Nobody goes to Miami to stay inside. If you’re here on vacation, you’ve come to hit the beach or lounge by the pool; if you’re here on business, chances are you’ll start your day with an outdoor run and end it on a rooftop bar.
But thanks to a Zika virus-related travel warning from the Centers for Disease Control—the first in the United States, with, as of press time, six locally-acquired cases in the ultra-hip Wynwood neighborhood since June 15—that sun-loving Miami lifestyle has been upended. The city’s hottest neighborhood is laying low, businesses are temporarily closing their doors, and the city’s bikini-clad locals are retreating to their amenity-packed buildings.
There is, however, a silver lining. Never before has Miami had such a wide range of vibrant cultural sites, nationally respected restaurants, and design-centric hotels. After decades of feeling one-dimensional, the Magic City is living up to its moniker. And the best part is that you don’t have to be outdoors (or in trendy Wynwood) to appreciate its most exciting new upgrades.
If you had scheduled a South Florida weekend before the outbreak, consider keeping your plans. These days, it’s possible to spend your whole trip indoors, barring a cab or two, with no regrets.
Where to Eat (and Stay)
In many cities, hotel restaurants are to be avoided, but not in Miami. Here, they dominate the social landscape for local and visitors alike, and the most recent luxury hotel openings contain the city’s most exciting new places to eat.
The latest of the bunch is in the once-corporate, now-posh neighborhood of Brickell, at the just-opened EAST Hotel—an offshoot of the popular House Hotels in Hong Kong and Beijing. The property may have Asian roots but its restaurant, Quinto La Huella, hails from Jose Ignacio, Uruguay. (Order the entrecôte, made from Uruguayan cattle, with any of the smoke-kissed vegetable sides.)
La Huella isn’t the only big-name South American import in Miami this year. Los Fuegos, the first stateside restaurant by legendary Argentine grill master Francis Mallmann, is a place where the people-watching is as good as the food; when the steak-focused restaurant first opened in Miami Beach’s Faena Hotel earlier this year, it instantly drew an international crowd of sharply dressed visitors and expats.
Mallmann made his name off open-flame cooking in rural Patagonia, which you can’t replicate in Miami Beach. So instead, order the parrillada—a sampling of Wagyu, Chorizo, and rib-eye steaks served on a tabletop grill. (The hotel has an additional top-tier dining spot on its mezzanine level, with a giant Damien Hirst unicorn for a visual centerpiece and an Asian-inflected menu by Austin darling Paul Qui.)
A stone’s throw away is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Matador Room, at the Edition Hotel—it never left the spotlight since it opened in December 2014, partially in thanks to the chef de cuisine’s successful run on Bravo’s Top Chef.
All these are in the national spotlight, but hitting up some of the smaller, locally buzzy places offers a window into Miami’s unique food culture.