The Marlins take the field at Marlins Park: an eco-friendly, 37,000-seat facility equipped with a retractable roof, plexiglass fish tanks behind home plate, and a vibrant sculpture in left-center field that kicks into motion for Marlins home runs. Born in 1993, the Florida Marlins quickly established themselves as contenders in the National League, taking home World Series titles in 1997 and 2003. And today, after some light rebranding to go along with the new stadium, the rechristened Miami Marlins aim to continue traditions new and old, expand their list of Hall of Famers, and train the stadium’s fish to stealthily intercept batting signals.
Down a dark alley off 14th Court, a stark red light barely illuminates an innocuous looking doorway. But it's not just the perfect hiding spot for tomato ninjas, it's the entrance to the Foxhole Bar, the first stop on a whirlwind tour of Miami bars and breweries. Past that dark entry waits a speakeasy-style lounge and a complimentary brew to start the night. Up next is Wynwood Brewing Company, which fits right into the arts district with three anchor craft brews, one of which will be set before tour members for sampling. The final stop on the tour is the Titanic Restaurant and Brewery, a gastropub that crafts its own beer behind the bar. The Hops Tour is also making plans to incorporate M.I.A. Brewing into their explorations.
Catharsis is as vibrant as its Calle Ocho neighborhood: whitewashed walls surround tables adorned with wild orchids and flickering candles, framing an inventive fusion of Latin and Italian cuisines. Grilled corvina and creative risotto dishes rank among the menu's star attractions, but the chefs might just as easily tickle palates with guava emulsions, cognac reductions, crunchy plantains, or tomato-mango pico de gallo. The dulcet sounds of Spanish musicians echo throughout Catharsis?s cavernous space, letting diners know when it's a good time to change into their Zorro costume.
As couples and groups gather for dinner around Caribbean lobster, steaks, and tapas, the wine flows freely, and eventually, the stillness of early evening gives way to the revelry of nighttime. Flamenco dancers climb onto tabletops, music begins to play, and diners set down their forks to clink glasses, deliver celebratory champagne baths to their loved ones, and do some dancing of their own.
This is the scene at Casa Panza, where dinner transforms into an all-night party. Set amongst Little Havana's sparkling nightlife, the Spanish cafe wraps festive visits in an equally festive experience. Outside, a bastion façade mimics that of a fortress, and inside, Spanish tiles, bodega-style wine racks, and hanging ceramics further immerse guests into the exotic decor. On Friday and Saturday nights, flamenco dancers flock to La Cueva, a party area where 50 to 70 guests can take in the show while noshing on tapas and paella. Even more live music can be found at Salon Rojo, a ballroom and nightclub that books performers from around the world and hosts private receptions for up to 250 guests.
The long, wooden bar is lit by ornate stained-glass lamps illuminating hand-painted scenes of Cuba inlaid on its sides. It's a fitting display for the Cuba Ocho Art and Research Center, where social interaction and art are the main draws. At its heart, the center is a cultural hub for artists, actors, yodelers, and musicians to display their talents. But that doesn't mean history takes a back seat, either. Many artists' from 1850 to 1958 are on display as well, and the center regularly sponsors art auctions and fairs with a focus on promoting Cuban artists.
On Friday and Saturday nights, live bands fill the air with sultry and energetic music from a variety of local groups such as Orquesta Seleccion Latina, Fiera Mia, and Main Street. A light tapas menu entices diners to taste a variety of the kitchen's small plates that might feature marinated olives, mango salsa, mixed cheeses, or cured meats.
The impassioned and expressive married musical duo Celia and Paco Fonta have been strumming the guitar and dancing through Miami as Siempre Flamenco for more than a quarter century. For their seventh annual Festival de Cante Flamenco, the couple invite a host of internationally known artists to heat up an evening of traditional cante flamenco. Making their festival debut this year, singers Jesus Montoya, Kina Mendez, and Javier Heredia each boast an impressive resumé, fans across both Spain and the States, and an unerring ability to discern castanets from gum-chewing clams. Javier excites the crowd as a festero, able to both dance and sing, joined in step by Celia to twirl and tap across stage. The towering vocals of Jesus, Javier, and Kina explore the octaves while Paco joins forces with guest guitarist Jose "Panzekito" Cortes to fill the stage with a suitably sultry atmosphere. The evening of passion and grace unfolds at the Manuel Artime Theater, one of the largest small theaters in town, with a 60'x30' stage that strikes the right balance between intimacy and accommodation.