Lotus Magazine: Miami City Guide

For a good time out on the town stick to the experts: the local girls.

Interviews by Adam Hay-Nicholls

Photography by Marlene Marino
Bette Ann

BETTE ANN SCHLOSSBERG

Age: 26

Birthplace: Atlanta, GA

Job: Community producer for Shooger.com

Photographed at: The Standard Miami

What’s the best time of year to be in Miami?

The weather is perfect in November and December, and there’s loads going on, so that’s my favourite. But I also like the summer slow season, because it’s just locals and we don’t have to deal with tourists.

What brought you here?

I had vacationed in Miami for years. Then I got a job offer to move out here with an advertising agency, so I jumped at the opportunity.

What does your place look like?

It’s a one-bed in a high-rise overlooking the Bay in downtown. My apartment is decorated with art I’ve collected over the years. My newest piece is by Sonni, a Miami-based artist who does really bright child-like graphics and robo-characters. I bought it from my favourite gallery Primary Flight [Suite #104, 4141 NE 2nd Avenue / primaryflight.com].

What’s the dating scene there like?

Miami is very small, so the chances are the guy you’re dating has also dated your best friend. Miami is very transient so you can always be replaced. Guys can find the next young model that moves into town, and girls can find the next sugar daddy that docks his boat in the marina. None of my friends are in serious relationships, everyone dates multiple people.

Where’s the best place to chill?

I love going to Soho Beach House [4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach / sohobeachhouse.com] on the weekends. The eighth floor pool is great, as is the beach. Order a few pitchers of white sangria and you’ll feel like you’re on vacation.

What food is Miami best for, and where can we find it?

It has killer Peruvian food. One of my favourite hole-in-the-wall places is Sabor y Peru [2923 Biscayne Boulevard]. Theirs is the best ceviche I’ve ever had. I love Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink [130 NE 40th Street / michaelsgenuine.com]. Chef Michael Schwatz’s unique contemporary American cooking never disappoints. And my girlfriends and I often go to Gigi [3470 N Miami Avenue / giginow.com] for Asian fusion. I like how the portions are perfect for sharing.

Where do you go dancing?

I love house, tech house, electronic and indie music. Miami attracts the best DJs in the world, and you’ll find them at Bardot [3456 N Miami Avenue / bardotmiami.com], Vagabond [30 NE 14th Street / thevagabondmiami.com], and Space [34 NE 11th Street / clubspace.com]

What’s the coolest new thing to turn up in Miami?

Legal Art [1035 N Miami Avenue / legalartmiami.org] has great exhibitions. They give artists residencies where they’re given living and studio space for a year – kind of like The Real World for creatives.

How would you describe your personal style?

The wilder the colors, the more outrageous the pattern, the more likely I am to wear it.  I am slightly skater, slightly hippie, mixed with a little bit of raver chic. I tend to shop at Rebel [6669 Biscayne Boulevard] and Big Drop NYC [2321 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach / bigdropnyc.com]

How can a guy stand out in Miami (in a good way)?

I like real guys. Not showy ones that need to pop a bottle to get girls.

Chriselda

CRISELDA BREENE

Age: 32

Birthplace: Philippines

Job: Mom

What’s the coolest new thing to show up in Miami recently?

The really awesome parking garages that have been designed by Zaha Hadid and Herzog & de Meuron.

What’s the worst thing about living in Miami?

The humid nights and getting eaten alive by bugs.

Where do you like to relax with a drink?

The Surf Club [9011 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach / miamibeachsurfclub.com] is an old beach club, and the only one left on Miami Beach with a huge ocean frontage and private cabanas. It’s like being in the Caribbean. I also love the courtyard at The Setai [2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach / setai.com], which is very tranquil as the dining pods are set in water. I love their passion fruit martinis, because they put chili seeds in them.

Any new restaurants cropped up recently?

There’s Yardbird Southern Table and Bar [1600 Lenox Avenue, Miami Beach] which does pan-Asian food and is really good for a post-shopping dinner, because it’s off Lincoln. For American fare there’s Tudor House at the Dream Hotel [1111 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach / tudorhousemiami.com], which is run by celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian. It’s a really classic, airy restaurant, perfect for lunch just off the beach. They do a great steak tartare and their ‘Ugly Burger’ which comes with bread and butter pickles.

