Nearly equidistant from the heart of South Beach and Fort Lauderdale—about 25 minutes from each—Sunny Isles Beach operates without the big-city crowds while retaining their trademark beaches, shopping opportunities, and natural beauty. Oleta River State Park, known as the state’s largest urban park, presents miles of off-road bicycling trails that snake alongside Biscayne Bay as well as a stand of mangrove forests. Visitors can rent kayaks, canoes, and bicycles or spend time constructing sand parking garages on the 1,200-foot stretch of beach.
Live music plays a few nights a week at Azzurro Italian Restaurant & Bar, but diners don't need to plan ahead to hear the gentle music of the Atlantic Ocean just beyond the patio. Decked out in palm trees, grass-thatched awnings, and white curtains that flutter in the breeze, the atmosphere is pure coastal Florida. But the menu draws from a different aquatic inspiration: the Mediterranean Sea, which inspires maritime Italian and Sicilian cuisine such as fish soup topped with pizza dough, lobster ravioli, and spaghetti tossed with clams. It's not all seafood, however—there are also terrestrial delights such as beef carpaccio, grilled filet mignon, and rack of lamb. Servers pair these plates with bottles of international wines that drifted up onshore and the restaurant’s signature cocktails.
Boasting fresh ingredients, flavorful dishes, and fast service, El Mega Chuzo cooks up Colombian and Venezuelan cuisine in a contemporary coastal atmosphere. As early as 9 a.m. at this Sunny Isles eatery, servers sidle swiftly past customers, wielding savory specialties such as huevos pericos arepa con queso (scrambled eggs and cheese corncakes, $5.95). While El Mega Chuzo's masterpiece is its empanada ($3 for two), the Colombian restaurant's epicurean oeuvre features a wide variety of traditional treats from the region, including Sobrebarriga al la Criolla (grilled flank steak, $14.50) served with salsa, rice, beans, and plaintains. Arepas (flat, round, corncakes, $6.50+) abound, accompanied by succulent selections such as cheese, salsa, and chicken, ensuring tasty ear-foods fill bellies and inspire delighted toe taps. With occasional wine tastings and live music promoted on their facebook page El Mega Chuzo, unlike staged readings of the phonebook, entertains until the early morning hours (1 a.m. on weekdays, 6 a.m. on weekends).
The H Restaurant's casual ambiance and homey Mediterranean cuisine help to put diners at ease, prompting Miami.com to say in 2010, "The owners . . . make you feel as if you had just walked into their living room." Although the menu is mainly populated by rustic French classics—including steak au poivre, crusted racks of lamb with truffle oil, and seafood-laden bouillabaisse—it also features a selection of pizzas and Italian pasta dishes.
Oversize light bulbs dangle from the dining room's ceiling fans, lending a touch of whimsy to the décor. Framed mirrors line one of the plastered walls and potted plants add a verdant splash of color to the space. Outdoors, the covered patio seating invites diners to enjoy their meals al fresco while avoiding the moon's sad eyes begging for a bite.:m]]
La Barra introduces diners to the meaty, mouthwatering cuisine of Argentina with a spread of grilled fish, chorizo, skirt steaks, breaded chicken milanesa, and toasty golden-brown empanadas. Like the world’s longest tin can phone, the extensive bill of fare spans across the Americas. Guests chow down on hearty American burgers topped with bacon, eggs, and homemade mayo, savor Argentine chorizo and short ribs, and dive into Caribbean pineapple salads. Musicians arrive each Saturday to serenade dinner parties, while breakfasts of veggie omelettes and piping hot paninis help regulars start the day with a delicious meal and newfound energy.
Abraham Getzel knew he wanted to expose more American diners to his native Venezuela's cuisine—but how could he make it unique? The answer came in the form of a fusion: kosher-Venezuelan food, healthy and bright, and served all day. In the morning, his guests sip on fresh-made drinks, such as lemonade infused with basil and mint leaves, and mango-passion fruit smoothies. Afternoons, they dig into blackened tilapia wraps or veggie burgers, homemade patties with tahini-mayo, all nestled humanely inside a friendly kaiser roll. The dinner menu is home to a host of fish-focused appetizers, such as salmon ceviche, as well as salads, pizzas, pastas, and fish entrees such as Chilean sea bass with a miso glaze.