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11 wonderful things that defined 2019 in Miami

Banana Basel
Photograph: Unsplash/Ussama Azam

It’s almost 2020, folks. In less than a week we’ll be entering a new year and decade, leaving behind the one that gave us Hamilton, Fortnite, Baby Yoda and Donald Trump as president. Ten years is a lot to unpack (especially right before happy hour) so we’ll keep it simple with a look back on 2019. Here, the trends, comebacks and openings that helped define 2019 in Miami.—Falyn Freyman and Virginia Gil

1. We proved that print is not dead
After a year-long hiatus, Time Out Miami brought back its magazine. While it was probably a bigger deal for us than you reading this online (our content was and still is available digitally), we’d like to think you missed us, too. Our mags fit nicely in your beach bag, make fabulous coasters and, more importantly, tell you everything you need to know about Miami. Our print editions, which were published in May and November of 2019, are available here and we encourage you to read them. We promise you’ll love them.

2. Allapattah surprised us—in the best way
We won’t call what’s happening in Allapattah gentrification. Rather, the neighborhood filled with warehouses and body shops is undergoing a massive beautification as new businesses breathe life into abandoned spaces. This year alone saw the opening of Jorge Pérez’s new collaborative art space El Espacio 23 (2270 NW 23rd St) and the relaunch of the Rubell Gallery as a bonafide museum—an event that prompted a string of wild Art Basel parties attended by the likes of Kim Kardashian, Gigi Hadid and Paris Hilton. The nabe also welcomed NYC’s Hometown Barbecue, which joined existing favorites such as Las Rosas. It’s still a while until Allapattah reaches its full potential, but we’ll be watching closely as the neighborhood unfolds.

3. Time Out Market Miami (finally!) opened its doors
Time Out fully leaned into the city’s current food-hall trend, curating our own and filling it with the best chefs and restaurants in the city. But there’s more to Time Out Market Miami than great food. We’ve tapped Miami’s hottest bartenders to share their cocktail recipes with us (and you), featured artwork from local talent—including Jessy Nite’s kaleidoscopic installation for Art Basel—worked with HistoryMiami to showcase South Beach’s history and partnered with Lolo Reskin of Sweat Records to make sure our playlists were a hit. It was a huge undertaking and a tremendous effort by our editors, who selected every eatery. If you stopped in this year—thank you. If you haven’t visited yet, see ya next year?

4. Immersive theater took center stage
Theater all but blew up the fourth wall this year, embracing immersive performances that thrust audiences to new places and put us in the center of the action. In Amparo, a compelling immigrant story intertwined with the founding of legendary rum Havana Club, we were transported to midcentury Cuba—dancing in the famed nightclubs of Havana, getting to know the Arechabala family and watching the political drama unfold before our eyes. Juggerknot Theatre Company, the creators of Miami Motel Stories, also returned in 2019 with a production at the now-defunct Wynwood Yard. It was a revelatory walk through the past, featuring stories from people in the community and a look at bygone places in the rapidly evolving neighborhood. Both productions were moving in their own right and proved that theater and the performing arts do have a place in Miami.

5. Omakase was everywhere
For a fleeting second, we were sure we’d never see a menu again after the omakase boom of 2019. So many counters, so little free will when it came to ordering. But we embraced it. Control freaks relinquished their powers to the talented folks behind the counters at Sushi by Bou, Hiden, Azabu, Ahi and Wabi Sabi (which previewed its forthcoming Wynwood restaurant at its 79th Street location). Piece after piece of raw fish was photographed, inspected and consumed as sake flowed from vintage carafes and high-tech dispensers across the city. Sushi lovers, 2019 was no doubt your year.

6. We fell in love with Boia De
A pitch-perfect melange of high and low in its approach to both food and design, Boia De garnered an instant cult following in 2019 thanks in no small part to its Michelin-trained, by-way-of-NYC chefs Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer. The 24-seat gem tucked beside a laundromat on the edge of Little Haiti creates a moody and intimate atmosphere with dim lighting, soft rock ‘n’ roll music and tactile accents like handmade ceramic dishes and the silky slab of terrazzo comprising its bar. Boia De’s effortless cool is backed by all the important stuff, too: attentive service, incredibly fresh and delicious food and an offbeat wine list that embraces far-flung trends.

7. Miami’s major clubs and parties made a comeback
Some might say it’s excessive, but we say Miami’s collective inability to call it a night is one of our most loveable traits. In 2019 alone, Miamians witnessed the death and rebirth of the legendary underground dance club the Electric Pickle, which reopened in the old 1306 space as ATV Records just in time for Art Basel; we shook our asses to the comeback of Peachfuzz, a long-running rap and hip-hop club night beloved by the likes of Drake that recently relaunched at The Ground; and we celebrated 20 years of Poplife, a Miami nightlife institution responsible for shaping the city’s now thriving indie scene.

8. We got the Guitar Hotel we didn’t know we needed
This towering architectural ode to rock ‘n’ roll officially opened in October as part of a $1.5 billion expansion of the already iconic Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, bringing with it another huge lagoon pool, the day-to-night club DAER and even more over-the-top gaming and entertainment experiences. The Guitar Hotel is 450 feet high and blasts six high-powered light beams 20,000 feet into the night sky—so if there are any rock gods up in heaven, we’re pretty sure they’re smiling down on this baby.

9. Tiki had its moment
Blending influences from Polynesia, the Caribbean and a romanticized vision of Old Florida, Miami’s 2019 takes on Tiki encompassed new classics like Cafe Roval’s Tiki Bar nestled under a proper thatched hut in the garden, a more understated and moody rendition with knock-out cocktails at Swizzle Rum Bar, and Esotico’s bold and flashy version in Downtown. Whether it’s the laid back yet oh-so-festive atmosphere or the deceptively boozy, rum-centric drinks, we enjoyed dabbling in this 2019 trend with Prohibition-era roots.

10. Downtown became our new favorite neighborhood
There’s a reason Time Out editors dubbed Downtown Miami one of the coolest cities in the world in 2019. Once a rundown financial center with proverbial tumbleweeds rolling down its roads, Downtown now represents an eclectic patchwork of business and cultural centers, from restaurants and clubs to museums and shopping, with high-end options and scrappy mom-and-pops interspersed throughout the sky-scraping waterfront neighborhood. In 2019, we solidified our love affair with Jaguar Sun and Mama Tried, bopped around hella art parties at Mana Contemporary and now wait with bated breath for even more fun openings in 2020, like Miami’s first organic wine bar.

11. That banana...
Enough said.

  

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