What’s New: Miami

Historically, South Beach has been the place to stay and play for visitors in Miami. And while the glamorous area, which boasts beachfront hotels with views of the Atlantic and hot spot restaurants, remains as in demand as ever, Miami’s other neighborhoods are flourishing as well. Thanks to EAST, a property from Swire Hotels–a small, high-end chain that owns Hong Kong’s Upper House and Beijing’s Opposite House–and several lauded new eateries, the previously overlooked neighborhood of Brickell is angling to become one of Miami’s most dynamic areas. Plus, with Zika fears at a new low (the CDC recently downgraded the threat level for the virus from red to yellow), a crop of exciting South Beach and Design District restaurants and cultural developments, Miami is again the perfect long weekend escape that it once was. Discover all the latest openings and what not to miss in South Beach and beyond.

A New High-Rise Hotel:

Largely responsible for Brickell’s resurgence, the Hong Kong-based Swire Hotels invested $1.1 billion in EAST, Brickell City Center (an urban development with shops and restaurants) and two luxury high-rise buildings, which together offer plenty of activities for a long weekend. The formerly quiet neighborhood has long been a convenient place for travelers with a layover in Miami thanks to its close proximity to the airport, but it is now a destination in its own right. Guests at the 352-room EAST will enjoy the hotel’s serene minimalist aesthetic, with interiors done by New York–based Clodagh Design, and two incredible restaurants: Quinto La Huella, the second outpost of the Indagare-adored Parador La Huella in Uruguay, and a stunning rooftop lounge, Sugar.

Culinary Hot Spots:

Many of Miami’s best new restaurants have serious pedigree: the best eateries at the moment are locations of iconic spots in New York City and Spain, or owned by some of the world’s most iconic chefs. South Beach recently welcomed Upland, the second location of Stephen Starr’s beloved NYC restaurant of the same name. Madrid’s popular Tatel, owned by Rafael Nadal, Pau Gasol and Enrique Iglesias, will open in the Ritz–Carlton South Beach later this month and serve modern interpretations of Spanish classics. Open for just over a year, Los Fuegos at the Faena hotel has hit its stride. The first United States restaurant from eccentric celebrity chef Francis Mallmann, Los Fuegos serves Argentine specialties including succulent beef empanadas, grilled octopus and wagyu steak with domino potatoes alongside excellent craft cocktails.

Beyond South Beach, Miami boasts new destination restaurants in Brickell. As mentioned, the two eateries at EAST are as newsworthy as the property itself. Quinto La Huella, sister to José Ignacio’s Parador La Huella, is dedicated to sustainable produce, and many of its ingredients are imported directly from Uruguay. The wide-ranging menu highlights such fare as sushi, grilled provolone cheese, squid ink and shrimp rice for two and steaks that are cooked on an open-fire parrilla (grill). Named the best rooftop restaurant by Conde Nast Traveler in 2016, Sugar is located on the 40th floor of EAST and serves Asian tapas in a beautiful setting. The terrace features a lush, tropical garden and panoramic views of the Miami skyline. José Andrés has opened his second Miami restaurant, Bazaar Mar, in a sleek, Phillipe Starck–designed space at the new SLS Brickell (slshotels.com/brickell), where he highlights inventive seafood dishes and whimsical cocktails with Spanish flair. Opened in 2015, Marion was one of the first restaurants to draw foodies to Brickell, and it remains a standout. In addition to a proper restaurant, the stylish French brasserie boasts a market and a bakery, which churns out freshly baked bread and pastries like madelines and tarts.

Neighborhood On the Rise: Miami Design District

The Miami Design District has long fostered avant-garde style and art, but it is currently undergoing a stunning metamorphosis with the help of star architects and luxury brands, making it Miami’s premier shopping destination. Recent store openings include Saint Laurent (149 NE 40th St), Givenchy (106 NE 39th St), Lanvin (107 NE 39th St), Alice + Olivia (106 NE 40th St) and CITCO (3801 NE Miami Court), an exclusive marble art gallery from Verona, Italy, and this year will also usher in Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang and Gucci boutiques, as well as Jean-Georges’ ABC Kitchen and L’Atelier Joel Robuchon. Art installations punctuate the pedestrian walkways between the contemporary steel and glass structures of the District, highlighting Miami’s most innovative artists. One of the most pioneering shops is OC Concepts (4218 NE 2nd Ave), which was opened in December 2016 by Orianne Collins, the wife of Phil Collins. The tastemaker’s fourth concept store, OC occupies a Fendi-designed space and showcases a curated array of jewelry, handbags, shoes, accessories and art.

Visitors to the Design District should pop over to Wynwood, located nearby and home to the famous Wynwood Walls. While shopping at the luxury stores here, stop into Fireman Derek’s World Famous Pies for a slice of their addictive chocolate peanut butter pie or the coconut custard cream. For a dose of caffeine, Panther Coffee is a favorite thanks to its lovely alfresco setting area.

Cultural Pursuits:

Miami is renowned for its visionary art and design scenes, and with a newly renovated theater and contemporary art museum opening in 2017, the city continues to impress as a pioneer for cutting-edge culture. The historic Colony Theater has undergone a multi-year renovation to restore and update it to its former glory. Miami New Drama, the theater company that will oversee the Colony, will perform innovative plays produced exclusively for the theater. In the Design District, the Institute of Contemporary Art will move to its new home just prior to Art Basel in December in a dramatic glass structure surrounded by an outdoor sculpture garden. Large-scale installations and rotating exhibitions of experimental and contemporary art will be on display in the 20,000-square-foot space, with the opening show featuring works by Andy Warhol, Dieter Roth, Bruce Nauman and Tetsumi Kudo.

– Therese Mueller on February 13, 2017

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