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Hotels

The James Royal Palm

We've got a guy. He's the one that gets us past the velvet rope, tips us off to secret sand bar parties, tells us the best place to get Korean BBQ at 6 am. Here, Colleen Clark makes an introduction, plugging you into the South Beach scene courtesy of Peter Tapia, concierge at the hot James Royal Palm hotel

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart | Photo by Ira Lippke

It’s 8 p.m. on a Thursday and you don’t have dinner reservations. Where should you head for a bite to eat?

Thursdays are a great night to combine dinner with the Miami party scene. Chose from Bâoli, a model watering hole with DJ dinners of Med cuisine that morphs into a lounge/nightclub, or Villa Azur, which has great Thursday dinner parties that serves up French-Med small plates to hip young professional types, guys rolling in with three gorgeous women, models, etc. If you’re just focused on the food, check out La Mar downtown for Peruvian with great ocean views. It faces downtown so you’ve got a great skyline view. Or check out the Latin-Asian small plates at Pubbelly. If I could take friends to only one restaurant in town, that would be it. Afterwards, head to the Regent Bar for throwback cocktails. They have live jazz quartets and an amazing 1950s jetset vibe. Even the tools used to make the cocktails are from the era.

Where should you go for see-and-be-seen drinks?

Although the stunning rooftop Juvia next to the Herzog & de Meuron building in South Beach is primarily a restaurant, it’s become the go-to place for people to pregame before they head to the clubs.

What’s the best local hang nearby?

Foxhole Bar – it’s a lounge for industry people. The only way to get in is to recognize the door in the alley with the red light over it. It’s got a divey feel—with a pool table and a garage rock or hip hop soundtrack. The action there starts around midnight or 1 am and reaches its peak around 3 am. I also love the Broken Shaker in the Freehand Hostel. It’s nothing like the rest of the South Beach scene. There’s this vintage looking bar facing a cool patio with bistro lights. People play bocce and board games, and there’s a really friendly vibe—you meet everyone from local hipster types to international travelers staying at the hostel to musicians in town playing gigs. And they have some seriously good cocktails.

It’s closing time and you just got out of a club. What’s your go-to for late-night partying or after-drinking eats?

Closing time is about 5 am, so if you’re after-partying, then you’re hard core. If you’re really going for it, you’re going to head to Space, party here till noon the next day and then head to Nikki Beach to hang in the sand till 4 pm. If you want to grab food, check out this new Korean barbecue spot called the Drunken Dragon next to Foxhole. The sharing mentality of cooking up food around the table is perfect for late night. Then there are the classic spots like the iconic diner Big Pink for 6 am french toast a la mode or the Cuban food counter Abuelas. Get the papa rellena—it’s a like a little self-contained deep-fried meal with meat tucked inside mashed potatoes.

If you’re looking for a dose of culture, what’s within walking distance?

Walk to the ArtCenter/South Florida at 810 Lincoln Road to see resident artists at work in their studios. I think this is the best and most accessible introduction to the city’s art scene. Abstract artist W. Andre Allen, a friend of mine, has a studio space there. Tell him I sent you and he can walk you through his collection, the pieces he has in progress and how he fits into the larger art scene in the city. It’s a real experience that feels very Miami.

Where would you go for a one-of-a-kind gift?

Base. It feels like waking up in GQ—everything from the home furnishings to the jewelry to the toys is excellently curated. So there will be just one speaker that’s really cool, three different bracelets that you have to have. I would also go to the Lincoln Road Farmers Market on Sunday. Pick up a fruit shake made with local produce and stroll through. As you get further down Lincoln Road, it morphs from food to accessories, jewelry, home design stuff and more. There’s this one antiques dealer on Meridian and Lincoln with this crazy gold nautical instrument out front that sells amazing old Miami vintage pieces at completely reasonable prices. If you want more vintage, check out Consign of the Times , where a lot of the big local mansions sell their big-name designer stuff. You can fall into a stunning Chanel skirt or a classic handbag.

Best Cuban in the city?

Havana 1957 on Española Way, combines traditional Cuban cuisine with the vibe of Havana in the 1950’s. It looks touristy, but it’s very, very original mom and pop Cuban food. I’d pair dinner there with music afterwards at Hoy Como Ayer, a really cool sit-down club that plays everything from salsa to Cuban jazz to Latin rock depending on the night. Or you can check out the amazing theater scene at spots like the Teatro Trail or Spanish language indie films at Tower Theater, which occupies one of the neighborhood’s most iconic buildings.

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