Food + Drink / Insights

Pump Up the Volume

From well-known spots to well-kept secrets, Miami’s best live music venues.

March 12, 2012

Miami Beach nightclub Jazid, a Washington Avenue mainstay

This boho-chic club across from Midtown has musicians play on “the carpet” rather than a stage, which results in a great house-party vibe. Fans crowd face-to-face with acts straight from the hippest music blogs; expect to hear everything from old-school hip-hop to nu-disco to rock ’n’ roll, with out-of-town groups well-paired with local openers.
3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami, 305-576-5570

Churchill’s Pub
What this pseudo-English pub lacks in secure parking and sparkling loos, it makes up for in raw atmosphere. Situated in Little Haiti, this 32-year-old venue has resisted—even repelled—gentrification, and continues to function as the nerve center of Miami’s live punk, garage, and indie scenes, all lubricated by drinks about half the price of those in swankier spots.
5501 NE Second Ave., Miami, 305-757-1807

Grand Central
This sprawling, hangar-like space with room for more than 1,000 has hosted an impressive spread of mid-size touring acts, from legends of the ’80s and ’90s (OMD) to the latest white-hot hip names (Cut Copy, lcd soundsystem, The Drums, The Rapture). If things get too loud, head upstairs to The Garret, Grand Central’s club-within-a-club, or outside, where you can buffer booze with gourmet hot dogs.
697 N. Miami Ave., Miami, 305-377-2277

Hoy Como Ayer
Smack in the middle of the Calle Ocho strip, this is the requisite stop for anyone looking for a dose of live Latin music. Unsurprisingly, the tunes lean heavily Cuban, with genres like salsa and nueva trova (a kind of guitar-driven folk) playing almost nightly. For non-Miamians, this is a tourist-friendly venue where no español is required to enjoy—just a willingness to dance.
2212 SW Eighth St., Miami, 305-541-2631

Jazid deserves props for remaining a live music holdout on DJ-heavy South Beach. Sounds here tend toward the global, with rock en español, dub, reggae, ska, live hip-hop, fusion funk, and various Latin jam acts holding sway. As a bonus, the club’s small lounge space usually offers a different musical flavor—and entry for both is very often free.
1342 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 305-673-9372

The Stage
With bragging rights as the only live music club in the Design District proper, The Stage feels fittingly boho yet upscale, with indoor-outdoor capabilities. Music offerings include New Orleans brass, old-school hip-hop, Latin fusion, blues, and occasionally indie rock. And most Sundays, the club schedules family-friendly matinee concerts with children’s activities.
170 NE 38th St., Miami, 305- 576-9577

Tobacco Road
With the city’s oldest liquor license—granted in 1912—and a nightly program of multiple live bands, this pleasantly weathered club boasts upstairs and back patios for simultaneous shows, and even sets up parking lot stages for various genre-themed festivals. You won’t find many large touring acts swinging through, but you’ll see nearly every original local act worth its salt.
626 S. Miami Ave., Miami, 305-374-1198

Upstairs at the Van Dyke Café
At street level, the Van Dyke is abuzz with Lincoln Road clientele, but the second floor is still a relatively well-kept secret—a smart, classy live music venue for fewer than 100 people that’s not only one of the last homes of jazz in Miami, but also hosts singer-songwriters, funk, soul, and even a little classic rock, as well as R&B, blues, and Latin sounds.
846 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305-534-3600

The Vagabond Miami
The downtown club has a DJ-driven rep, but also books a robust roster of touring and local live acts for gettin’ down. That can mean anything from jazz and indie rock to dubstep, hip-hop, and jam bands, including the likes of Glass Candy, the Beatnuts, and Pretty Lights. A sprawling outside area houses a fire pit and barbecue station.
30 NE 14th St., Miami, 305-379- 0508.

—Arielle Castillo


Beats Per Minute

TW Steel CEO by day and DJ manager by night, Jordy Cobelens helps shape the Miami house music scene—starting with this month’s Ultra Music Festival. 