Where would you recommend for Cuban food?

I really don’t want to say, because they’ll start running out of their fried chicken. Okay, okay… El Rinconcito El Chele [3791 Bird Road], in Little Havana. And while I’m at it, I should recommend my favourite place for Chinese. South Garden Dim Sum [Suite #10, 10855 SW 72nd Street / southgardenrestaurant.com], which is in the middle of nowhere, is really popular with the Chinese community, so you know it’s good and authentic.

What about for a romantic dinner?

Naoe [175 Sunny Isles Boulevard / naoemiami.com] does Japanese cuisine so good your eyes will pop out of your head. It’s very special and, because there’s seating for just eight people in the entire restaurant, and only two seating sittings each night, so you need to book well in advance. The lobster and salmon sushi, big kumamoto oysters, and live aoyagi are all incredible, and I recommend the chef’s omakase – literally, whatever he fancies making.

If you’re looking for adventure, where’s the best place to start?

Key Biscayne for all the water sports and Coconut Grove for the hang gliding.

How should a man dress?

He should dress with some consideration for his partner.  You don’t want your man to be in a raggedy t-shirt and jeans if you are dressed in sequins.

How can a guy stand out in Miami (in a good way)?

Be genuine.

Diana+Jess

DIANA GDULA

Age: 25

Birthplace: New Jersey

Occupation: Public relations

Photo location: South Pointe jetty

What’s it like working in PR?

I believe rules are meant to be broken if it’s for the right reasons, and media and fashion are most definitely two of the few professional industries that don’t play by the rules. I work for luxury shoe and handbag salon Capretto Shoes [5822 Sunset Drive]. We cater for women looking for something extravagant, and their husband never need know!

What do you love most about living in Miami?

The lifestyle: The beach, the culture, the eclectic energy. You never know what you’re gonna get. The all-natural dosage of Vitamin D makes this city a happy place.

Have you always lived here?

I was born in New Jersey and grew up in Colorado before coming to the University of Miami – Go Canes! Miami is a hard city to leave.

Where’s the best place to go and catch some sun?

South Pointe is my favourite. It’s the only spot on South Beach where you can get away from the masses, stroll, read, picnic, and watch the most striking sunset at dusk.

And for dinner?

The Forge [432 41st Street, Miami Beach / theforge.com] is immaculate from food to décor, and you have to check out the library. For Japanese, try BONDST Lounge in the basement of the Townhouse Hotel [150 20th Street, Miami Beach / townhousehotel/bond.asp], which has an intimate, trendy vibe straight out of Manhattan and the best tuna sushi on the planet.

What about pre-game cocktails?

The Living Room at W South Beach [2201 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach / wsouthbeach.com/living-room-bar] has innovative cocktails, and it’s a good place for meeting people as everyone mingles. My favourite drink there is a champagne cocktail made with rose and raspberries.

Sounds very Sex and the City…

I can do beer and football too. That’s a pretty unbeatable combo.

What’s the dating scene like in Miami?

What dating scene? We’re still waiting for it to blow in with the next hurricane. Miami is full of beautiful women, but the challenge is in finding one that’s more than just that. If you’re here to play, then you’ve arrived at your destination.

How should a man go about trying to get a date with you?

Old fashion charm gets me every time. Playing hard-to-get is never a winning strategy. There’s nothing wrong with straightforwardness. It shows confidence. You have to not only keep up with me, but also present a challenge. If you’re genuine, sarcastic, have a brain and know how to use it, then you stand a chance.

What’s the worst chat up line you’ve ever heard?

“Slow down, sugar! I’m diabetic.”

JESSICA FINKELSON

Age: 25

Birthplace: New Jersey

Job: Marketing director for a plastic surgery clinic

How would you describe your personal style?

A mix of styles a la Blake Lively; classic chic with a sexy edge. Being a 20-something in Miami allows you to push the envelope.

How should a man dress?

