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Museum director Franklin Sirmans’ perfect day in Miami


This article is part of a guide to Miami from FT Globetrotter

As most of the world knows, Miami never really stopped during the pandemic, but it truly felt like it was in full swing again over the summer. Around that time, it became clear that the number of new New York and Bay Area transplants — who answered South Florida’s call for the promise of sun and fun in a tech-friendly dreamscape — weren’t just here for the holidays.

Alongside came a slew of buzzy new NYC-founded restaurants, with the type of splash one expects from Miami: Korean steakhouse Cote Miami, with its popular (and incredible) Butcher’s Feast experience; ZZ’s Club, a member’s club that serves some of the best seafood in the city; and of course the flashy, Instagram-ready Italian restaurant Carbone, where the rigatoni in a spicy vodka sauce is a staple.

The rigatoni in a spicy vodka sauce at Carbone, Miami © Carbone/Noah Fecks

Salmon carpaccio at ZZ’s Club

These venues are best known for attracting celebrity diners and being nearly impossible to score a table at, but they’re worth making the effort to go to if you’re looking for a very Miami experience. (The first two are based in the Design District and the latter in Miami Beach.)

One of the best new Miami outposts (which was years in the making) is near downtown: Red Rooster Overtown from chef Marcus Samuelsson. This is the place for soul food with a Miami twist, a world-class art collection and an atmosphere of raucous fun alongside elegant dining. It is Samuelsson’s vision come to life with the help of developers Derek Fleming and Michael Simkins. The decor speaks to the legacy of the historic black neighbourhood, and Red Rooster tends to attract the most diverse crowd in Miami too.

Red Rooster Overtown, chef Marcus Samuelsson’s latest venture 

Kara Walker’s artworks can be found amongst the world-class art collection on the walls at Red Rooster

In addition to artworks by the likes of Derek Adams, Theaster Gates, Mickalene Thomas and Kara Walker, and music from house DJs Kumi and Pam Jones, Red Rooster also regularly invites guest DJs such as hip-hop legend Jarobi White of A Tribe Called Quest. I recommend starting a meal with a platter of oysters or the Tasmanian sea-trout crudo to kick off your night in the right direction.

For something a little more low-key and intimate, Boia De in Little Haiti serves a beautiful mix of pastas and small plates accompanied by delicious and unique wines. The menu changes seasonally, so be sure to ask for your server’s recommendations and you’ll be in for a treat. The fried baby artichokes and marinated mussels are to die for. And don’t forget dessert: the crispy tiramisu is a must.

Lucio/Wine Shop is Sirmans’ go-to shop for natural and low-intervention wine

The pool and terrace look out to the beach at the Faena hotel

As for wine, if you are looking to procure something special, I suggest popping into Lucio/Wine Shop on 82nd and NE Second. It sells an impressive array of natural and low-intervention wines, which are handpicked by owner Lucio Bueno, who also worked as a chef for nearly two decades. The pét-nats (short for pétillant naturel, or “naturally sparkling”) are worth the trip alone. A special guy with great stories, Lucio features local artists’ works on the walls, plays good music and frequently offers surprise tastings.

After dinner, for tourists and locals alike, there’s nothing more enjoyable than time spent at Faena, lounging on the beach or at The Living Room for cocktails (my favourite is the Faena Spritz, the hotel’s version of an Aperol spritz with hibiscus syrup and champagne). The atmosphere at Faena is very good fun, especially when they have live entertainment. Position yourself near the large open terrace on the beachfront and enjoy the worldly crowd and the sights and sounds of Miami. Nothing fills the social void of the last year like a great lounge.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is located in North Miami © Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami

Maryan’s ‘Personnage’ (1962) will be included in the ‘My Name is Maryan’ exhibition at MOCA © Courtesy of the artist and Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami

To atone for these indulgences, one of my new favourite places to exercise is the Virginia Key Outdoor Center, where you can rent bicycles, paddle-boards and other equipment, or sign up for guided tours such as full-moon paddles, manatee safaris or sunset bike rides. I love renting a kayak and taking to the water. In less than 15 minutes, you will be enjoying the best possible views of downtown Miami — a sight that must be seen from the water to be truly appreciated.

For a culture fix, a lot of the most interesting and diverse art to see in Miami is off the beaten path. Don’t miss an opportunity to pop into the Little Haiti Cultural Complex — catch an exhibition or a live performance, and learn about Haiti and the inspiring, decades-long history of Haitians in Miami. I’m also really looking forward to seeing MOCA North Miami’s exhibition on the fascinating Polish-born artist Maryan, which has opened just in time for Art Week.

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