My Town: MIAMI BEACH
Night Queen Tara Solomon’s Guide to Glitter Beach
For well over a decade, Tara Solomon has been a steady fixture on the Miami party circuit. Anointed ‘Queen of the Night’ back in the day thanks her customary evening attire – glamorous-bordering-on-outlandish outfits, often topped off with a wig -- the Miami Beach-based Solomon now spends her days running her namesake 10-year-old PR company Tara Ink.
While Solomon (who recently opened a Tara Ink. LA branch) is technically bi-coastal, she’s as much a Miami girl as any. In addition to hosting events and representing high-fashion/ culture clients (from Louis Vuitton and the Delano, to Evian and Esteban Cortazar), Solomon writes a syndicated fashion column for the Miami Herald. Needless to say, she knows the perpetually-suntanned, South Beach-dieting social set and their favorite spots well. In her own words:
RESTAURANTS & CLUBS:
Social Miami at the Sagamore Hotel, 1671 Collins Avenue, 786.594.3344
If you don’t know the deservingly attitudinal door staff, by all means make a dinner reservation at Social Miami, located at the sleek Sagamore hotel. Filled with a collection of museum-caliber art from emerging artists (650+ pieces), Sagamore hotel also features a video art lounge in the restaurant bar and back in the garden cabana area, which is where everyone eventually winds up. But even if you’re on a liquid diet, stay for dinner, it’s sublime: Superchef Michelle Bernstein, as consulting chef, and executive chef Sean Mohammed serve up yummy "global small plates" that you can share with friends. (I’m addicted to the Greek salad, lamb cigars and tuna-watermelon ceviche.) Celebs love Social Miami (sister restaurant to Social Hollywood), with a fan base that includes Lindsay Lohan, Nicky Hilton and Jon Stewart.
Table 8 South Beach, 1458 Ocean Drive, 305.695.4114
Executive chef and co-owner Govind Armstrong, who is as gorgeous as he is talented (a People mag “50 Most Beautiful People” alumnus), has expanded his culinary following from Los Angeles – where he presides over his incredibly popular West Coast Table 8 – to South Beach. Located in the new Regent Hotel South Beach, Table 8 boasts a cozy outdoor breezeway that is the ideal spot to bask in Miami’s balmy weather (hair tip: secure tresses with giant banana clip if you are prone to frizz, as we are, like Amy Irving circa 1978) with any one of the restaurant’s special cocktails. For that matter, you can order from the lounge menu and bypass the more grown-up dining room altogether. But on both menus the food is fabulous: Local and seasonal ingredients dominate, such as in the Florida Black Grouper wrapped in prosciutto. Attention, carnivores: Call a day ahead to order the salt-roasted porterhouse for two -- it’s worth it. Recently spotted: Chris Kattan and Ryan Seacrest.
The Forge, 432 41st Street, 305.538.8533
A landmark in Miami Beach since 1969, this legendary steakhouse is all about excess, from its mammoth award-winning steaks and four-pound lobsters to antique chandeliers the size of a Porsche convertible. Second-generation owner Shareef Malnik keeps things refreshingly decadent. The Forge’s multi-million-dollar wine collection is stored in its seven-room wine cellar, with its one prized dining table (call for a RSVP on a school night, you just may get lucky). On the subject of school nights, Wednesday is the busiest night of the week, with a wild party vibe that has been raging for 13 years. Love the wood-paneled Library room, the perfect locale for a clandestine dinner. The Main Salon is the pulse, though, where on any night one might see Jennifer Lopez, Matt Damon, Iggy Pop or Venus and Serena Williams, all regulars. What to indulge in? Try the bone-in filet mignon, Super Steak, fresh Chilean sea bass and scallop and foie gras duet, and don’t forget to order a chocolate soufflé at the beginning of your meal (worth the extra time at the gym). After your gluttony, step next door to Glass, The Forge’s modernist lounge, for a nightcap.
DEK23, 655 Washington Avenue
Clubs may be a dime a dozen in South Beach, but every so often something opens that truly promises to make a difference in the quality of our nightlife. One such spot is DEK23, slated to open March 2007 in the space which was formerly the Living Room, before that, Butter Club, and before that, Bash. (We locals love playing the “used to be game” over cocktails…I know, too much free time on our hands…). Anyhow, DEK23 is the brainchild of three 20something guys who all went to golf school together and have a unique motto -- that everyone’s a VIP. Love that. The lounge will consist of VIP tables throughout the interior, with bohemian lounging areas in the outside patio for chilling and dancing under the stars. How fun does that sound?