March 05, 2012

Jordy Cobelens(with Michael Mendoza) spins on the TW Steel yacht in Monaco.

Great house music can make time stand still. As it happens, it’s also the passion of Jordy Cobelens, CEO and founder, with his father, of watchmaker TW Steel. Ten years ago, Cobelens was a 19-year-old DJ running JC Records, his Amsterdam record store catering to a sonically savvy clientele. In 2005, he turned in his turntables to work full time with his father, Ton, TW Steel’s head designer, creating and marketing sleek, masculine watches. Beginning with only four pieces in the collection, this family affair became a budding accessory empire, currently selling in more than 85 countries with offices in Holland, Sydney, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

But after a few years, something felt incomplete for the young businessman. He missed the music in his life. “If I start something, I want to finish it,” he says. Thus, Cobelens created Steel Artist Management with partner Harith El Jilale, with a focus on working with new DJs, booking events, providing management, and helping them develop as artists. “For such a small country, Holland has become really well known for its DJs,” Cobelens says of his homeland: Think Tiësto and Afrojack. Steel Artist Management works with DJ Chuckie to bring the hard-edged Dirty Dutch sound to the world. This March, the Dutch invasion continues, as they introduce their crew of beatmakers to Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, including Gregor Salto, The Flexican, and Mitchell Niemeyer. This will be Cobelens’s first time at the festival.

Former model Niemeyer is their greatest success story. “He gets onstage, the girls absolutely love him,” Cobelens notes. The company discovered him as a novice, and worked to cultivate his skills. “He had the talent, and I can get the maximum out of that,” says Cobelens. Niemeyer’s first track shot up the ranks on Beatport’s Electro House Top 10 worldwide.

Cobelens gets excited watching his DJs perform at huge festivals. “These guys have so much motivation, so much passion.... [It’s] just absolutely beautiful to see the energy of 15,000 people. They absorb that, and they try to bring it over again to the audience. It’s incredible to me.” Catch Steel Artist Management’s star DJs at Ultra Music Festival from March 23 to 25, and with Dirty Dutch at Arkadia that same week.

By Elizabeth Tracy


Restaurant Roundup

These eateries continue to push Miami's dining evolution forward.

February 07, 2012

1. Vesper: What better place to enjoy a romantic dinner than where All-Star and super athlete LeBron James proposed to his now fiancée this past New Year's Eve? Although you might enjoy dining al fresco, we suggest the hidden dining room for some privacy and romance. Shelborne, 1801 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, 305-341-1500

2. The Dome: A caviar bar in Coral Gables, the Dome's delicacies and Latin fusion dishes will satisfy your palate. A LEED certified restaurant, this eatery focuses on sustainability, locally sourced ingredients and green operations. 271 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, 305-648-4999

3. Bianca: Bianca arrives at the Delano boasting a flavorful Italian menu. The lovely patio and the indoor seating in minimal whites and neutrals make this the idieal spot for an impressive night out. Delano 1685 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, 305-674-5752

4. The Federal Food Drink & Provisions: Tackling comfort food classics like pot pies, biscuits and gravy, this eatery will rock your world. You might want to start with their Ham ‘n Cheese or enjoy their rotating selection of cured meats, salamis and farmstead cheeses. 5132 Biscayne Blvd, Miami 786-383-2408 

—maria arguello


Viva Italia!

Midtown gets the boot as Salumeria 104 opens its doors.

