Not so long ago Downtown Miami was a rather gritty and unglamorous place, made up of distinctly contrasting areas: the old chaotic business and retail district centred around Flagler Street, the modern financial district with its ostentatious skyscrapers, the abandoned streets of midtown, and the traditional Cuban neighbourhood of Little Havana. These days it is a thriving area that smoothly integrates a mixture of commerce, culture and residential communities. This change has brought with it a diverse assortment of bars, restaurants and cafes and these days some of the best dining in Miami can be found around the area. Restaurants with internationally prestigious reputations such as Zuma and Cipriani are here, along with stars from the Southern states like The Capital Grill and Trulucks and Miami’s own celebrities such as il Gabbiano.
The Brickell area is instantly recognisable by its contemporary skyscrapers that create a glittering display along the waterfront. At its centre is Brickell Village and the low-rise complex of shops and restaurants of Mary Brickell Village. This area is surprisingly green and stands out as an oasis in a jungle of designer glass and concrete. At night and weekends it becomes a destination for dining and socialising and on Sundays it is buzzing with people who come to wander around the stalls at the weekly market. As the number of residential buildings has increased the developers have incorporate waterside walkways and tree lined paths to link areas. This makes it surprisingly pleasant to walk around, particularly along the waterfronts where excellent cafes and restaurants have sprung up. One such path goes from Brickell Point via the Miami Circle towards Brickell Park and on past Brickell Key. Along this stretch is the superb Cantina La Viente. This Mexican restaurant is always busy and has the best margaritas in town. Next door is cafe LavNo20, which is known for its delicious breakfasts and lunches. Alternatively, going northwards from Miami Point across the Brickell Avenue Bridge, the path follows the water eventually arriving at Museum Park.
To the North of Brickell is the Downtown business district. Inland it is still the chaotic historic commercial centre it always has been, but the area near the water has transformed into a cultural hub with pleasant landscaped parks and museums. Bayfront Park is a refreshingly green space with an open air retail space at its top end. A little further along is the American Airlines Arena, a major music venue and home to the Miami Heat NBA team. Continuing on north is the beautifully landscaped Museum Park with the stunning Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). The PAMM is a modern and contemporary art museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting international art from the 20th and 21st century. The building was designed by Herzog & de Meuron and is as impressive as it is beautiful, providing the perfect space to showcase the museum’s growing collections. Close by is the Adrienne Arsht Center of Performing Arts which presents a diverse selection of over 300 performances each year. These performances are organised as series that include Broadway in Miami, Jazz Roots, the Masterworks Season, Miami Made Festival, and the Summer Season, among others.
West of Brickell, spreading out from Calle Ocho is Little Havana. This is the area the original Cuban immigrants made home and it continues to be the heart of the Cuban community and a thriving business district. If you want to experience a bit of Cuban culture then explore the streets around SW 8th Street where you will find shops selling hand rolled cigars, Cuban goods and a diverse selection of traditional restaurants and bars. The Cuban Memorial Plaza is on SW 13th Avenue and Máximo Gómez Park (Domino Park) on 15th Avenue. The area is famous for its authentic Cuban Coffee and this strong, sweet caffeine fix can be tried at any of the cafes or take-away windows in the area. Opposite Domino Park on SW 8th is Azucar. This Miami institution is one of the best ice cream parlours in town. Further west is the famous Cuban restaurant Versailles and there is no better place to try traditional Cuban food. Versailles has the reputation of being a Cuban institution and it has been serving the community and tourists alike since 1971. It prides itself on being the gathering place and unofficial town square for Miami’s Cuban exiles.
Click here to read our other posts about 6 other neighbourhoods in Miami (scroll to the bottom of the Miami post to access all links).
Click here to read the post about the restaurant Zuma
Click here to read the review of Cantina La Veinte. One of the best Mexican restaurants in Miami.
Below are links to the key places mentioned in the post above. If you have found somewhere you loved in these neighbourhoods feel free to tell everyone about it in the comments section.
Adrienne Arsht Center of Performing Arts: http://www.arshtcenter.org
Perez Art Museum Miami: http://www.pamm.org
AmericanAirlines Arena: http://www.aaarena.com
Gusman Center for Performing Arts: http://www.olympiatheater.org/
Zuma Miami: http://zumarestaurant.com/zuma-landing/miami/en/welcome
Cantina La Vienta – http://www.lano20.com.mx
Cafe LaNo20 – https://www.facebook.com/la20miami
Cipriani Miami: http://www.cipriani.com/en/services/restaurants/cipriani-downtown-miami
Il Gabbiano: http://www.ilgabbianomia.com
The Capital Grill: http://www.thecapitalgrille.com
Tastes of Cuba:
Enjoy an ice cream at Azucar the heart of the Cuban community. http://www.azucaricecream.com
Try a traditional Cuban Coffee or meal at Versailles Restaurant. http://www.versaillesrestaurant.com