Maïté Foriasky may be French by birth, but she’s definitely a Miami local, serving as the concierge for The Setai Miami Beach for many years and having an abiding love for her adopted city. She went deep with her local knowledge to give us the best of the best when it comes to the 305.
InsideHook: We love a restaurant where only locals go, so what is your favorite?
Maïté Foriasky: Among many I would pick Moloko, an Asian fusion restaurant that opens up to the most beautiful garden. It’s a feel-good place for those in search of a tranquil atmosphere in South Beach.
Where should I go for a big night out on the town?
My latest pick is Queen, a new restaurant and lounge located in a former theater from the Art Deco era. The renovation left me speechless, and the cuisine truly completes this fabulous experience. Another popular place for a perfect Miami-style evening is Mila, the rooftop restaurant, omakase bar and DJ lounge. You can spend all evening at the same address, exploring each different level of the restaurant.
Best budget eats in town?
The Time Out Market on the rooftop up on Drexel Ave in Miami Beach and The Lincoln Eatery on Lincoln Lane, also in Miami Beach. They both feature the best chefs in the city under one roof, allowing travelers to enjoy various types of food on the same meal and for more affordable prices.
Where can I go for the best dessert?
My personal favorite is Maison Valentine, a cozy French pastry shop. For an American version of pastry shop, I would select Ice Box Café on Sunset Harbour, made famous by Oprah who voted their Chocolate Delight Cake one of the best in America. And for a Brazilian touch, go to Oh My Gosh! Brigadeiros in the MiMo area for great chocolates!
Best place for a sunset cocktail?
I have a few favorites for the location, the ambiance and the delicious cocktails. Joia Beach Restaurant and Beach Club is a unique private beachfront restaurant located in the former Jungle Island on Parrot Jungle Trail — it’s the best place to watch the sunset over the downtown skyline with your feet in the sand. Juvia Miami Beach is located on the penthouse level of the fabulous Lincoln garage designed by famous Swiss designers Herzog & de Meuron, which has the most beautiful views of South Beach — and superb cocktails.
Best neighborhood to take a long stroll if I want to get acquainted with the city?
Coral Gables, which is the gem of Florida; The Gables was one of the first planned communities in America. Coral Gables is known for its tree-lined boulevards, ivy-covered mansions and historical landmarks such as the world-famous Biltmore Hotel and the Venetian Pool, both built in the 1920s. You will see all kinds of architecture here as well, from Art Deco to Spanish Mediterranean styles. The beautiful Coral Way is covered under a natural canopy made of large oak and mahogany trees. This part of Miami, quiet and cozy, attracts many families.
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Miami is known for its art scene — what galleries and art installations should we be sure to see?
My choice of the moment is Leila Mordoch Gallery located in the heart of Wynwood. On top of the regular collection of various talented emerging artists, the gallery is currently featuring an amazing exhibit on French artist Miss Tic. You can then walk around Wynwood and admire the graffiti. The renowned Rubell Museum has a family collection not to be missed when in Miami. And a new addition is the Paradox Museum in Wynwood that helps you defy reality with its mind-twisting and eye-tricking experiences. That’s big fun for the whole family.
We love getting out into the park in a big city, so which Miami parks should be on our “don’t miss” list?
Oleta River State Park is located within 30 minutes from downtown Miami. Oleta Park is the largest urban park in Florida, the home for many species, from alligators, dolphins, manatees, wading birds, deer and more. It is also a dream place for fishing enthusiasts. You will find many trails to enjoy the beauty of nature. Less exotic but exciting if you do not want to go far from South Beach are The Lummus Park and South Pointe Park, which are a lot of fun for children. Do not miss the area around the Lighthouse sculpture, a popular gathering spot for locals enjoying leisure activities like jogging, yoga, martial arts, picnicking, fishing and even local musicians and dancers practicing.
What’s a less-crowded beach to enjoy in the Miami area?
Virginia Key Beach on Key Biscayne, which is perhaps not the prettiest because it is wild, but the most peaceful and perhaps most authentic, with interesting wildlife. Haulover Beach North Miami is quiet and beautiful. Just keep in mind that the northern one-third section of the beach is clothing-optional!
What architectural landmarks are there to see in Miami, structures that excite the imagination?
Miami went through many types of architecture, from the first pioneers who brought the European style (Viscaya Museum), to the Art Deco era to Streamline then MiMo with everything in between — and now all the trendiest architects dream of leaving their mark in Miami. To admire the Art Deco architecture, you must stroll on Ocean Drive in South Beach or in the Coconut Grove neighborhood. Some of my favorites among the modern architecture are the One Thousand Museum (a very high-end condominium), which was visualized by Lebanese architect Zaha Hadid, who died before the project was over. The result is amazing — the building shows her beautiful curves from far away, it’s one of the most expensive places to live in Brickell. I also like The New World Center that Frank Gehry created.
What’s the best way for visitors to get out onto the water around Miami?
Definitely renting a yacht or a speed boat (according to budget), for you will be surprised how much you can discover when you are on Miami’s waters. You can go all the way to Stiltsville in Biscayne Bay for a fascinating trip. You will see a few houses on stilts left; they were built during Prohibition times as a shelter for alcohol, gambling and prostitution in the 1920s. No law was relevant out there. You can also stop at the Sandbar and party with other boats, especially during the weekend!
What food does your city do better than anywhere else?
Cuban-influenced food such as croquetas, ropa vieja, picadillo, tostones and platanas maduras, finished off with a flan and a Colada. Latin fusion is also very popular with all the new Latin chefs exploring their creative side. You can also find the freshest stone crabs at one of the oldest restaurants in South Beach, called Joe’s Stone Crab — it’s been serving stone crabs since opening days back in 1913.
What’s the best thing that you can only do in Miami?
The Wynwood district has the largest collection of graffiti/murals in the U.S. and probably in the world. And visit Little Havana, as I don’t think there is another city where you can walk a few blocks and suddenly feel immersed in another country. This is the Cuban world, where no one will address you in another language but Spanish. Spanish is the main spoken language in Miami.
I’m looking for a low-key brunch. Where to?
Best place to eat a meal or have a beer outside when the weather’s better?
What’s the best way to get around town?
If you want to impress, a private chauffeured car or luxury sports cars will do it. If not, the best and healthiest way will be using a bicycle — they are everywhere and easy to rent.
What’s the one thing everyone forgets to pack? Or the one thing everyone should remember to pack when visiting?
A piece of clothing with long sleeves or a shawl for air-conditioned dining rooms and stores or the unexpected temperature drops during fall, winter and spring months.
Finally, what’s the best book to read about the area before I come?
Fool’s Paradise by Steven Gaines. It tells the history of Miami alongside intrigue and plenty of scandal.
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