This Winter I have been spending more and more time in Miami. When just there I was talking to another Northerner (can’t remember who?) who was doing the same; he said he came to Florida for the climate … the tax climate! While I don’t think I am ready to give up my New York residency, I do come down to Miami for the climate, the weather climate. In some ways, it reminds me of Southern California, without the tax burden!
Spending more time there has allowed me to explore all that Miami has to offer. While I love South Beach, it appears to me that the heart of Miami is drifting North (even though Brickell is on fire) where there are expansion opportunities. Through this, I even discovered that there is an area called the Upper East Side, making me feel right at home! Without further ado, in this week’s Loupe, we explore the North (of South Beach!).
North Bay Village
7859-7901 Hispanola Ave, North Bay Village, FL 33141
This Fall, Sushi Erika opened to much acclaim. The restaurant's namesake, Erika, is Miami sushi royalty, as the daughter of the now-closed Japanese Market/Sushi deli. Her parents ran their sushi empire from the 1980s until 2017 and really inducted Miami into the art of sushi. Now Erika returns, with her Mother's help in the kitchen, and has a menu which is reflective of the past and all her very own as well. Located in a strip mall on North Bay Village this spot defies expectations. Opened with limited hours from Noon-6pm, be prepared to wait, as there are 25 seats in the entire place, including the sushi bar. You can order off of the Sushi Deli menu as a nod to Michio Kushi, or off of Erika's signature rolls and dishes. No matter what you order, it is fresh and delicious. Of note, it's a strict policy of one order per table, so order a lot on the first and only go of it. Oh, and contrary to my regular advice, do not miss the green tea tiramisu for dessert!
1624 79th Street Causeway, North Bay Village, FL 33141
222 Taco is a newly opened North Bay taco joint and popular local spot. With a Cali-Mex meets Miami Vice vibe and a full-bar, there are many times and reasons to pop in for breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks. Opened by Anna Robbins, the tacos do not disappoint. Go with a classic choice or more new age with all of their Vegan options. Pair it with a slushy margarita and you're all set!
The Surf Club Restaurant
9011 Collins Ave, Surfside, FL 33154
Early this fall Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se fame, opened his first restaurant in South Florida, and it is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The atmosphere is a nod to Miami's elegant and storied past, on the site of the former playground of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Elizabeth Taylor. Formal, yet playful, the ambiance conjures the feeling of the golden age and Miami as America's favorite playground. The menu, with something for everyone, recollects the past as well with dishes like Oysters Rockefeller and Hass Avocado Louie. The continental food is prepared with precision and skill. Many dishes are assembled masterfully table side like the Classic Caesar Salad, the Dover Sole, and the Ice Cream Sunday bar. You will not leave this meal overly full, though your wallet will certainly be drained! Must say, though, it will be worth it.
Little Haiti / Little River
5020 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137
Nothing better than when a husband and wife team up not just in life, but in other ventures as well. This is the case for Italian chef and restauranteur Roberto Bearzi and his wife Fiorella Blanco. This is their second venture together, the first being Fratelli Milano in downtown Miami. They were taken with the charm of this area to try to introduce Miami to a new kind of Italian cuisine with Latin influence. The result is astounding. The atmosphere is a well-designed and chic garden with the kitchen offering the freshest ingredients and multi-cultural flavors into the cuisine. When dining, you are transported into a magical garden, grounded by the most enormous Banyan tree. The food is delicious here, so it is impossible to go wrong with any choice. Check it out!
Upper East Side
7030 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138
This is a double homecoming for me. First, I am at home with my Chicago roots with a proper hot dog stand. Sure they serve other items, namely hamburgers and french fries, but this is a reminder of home. Second, the location on the Upper East Side, makes the perfect mix. I'm a Chicago boy living on the UES. But, in the end, Dogma delivers great hot dogs and burgers, and sometimes that's just what you need!
What to Wear?
Hard to launch into bathing suits when I've been writing about and thinking about food. However, nothing is more necessary in warm climates then great bathing suits. In fact, you always need one handy. I have been looking for a brand of bathing suits that double as shorts. When I came across Vuori, I found the triple threat: bathing suit, comfy short, and work out short. This company was founded on the Left Coast in the aspirational beach community of Encinitas, CA. They have designed amazing shorts, but of course have expanded into pants, shorts, and anything else you want. The shorts remain the standouts for me, and they have slowly been displacing my other swimsuits and workout shorts due primarily to style and versatility.
If you are going to be in the North in the Winter, better make it North Miami and consider North Bay Village, Surfside, Little Haiti/Little River, Upper East Side (represent!), and Vuori Found!