By Shayne Benowitz | Originally appeared on Miami.com
The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler Lucas Peterson recently paid our fair, seaside city of South Beach a visit and like so many travel writers and first time visitors before him, he fell into the typical tourist traps of Ocean Drive and its surrounding streets, rattling off (for the most part) a list of bars that no self respecting local would be caught dead in. He even called Mango’s the “quintessential” South Beach club experience—uh, not quite, bro. See: LIV, Story.
To be fair, South Beach isn't the easiest place to penetrate with pockets of coolness hiding in plain sight amidst, well, a lot of weirdness. Having lived in South Beach for the last six years, I’ve created a no nonsense guide distilling down the best locals spots in the ‘hood. And, yes, they happen to be places that I personally enjoy frequenting.
So what makes a spot local?
First, it’s gotta have a good vibe. We like a place that’s both approachable and stylish with serious quality backing it up.
Second, the price needs to be right. It’s far too easy to drop $80 to $100 a head at restaurants of wildly varying quality on the beach (most places being just okay). We want to pay half that. Also, spare us the $18-$24 cocktails, please! We live here. We need a place we can go any night of the week and not feel totally ripped off and despondent when the bill comes.
Finally, we love anything locally owned and operated. That’s how we’re slowly, but surely building a community on this crazy, neon-festooned, tacky, tourist loving, melting pot of an island that’s slowly sinking into the Atlantic. We like a place where we might run into our neighbors that still feels somewhat undiscovered by the masses who live elsewhere.
We like healthy, organic food in South Beach, so we frequent the newly opened fast-casual Dirt for its super fresh and delicious menu of salads, bowls and sandwiches.