After many an escape to the heat of Miami from a curiously cold New York spring, we’ve developed a bit of a magic city routine that inevitably involves strolls along the beach promenade, shopping on Lincoln Road, and many a bevvy at one of the plush hotels that line Collins Ave. More recent trips, however, have had us upending said routine by venturing into parts unknown – like our recent introduction to SoFi, South Beach’s Tribeca-shaped southernmost wedge between 5th Street and the ocean.
5th St is a natural demarcation line between the hard-partying Ocean Drive scene to its north, where Lummus Park starts, and the more subdued residential area to the south. And we were happy not to have to share its quiet streets with the throngs of shell-shocked tourists and questionably attired locals one finds in the trenches of SoBe.
We were staying at the perfectly situated Urbanica The Meridian Hotel, a minimalist oasis that reflects the dialed-down vibe of the neighborhood.
Cheeky though it was, we were quietly delighted when the Meridian’s fashionably bearded concierge greeted us with a salutation of “welcome home” as we alighted curbside. The immediately proffered mojito only added to the cozy feeling. Once upstairs, the genuinely monochromatically white in décor rooms exuded a sense-depriving calm, and we indulged in some much needed down time.
Our first evening upon us, we started at the hotel’s newly opened Minibar, a chic, mid-century-meets-tiki oasis where we downed a few of their signature cocktails, including a South Beach ‘Z’ Pack, made of tequila, mezcal, ginger and honey.
We then dared to cross 5th into the heart of SoBe for the resto-meets-nightclub (aren’t they all in Miami?) Myn-Tu, which is next door to and sister of the perpetually trendy Mynt (get it?). The neon lights and scantily dressed servers, while certainly fun, didn’t instill in us lofty gastronomic expectations; but we were delightfully surprised, feasting on lemongrass soup, jackfruit gyozas, sea bass lettuce cups, and other sublimely prepared delicacies. A post dinner drink at the formerly subdued Setai hotel surprised us, as the once quietly elegant interior courtyard had transformed into a throbbing house party. Again, the nightclub thing.
After a restful night we breakfasted on eggs and antioxidant smoothies from the Meridian’s Food Marchand in its charming courtyard, before a long, lazy day of sun and sand – especially as the hotel is just a couple of easy blocks from the beach. Walking back, we indulged in some of the best ceviche we’ve ever had at the charming My Ceviche, taking our orders next door for $3 beers at the welcoming SoBe Hostel.
That evening a jaunt across the bay to Wynwood took more energy than we had counted on, as the once (okay, maybe quite awhile ago) off-the-radar boho arts district has recently become SoBe West, with an inordinate number of new security controlled club/bars/restos, and the throngs of partyers they tend to attract.
We were curious to check out the new Yucatan influenced encampment Proyecto Tulum, which boasts not only food and drinks inspired by the Mexican resort town, but art, design, music, and even culture from the same. Strolling the sizable outdoor space from one individual area to the next did indeed remind us of the magical ancient Mayan town to the south.
Back in the dramatically chiller SoFi, we walked the deserted streets to the back-alley entrance of new club Sophie’s (get it?). Reflecting its dialed-down location the space eschews Miami’s typical blingtasticness for a more downtown cool, even ’90s-ish ambience. The LL Cool J and Pulp soundtrack only reinforced its cultural cred. We were starting to feel at home at SoFi.
Of course, real home was soon calling, and after another fabulous breakfast at The Meridian, we made our way to Miami International. But in a town we thought we knew so well, we were excited to have made a new neighborhood discovery, one we were eager to get to know better.