Winter 2012/2013 in Miami: So Hot it Burns

Miami continues to thrive on your winter misery by flaunting its pastel glory, amped up by silicon-sustained debauchery and its newest celebrity residents – the Kardashians. The Magic City is trying hard to distance itself from its tacky neon/cocaine/stripper heel days with all manner of sophisticated new venues and art-related events. Posh hotels and swanky restaurants are popping up like mushrooms after a rain, but even with these fancy distractions, Miami’s as party-crazy as ever. Chances are, after your five course, star chef-prepared meal at a hotel adorned in Basquiats, a lip-augmented chick in a mini too short to be called risqué will dance on your table as her Mr. Right Now closes deals over the Bluetooth. Whether that’s heaven or hell to you, it’s anything but boring, so here’s a rundown of the hottest new hotels, restaurants, and bars where Miami’s cutting edge is so sharp you’ll bleed. 

Seeking lodging? In terms of cool appeal, nothing can outshine the Soho Beach House’s clout, which makes a non-member lobby crawler feel like a rock star by association. Vying for some of that luster is the newly-opened Gale Hotel. It’s Miami Nice all the way: cute rooms, loud lobby loaded with long-legged eye candy and the men who love them, sceney restaurants, and a fantastic location. For a more subtle approach to poshness, head to the James Royal Palm, a throwback to the days when cool cats like Sinatra and Dino ran this town. Understated yet elegant, the James is home to the much-lauded Florida Cookery, a hyper-regional eatery led by the gifted chef Kris Wessel, and Catch, a partnership between EMM Group and Top Chef winner Chef Hung Huynh. The turban-wearing hipsters are flocking to the Freehand Miami, a hostel gone haute. Share bunk beds with up to eight, or go big and rent the entire room. Libations at Broken Shaker, the in-house saloon, include funky elixirs and herbs pulled from the garden.

The latest culinary offerings attempt to offer an all-inclusive sensory experience, with scenery that’s as upscale as the food. At the InterContinental Hotel downtown, Toro Toro matches the prestige of its locale by serving up a pan-Latin gastronomic tour in a muy swanky setting. The owner of Oak Tavern approaches his new American tapas endeavor in the Design District the same way he did at The River Oyster Bar – with all the flavor and non of the fuss. Added bonus: courtyard dining beneath a mega tree that’s permanently lit up for romantic ambiance. Also in the Design District, MC Kitchen is stirring up a storm with Iron Chef–worthy eats courtesy of chef Dena Marino, an alumna of the show.

Back to the beach, Serafina has set up shop at the Dream South Beach. Word on the street is it’s molto bene. Jonathan Cheban, Kim K.’s BFF, may know good TV opportunity, but sushi? Apparently so. Shelborne South Beach will be the setting for Cheban’s first foray into the food business with Sushi Mikasa. Expect to share space with cameras shooting Cheban’s celeb posse. Jonesing for some proper Thai? ‘Til now fans of lemongrass were left with the frozen section at Whole Foods to get their fix. Khong River House, Yardbird’s sister property, is about to change that by bringing the real deal to the Lincoln Road area. Chef Bee at the helm is working with a local Thai farm to up the authenticity factor. Come January, Swine, another creation by the 50 Eggs Restaurant Group, will do same to the other white meat. Looking to pick up some condoms, flowers and cheesecake to go? Vaguely reminiscent of Dean & DeLuca with a Miami twist, the boisterous Cooper Avenue, the brainchild of Amir Ben Zion of Gigi, BondST, and Bardot, has you covered. Their lobster salad is spot on, too.

Miami nightlife only gets wilder of course, and the new SLS Hotel is poised to become the new party epicenter, if LIV at the Fontainebleau ever falls out of style. From Bar Centro by Jose Andres to Hyde Beach, you can be swimming in cocktails from check-in until your credit card melts. 

Surely your wardrobe will need some Miami-izing, so for cheap thrills head on to the newly opened H&M on Lincoln Rd. Spendthrifts will rejoice in learning that Gucci has come to the mecca of all things discount. The Sawgrass Mall, an oh-so-worth-it 40 min. dash from South Beach, now offers a first-in-market outlet location from the Italian purveyor of chic. You might want to rent a van for this.

But when it comes to fashion, the Design District is the new black. With some of the LVMH brands, along with Prada, Louboutin and Hermes, jumping ship from Bal Harbour to the artsy district, filling in your sartorial blanks has never been more inspiring.

[Related: BlackBook Miami Guide; A Spirited Roundup of Dining and Drinking Spots at the New SLS South Beach]

Into going out? Then download the free, GPS-enabled BlackBook City Guides app for your iPhone or Android and always know the best spots to hit, wherever you are. And if you want to stay on top of all the major openings and events in Miami or your city of choice, sign up for BlackBook Happenings, a fun, informative, non-spammy email newsletter with the latest and greatest goings-on, delivered to your inbox every Monday.

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