OK. So. I know that some of you might be coming down this Christmas vacation. To escape the snow/20 degree weather. See Mom and Pop. See Grandma. See those silly friends who moved down telling you that Miami is like the next cool city. Or if you’re just dreaming of a blue Christmas.
After my first three intense months here I dare to share :
My, by far, favorite restaurant, and OK so I’m biased because the owners are Dutch, and Ineke and I used to model together in Amsterdam in the seventies, is IndoMania, the only really good Indonesian restaurant outside Amsterdam (I never went to Indonesia), where they serve a full Rice Table, or great Indonesian inspired dishes that compete with any high class fusion restaurant.
Next fave, for lunch or a very early dinner (close at 7pm) and for those of you who like hole-in-the-wall style Japanese sushi, is at the Japanese Market @ North Bay Village. The deck at the Standard Hotel has great views of Biscayne Bay and also of superstar guests like Naomi, Nars, Weber and Calvin. More celebs and a great spot for brunch is, of course, under the trees at the Raleigh Hotel, if you’re cool enough to be given a table… Sardinia on Purdy Street is a fancy Sardinian restaurant where the food is excellent, the waiters real Italians and real cute, and I felt like I was back being spoiled on the Costa Smeralda. The Buena Vista Bistro is in the design district, the mainland, just over the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Cafe´ style home cooking like great grouper/mashed potatoes. Other restaurants in the design district are Michael’s with draft beer and macho fayre (bacon, burnt sprouts and lots of meat) and FratelliLyon. The Red Light, (305) 757-7773, has a fabulous owner chef, a cool quirky crowd and is hidden away in the fifties style Motel Blu , with only a handwritten sign that says Red Light . Upstairs interior is funky Caribbean diner and downstairs there’s a narrow terrace on Little River where manatees have been known to lounge around. Lincoln Road is fun, but most restaurants suck in a get them in and out fast kinda way, so we have our own three destinations: Books and Books for great salads, superb fish sandwich, magazines from all over the world, and cool well-read waiters. At Sostas the pizza is good and affordable, its where we take the kids. After seeing a movie at the Lincoln Theater next door I like the Venezuelan Baire where I have the poached pear and gorgonzola salad and hope that the super sexy group at the next table (straight from a Almodovar cast) invites me to join them.
For loitering outside, people watching and groovy stores like Diesel and Miss Sixty (dotted between the same old same old Gap, Victoria Secret and Pottery Barn) there is of course Lincoln Road, which becomes more interesting every other Sunday when a street fair/fleamarket is part of the streetscape.
While being So Be-ward, even if you cant afford or fit into ultra expensive, gorgeous, top of the line, best pick designer clothes, you have to visit the Webster, a newly opened lifestyle of the rich and famous store run by former YSL execs, Milan, Laure and Frederic, all chic as poodles, and incidently there’s a Kaspia, the Paris caviar joint ,in the lobby. But in general modern shopping is best in the design district, a small neighborhood of about four blocks square with furniture/lifestyle, Luminaire, Avanti, Kartell and fashion/accesories stores like Marni, Fendi, Quinn, Tomas Maier and the recently opened Moore building with several young designers boutiques. A few blocks down is the Wynwood area with lots of little galleries and cool shops like Las Tias , a consignment furniture store (and more) choc full of Lapidus and Miami Vice-style cast offs and owned by my fabulous Miami friend Esther Percal. A must!
Like beaches and pools? We like to walk to the public beach entry on 62nd street where the water is turquoise, the beach is wide and very quiet. But for the complete Miami Beach experience rent a bike and take the boardwalk all the up or way down and pick a spot. Like South Pointe Park which was recently opened and extends along the port waterway where cruise ships like giant UFO’s glide by you on your tiny towel. For a grand feet-out-of-the-sand experience the beach at the Raleigh is wide and buff boys settle you into their comfy sun chairs for a substantial fee. The Raleigh pool is fabulous dahling, models, male and female, are encouraged to hang by the pool (in their spare time) for sex appeal but it made me want to diet, do the gym, botox, tummy tuck, and spray-on tan before ever coming back . The Fontainebleau has a “poolscape” meaning three, or is it four, pools with connecting terraces that are dotted with sun chairs and VIP cabanas which include flat screen TV’s and girls who rub sunscreen into the oily backs of sunburned Soprano types. Its kitsch but if you’re doing Miami you gotta do the Fontainebleau, even if its only for an hour. My favorite pool ever, anywhere, is the lake sized pool at the Biltmore Hotel in the Gables, nowhere near the beach, but go for a drink at the poolside bar, bring a costume, and float around (preferably at night when the hotel is lit up and feels like the Alhambra.)
Like renting a boat? Any size is available depending on your budget, from Indian Creek along Collins Avenue. Nightclubs must still be play for some, and the Wall at the W is one hot-spot, although it made me feel like my own granny. Debbie’s after hours club, called Private Residence @ 1427 West Ave is my Saturday night spot, its small and exclusive and reminds me of the old London clubs like Tramp and Annabel’s. Exploring funky neighborhoods is what I like to do best. Miami is a cosmopolitan experience and if you want to feel like you’ve left the USA go hang out in the South American strip by the beach between 63rd and 75th street. My favorite is the Buenos Aires Bakery where they sell pre-made mini sandwiches which I take to the beach. Or walk around little Havana for quirky shops, great Jazz and cigars if you’re so inclined. Along the railroad tracks on 4th North Court/79th street I found, behind a wall of highly designed shades of grey concrete panels, a commune of cool young fashion designers, artists, hairdressers, architects and Green developers. Its where I want to have my studio. If we stay next year that is…
Love yourself at Canyon Ranch. Love your husband (like me) at the W Hotel. Love your lover at the Setai . Love your kids at the Biltmore.