Miami's restaurant scene has exploded in the past few years, with new restaurants springing up left and right every month. The melting pot of residents and visitors has brought an array of sophisticated, tasty cuisine. Little Havana is still king for Cuban fare, and Miami Beach is swept up in a trend of fusion cuisine, which combines Asian, French, American, and Latin cooking with sumptuous—and pricey—results. Locals spend the most time in Downtown Miami, Wynwood, Midtown, and the Design District, where the city's ongoing foodie and cocktail revolution is most pronounced. Since Miami dining is a part of the trendy nightlife scene, most dinners don't start until 8 or 9 pm, and may go well into the night. To avoid a long wait among the late-night partiers at hot spots, come before 7 pm or make reservations. Attire is usually casual-chic, but patrons like to dress to impress. Don't be surprised to see large tables of women in skimpy dresses—this is common in Miami. Prices tend to stay high in hot spots like Lincoln Road, but if you venture off the beaten path you can find delicious food for reasonable prices. When you get your bill, check whether a gratuity is already included; most restaurants add between 15% and 20% (ostensibly for the convenience of, and protection from, the many Latin American and European tourists who are used to this practice in their homelands), but supplement it depending on your opinion of the service.
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Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Whether you're visiting Miami for the first or 15th time, a meal at the Rusty Pelican is a memorable experience. The legendary Key Biscayne restaurant underwent a major reinvention in 2012 and swapped rustic, nautical coziness for modern seaside elegance. Vistas of the bay and Miami skyline are sensational—whether you admire them through the floor-to-ceiling windows or from the expansive outdoor seating area, lined with alluring fire pits. The menu is split between tropically inspired small plates, ideal for sharing, and heartier entrées from land and sea. Standouts include corvina ceviche; baked crab cakes; and the crispy fried, whole local red snapper.
A splendid slice of the Italian countryside thrives in Miami's trendy Midtown area, and the impressive 3,200-square-foot enclave houses a beautifully appointed rustic Italian restaurant, Miami's first official bocce court, and a throwback-style Italian market. Mosaic-tiled floors, antique mirrors, and exposed wood beams set the scene indoors while towering cypress trees, a traditional bocce court, and alfresco seating aplenty define the front patio. Spectacular design notwithstanding, it's the food that headlines the overall Bocce Bar experience. The small-plates sharing menu is a gastronomic tour through Italy with a modern twist. Dishes are beautifully presented, often accented by edible flowers, and never fall below a caliber of blow-your-mind deliciousness.
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Michael's is often cited as Miami's top restaurant, and it's not hard to see why. This indoor-outdoor bistro in Miami's Design District is an evergreen oasis Miami dining sophisticates. Owner and chef Michael Schwartz aims for sophisticated American cuisine with an emphasis on local and organic ingredients. He gets it right. Portions are divided into small, medium, and large plates, and the smaller plates are more inventive, so you can order several and explore. Beautifully arranged combinations like crispy, sweet-and-spicy pork belly with kimchi explode with unlikely but satisfying flavor. Reserve two weeks in advance for weekend tables; also, consider brunch, but still make those reservations far in advance.
AARP Travel Center
Book online or call: 1.800.675.4318
AARP Travel Center Book online or call: 1.800.675.4318
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