Be ambitious. No flip-flops, no Speedos, and no cargo shorts. I have a thing about bowties, actually.

Where do you go to dance?

Where don’t I go to dance? You can always count on The Florida Room at the Delano Hotel [1685 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach / Delano-hotel.com] for a chilled vibe, beautiful people, great music and lots of South Beach attitude. Purdy Lounge [1811 Purdy Avenue, Miami Beach / purdylounge.com] is good for later. They do the best margaritas and cosmos in SoBe, and the mood is sexy and laid back. I love the sunset mural backdrop, which is straight outta Scarface. It’s mainly locals who come here and you don’t have to put up with the usual pretentiousness. They even have pool tables!

The city can get pretty hot. How do you cool off?

Miami is known for its Cuban cuisine and so I recommend you check out Azucar [1503 Calle Ocho / azucaricecream.com], a new homemade Cuban ice cream parlour perfect for cooling down, or for a late-night indulgence. For more traditional flavours, Whip ‘n Dip [1407 Sunset drive / whipndipicecream.com] is phenomenal.

Where’s good for seafood?

Joe’s Stone Crab [11 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach / joesstonecrab.com] is famous, not just for their crab but all seafood and their key lime pie. It’s nearly 100 years old and well-fed diners have included Al Capone, Frank Sinatra and Ian Fleming. Doubtless they too had to wear the silly plastic bib they force you to wear around your neck.

We fancy a road trip. Where do we tell the sat-nav to head?

The drive down to the Keys is breathtaking and there’s plenty to explore once you get there. Naples and Bonita Springs, on the other side of the Floridian peninsula, are quaint little hideaways if you’re looking to get away from is all. They’re about two hours from Miami, if you put your foot down.

If tomorrow was your last day in Miami where would you go and what would you do?

Miamians favorite four letter word: boat.

Joyce

JOYCE CHEHEBAR

Age: 35

Birthplace: Caracas, Venezuela

Occupation: Owner, I love Pizza [ilovepizzanow.com]

What do you love most about Miami?

For those of us with a Latin connection it’s the perfect meeting point, ideally located on the map. I moved here 12 years ago from Caracas.

What’s the best time of year to be there?

Winter is best because you cannot imagine better weather, and there’s so much going on, starting with Art Basel [artbaselmiamibeach.com] on the first week of December and ending with the Winter Music Conference [miamiwmc.com] in late March.

What’s your favourite pizza topping in your own restaurant?

The Uptown – with truffle carpaccio and truffle oil.

Where’s the best place for Latin bites?

Miami has so many; Venezuelen, Colombian, Nicaraguan, Cuban… I really like the Tinta y Café [268 Calle Ocho /  tintaycafe.com] for the best cup of coffee in Florida and their savory Cuban sandwiches.

And for Latin dancing?

Unquestionably Hoy Como Ayer [2212 SW 8th Street / hoycomoayer.us] in Little Havana is the perfect place to dance salsa all night long to live music. It’s a little slice of Old Cuba.

Favourite place for drinks, and what are you having?

I’m a Riesling enthusiast! The Blue Piano [4600 NE 2nd Avenue] has one of the best selections of beers and wines from around the world, to be enjoyed while listening to that night’s crooner on the not-so-blue piano.

Where’s the best place for a romantic dinner?

I love Mandolin Aegean Bistro [4312 NE 2nd Avenue / mandolinmiami.com], a charming Greek restaurant in a 1940s house, found between the Design District and the historic Buena Vista neighborhood, where the food and ambiance make it the best spot in town for a lovely evening.

How would you describe your personal style?

Timeless, flirty, swanky, daring, but definitely flattering and feminine. My favourite labels are Alexander McQueen, Coco Chanel and Carolina Herrara.

How did you meet your husband?

It was all about timing. We met in Cancun about 18 years ago, but that’s not where it started. We had to live through other experiences before we met again, at a friend’s party in Miami, to realize we were meant for each other.

Raven

RAVEN MARIE

Age: 26

Birthplace: Birmingham, Alabama

Occupation: Bottle server

How come you live in Miami?

