’s not unusual to see bars full of closely packed mask-less patrons.

I must say that during my visit, I felt alive again. I could move here for the rest of this pandemic! That feeling of freedom goes beyond just restaurants, too. It was magical walking the beach or seeing crowds of day drinkers on Collins Avenue. It was a relief to be in Miami. It felt like I could finally breathe! Take a look below at some recommended hot spots, hotels and things to do in Miami should you want to escape the cold and restrictiveness of New York City.

Where to Dine

American Social Bar & Kitchen

American Social is characterized by its classic American comfort food, a wide selection of craft beers on draft, curated list of cocktails and wines. The restaurant has four locations including 721 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, FL; 690 S.W. First Court in Miami, FL; 601 S. Harbour Island Blvd. in Tampa, FL; and 7335 West Sand Lake Road in Orlando, FL.

Joia Beach

Joia Beach Restaurant & Beach Club is a vibrant day-to-night oasis located near downtown Miami in a hidden enclave on Watson Island. Serving as both a restaurant and a beach club, Joia Beach is the only private beachfront location in Miami where guests can dine with their toes in the sand and offers a European-inspired menu with freshly-sourced seasonal ingredients. Joia Beach’s menu is where classic techniques meet modern Miami influences.

On the weekends, Joia Beach offers a laid back lounge experience during the day and after sunset it transforms into a European-inspired open-air lounge. Joia Beach is open for lunch and dinner from 12:00 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, Saturday & Sunday; from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday for dinner; and is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

The restaurant seats by reservation only but the beach lounge accepts walk-ins on the weekends during the day (evening transitions to bottle service)

Bakan Wynwood

Located in the heart of Miami’s most creative neighborhood Wynwood, Bakan is a restaurant concept from famed Jaguar Hospitality Group and Grupo Gavall. The 6,972-square-foot indoor and outdoor restaurant transports guests to Mexico with its earthy, artsy and modern space, wide variety of authentic regional dishes, expansive mezcal and tequila offerings and handcrafted tortilla selection.

Every inch of the space conveys a fun, lively and warm environment to enjoy a true Mexican experience, from the open-view kitchen allowing guests to witness the art of handcrafted tortilla making to the four-tiered glass case filled with more than 500 mezcals and tequilas and more.

Amara at Paraiso

Described as Michael Schwartz’s love letter to Miami, Amara at Paraiso has dynamic energy, local ingredients, and natural beauty that defines why we live in Miami and why so many love to visit.

Inspired by its idyllic bayfront setting, Amara at Paraiso brings together bold Latin American flavors, coastal ingredients, and South Florida’s diversity of food culture to create the quintessential Miami waterfront restaurant from environment to cuisine and vibe. Experience the dynamic energy, local ingredients, and natural beauty of Biscayne Bay that defines what living in Miami is all about.

Peacock Garden

A secret garden and local staple that’s been part of the culinary scene for more than 10 years, Peacock Garden is the quintessential Coconut Grove restaurant featuring a stunning indoor/outdoor dining space and modern menu. Upon stepping foot in the restaurant, guests are surrounded by lush greenery, towering tree canopies, a giant oak tree and orchids in full bloom, for an experience as delicious and memorable as it is Instagrammable.

KYU

KYU — Since 2016, KYU has been a staple of Miami’s creative and eclectic Wynwood neighborhood. Considered one of the best restaurants in the United States, the wood-fired Asian inspired restaurant has received a number of accolades since its inception, including a James Beard Foundation semifinalist nod for Best New Restaurant in 2017, and TIME’s “Best Restaurant in Florida.” Newly appointed Executive Chef Raheem Sealey, formerly of Zuma and Pao and who has led the KYU kitchen for the last three years, helms all culinary aspects at KYU, remaining true to its original Japanese yakiniku wood-fired grilling methods.

Sushi Garage

In 2016, Sushi Garage took what was once an auto body shop and transformed it to an elegantly decorated, casual and charming high-end restaurant nestled in the Sunset Harbour neighborhood of Miami Beach. Owned by restaurateurs Jonas and Alexandra Millán, and Led by Chef Partner Sunny Oh and pastry chef Gregory Gourreau, Sushi Garage honors Japanese culinary philosophy by utilizing the freshest and finest ingredients, with bold and innovative takes on traditional classics.

