A Men’s Guide to Exploring Miami’s Best Spots
First impressions are powerful. A few days and late nights in South Beach reveal there’s more to this sun-drenched paradise than meets the eye.
Heading from Miami International Airport to South Beach, the route east along the Macarthur Causeway breaks away from the mainland and life’s burdens. Rolling ocean waves, sunshine, and white sand beaches beckon. South Beach, a neighborhood located on the lower end of the island and coastal resort city of Miami Beach, is a leisure-rich destination perfect for a guy’s weekend getaway.
First, drop gear and luggage at The Gates Hotel South Beach, a former Aloft Hotel equipped with a tempting pool and bar/lounge. Other lodging options range from extravagant (1 Hotel, The W) to boutique (Impala, Vintro) to Art Deco (The Marlin, Hotel Chelsea).
Construction in downtown Miami Beach slightly mars the idyllic scene. The resort city is under perpetual development to remake and update itself. Walking is a fit way to observe layers of old and new development built on the bones of the city. Uber and Lyft operators also provide convenient transportation.
Española Way, a pedestrian-friendly European streetscape with Spanish colonial architecture, is home to lively bars and cafes. Havana 1957’s decor and traditional Cuban cuisine evoke the spirit of 1950s Havana. Beware, suave servers will recommend premium Cuba Libres, mojitos, and expensive dishes. A mid-day cerveza such as Hatuey Cuban-style Ale, a once prominent Cuban beer brand now brewed by Bacardi in Florida, is a more sustainable option.
The Cubano sandwich is a solid choice. Ask about the daily special, such as boliche asado. Tender eye of round beef is topped with carrot and chorizo sausage. Served with natural gravy, moro rice, and sweet plantains, it’s a hearty comfort food dish.
Next door, visit Rosemary and her son, Vinnie, the owner of Española Cigar, to peruse the shop’s selection. During the day or cooler evening, customers may smoke a cigar, use a hookah, sip on wine in the outdoor lounge, and watch people stroll along Española Way.
Lincoln Road Mall, a nearby outdoor plaza, combines blocks of retail shops and boutiques, restaurants, bars, and street entertainment. At Goorin Bros. Hat Shop, pick up a stylish lid to protect your dome from the sun. Acquire a sleek shirt, jacket, or shoes at John Varvatos, a designer menswear store, for a night on the town. For summer reading, duck into independent bookstore Books & Books.
Dining and drinking along Lincoln Road run the gamut. Irish pub Finnegan’s Road, Hofbräu Beerhall, Groovy’s Pizza, Shake Shack, and MOLTO Pizza + Booze demonstrate the variety available.
CVI.CHE 105, a Peruvian restaurant that specializes in ceviche and traditional cuisine, is a must for seafood fans. Causa, a dish served cold as a starter, is made from a seasoned mashed potato terrine. The terrine is stuffed with a choice of ingredients – crabmeat and avocado, shrimp and red pepper, or chicken salad – and topped with yellow cream sauce, black olive, and boiled egg. Tetra de ceviches, a platter of four ceviches, is built for sharing with a group. However, the extensive menu offers many other fish and non-seafood dishes to suit tastes. Savor a sip of Cesar Vallejo, a cocktail named after a Peruvian poet, made with Pisco 105, St. Germain, cucumbers, mint, lime, sugar, and club soda, or opt for Cristal, a crisp Peruvian lager.
SushiSamba, a sushi/Latin American hybrid, has a sexy, fun interior while offering casual al fresco patio dining. Nigiri portions are skimpy, but the sushi rolls are filling. Samba rolls marry the flavors of Japan, Brazil, and Peru. Anticucho is a light Peruvian dish of grilled, skewered chicken, ribeye, black cod, eggplant, or octopus with sauce.
Elsewhere, seek Taquiza’s can’t-miss street tacos, the beach-party-meets-dance-club vibe of Campton Yard, Miami’s oldest bar and locals’ hangout Mac’s Club Deuce, Lost Weekend’s bar, pizza, and games, and dive bar Ted’s Hideaway. The chic-casual rooftop bar and lounge at 1 Hotel overlooks the expansive ocean and beach. Tip: Visit early evening to avoid being shut out during the more exclusive late-night scene. Luxury hotel W South Beach features a swank bar and lush outdoor patio/garden for evening cocktails.
Of course, the lure of the ocean and shapely bodies along South Beach speaks for itself. Slather on the sunscreen, rest on a chaise lounge under an umbrella, and scope out the scene. South Beach is a vehicle to achieve escape velocity from stress that will leave a lasting impression long after the return trip home.