2016 · Travel

Welcome to Miami

I’m going to try something different for my post today.  I just came back from vacation and I figured writing about my trip could be a great way to document the memories while also having a reference in case I’m looking to repeat the visit or someone needs recommendations.  So with that, here goes nothing!

This time last week I had a bottomless Bellini in my system and was sitting poolside at our hotel during a weekend getaway to Miami for one of my bestie’s bachelorette parties.  I had only been to Miami once before so was excited to explore and re-discover the city.  I was in charge of planning day life while my other buddy was in charge of nightlife and after doing some research and of course asking my Facebook network, I landed on some pretty solid places to go during our weekend.

We were staying at the Nautilus South Beach – A Sixty Hotel which is right on Collins Drive (one of the main streets in South Beach).  It’s a super cool, boutique hotel with the decor feeling like a cross between Miami Art Deco and Mad Men.  We had a pretty stellar pool that led out to the beach from the back, the rooms were quite spacious and the lobby bar was a gorgeous spot to stop and have a beverage.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 1.32.15 PMPhoto Credit: Nautilus Sixty

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Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 1.33.56 PMPhoto Credit: Nautilus Sixty

Once we dropped our luggage off we headed out for lunch to Orange Blossom. I had received a few recommendations for this spot and the fact that they had bottomless Mimosas, Bellini’s and Bloody Mary’s made the decision a pretty easy one.  It’s a small, quaint, rustic restaurant serving standard American fare located right on Collins Drive (literally down the street from our hotel). When I walked in it felt like very New York versus Miami which I realized made sense since it was conceptualized by some folks originally from the Big Apple.

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From their all day breakfast/brunch menu I opted for the Avocado and Poached Eggs (Avocado, olive oil, lemon juice, chilli flakes, bacon and 2 poached eggs on multi-grain loaf).  With a bottomless Bellini of course!

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After a little bit of time by the pool and of course a nap, it was time to get ready for our night out.  Prime 112  was our destination for dinner and it boasts itself as the first modern steakhouse in the US opened by Myles Chefetz.  It is located in the historic Browns hotel, Miami Beach’s first hotel built in 1915.  It’s a pretty classic steakhouse menu with an extensive list of sides that come in MASSIVE portions so they are fun to share with a group of people.  It had a similar vibe to the new Keg on King Street – mostly young professionals, large groups, a few dates and definitely people looking to be seen.  I unfortunately don’t have photos of the food (which came in HUGE portions and was delicious) but I do have this lovely “cheers” photo that we took when a bachelor party sent over a bottle of bubbly to our table 🙂

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Once we finished our bubbles it was party time at Story Nightclub.  This place is a club club and is a product of the same people behind LIV at Fontainbleu.  It is almost shaped like a domed arena with the dance floor in the middle and bottle service booths running all the way around and up.  It also features one of those MASSIVE DJ booths/stages at the front that Miami nightlife has become known for.  Not really my thing especially since the music felt like it was the same beat over and over again but you can’t go to Miami for a bachelorette and not hit a club.

After a well deserved sleep-in we were off to spend the day partying by the pool.  We had to of course carb load in advance so we headed to The Front Porch, a no fluff, affordable, trendy, restaurant with all day breakfast and brunch that has become a popular go to spot for tourists and locals.  I had their Beach Breakfast Burrito (3 Eggs scrambled with pepper jack cheese, scallions and mushrooms in a flour tortilla served with salsa and sour cream).  Super delicious, simple and quick.  Exactly what we needed.

front porch

With our bellies full it was time to head over to SLS hotel for the Hyde Pool Party.  This hotel is definitely a staple in Miami and I’d LOVE to stay here one day.  It’s by far one of the more luxurious hotels and known for its world-renowned restaurants and celebrity guests. It’s also really well known for Hyde Beach – 8,000 sq. feet of pool, beach and indoor/outdoor space – and where we were headed to spend our afternoon. In my humble opinion I’m a much bigger fan of the day parties in places like Miami and Vegas over the nightlife.  I feel like a club is a club is a club.  But to be able to party pool side is something that you can’t experience every day and what better way to party then in flats and while getting a tan!  The music was on point, the people were beautiful and the drinks were potent.  The perfect recipe for the perfect afternoon.