The neighborhood staple continues to draw in visitors and locals alike for its impressive and approachable happy hour menu, its colorful origami koi fish dancing from the ceiling, and its flavorful number of hot and cold appetizers, entrees, and its unique and refreshing cocktails. Sushi Garage will continue to grow and expand this year with two new locations opening this spring in Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale and CocoWalk in Coconut Grove.

Pastificio Propaganda

Bringing the taste of Sicily to South Florida, Pastificio Propaganda brings authentic Italian comfort food to the heart of Wynwood. Guests can sample Propaganda’s extensive menu ranging from small antipasti plates, seafood, and a variety of fresh pizzas and pastas, as well as a selection of organic Italian wines.

Salvaje Miami

Internationally renowned Japanese fusion restaurant, Salvaje, has made its way to Midtown — a bustling area in the center of Miami known for its industrial-chic art galleries, cutting-edge contemporary skyscrapers, and world-class shopping.

With locations in Madrid, Barcelona, Marbella, Ibiza, Panamà, and Colombia, Salvaje’s first U.S. location opened January 22nd on the rooftop of Hyde Midtown Miami and offers a high-quality gastronomic experience where every ingredient and detail count.

Acclaimed Executive Chef Fermin Azkue helms the kitchen at Salvaje with elements of the highest quality that are used to exhilarate your palate including Octopus from Galicia, Spain, Alaskan King Salmon, Japanese Tuna, grade-A Japanese Wagyu, and more.

Salvaje’s vision has been, and will continue to be, to use the best quality ingredients found nationally and internationally when preparing their dishes. In addition to a seasonally changing sushi and omakase menu, some signature dishes include Grilled and Glazed Lamb Shank — lamb, teriyaki sauce, crispy wonton, brussel salsa Kimchi; Lobster Dumplings — lobster, lobster bisque base, crispy wonton, micro mint; and Wok Rice with Duck — truffle fried rice with roasted duck.

Juvia

Surrounded by Lincoln Road’s sizzling, cosmopolitan vibe and unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean and South Beach’s famed Art Deco District, the ambiance exudes understated luxury. Featuring a brand new dinner menu created by Chef Partner Sunny Oh and Pastry Chef Gregory Gourreau, the menu includes new, seasonal dishes as well as Juvia’s signature items.

Perl By Chef IP

Opened in December 2020, Perl By Chef IP is a pioneer restaurant in the heart of North Miami Beach, born from a desire to revive Miami’s fine-casual dining scene. The menu combines influences from Mediterranean and Japanese fare with owner and executive chef Isaac Perlman’s signature touch to create distinct dishes that elevate every-day cuisine.

Serving as one of Miami’s top private chef’s for nearly a decade, Perlman has made his homecoming at the flagship location of Perl offering a mix of flavorful appetizers, crudos, and entrees, paired with his distinct approach, meticulous technique, and unparalleled passion.

1 Beach Club at 1 Hotel South Beach

1 Beach Club, the bohemian inspired open-air venue of the hotel features Wave, a sea-to-table restaurant, and an outdoor beachfront club with a dedicated members’ only lounge. True to 1 Hotels’ nature-inspired, mission-driven brand, 1 Beach Club will infuse 1’s signature aesthetic of mindfulness and wellness throughout the outdoor retreat, with sustainable architecture and design at the core of the experience.

Pilo’s Tequila Garden

Located in Wynwood, Pilo’s Tequila Garden by restaurateur Derek Gonzalez is the newest location for authentic Mexican food, street tacos, late-night bites, interactive and visually stunning art pieces and an inclusive environment for the entire community to enjoy.

Opened last year, the 5,500-square-foot indoor/outdoor restaurant plans to embody the cultural essence of Mexico and will feature a large outdoor Tequila Garden that is set to become Miami’s ultimate gathering place with frequent special events, three full-service bars, bottle service, a DJ booth and an expansive mezcal and tequila list.

Pilo’s is a mission-based company striving to empower and hire individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities — referred to as “special abilities — and is proud to be one of the top employers of individuals with special abilities in South Florida and an advocate for shattering the national disability employment wage gap.

BurgerFi

After having nationwide success with the Spicy Fi’ed Chicken Sandwich, BurgerFi is launching a new type of sandwich war and this one has to do with burgers. The SWAG Burger (Spicy Wagyu Burger) will be added to BurgerFi menus nationwide for a limited time starting March 15, 2021 and ending May 9, 2021, challenging others to join in on the “Spicy Burger Wars.”