February 06, 2012

The less cluttered a gallery wall is, the more the art can shine. Salumeria 104 takes the same tack with its Italian fare, letting it stand on its quite ample merits without fuss or distraction. This little salumi shop/Italian market/eatery in Midtown, which opened in December, is the latest venture by the Graspa Group (of Soyka, Spris, and Van Dyke Café fame). It’s helmed by Treviso-born chef/owner Angelo Masarin, whose résumé includes stints at Casa Tua, Sardinia Enoteca, and Cecconi’s. Masarin believes using fewer ingredients gives him more precise control over the quality of his finished product, and he sources everything carefully, whether it be Homestead’s Paradise Farms produce, imported cheeses, or nine versions of cured meats crafted in Italy and the US. “The king,” as Masarin calls his prosciutto, includes the relatively sweet prosciutto di Parma, the harder-to-find and more nutty flavored prosciutto di San Daniele, and even a truffle-infused iteration—all treated like royalty on a hand-spun meat slicer whose slow-spinning blade never heats up, thus preserving the intended flavor profile. All of this Italian authenticity is housed in a somewhat rustic interior where ham hocks hang from the ceiling and menus are scratched out on chalkboards, while gourmet dry pastas, olive oils, sauces and vinos line the walls—now that’s the kind of clutter we can live with. 3451 NE First Ave., Miami, 305-424-9588


—elizabeth tracy


Small Plate Wonders at The Setai

The Grill at The Setai debuts a reinvented menu of tapas-style savories.

January 09, 2012

Since opening six-and-a-half years ago, The Setai has brilliantly maintained its reputation as a hub of all things highend, thanks in no small part to the consistently delicious cuisine and superb service at its on-site eateries, both helmed by executive chef David Werly. Never one to rest on its laurels, the hotel is constantly reinventing itself in a culinary sense with fresh concepts and flavors. Case in point: There’s a new menu at The Grill—The Setai’s more casual, European, tapas-style outpost, whose succulent fare is often eclipsed by the pan-Asian experience at The Restaurant. While the vibe at The Grill has always felt more informal than its fine-dining counterpart’s, they stand shoulder-to-shoulder in terms of sophistication. Its sumptuous selection of dry-cured hams and cheeses (nibble on 36-month paleta de bellota and Morbier), plus a fresh raw bar and Spanish-, French-, and Italian-inspired small plates meant to be shared. Among our favorites: the suckling pig, the roasted sweetbreads with peas, celeriac, and chanterelle mushrooms, and the homemade cocoa pappardelle—a decadent dish that almost doubles as dessert. 2001 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-520-6400



Southern Comfort

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar delivers savory comfort food and a relaxed, down-home vibe.

November 08, 2011

They say Miami is not “the South.” To remedy that, Jeff McInnis (of Gigi, The Ritz-Carlton DiLido Beach Club, and Norman’s fame) and 50 Eggs Restaurant Group (owners of the wildly popular Lime Fresh Mexican Grill) have capitalized on chef McInnis’s roots in the Florida panhandle and Alabama in creating cozy, hospitable Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. Amid South Beach’s flash and flair, the rustic-meets-industrial space serves a modern spin on triedand- true favorites (think Brunswick stew made with alligator sausage and smoked rabbit, or Bell & Evans fried chicken biscuits with pepper jelly). McInnis pairs his monstrous shareable plates with bourbon cocktails and conceived a sure-tobe- smashing “Gospel Sunday” brunch that features Berkshire pork chops, shrimp po’ boys, and—as y’all probably guessed—a heavy dose of countrified charm. 1600 Lenox Ave., Miami Beach, 305-538-5220

By Christine Borges


Dreamy Heritage Pork Dishes

Local restaurants are on the forefront of the culinary industry's well-bred-pig movement.

November 04, 2011

Sustain's Heritage Berkshire pork trio

Sustain Restaurant + Bar
At this eco-conscious Midtown hot spot, you can combine a Prohibition-era cocktail with the “Heritage” Berkshire pork trio. The savory dish is composed of three permutations of pig: Benton’s smoked bacon-wrapped loin, a Berkshire pork cake, and house-made sausage. 3252 NE First Ave., Miami, 305-424-9079;

Sakaya Kitchen's pork buns

Sakaya Kitchen
The motto here is “no frills, just good food,” but the restaurant’s inventive use of Berkshire pork may indeed qualify as both. Try the pork buns stuffed with eight-hour roasted pork, cucumber pickles, and sweet chili sauce (above), or the honey-orange baby back ribs, which don’t just fall off the bone—they do a swan dive. 3401 N. Miami Ave., Miami, 305-576-8096;

Brana Food Group's pork and beans

Brana Food Group
Husband-and-wife team Jeffrey Brana and Anna Elena Pedron-Brana host intimate weekly dinners that are open to the public. While the menu changes constantly, a recent meal featured its sophisticated take on “pork and beans,” made with Mangalitsa pork shoulder from Pasture Prime Family Farm, porchetta seasonings, borlotti beans, and braised kale.