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And again, after a nap (a much longer one) we were ready for the evening again!  We headed out to Bolivar which I hadn’t received any recommendations on but I had read some great things about on Yelp.  Walking in it seemed a little divey with its dark lighting and bright/neon backlighting so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But once we sat down and looked and the menu we knew we were in for something good.  The food itself was South American  and the environment is CRAZY lively.  For food we decided to order their platters so we could sample a variety of dishes.  Within the three platters that we ordered for the table we sampled (from what I remember):

  • Empanadas
  • Grilled steak strips
  • Grilled chicken strips
  • Sautéed garlic shrimps
  • Sautéed mussels
  • Breaded Calamari
  • Chorizo
  • Crispy pork belly
  • Spicy grilled corn on the cob
  • Sautéed spinach
  • Grilled vegetables
  • Coconut rice

And cue the visuals:

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Within 10 minutes of sitting the live music started which could barely keep us in our seats. Salsa dancing commenced almost immediately. We had a hard time leaving this place just because the vibe was so fun.  Now that our dancing shoes were strapped on we walked over to Ocean drive and bar hopped for a little.  So many options between the row of bars/restaurant offering live music and DJs to some more intense places like The Clevelander where you do have to pay cover to get into their poolside venue.  We basically took over this small bar and turned it into our own private dance club.

So on our final day, we decided to keep things chill and more relaxed.  First stop was Juvia for our farewell brunch.  This place is for sure on the pricer side but for the view and the food its worth it.  You can also take the scenic route to get there and walk along Lincoln Road which is the prime shopping district in South Beach.  I took advantage of the Prix Fixe lunch menu which included a starter, main and dessert for $23. Not too bad at all.   Started with the Watermelon Salad (nodini cheese, cantaloupe spheres, baby arugula, feta crumbles and pata negra).  So fresh, salty, sweet and a cool starter for this hot and humid day.

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Next up was the handmade pasta with roasted tomatoes and oyster mushrooms (although since this post it’s no longer on the menu).  I can understand why, it was delicious BUT WAY too much pasta for one person and honestly felt like it was missing something.

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And finally the dessert (which also weirdly disappeared from the menu).  Best way to describe it is a toffee/caramel flavoured light pudding with a sweet/salty crumble on top and a dollop of mango/coconut flavoured sorbet.  Delightful.

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After lunch it was straight to the beach for some serious downtime (read: recovering from an impending hangover).  Once we got ourselves together we headed out for dinner at Sushi Samba on Lincoln Drive. I’ve always wanted to try this place but never got the chance for one reason or the other.  I guess that’s the selfish part f getting to pick all the places to eat for the weekend ;).  Sushi Samba is one of those slick trendy restaurants that has a location in pretty much every city you would expect (NYC, Vegas, London and of course South Beach).  They pride themselves as serving up imaginative sushi and Japanese-Brazilian-Peruvian fusion fare.  I love me some sushi so you won’t get any complaints from me.  A few of us decided to share and we went with:

  • Tuna Ceviche – coconut, tomato, serrano, grapefruit, cilantro
  • Hamapeno Roll – yellowtail, shrimp tempura, smoked jalapeño, cilantro
  • Ezo Roll – soy-marinated salmon, asparagus, onion, chive, sesame, tempura flake, wasabi mayonnaise, soy paper
  • Salmon Avacado Roll

My favourite was by far the Hamapeno – definitely a roll with some kick to it.  The best way I can describe the food as a whole is very much in line with Blowfish in Toronto.  Especially when it comes to the sushi. I think the Brazilian/Peruvian flare comes through more in their small dishes.  Pictured below was the Samba Dromo roll that one of the ladies had.  Obviously quite photogenic and made up of Maine lobster, mango, tomato, chive, crispy rice, soy paper and peanut curry.

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After dinner we decided to check out Bodega. I had received quite a few recommendations about this place and our cab driver even mentioned it to us.  I was told it was a speakeasy style bar with kick-ass margaritas.  I mean you don’t need to sell me on much more than that!  After a quick walk we were led to a very noisy, bustling restaurant and guided straight towards what I can only say was a fake porta-potty door, which then led through to a graffiti filled fake bathroom and then opened up into this incredible space.

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So not only was the space cool but the music was RIDICULOUSLY good.  I could not stop dancing between hearing Spice Girls, Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z and Drake.  If I didn’t have to be at the airport at 9AM I think I would have stayed all night.

And so came to and end a very eventful, jam packed and fun filled weekend in Miami.  Although we were there for a bachelorette and partying was a big part of the agenda, Miami really is a place where you can custom design your vacation.  Chill on the beach, bar hop, sit by the pool or party till the wee hours of the night.  The city is yours to discover.

Hope you enjoyed!

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