Local fooderati are flocking to Miami’s newest restaurants for the scenery just as much as they are for the smoked meats. Whether you’re into the bohemian look, a modern feel or a taste of the Mad Men era, you’ll find a feast for all the senses at these three eateries.
Wander off Lincoln Road and you’ll discover the Bodega, a Pueblo-inspired homage to food truck culture just off Alton Road and 16th Street — look for a neon sign above that reads “meat market.” Bodega is a former auto-service spot and its interior does feature a full-sized airstream trailer, a traditional striped awning, an old-school marquee, barn wood walls, low-rider bicycle seats turned into bar stools and colorful traditional Mexican touches such as Dia de los Muertos skeletons. But somehow, the place is a lot more cool than kitschy. Crack open the industrial meat locker door and you’ll step into a 5,000-square-foot speakeasy (but really, it’s not so clandestine) with chesterfield drawers and cuckoo clocks on brick walls next to gas pumps, vintage signs, pool tables and a rotating selection of art installations. Live jam sessions by local bands and DJs and impromptu graffiti by celebrated street artists keep the vibe super relaxed. On the menu, you’ll find flame-broiled meats, tacos and tortas, and plenty of craft shots and cocktails to go around. For a great night, zero in on a red velvet couch and order the panza (guajillo-braised pork belly with charred onions and fried jalapeños) with a smoked horchata shot on the side.
Take a trip to the island of Formentera, Spain, at Mondrian South Beach’s new restaurant La Savina. The Mediterranean grill offers a sensible menu with an unrivaled view of Biscayne Bay as the headliner. Oversized planters, rattan lampshades, Beachwood tabletops and intimate lantern lighting fill the 140-seat, indoor/outdoor spot, while concrete-colored walls and reclaimed wood bedeck the interior dining room. Executive chef Tien Ho from New York City’s Momofuku has created a menu centered on chargrilled meats and fish a la parrilla (charcoal grilled). Standout items include the roasted carrot salad, Valencia rice, a 24-ounce Niman Ranch grass-fed rib eye and a whole Florida yellowtail snapper.
Vagabond Restaurant and Bar
The recently opened Vagabond in the MiMo district caters to the free-spirit adventurer. Part restaurant, part bar, part gallery, the place is a mashup of scenes from Mad Men and Magic City. Located inside the fun, landmark Vagabond Hotel, the retro-luxe décor harks back to a 1960s vibe. You’ll see murals by emerging contemporary artists with an emphasis on global pieces, living walls of greenery, constellation-inspired lighting crisscrossing the ceiling and an iPhone 5 photo installation. Anchoring the 150-seat space is a circular sunken bar with a lounge where you can rest on one of the bright teal couches and admire the Sputnik-style throwback lamps while you peruse the menu, which is just as whimsical as the scenery. We suggest the peanuts and chapulines (fried grasshoppers) to start. Go with the sweet and sour sun shrimp as an entrée, and the High West bourbon milk punch to wash it all down. For some fresh air, dine alfresco in the courtyard adjacent to the hotel’s swimming pool.