BurgerFi continues to dominate the better burger world and break the mold, especially with Chef Paul Griffin’s newest innovation. BurgerFi not only knows how to create specialty burgers, but their food is Martha Stewart approved.

Buya

Buya, which means small fire, comes from the former KYU founders who went onto create their own restaurant group, titled Scotch + Bacon. The Scotch + Bacon team partnered with friend and restauranteur, Michael Sponaugle to create BUYA a causal Japanese eatery which opened in fall of 2020.

The word “buya” means “small fire” — a nod to the one in the restaurant’s open kitchen, where dishes are grilled over binchotan charcoal. Buya is an izakaya concept which is a type of informal Japanese bar that serves alcoholic drinks and street food. Izakayas are causal places for after-work-socializing and have been compared to Irish pubs, tapas bars and saloons.

The menu focuses on flavorful shareable dishes including kushiyaki and yakitori dishes. The menu also includes bigger dishes like bowls and some “Super Rad” menu items like a tempura beech mushroom, pork belly buns and karagee chicken to name a few. The design of the restaurant is also very unique, it is adorned with tons of trinkets from numerous travels, a hand painted graffiti mural, and even has a hidden eatery/cocktail den. Guests can expect to see a Japanese soul food eatery mixed with a Wynwood vibe.

Ornos Estiatorio

Guests can escape to Greece with the award-winning MINA Group who introduces its first Greek concept to South Florida, Ornos Estiatorio. Bringing to life the sensory pleasures of a trip to the Greek Isles — delectable fresh fish, beloved Mediterranean specialties, and genuine Greek hospitality — in an approachable, friendly environment everyone can enjoy.

Led by award winning Chef Michael Mina and Las Vegas’ dynamic duo — Girair “Jerry” Goumroian and Chef Nikolaos Georgousis, the new 160-seat neighborhood restaurant includes a beautiful outdoor oasis and marks the first-of-its-kind restaurant opening in the area offering traditional, simplistic yet flavorful Greek cuisine.

Bringing a cultural, fun experience from the islands, Ornos Estiatorio is home to South Florida’s first Fish Sommelier (responsible for sourcing the freshest fish from them the Aegean Sea where the product will be delivered overnight, to finding hidden gems located within Florida’s local waters).

MILA

Located in the heart of South Beach, MILA Miami (250-seat rooftop restaurant) has become the NEW “IT” location in Miami with an energetic setting and new inventive, upscale “MediterrAsian” menu.

Transporting diners on a culinary journey throughout the shores of the Mediterranean and Japan, the restaurant was inspired by the co-owners’ — Gregory and Marine Galy — travels and experiences throughout the years. Living up to its mantra “joie de vivre” (in translation, “joy of living”), the chic Bohemian enclave restaurant embraces Miami’s unique vibrancy by pairing an elegant dining experience with a magical, glamorous nightlife.

The star-studded culinary team has attracted locals, international visitors, celebrities and an A-list crowd with menu favorites, including miyazaki wagyu, olive wagyu and ohmi wagyu all imported from Japan, as well as other signature staples such as black rock lava grilled prime filet, beef short rib ‘kalbi,’ foie gras & uni diver scallop, truffle rossejat, and more.

MR CHOW — Miami

Opened in August of 2009 in the “W” Hotel South Beach, MR CHOW’s international clientele have found its classics here along with new and creative recipes. The stunning dining room is centered by a unique 123 foot Gold-leaf and Swarovski crystal chandelier designed by Michael Chow. Located directly at the beach, the restaurant features indoor and outdoor private rooms, a spacious outside dining patio and interior bar and lounge.

The Executive Chef is Hing Fung Matt Chan. Native of Hong Kong, China, Chef Matt began his culinary career in 1992 with intensive training as an apprentice chef in “Pine and Bamboo Mansion” which is a well known Beijing Cuisine restaurant. Since then, Chef Matt led various fine dining establishments such as Peking Garden Restaurant, Shanghai Garden Restaurant and Sichuan Garden Restaurant.

Chef Matt has been a long-standing member of the MR CHOW team since his inception in 2009.MR CHOW’s menu is a combination of old authentic Beijing & Original Recipes. Chicken Satay, MR CHOW Noodles & Ma Mignon all were created by our passionate & skillful chefs. On the Menu is one of the best prepared Beijing Duck in the world.

