Inspired by Brazilian gaucho—or cowboy—style of cooking meats, the owners and chefs of Brazaviva Churrascaria opened their restaurant and devoted its menu of endless dishes to the Old-World grilling method. As the restaurant describes it, the wayfaring gauchos roamed the expansive grasslands of Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul, skewering their meat dinners and roasting them over a fiery pit, before carving off thin slices to be shared around the fire.
Holding true to that tradition, the eatery's expert carvers bring skewers of fire-roasted beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and sausage tableside to pile plates high. Guests eat as much as they like, using a card that is green on one side and red on the other to indicate to the friendly staff carvers to keep the feast flowing, or to take a moment's savoring pause. Whatever belly room is left over after all cards go red calls for filling up with one of the eatery's unique desserts that swirl South American flavors such as passion fruit and papaya into rich smoothies and mousses. A collection of fine wines selected specially to compliment the charred flavors of the meats is available to complete the experience.
Beneath the colorful toques on their heads, hibachi chefs flip and sauté meat and vegetables on their tabletop grills, smiling as they conjure the occasional bursts of flame during lively cooking routines. That’s just one scene at SooWoo Japanese Steakhouse—across the restaurant, sushi chefs slice ribbons of fish and vegetables and roll them into California and spicy tuna rolls. Basketball fans can celebrate the city’s 2012 NBA championship with the specialty Miami Heat roll, which includes slices of shrimp tempura, crab, and cream cheese. SooWoo also whips up Korean dishes, such as bulgogi and pork belly.
Legends Tavern & Grille pairs its menu of eclectically inspired pub cuisine and hearty finger foods with a selection of craft beers from foreign and domestic breweries. Although the cooks forge familiar comfort foods, such as beer-battered Alaskan cod, they also use culinary creativity to keep the menu fresh and their spatulas motivated. Burgers come topped with everything from goat cheese to mojo pulled pork, and housemade crab cakes are served with a roasted-red-pepper rémoulade. In addition to the food and drink menus, the tavern entices patrons with special events throughout the week, including live entertainment on Friday and pub trivia on Wednesday.
The burnt-orange walls of Parrillada el Gaucho echo the welcoming heat of the grills in the kitchen. There, steaks acquire charred stripes before they reach diners in several cuts, from rib eye to T-bone. Uruguayan-style parrillada meals layer impressive amounts of meats and garnishes on pans, often piling enough skewers of shrimp and crisp sausages for two. This traditional South American style of cooking typifies the warm, convivial venue, whose dining room is decorated with horseshoes and ranching artifacts. Though steaks remain its most popular offering, the menu also boasts entrees such as chicken parmesan and custom-mixed pastas, with housemade flan to bring meals to an authentically sweet conclusion. Party packages, late hours, and Friday-night musical performances conspire with tender bites, luring festive groups to tables without coaxing trails of confetti.
Shula’s Athletic Club—named for Don Shula, the NFL Hall of Famer who coached the Miami Dolphins to a Super Bowl trophy in 1972—doesn’t find it hard to fill its sprawling 40,000 square feet of space. A cardio room with more than 50 pieces of equipment, a spinning center, weight rooms, fitness-class studios, and basketball courts spread through the facility, luring athletes for independent workouts and personal-training sessions. Dozens of weekly fitness classes range from calorie-burning Zumba workouts and Vinyasa-yoga sessions to spin classes that help students practice for the day they have pedal-powered cars.
The athletic club also accommodates older exercisers with aquatic aerobics and seated Silver Sneakers workouts, and it keeps kids busy with confidence-building youth sports programs. Young legs run over a new 60-yard athletic field or nine lighted tennis courts where kids whack tennis balls and low-flying hot-air balloons with rackets.