South Beach, Miami

Standing in the queue to board the flight, we are chatting to a native New Yorker. “You know”, he says to us, “Miami used to be the place where old people went to die, then BOOM, now it’s the hip place to be”. Got it. We get to South Beach and I can see what he means, bars, clubs, restaurants, trendy hotels, art deco bought to life, and of course that long long stretch of beach. Lots of young couples, families, girls on a weekend getaway, bucks groups.

We stay at The Setai, an Asian inspired hotel on Collins, where the surrounds are serene and the service excellent. Collins Street is the main strip, right on the beach where you’ll find most of the larger hotels. In June, we are in what is considered the start of “low season” as it’s the time of year where the heat really starts to crank up and the humidity can as well, but it was nothing over the top. Avoid August and September, when it is apparently unbearable, and lots of places shut down.

We have a lovely view from our room. First thing in the morning it is deserted and quiet. Quite different to somewhere like our own Gold Coast where early morning you’ll see hundreds of people power walking, casually strolling or running.miami (13)

By late morning it’s a rainbow of colour, umbrellas and beds set up calling the beachgoers, the music turns on and the day begins.miami (11)

On the advice of a friend who’d just been, we use Uber a lot to get around – it is super efficient and quite a bit cheaper. Jose, Luis, Leopold, Roberto, we meet some colourful locals. One is a violinist; most don’t speak a lot of English, with Spanish being the primary language here.

Off Collins you’ll find Lincoln Road Mall, which is a sort of out door mall.  It starts off with lots of touristy junky shops and (slightly dodgy) electrical shops, and then becomes progressively nicer, with plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants to stop at along the way.

miami (14)One night we head to Macchialina on Alton Street for dinner. You won’t stumble across this place, it’s a bit away from the main drag, but it is worth knowing about. Chef Michael Pirolo is producing some seriously good Italian food. Our server Paul is – of course – from Noosa of all places; he’s been living in Miami for 5 years. He tells us we’ve happened on a food gem and he isn’t wrong. This would have been one of my favourite meals in three weeks of travel in the US, and I thought the prices were reasonable for the quality.

The octopus with a concentrated tomato and potato crema is devine, a stand out. We soak up every bit of the sauce with the excellent bread.miami (15)

So too is the eggplant parmigiana. Clever how he has created and individual serve by wrapping eggplant layers around a gorgeous ball of mozzarella rather than the typical layering.miami (16)

The pasta dishes hit it out of the park. The short rib and taleggio lasagne and the mushroom tagliolini are rich and fragrant and my favourites; though the cavatelli Macchialina and the spaghetti vongole aren’t far behind.miami (5)

Afterwards, the boys feel like some gelato and Paul suggests we head towards South Pointe for a stroll and stop in at 4D gelato along the way. We wonder what 4D might stand for, and find out it was started by 4 brothers whose surname starts with D. They don’t do any “out there” flavours here, it is the Italian classics, executed very very well.miami (12)

Gelato in hand, we head towards South Pointe, it is a lovely evening stroll.miami (17)miami (18)

The following night we try Joe’s Stone Crab, a bit of a Miami institution, open for over 100 years. It is a much larger restaurant than I expected, but that doesn’t stop it from filling up, and in the peak months the wait can be long.miami (19)

The calamari is very tender and tasty, and the fish has a nice batter. The lobster roll is juicy but I have had better. We love the side of corn which is roasted with a little lime.miami (10)

Then on to some big fat juicy crab legs. All that crab meat! The Marito and I ponder how much this would cost somewhere like Golden Century.miami (20)miami (21)

Although we are stuffed we squeeze in the recommended key lime pie – delicious.miami (22)

We also give Quality Meats a whirl. At first, it reminds me of Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney. An old art deco building restored, excellent and knowledgeable staff, and a comprehensive choice of cuts of meat. miami (6)

I like the amuse bouche of sweet watermelon with a salty sour crumb, and the house bread is fluffy with a nice smattering of herbs, served warm.miami (8)

The sauce for steak is prepared at the table, which is a nice touch. But our Neil trumps them on the meat; the filet mignon, ordered medium, is still alive when we cut into it, and my bavette is overcooked, and the cured orange salad too sweet.miami (7)

But we do enjoy the sides, nicely charred asparagus, and corn brulee – yes brulee – creamy and sweet but not overly so.miami (9)

If you can peel yourself away from the beach and pool and head downtown, do go to Wynwood Walls and the surrounding streets – some fabulous artwork and graffiti awaits.miami (1)miami (2)miami (3)miami (4)

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5 thoughts on “South Beach, Miami

  1. Francesca

    Have a wondeful holiday miss Napoli. Good to see you aren’t letting the side down by eating American crap- all this food looks really good. The pasta dishes look lovely and the Melanzane Parmigiana wrapped around a ball- cool idea and one worth pinching. Enjoy the heat.

    Reply

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