Where to Stay

W Miami

W Miami is an urban oasis centrally located in MIami’s trendy Brickell District. The downtown hotel has 146 rooms, each boasting a private balcony with views of the city or the Miami River as well as floor-to-ceiling marble bathrooms with W-signature Bliss amenities. Like the vibrant neighborhood that surrounds it, W Miami creates the perfect getaway for guests to energize and explore the heart of the city.

W Miami is home to ADDiKT Modern Kitchen, the hotel’s signature restaurant located 15 floors above Brickell Avenue, that redefines New American cuisine. Whether it’s detoxing at the on-site spa, lounging on the WET Deck, an indoor/outdoor rooftop pool deck and lounge, or sipping on signature cocktails before exploring downtown Miami, W Miami offers the ultimate city experience.

The Altair Hotel Bay Harbor

Nestled on the prestigious island of Bay Harbour lies The Altair Hotel. Within walking distance of Bal Harbour Shops and the beaches of Bal Harbour, The Altair Hotel offers an intimate hotel experience with resort-like amenities including the rooftop pool and whirlpool with cabana style seating perfect for lounging during the day. Kayaks, paddleboards, bicycles and other amenities are offered to guests who are looking to explore the sunny area. Guests’ experiences can be enriched with offerings that cater to the Jewish community as well including Shabbos elevators, kosher dining options and more.

Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel

Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel is a recently renovated art deco boutique hotel located in the heart of South Beach’s Art Deco District on historic Collins Avenue. The property provides direct beach access in this fashionable destination and offers visitors a distinctively relaxed, yet worldly guest experience, within a “backyard bliss” design-driven environment.

The hotel’s Daylife team has a curated active program to keep guests entertained throughout the season with a mix of family friendly and fitness activities, but also include neighborhood activities based on guest demographics and interests. Current activities include yoga, guided meditation, aqua Zumba and salsa lessons. In addition to the complimentary activities on-property (we also have bikes on a first come first serve basis.

The Stiles Hotel

Ideally located on Miami’s famed Collins Avenue at 1120 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139, Stiles Hotel by Clevelander offers the best of both worlds: a peaceful, relaxed atmosphere, plus easy access to the non-stop energy of the city. The shimmering Atlantic Ocean is just a short stroll away, and many of Miami’s best-known attractions are right at your doorstep. Warm and inviting rooms and suites include complimentary Wi-Fi and pillowtop bedding; select suites showcase private terraces.

What to Do

Wynwood Walls

Wynwood Walls, the famed epicenter of the Wynwood Arts District known worldwide for its groundbreaking, ever-changing collection of curated art. Explore over 50 original murals by world-renowned artists. The latest Wynwood Walls murals feature an extraordinary roster of artists including Kayla Mahaffey, Bordalo, ADD FUEL, Mantra. Current solo show is by FAILE and the GGA Gallery is hosting the Artist Group Show. Both the 10 year retrospective show and eL Seed solo show presented by the GGA Gallery are also on view at the walls.

The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

Located in Downtown Miami’s Maurice A. Ferré Park, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is a leading-edge science museum dedicated to sharing the power of science, sparking wonder and investigation, and fueling innovation for the future. Sitting on four acres, the 250,000-square-foot museum divides into four distinct buildings: the Frost Planetarium, Aquarium, and the North and West Wings.

At Frost Science, visitors can explore the world of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in an experiential setting with interactive exhibitions and unique shows.

Miami Design Preservation League

This ninety-minute walking tour introduces the Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival, and Miami Modern (MiMo) styles found within the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District. Miami Design Preservation League is a non-profit organization devoted to preserving, protecting, and promoting the cultural, social, economic, environmental and architectural integrity of the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District.

Originally organized by Barbara Capitman and friends in 1976, it is the oldest Art Deco Society in the World. MDPL provides cultural and educational programs to Dade County residents, surrounding counties, citizens of Florida and to national and international visitors and tourists.

Their programs are developed for the general public and have special appeal to those interested in art, design, architecture, history, preservation, urban and community planning and development. Art Deco District Guided Walking Tours are conducted by local historians and architect and, introduce Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival and the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District. Ninety-minute walking tours of Ocean Drive and Beyond, depart from the Art Deco Welcome Center.

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Tony Bowles is one of the youngest sought out journalists in the media world. He focuses on lifestyle, travel, entertainment, food and more! Based out of NYC.

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Tony Bowles, Contributing Columnist

Tony Bowles, Contributing Columnist

Tony Bowles is one of the youngest sought out journalists in the media world. He focuses on lifestyle, travel, entertainment, food and more! Based out of NYC.

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