By Janet K. Keeler
You just might be a Brickellista if you hang out in Brickell, one of Miami's hottest neighborhoods. And those lucky enough to live in one of the sky-scraping condo/apartment buildings already know what fun-seekers are discovering. Brickell is a walkable chunk of cool with plenty of things to do.
Where else can you get a haircut by a stylist who looks like she just stepped off the stage at the Moulin Rouge? At Razzledazzle Barbershop in Mary Brickell Village. And where else would the state’s largest grocery store chain have a walkup window, where early morning folks can get their strong café con leche as a walkup call?
It wasn’t so very long ago that Miami’s financial district south of the Miami River and bordering Biscayne Bay was a nighttime ghost town. Young professionals fled the area for more exciting environs to have their after-work drinks. Today, there’s hardly any reason to leave the neighborhood, unless it’s to avoid the construction. This is a district still in transition. That’s how hot it is.
Visitors can book a room in some plush hotels, among them the W and Conrad. Find your way there at sunset even if you’re not staying the night. (Note that this is the big city and valet parking at Conrad will set you back some bucks.) There’s a Hampton Inn in the thick of things that’s a little easier on the wallet and within walking distance of plenty of other things to do in Brickell.
By day and into early evening, Brickell City Centre draws shoppers to its upscale stores, among them Saks Fifth Avenue and Kendra Scott. A walkway extends over South Miami Avenue to link the multi-story shopping complex, complete with underground parking. Stop on the walkway and look north at the high rises on the other side of the river. Shopping with a view is just one of the perks. This is the place to head if you need something swanky to wear at night. And it’s Miami, so swanky may also mean skimpy. The heat does that to a reveler.
Just a few blocks south of Brickell Centre is Mary Brickell Village, named after the matriarch of one of the families that founded Miami in the late 1800s. How did Mrs. Brickell get to South Florida from Cleveland even before air conditioning brought the masses? Just like so many transplants that came after her, she was tired of the snowy, dreary weather up north. The tropical breezes and exotic flora beckoned.
Mary Brickell Village is a tangle of shops, restaurants and drinking establishments, some with live music. It’s may not be quite as upscale as Brickell City Centre but it feels more Miami because the tropical weather permeates the outdoor complex.
A favorite spot for young and a wee bit older is the curiously named restaurant and lounge Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita across the street from Mary Brickell. Upstairs, that would be the Dolores part, is a lushly appointed restaurant in Brickell with outdoor and indoor dining. The dimly lit dining room has romantic window tables and bigger tables for larger groups.
That’s the thing about Miami. You can hardly go to any restaurant in Brickell District without spying a family gathering that includes people of all ages. The menu, like the city itself, is a fusion of flavors that meld beautifully. Don’t leave without sampling the corn bread accompanied with an ice cream scoop of butter melting into the warm Southern treat served in a cast-iron skillet. Gazpacho is tasty, too, as is the porcini mushroom tortellini.
Head downstairs to Lolita where the outdoor seating area is full of young people toasting the good life. TVs show the sporting event of the day and often that is soccer. Sometimes the TVs compete with DJs and dancing. Waiters deliver order after order of Southern California tacos to the low lounge tables.
There’s really not much 1920s about Dolores/Lolita or Miami’s hot and hip Brickell District these days. Except for maybe the roaring part.
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