Dining Out and Nightlife
Dining in Miami Beach can run the gamut from cheap burger joints along the beach to fabulous gourmet dining rooms in some of the glitzy resorts of Central Beach. For real atmosphere, the restaurants and cafés running for twenty blocks along the ocean in the Art Deco District will help you relive the fabulous 1930s and 1940s. Here is a selection of some of the best:
Joe's Stone Crab: You absolutely must visit this South Beach institution for its succulent Florida stone crabs dipped in mustard sauce and served with extra-large homemade fries, followed by the best Key lime pie in the country. Closed May to October. Get there early or you'll have to wait. (227 Biscayne Street, 305-673-0365)
Lulu's: If you like Southern cooking, you'll enjoy this down-home restaurant that serves standbys like chicken-fried steak, meat loaf, and fried catfish in a decor of old hubcaps and gas station signs on the first floor and a dining room dedicated to Elvis Presley on the second. (1053 Washington Avenue, 305-532-6147)
Mermaid Beach Bar: Thick, juicy hamburgers and addicting fries and pizza are the specialty of this beachside bistro. There's an indoor section, but the best spot is outside where you can dine barefoot at plastic tables right over the sand. Swimsuit-clad servers double as bartenders. (4525 Collins Avenue at the Eden Roc hotel)
News Café: Join the bohemian crowd at the small outdoor wooden tables and wrought-iron chairs of this South Beach landmark and watch the people as you sip your cappuccino or latte. (800 Ocean Drive, 305-538-6397)
Wolfe Cohen's Rascal House: This local landmark in the Jewish community has waitresses in white pinafores serving heaping plates of corned beef, chicken in the pot, kreplaches, and stuffed cabbage in a bustling atmosphere. (17190 Collins Avenue, Sunny Isles, 305-947-4581)
JUST FOR PARENTS
If you've got a sweet tooth, head for CoCo's Sidewalk Café in the Bal Harbour Shops for calorie-laden desserts like “death by chocolate,” an ultra-indulgent concoction of four chocolates, served in this American-style eatery with terra cotta floors and wicker furnishings. It's expensive, but worth it. (9700 Collins Avenue, 305-864-2626)
For the hottest nighttime action, head straight to Washington Avenue in the Art Deco District. Avant-garde clubs and breezy sidewalk cafés cater to the artsy set. Most of the action here is late-night, with many establishments staying open until 5 A.M. The trend is toward alfresco jazz as well as the more unusual clubs like The Strand with its wavy glass-block bar where you can relax and soak up South Beach chicness (305-532-2340). Live bands play rock-and-roll at the New York–style Washington Square (305-534-1403). The Island Club is a subdued corner bar with a restored warehouse atmosphere with live reggae and jazz (305-538-1213). An after-dinner crowd shows up at Crawdaddy's to hear weekend jazz played on a waterfront boardwalk (305-673-1708).
Miami's premier Latin cabaret, Club Tropigala in the Fontaine-bleau Hilton, is a facsimile of a lavish Brazilian samba club. The 650-seat pink-and-purple showcase hosts extravagant Las Vegas–style revues (305-672-7469).
If you need to check your e-mail, stop into Kafka's Cybernet Kafe, a funky café on Washington Avenue, where you can browse not only the Internet but also thousands of new and used books while having a cup of coffee and a sandwich. High-speed Internet connections are a cup of coffee and a sandwich. High-speed Internet available. (Open daily 10 A.M.–11 P.M., 305-673-9669)
If you prefer to attend road shows of top Broadway musicals and musical concerts by international and national orchestras, you'll find them at the 2,705-seat Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts, with its sleek, rounded facade fronted by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein's expressive mermaid sculpture. For four years, Jackie Gleason broadcast his national television series from this Miami Beach theater (305-673-7300, www.gleasontheater.com). The Miami City Ballet performs modern jazz and ballet from September through March at the restored 465-seat Art Deco Colony Theater, built in 1934 by Paramount Studios (305-532-7713, 305-674-1026). But if you'd rather listen to the soft strains of acoustic guitar in a romantic garden, head over to the Fairmont on Collins Avenue (305-531-0050).