It’s so dynamic. Coming from Alabama, it was overwhelming at first. I had never even seen the ocean before. I moved here when I was 19. I packed up my car with everything I could and just drove here alone. It was a leap of faith, and Miami has been kind to me. I have no idea where I’ll be in three years. When I’m ready to join the real world, I will.

Which beach is best?

Nikki Beach, as it’s right off the water and not too busy. I love it there, especially on a Sunday.

Where do you go to dance?

I’m all about house music. Mokai [235 23rd Street, Miami Beach / mokaimiami.com] and Mansion [1235 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach / mansionmiamibeach.com] are mainstays, always crowded and with amazing DJs. But my favourite is SET [320 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach / setmiami.com], and not just because I work there. The music is incredible. If you’re into smaller underground venues then The Electric Pickle [2826 N Miami Avenue / electricpicklemiami.com] in midtown is awesome as well.

How should a chap go about getting a date with you?

That’s simple. Ask me and refrain from any form of pick up lines. No bueno!

Where would you recommend for a romantic dinner?

Asia de Cuba at the Mondrain Hotel [1100 West Avenue, Miami Beach / mondrian-miami.com] has a wonderful atmosphere and a stunning calamari salad.

If you’re seeking adventure, where do you head?

South Beach’s Lincoln Road. People are always handing out flyers for events, parties and tours. That’s the best place to start.

Where would you recommend that isn’t on a tourist map?

The art district. It’s beautiful and different, and a chance to see a different Miami to that which you see on the beach.

Jeannette + Lyanne

JEANETTE ROGER

Age: 28

Birthplace: Miami

Job: Beachwear boutique owner [nicdelmar.com]

What inspired you to set up a beachwear store?

Every Christmas my family and I would travel to St Barths and there we found these beautiful cover-ups. My sister Lyanne and I thought it would be a great idea to bring a piece of the French West Indies to the US. We began doing trunk shows, which led to a website, and eventually our bricks and mortar store, Nic del Mar [#105, 475 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables / nicdelmar.com].

What do you love most about Miami?

You get the best of both worlds – it’s a buzzing city and a laid back beach town at the same time.

What’s your home like?

Clean lines, linen coloured walls, mirrored tables, driftwood, black and white photos, hardback books, and a dash of white corals and seashells all around the house.

What’s the worst chat up line you’ve ever heard?

I was walking on the beach and a guy yelled out: “Get out of the sun, you’re too hot already!”

How should a man go about trying to get a date with you?

A simple hello will suffice. A date that has something to do with the ocean will definitely get you noticed.

What food is Miami best for, and where can we find it?

Miami is a big melting pot. At the moment Sugarcane [#115, 3250 NE 1st Avenue / sugarcanerawbargrill.com] is a cool spot. They do tapas with quite unusual ingredients, like snapper and strawberries or tuna with pickled watermelon, but which work really well together.

How about cocktails?

Green Street [3468 Main Highway, Coconut Grove / greenstreetcafe.net] is an outdoor café with giant Victorian couches and tables. They do every type of flavoured martini under the sun.

If we’re looking for adventure, where should we start?

I love wakeboarding and have my own boat. A friend of mine owns a school, Splash Academy [3301 Rickenbacker Causeway / splashacademy.com] where you can board, surf and ski with a view of downtown Miami.

What place or activity would you recommend to visitors that isn’t in the tourist books?

Hang out with the locals at The Standard’s spa [40 Island Avenue, Miami Beach / standarhotels.com/miami]. Get a massage there and you’ll also have access to the pool, café and stand-up paddle boarding.

LYANNE ROGER

Age: 27

Birthplace: Miami

Occupation: Beachwear boutique co-owner [nicdelmar.com]

Why is you and your sister’s shop called Nic del Mar?

It combines our middle names, Nicole and Marie.

Where’s the best place for a drink on the beach, and what can we get you?

I’ll have an ice cold beer, thanks. I recommend Las Olas in Key Biscayne [235 Crandon Boulevard] because it’s right on the water, or if you don’t like sand and sea you can lie by the pool. The service is fab, the vibe is laid back, and the ceviche is delicious.

What music are you into, and where do you like to watch live gigs?

