When international art lovers and partygoers gather for Art of Black Miami (a year-round program with special events Dec 1-Dec 10), Art Basel Miami Beach (Dec 8-10) and Art Week (Dec 5-10), paintings and sculptures aren’t the only things on the brain. Fine dining is one of the most coveted festivities in the city during this time of year and Black restaurants are rolling out the red carpet.
Black chefs and restauranteurs eagerly invite you to their establishments to sit down and feast or grab food to go. They make it easy to snack by a pool, chow down with celebrities or come in for cocktails. While in town, stroll into Black-owned joints in South Beach, Mid Beach, Wynwood, Downtown, and the Design District. Come solo, coupled or with a crowd. All are welcome to take in stunning art and consume delicious fare of all kinds during one of the hottest times of year in the Magic City.
“Nurturing African food shows who I am,” proclaims Diana Tandia, chef de cuisine at the award-winning, sustainable oceanfront The Palms Hotel & Spa. Her farm-to-table approach infuses her pan-African yet fully Americanized menu with local produce often from the Redlands, an agricultural area in Miami-Dade County. When foodies walk into the indoor/outdoor restaurant, they’re beguiled by the tropical décor and amazed by dishes encompassing flavors that can be savored in layers. The international array of tastes highlights Tandia’s Mauritanian and Senegalese roots, French culinary training and American sensibilities.
Must-Have Cocktail: Palms Derby (made with Bulleit Bourbon)
Starter: Farmer’s Tomato Soup
Entrée: Pan Seared Striped Bass or Cauliflower Steak
Dessert: Avocado Key Lime Tart
The COVID pandemic brought out the creativity in Chef Troy Tingling. “COVID happened but people still wanted to eat and interact with one another. So, we developed the whole Tech locker system.” Order online, or from a kiosk in the lobby, get a number and use it to open a glass door where your food resides. Troy’s innovation doesn’t stop there. “The advanced technology we use to fry our chickens cuts cooking down to 40% of the traditional time. And our chicken is juicier and crispier too.” Set in the heart of the Wynwood Arts District, known for its galleries, murals and museums, this bird paradise is frequented by the coolest neighborhood types. Artists.
Must-Have Libations: Watermelon Splash, Lavender Lemonade
Entrees: Half Bird or Bird on the Run Chicken Sandwich (it’s dipped in hot spice oil)
Sides: Smoked Greens, Dirty Rice, Fried Corn
Dessert: Peach Cobbler Milkshake
The Gabriel South Beach is an oasis on the trendy, nightlife happy Ocean Drive. Owned by Jamaican-born Raoul Thomas, its sits directly across from Miami’s world-famous beach. Two restaurants attract foodies as house and soul music fill the air: Meet Dalia and Alma Cubana. The Mediterranean/American and seafood-focused Meet Dalia caters to an international palate and the food can even be served at the Gabriel’s two pools. The more casual Cuban café Alma Cubana showcases Latin food. Art and music will converge Friday, Dec. 8 and Saturday, Dec. 9, when artist and DJ Sarah Main combines her reality-infused art and infectious beats for an Ibiza-style pool party. A special performance by Barbara Tucker, the Queen of House Music, will take place that’s sure to rock the house.
Must-Have Appetizer at Meet Dalia: Ahi Tuna Tartare
Entrée: Spaghetti Al Pomodoroor Jumbo Shrimp Skewer
Dessert: Lemon Yogurt Mousse
If you see basketball stars and local celebrities at this Little River neighborhood eatery, don’t be surprised. Word is out that this is the best breakfast and lunch in town. And it is. The co-owners, chef Akino West and Jamila Ross, have created a novel, inventive menu at a chic but homey restaurant. West’s unique take on morning foods features Caribbean influences and comfort food leanings with European twists. His food makes your taste buds really happy.
Must-Have Drink: Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea), Tequila Singles
Appetizers: Deviled Eggs (Chicharrons) or Collard and Cabbage Salad
Eat: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Gulf White Shrimp & Grits
Desserts: Peach Hand Pie
Chef Tristen Epps’ culinary lineage traces back to Red Rooster Harlem, opening Red Rooster Overtown in Miami and now having executive chef duties at the renowned Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort. The hotel is famous for its 1950’s Lapidus designed architecture and hosting old Hollywood icons (from Lena Horne to Sammy Davis Jr.). Epps’ muse is a seaside restaurant where his signature cuisine blends West Indian tastes (he’s Trinidadian), fresh seafood, succulent meats and sunset cocktails. Expect his food and drinks to attract many as people come from far and wide to Eden Roc for its Art Week events. The former winner of Food Network’s Chopped is changing things up and it’s working, from the diverse nationalities of the majority of chefs to the way Ocean Social does fresh produce. “Our vegetables come from mobile farms planted on the backs of trucks in Overtown,” he says.
Must-Have Cocktail: Pink Bikini
Appetizer: Key West Shrimp Toast or Caribbean Kampachi Crudo
Entrees: Dry Aged Swordfish T-bone or C.A.B Fire Roasted Short Rib
Desserts: Winter Citrus and Strawberry Pavlova
Raoul Thomas likes downtown Miami too. His city hotel with dramatic views of Miami’s cruise ship harbor is in walking distance to the Frost Museum and Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Sitting and sunning by the 14th floor pool puts you steps away from the poolside cafe Bella’s Rooftop Bar. Breakfast is served on the 3rd floor at The Gabriel Miami, while guests and owners from the condos, which tower above the hotel, congregate nightly at the ground floor restaurant G Bar. It’s so friendly, folks sit at the rectangular bar, talking to strangers, noshing on snacks, sipping drinks and hanging out.
Must-Have Appetizer: Smoked Chicken Quesadilla Bites
Entrée: Angus Burger
Dessert: Warm Apple Blossom
Housed in the former Clyde Killen’s Pool Hall, a notable 1960s hot spot, Red Rooster is the gem restaurant of Overtown (Miami’s Harlem) and a community center too. That’s its calling, serving tasty Americana cuisine with Floridian twists and being a hangout for local musicians, foodies and of course, artists. Winner of the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand Award (good meals under $49), this is where the in crowd goes for inventive dishes created by famed owner Marcus Samuelsson and Kenneth Gilbert, VP of culinary operations. It’s also a great place to view world-class modern and contemporary artwork from 15 international artists, including the work of renowned talents Kara Walker and Michael St. John.
Cocktail: Birds Of Paradise
Appetizer: Bajan Salt Fish Cakes and Pumpkin Fritters
Entrée: Bucatini Piccadilly (with crab, shrimp, lobster, lemon, garden herbs)
Dessert: Key Lime Bread Pudding
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