Hotel Victor, 1144 Ocean Drive, 305.428.1234
You gotta love a hotel whose mascot is the jellyfish. Ocean Drive's most fun hotel for both on-the-down-low get-a-ways and everyday hanging, Hotel Victor has a spunky, Jacques Garcia-designed interior (including, yes, a jellyfish tank, plus the most divine sea urchin wall sconces dripping with fringe and crystal beads). Foodies go gaga over the ‘round-the-world cuisine at Vix restaurant (which is a super date place), but one can also be lulled into caloric bliss by a thick blue-cheese burger with truffle fries upstairs at the rooftop Vue café, where we once chatted with Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes about boys wearing makeup. (His own cosmetic icons include Rudolph Valentino and the New York Dolls.) But our favorite amenity is the underground Spa V with its clothing-optional marble hammam and gracious staff who will bring you a martini if you ask. Celebs sighted include Mischa Barton, P. Diddy, Adrian Grenier and Matt Dillion.
SHOPPING & DAYTIME DIVERSION
Just because tourists love Lincoln Road doesn’t mean you can’t. This five-block pedestrian mall between Washington Avenue and Alton Road still has lots of local charm despite an abundance of commercial retailers (Pottery Barn, Banana Republic, The Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Anthropologie, Williams-Sonoma). Here are our faves.
Sasparilla, 1630 Pennsylvania Avenue, 305.532.6611
We could live at Sasparilla, stylist Ken Valenti’s treasure trove of vintage apparel and accessories. He’s got all the swoon-over labels from the cool decades – 1940s to selected 1980s – and an exceptional selection of signed costume jewelry. Our big find: A knockout pair of coral and jade green Chinese-motif chandelier earrings by Kenneth Jay Lane.
En Avance, 734 Lincoln Road, 305.534.0337
This Lincoln Road pioneer in modern designer clothing hasn’t lost its edge. Designs for both genders, including shoes, lingerie, and accessories, along with bath and home products.
Van Michael Miami, 1667 Michigan Avenue, 305.534.6789
An Aveda Concept Salon, Van Michael Miami tends some of the chicest tresses around, with a client roster that reads like a Hollywood guest list: Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Kelly Osbourne, Ricky Martin, Esther Canadas, Anna Kournikova, Serena Williams. They’re open Sundays, too, for both grooming and retail.
Genius Jones, 1661 Michigan Avenue, 305.534.7622
If you have or know a child, you’ll find the toys and clothing – like the apple green tutu we got for our girlfriend Tracy’s daughter Chloe -- too clever to pass up.
BASE, 939 Lincoln Road, 305.531.4982
Where all the hip young dudes shop for their duds, music, art books and Vans, Base is like one big, well-edited closet. Stuff for gals, too.
Books & Books, 933 Lincoln Road, 305.532.3222
You cannot not go to this wonderful independent bookstore in the historic Sterling Building; it’s just too special - pure old school South Beach. Lots of art, design, fashion and architecture tomes, as well as international magazines. Huge plus: An in-shop café.
Frieze Ice Cream Factory, 1626 Michigan Ave, 305.538.2028
A glycemic nightmare, The Frieze makes the best from-scratch ice creams and sorbets. We can vouch for the passion fruit, dark chocolate and champagne sorbets, all heavenly.
Ricky’s, 536 Lincoln Road, 305.674.8511
It’s been called “a drug store on ecstasy,” which is not so far from the truth. They sell everything from neon fright wigs to offensive novelty t-shirts to sun screen, but we go for the Ben Nye cake eyeliner, where you can’t find anywhere else.
Collins Avenue between 5th and 8th Streets
South Beach’s newest shopping destination, this area has fewer tourists and annoying “people-watchers,” and its chain stores are the ones we like (Sephora, Barney’s Co-Op and Urban Outfitters, where we recently found a great book called Stuff on my Cat, which gave us far too many ideas).
Intermix, 634 Collins Ave, 305.531.5950
The place to head for something sexy to wear for the second date, Intermix, as its name implies, stocks a wide array of the latest European and American designs (femmes only). Smaller, fashion-forward labels like LaRok, Mint and Ya Ya hang next to big names (Chloe, Missoni, Michael Kors), and there is always the best selection of embellished bikinis.
Equinox, 520 Collins Ave, 305.673.1172
Possibly the only gym in the world where you won’t find anyone out of shape, the South Beach Equinox looks like a Bruce Weber book come to life. The fiancé keeps us updated with celeb reports, including Matt Damon’s fondness for reps.
Sabrina Monte Carlo, 530 Collins Ave, 305.672.9950
This upscale boutique – sister to the flagship store in Monaco – is all European flair, with Pucci beachwear, Burberry trenches and beaded frocks by Jenny Packham. Big fancy watches, too, for the bling-daddy in your life.
LEO, 640 Collins Ave, 305.531.6550
Clothing for the young and frisky, with labels including Buddhist Punk, Hudson Jeans and Cacharel. And fun club jewelry that doesn’t cost a month’s rent.