I love reggae, and play it every day in my store. A good spot for live bands, and different kinds of music, is Scotty’s Landing [3381 Pan American Drive, Coconut Grove / sailmiami.com/scottys]. It has a beautiful view of Biscayne bay and is perfect for watching the sun go down with a few beers and your friends. Biscayne Bay is where I go for paddleboarding, and that’s thirsty work.

Where do you recommend for Cuban food?

Versailles [3555 SW Eighth St, West Little Havana] is an institution, because of its history and delicious food. I don’t know why it’s called Versailles, except the big mirrors on the walls, murals and chintzy chandeliers are a bit like you might find in a French palace. There is nothing French on the menu, though. I love the tasty Moors and Christians – black beans and white rice – and the ropa vieja – shredded beef stew which is a house specialty. The place is huge, as are the portions. The clientele is kinda older. Supposedly it’s a meeting place for Cuban power brokers, and it’s played host to a few American presidents too! Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton and George W Bush have all eaten here. We need to get No.44 down here too!

Who are your style icons?

Rachel Bilson and Olivia Wilde.

What’s the worst thing about living in Miami?

The rainy season. In the summer it rains almost every afternoon.

What’s the worst chat-up line you’ve ever heard?

“Do you have any bikinis in my size?”

What’s the coolest new thing to show up in Miami?

DecoBike. It’s bicycle rental like you have in Paris, London and Berlin but here the weather is perfect for cycling. There are 100 stations throughout South Beach, and 1000 bikes, so you should be able to find one.

Julian

JILIAN SANZ

Age: 27

Birthplace: Miami

Job: Fashion editor

How did you get started in fashion journalism?

I was doing an un-paid internship for a luxury lifestyle magazine and the fashion editor’s job became available. I expressed an interest, and the publisher looked at me like I had four heads. That just made me more determined, and I immediately booked some holiday time. Two days later I was on a plane to Paris fashion week and I came back with interviews from every major designer. The publisher then hired me on the spot. I was only 21.

Have you always lived in Miami?

Born and raised first generation American. My parents are Cuban

What are Miamians like?

Like magpies, they’re easily distracted by glittery things. It’s difficult to find someone interested in a relationship.

Where’s the best place to meet people?

Soho Beach House [4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach / sohobeachhouse.com] has become like Cheers. Everyone goes there, and everybody knows your name. It’s the coolest spot in town.

What are you drinking?

Kettle One with soda and two limes.

Where do you go to eat?

My favourite restaurant right now is Zuma [270 Biscayne Boulevard Way / zumarestaurant.com] and their signature rib-eye steak with garlic fries. But I also like Cecconi’s [4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach / cecconismiamibeach.com] for upmarket Italian and gorgeous patio dinning, STK [2377 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach / togrp.com/stkmiami], a seriously chic steakhouse imported from New York with a club vibe, and the legendary Mr Chow [2201 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach / mrchow.com], who opened his Miami outlet on the beach two years ago and is one of the most stylish places to dine on SoBe.

How about on a date night?

It’s nice to eat at Garcia’s [398 NW North River Drive] on the river, and to go there by boat. It’s quite hidden and is no-frills.

Where do you go to dance?

I’m married to Mynt [1921 Collins Avenue / myntlounge.com], and have so many fun memories from there. The music is mainly electronic. Of course, it’s good to mix it up a bit. For a more intimate ambiance with perfect music – Spanish beats and conga drums – and an elegant crowd you must visit Casa Tua [1700 James Avenue, Miami Beach / casatualifestyle.com].

How should a man dress?

If a man has a personal and unique style, that’s sexy. I have a life long obsession with James Bond, so any occasion that calls for a tux is amazing; there’s nothing like a man in black tie.

Susanne

SUSANNE BIRBRAGHER

Age: 37

Birthplace: Bogota, Colombia

Job: Arts publishing and marketing

When is the best time of year to be in Miami?

During Art Basel week of course! The December event transforms the city into a cultural and creative centre. What happens in Miami that week doesn’t happen at any other art fair. Besides the main show in the convention centre there are over 20 other fairs, museums put on their best shows, collectors open up their homes. It’s one big party.