Weekend In-Town Getaway: Soho Beach House Miami

Soho Beach House Miami provides the ideal in-city escape.

October 21, 2011

If you are jetting down to Miami to enjoy the pristine white sands of South Beach, make sure to stay at Soho Beach House Miami. The $100 million Collins Avenue property—which includes the revamped, historic art deco Sovereign Hotel as well as a brand-new, 16-story oceanfront tower—elevates hospitality to new heights.

Its 49 rooms feel more like remarkable mini apartments available in six different sizes and layouts. Stylish standouts include a strong South American influence, one-off pieces of antique furniture, king-size beds and rainforest-style showers. The majority of the rooms face the ocean and a number have freestanding baths in front of windows so you can soak while staring at the Atlantic. 

The one-year-old hotel is open to the public, which means non-members can enjoy the luxurious amenities that members pay for (between $1,800 and $2,400). Included on the list of haute offerings are two pools (one for families, one for adults), a full-service beach, a lush garden with tiki bar, a roof deck and a 3D screening room. There is a gym (as well as a private yoga studio) and the Cowshed Spa, which is tucked into the second floor and features six spacious, ocean-facing mani-pedi chairs, five private treatment rooms (including a couples suite), steam rooms, a relaxation area, a blow-dry bar and a host of services. 

Down a hallway constructed of reclaimed wooden beams from barns is the Club Bar that is accessible only to members and hotel guests. It evokes Cuba in the 1940s (Hemingway’s Havana, if you will), and though the floor tiles, bar stools and tables are new, special care has been taken to distress each piece for an authentic edge. Sip a specialty cocktail on the open-air deck before heading down to the beach where fresh fruit slices, waters and towels await. (Swing by the bonfire—complete with marshmallow roasting—when the sun goes down.) 

When it comes to finer fare, Cecconi’s (on the first level) offers Italian specialties and the eatery on the second floor combines traditional and Latin cuisines. And when it comes to drinks, the hotel's in-room liquor services are unparalleled. Each bottle of alcohol in the mini bar is $35 regardless of brand, and the pre-dinner One While Changing program is a treat: a mixologist will come to your room with a full tray of ingredients used to craft a cocktail on the spot. The barmaster will even bring a snack. How sweet it is. 4385 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 786-507-7900

—sean evans


Mixologist Chat: Walid Hamid

The Sra. Martinez mixologist talks favorite watering holes and home bar essentials.

October 11, 2011

LEFT: Sra. Martinez mixologist Walid Hamid; RIGHT: Hamid’s gin- and lime-based Bramble cocktail at Sra. Martinez

What’s the drinking culture like these days?
Miami is developing a more interesting cocktail scene—there’s a growing appreciation.

Where do you go for drinks?
I love Hakkasan, The Florida Room, Living Room at the W South Beach and Sra. Martinez.

If a date leads to a nightcap at home, what should always be on hand?
Cointreau, vermouth, Aperol and a bottle each of gin, vodka and rum.

—Maria Argüello


Toque Talk: Miguel Aguilar

The Wynwood Kitchen & Bar chef dishes on Latin cusine.

October 04, 2011

How do you think Latin food is influencing the American palate?
MIGUEL AGUILAR: It has introduced dishes such as ceviche, along with spices in many different forms including cumin, cilantro, chipotle and jalapeños.

Where do you go for good Latin food?
MA: Little Havana on Biscayne serves the best Cuban food in M iami. The dishes are traditional and consistent.

What’s the standout dish at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar?
MA: The chicken ropa vieja empanadas; there’s so much flavor, love and passion behind it.

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