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Survival Guide: South Beach Wine & Food Festival PDF Print E-mail
Written by Geoffrey Anderson Jr. and Dianne Rubin, BT Contributors   
February 2018

Food news we know you can use

EPix_Dish_2-18_1very year South Florida foodies look forward to Christmas in February -- in other words, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. From February 21 through 25, thousands of people will descend upon South Beach to experience food from their favorite Food Network celebrity chefs, as well as the city’s top restaurants.

Culinary stars and delicious bites aren’t the only things you can expect during that time frame. Extra traffic and large crowds will also be making an appearance if you’re traveling from the mainland to the festival. That’s why we’ve put together a quick list of festival tips for those who dare make the trek over the causeways.

Our No. 1 rule: Start in the back. At signature events like the Heineken Light Burger Bash, featuring creations from Pincho Factory (1250 S. Miami Ave., 786-536-4557) and Proof Miami (3328 N. Miami Ave., 786-536-9562), most people will gravitate toward the first thing they see. By working backward, though, you won’t have to deal with the lines right off the bat.

Second, find the free water and drink a lot of it. With free-flowing alcohol at most events, it’s easy to overindulge and forget to stay hydrated. This is especially true at outdoor events like Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village, where you’ll find local staples, such as Ms. Cheezious (7418 Biscayne Blvd., 305-989-4019) and Doggi’s Arepa Bar (7281 Biscayne Blvd., 786-558-9538). Combine their hefty fare with a large crowd plus Florida’s trademark humidity, and you have yourself a recipe for dehydration if you’re not careful.

Third, bring a backpack. Among all the food, there are numerous sponsor tables handing out free promotional items at Barilla’s Bites on the Beach and other events. Carrying all that stuff can keep your hands full, and you don’t want to miss out on Jack’s Miami (2426 NE 2nd Ave., 305-640-5507), Harry’s Pizzeria (3918 N. Miami Ave., 786-275-4963), and more. Put those bottle openers, pens, and stress balls in a backpack or bag, and keep your hands free for what’s most important: good food.

 

OPENINGS

If you’d rather not brave the festival, don’t worry. A slew of recent restaurant openings will keep you full while everyone’s on the beach. Among these openings is Amara at Paraiso (3101 NE 7th Ave., 305-702-5528), the latest concept from local chef Michael Schwartz. Known for his Italian cooking, Schwartz is now trying his hand at Latin American flavors. The scenic Edgewater restaurant’s wood grill pumps out chorizo, short rib, hangar steak, and an array of meats that can be topped with Amara’s “Mother Sauces,” like smoked paprika aioli and Cascabel chili paste.

One of Brickell’s biggest losses last year is the Upper Eastside’s gain. Back in September, upscale Asian eatery Dashi shut down due to damage from Hurricane Irma. We wondered when we’d get to try chef Shuji Hayakawa’s cuisine again, and now we wonder no more. He has set up shop on NE 79th street, opening Wabi Sabi by Shuji (851 NE 79th St., 305-707-4360), a casual concept focusing on bowls. Dashi signatures like the cha-soba noodles are back and serve as a base for Hayakawa’s creations, which feature a variety of seafood and vegetables.

Up in Aventura Mall (19565 Biscayne Blvd.), vendors are slowly but surely starting to operate in the new Treats Food Hall. Miami Beach deli Hank and Harry’s is one of the first tenants to start welcoming customers, and its pastrami sandwiches, matzo ball soup, and other comfort fare are already a hit. Other restaurants on the food hall roster include Poke 305 and Zuuk Mediterranean Kitchen.

 

CLOSINGS

180 Degrees at the DRB finally called it quits last month. The downtown Miami gastropub was forced to close after the building owners decided to turn it into a sales office for new construction projects. The restaurant didn’t go silently into the night, however: In its closing weekend, the eatery offered patrons an all-you-can-eat option for $25 with no limitations, as well as an all-you-can-drink option. Needless to say, some customers had to be rolled out.

Choices Organic Café in the Upper Eastside also closed for good. Guests who want their plant-based food fix will now need to visit the company’s sole location in Coconut Grove.


Geoffrey Anderson Jr. and Dianne Rubin are co-founders of Miami Food Pug, an award-winning South Florida food blog that fuses the couple’s love of dogs and food.

 

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