A few weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to go to Miami, FL for a work trip! It was my first time there and got to spend 4 days there but felt like I barely did anything. Granted, 2 of those days were just work but I already can't wait to go back!
Weather and Accommodations
Mind that I end at very beginning of May so I already knew and expected the weather to be sunny. However, I was told weeks leading up to the trip that it was rainy and that I could even expect some thunder and rain when I got there. It probably rained 3 times, and every time i did, it rained for 5 minutes and then the sun came back up even brighter than before. The weather absolutely gorgeous- I couldn't have asked for better: Sunny, a bit of heat, a bit of humidity, but the fact that it was so different from this SF weather we get here, it felt amazing to switch it up and be in the sun.
My company put me at the Gates Hotel in South Beach/City Centre, which felt really nice when I walked in, but at the end of my stay, just felt really ripped off. I WILL say the best part of the hotel is that the concierge welcomes you with a warm cookies at check in. The rooms are nice but I just had bad experiences with missing chargers, the maintenance staff walked into my room in the early morning once a day without asking, and stupid 'resort fees.' It's also dog-friendly so I woke up to a barking dog next door so I asked to be moved to another room. It was a pretty pricy hotel, but hotels in Miami are expensive in general so I heard AirBnBs are the way to go.
The location of the hotel was pretty good though. It's north of the central 'South Beach' area but not too far from it. South Beach is where all the tourists go to get the Miami experience + beach experience. My coworkers had an AirBnB across the street from the beach and that was super nice- I'll definitely be doing that next time.
I LOVE that Miami's neighbourhoods are so diverse: everything from South Beach to Little Havana to Brickell to Coconut Grove. They all have their own personalities and spices. I unfortunately didn't get to check out all of the neighborhoods but I did visit: South Beach, Downtown, Brickell, Wynwood, and the Design District. I can't wait to go back and see everything I didn't this time around!
Wynwood is the new upcoming, hip, neighbourhood that all the young people + transplants are raving about. I've described it to be the 'Brooklyn' of Miami. It used to be this run-down couple of blocks that people would avoid but now is filled with cool restaurants and bars, boutiques, and graffiti murals and cement, and anything else worthy of being on Instagram. They even have a destination called 'Wynwood Walls' where you basically walkthrough various graffiti murals. It feels like you're walking through a museum of graffiti.
There are so many bars in Wynwood but one of the more notable ones is 1-800-LUCKY. It's this great indoor and outdoor space that is Asian themed. When you walk through their indoor entrance, there is a tiny, tiny store with Japanese goodies and vinyls. If you walk past the store, you'll enter to a co-op of Asian restaurants and seating. At the very end is their bar, which continues outdoors (so technically 2 bars but the bar table looks attached both indoors and outdoors).
Their bar was excellent. Most people got a mint mojito, which was fitting for the weather. I ordered a Pimms cup and probably one of the Pimms cups I've had! Also outdoors they had lots of extra seating + Taiyaki NYC. I ordered the Straight Outta Japan and it was straight up delicious and beautiful.
I also had dinner at Wynwood Kitchen + Bar. It's tapas so we shared everything family style. Everything was solid but I can't remember anything that stood out to me as being excellent.
My last meal in Miami was at Kush, which was high recommended by a friend. They're known for their chicken + waffles, and their burgers. I went back and forth trying to decide which one I wanted, and ended up ordering the chicken and waffles. When I got my plate, I cut through and noticed my chicken was not cooked all the way through, so I notified them and asked them to just replace only the chicken and then I kept eating. My impression was that isn't wasn't the best chicken and waffles I've had so I was left pretty disappointed. I was halfway through my meal when the manager came out of the kitchen with a completely new plate and apologised for the lack of quality the first time around. I accepted their apologise and dug into the new plate, and let me tell you: this plate tasted COMPLETELY different. The chicken was fried to perfection; the seasoning of the chicken was delicious; the waffles were cooked slightly longer so it had that perfect crunch but softness at the same time. Not sure how differently they cooked the plate, or if it was just the TLC I tasted, but it made a lasting impression. I'll be sure to visit back next time around, and sure to order a beer next time (they have a ton of beers on tap!).
Had lunch at Casa Tua Cucina which is another one of those co-op spaces with various restaurants: everything from salad, pasta, pizza, deli, etc. I ordered fettuccini from the pasta station and omg the pasta noodles were as good as the ones in Italy. I'm obsessed.
Pubbelly Sushi is a restaurant part of a larger restaurant group. A Miami twist on Japanese sushi. Most of the people I was with loved this place, but to be completely honest, I didn't wasn't a huge fan of it. The uni pasta was good (but expensive), and all of the rolls tasted like rice and lemon. Everything had like a full lemon on it. Their best dishes by far were their Miso Black Cod and Japanese Bravas.
More than the food, I enjoyed their drinks much more. Everyone got second and third refills on their drinks. The have a unique, fusion-y drinks menu that incorporates local favourites + a Japanese twist to it (lots of sake cocktails). I ordered their Sangria which had popping bubbles (like of like boba but not).
Puerto Sagua Restaurant is a block from the beach so it's really easy to access. It has a diner feel with a Cuban twist. I was recommended here by a friend for a good Cuban sandwich, and it's also listed on Conde Nast Traveler's list of 10 Best Cuban Food in Miami. The Cuban was glorious- perfectly cut, golden and crispy.
Broken Shaker is a hostel that was continually recommended to me as the spot to be at night. And it sounded super unappealing by its description, like why would I want to spend a Friday night at a hostel bar? But I was thoroughly surprised by what it actually was. It has a tiki, poolside bar feel to it.
CVCHE 105 is one of those classic spots in Miami. There's no shortage of seafood in Miami and obviously, because of it's rich Latin American culture, you have to get some ceviche! I ordered the daily special of the ceviche trio and all of them were delicious. I really tried to remember all three flavors but I really don't. I'm sure any of their ceviches on the menu are great! It They were also served with tostones, which were amazing. We also ordered the Causa de Camarones con Palta (shrimp potato cake) and another daily special, which was a grilled fish + lobster with some kind of puree. The fish+lobster dish was actually not very good, and the puree tasted like curry. Overall really good, and I'd suggest just sticking to their ceviche and causa.
The Standard is my favourite bar, and it made me want to live there forever, except I saw the prices for actual hotel guests and then I went back home, haha. This place is a hotel, space, bar, restaurant, pool, everything. Everything. It's like what you would want for the ultimate hangout: pool with a waterfall, pool chairs, and bar alongside the beach; cabanas and a fire pit; and hammock chairs. It's surprisingly lowkey for such an awesome place. Will for sure be going back!
I wasn't sure what the Design District was, but it's basically a bougie neighborhood full of upscale designer stores, like you'd see in Beverly Hills. There wasn't much for me to do, except to try AUBI & RAMSA, which is a new ice cream shop with a unique twist. It's a bar-styled liquor infused ice cream store. I got the Chocolate Hazelnut Martini, which contained gin and 4.5% ABV.
The one cool thing about the design district is that they do have cool art and design installments around the neighborhood, which gives a bit more glory to its name.
the bottom line...
Notice I didn't go clubbing or go really hard at night life. Due to limited time, and the fact that I was there alone for a work trip, wasn't very conducive to that type of outing, but I would definitely visit Miami again with a group of girl friends to experience more of what Miami has to offer!
Here is my map of all the pinned places friends have recommended to me!
SEE YOU SOON, MIAMI!