Do you collect yourself?

Yes, and I tend to focus on contemporary Latin American art.

If tomorrow was your last day in Miami where would you go and what would you do

I would go to the spa at the Mandarin Oriental [500 Brickell Key Drive / mandarinoriental.com/Miami], do a gastronomic tour of the city stopping at all my favorite restaurants, and then have a party on the beach.

Who are the top chefs in Miami?

There’s Michelle Bernstein’s Michy’s [6927 Biscayne Boulevard / michysmiami.com], Michael’s [130 NE 40th Street / michaelsgenuine.com] by Michael Schwartz and Ken Lyon with Fratelli Lyon [#101A, 4141 NE 2nd Avenue / fratellilyon.com], the best Italian in town.

What’s your tipple?

Anything bubbly, or with Mandarine Napoleon.

Where did you go on your last date?

It was a bit unusual. It was a second date and he asked me to bring my bathing suit. He took me scuba diving at night.

What place would you recommend to visitors that isn’t in the tourist books?

Visit 1111 Lincoln Road, go up to the top floor and enjoy one of the best sky and sunset views of Miami. Far from what you might expect from a regular parking lot, it is a multi-use architectural award-wining building by international renowned architects Herzog and de Meuron.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I study with a spiritual teacher ten hours a week. We discuss current affairs and the development of humanity.

How can a guy stand out in Miami (in a good way)?

Have a brain, and be okay with a woman using hers.

Purdy

PURDY TRAN

Age: 31

Birthplace: California

Job: Director of membership and club development, Casa Tua

Photo shoot location: The Hotel at Casa Tua

What do you do for a living?

I oversee the membership of Casa Tua’s private club. Our 500 members are a very eclectic group from all backgrounds and professions – artists, business leaders, singers and photographers, to name a few. I love what I do because I wear many hats and interact with Miami’s finest. Our annual Halloween bash is the best party on the beach [1700 James Avenue, Miami Beach / casatualifestyle.com]

Where do you recommend for sunbathing?

I like the beach by 3rd Street on South Beach. It’s mainly locals there, rather than tourists, and I can jump on my bicycle and be there in five minutes. If I get hungry I can walk over to Smith & Wollensky [1 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach / smithandwollensky.com/sw-miami-beach] and eat outside on the patio. This place is gorgeous at sunset, and the steaks are excellent.

What food is Miami best for?

I love the Japanese food here. Makoto [#107, 9700 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour] has the best appetizer; spicy tuna crunchy rice. I dream about that dish. Also Zuma [270 Biscayne Boulevard Way / zumarestaurant.com] in downtown has the freshest sushi and really inventive dishes. A hidden gem is Hiro’s Yakko-San [3881 NE 163rd Street, North Miami Beach / yakko-san.com]. It’s very casual but the daily whole fish specials will blow your mind. I like to sit at the sushi bar and watch the chefs chop away in front of me.

Have you got a favourite place for brunch?

The Standard [40 Island Avenue, Miami Beach / stanndardhotels.com/miami] is a staple. It has a wonderful view of Biscayne Bay, right on the water. And who doesn’t love Tater Tots for brunch?

What do you like to drink?

I’ve discovered this delicious cocktail at Haven [1237 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach / havenlounge.com], a gastro lounge on South Beach. It’s called Fever, and it contains Grey Goose Poire, jalapenos, lychee and pear prosecco. Yummy!

What’s the coolest new thing to turn up in Miami?

Pop-up Vietnamese restaurant Phuc Yea! [19 SE 2nd Avenue]. It’s authentic enough to take my 89-year-old Vietnamese granny to, though she might disapprove of the name.

What’s the best spot in the Keys?

Forget touristy Key West, visit Islamorada instead. It’s about half way between Miami and Key West, so about two hours by car. The most luxe resort is The Moorings [123 Beach Road, Islamorada / themooringsvillage.com], which is comprised entirely of romantic bungalows. I got engaged here.

We’re looking for adventure. Where should we start?

Try airboating in the Everglades, and keep your eyes peeled for ‘gators.

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