In North Beach, Miami Beach’s just-under-the-radar, trendy neighborhood, empanadas and churros are as common as sushi and ceviche are in South Beach. Up-and-coming North Beach stretches from 63rd to 87th streets, fanning out from Collins Avenue’s wide ocean sands to Normandy Isles’ Biscayne Bay shores.
Affectionately called NoBe — in counterpoint to South Beach’s sobriquet, SoBe — North Beach’s rhythm comes not from the booming beat of hip clubs packed by scene-making sightseers but from locals.
So many North Beachers hail from Argentina the area is also called “Little Buenos Aires.”
Take clients to Las Vacas Gordas to capture the flair of a steakhouse that seems lifted from Argentina’s capital, complete with open grill, sleek bar, wine from Uruguay and Argentina and extra-large portions designed to share. The house specialty: the enrollada, a 1.5-pound, three-foot-long skirt steak that comes coiled on your plate like a ribbon of beef.
Stroll Collins Avenue from 69th to 76th streets for more Latin and South American fare at simple, storefront eateries. At Manolo, cheer on soccer matches shown live on multiple TV screens while chowing down on the breakfast-to-late-night bistro’s Argentinean comfort food, including planchita (diced beef and chicken sautéed with onions, peppers and mushrooms) and tortilla de papa (five eggs with potatoes baked into a thick pie).
At Sazón Cuban Cuisine, sample the breaded steaks and roast pork. Chivito Teca gains fame for its chivito, a thick Uruguayan sandwich of beef, ham, cheese, bacon and a fried egg; and Little Brazil is known for its feijoada, a popular Brazilian stew of black beans, beef, pork, bacon and sausage.
NoBe dishes up other cuisines, too. Enjoy savory French-Moroccan fare, from lamb tagine to tasty bouillabaisse, at Rouge. For appetizers, the beet and goat cheese Napoleon as well as the bacon-wrapped dates are memorable. Carillon Hotel & Spa, formerly Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa, maintains the healthy, spa-focused cuisine, but also adds heartier dishes.
For small plates, craft beer and nightlife, head to Lou’s Beer Garden, a gastropub that takes over the pool patio at the boutique New Hotel from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. weekdays and 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. weekends. Quench your thirst with one of the 12 craft beers on tap or one of the 20-plus bottled brews. Lou’s, like the other bars and restaurants in North Beach, welcomes all. Although NoBe lacks gay-oriented places, Miami’s LGBT Visitor Center in South Beach has information on all of Miami Beach’s gay-friendly clubs.