If chefs are the true celebrities of your life, you’re surely aware of the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF), and for good reason. Each year, the star-studded festival brings culinary powerhouses like Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri and Giada De Laurentiis to South Beach for 100-plus events celebrating all things food and wine, and other celebrities (you know, those actor/musician-types) like Neil Patrick Harris and Martina McBride host clambakes, burger bashes and happy hours. Officially, it’s a fundraiser for the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University, and it’s raised $28 million to date, drawing large international crowds for a chance to wine and dine with celebs in one of America’s glitziest locales.

The 18th annual SOBEWFF runs February 20 through 24 and, while there are plenty of events to keep you gorging from pre-breakfast through second dessert, don’t forget to explore the rest of Miami’s culinary scene between binges at Martha Stewart’s wine and cheese social and Michael Symon’s taco party. You’ll probably be too deep in a food coma to think clearly most days, so save this handy guide to five can’t-miss Miami culinary experiences outside of the SOBEWFF.

Romantic Seafood Dinner

Seafood in Miami is a no-brainer, and BALEENkitchen’s lux oceanside dining room is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner of the freshest seafood expertly prepared in an eclectic menu of globally-inspired dishes. Recently opened in August 2018 after a property-wide renovation at Solé, Italian, Caribbean and Asian influences run strong here, but your toughest decision may be deciding between the dining room with dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ocean, or the outdoor terrace for true beachfront dining. Try the spicy tuna tacos with avocado and sriracha aioli or the cioppino of shrimp, calamari, clams, mussels and catch of the day in tomato-fennel broth.

Quintessential Miami Food Hall Grazing

Take a break from South Beach and head across the bridge to Brickell to get lost in Miami’s newest and largest food hall, La Centrale. The 40,000-square-foot Italian wonderland includes 14 dining concepts, wine bar, gelateria, cooking studio and five cocktail bars among it’s three floors of offerings. Graze your way from counter to counter, nibbling on charcuterie, pizzas, pastas, fresh breads, antipasti, local seafood, and even vegan-friendly dishes (not as easy to come by in Italian kitchens!). Start (or finish) with unlimited negronis from the gold negroni fountain at Aperitivo Bar, sample a tricolore pizza at Pizza E Pasta, and achieve next level #cappucinoart by having your face emblazoned in your foam at Caffe.

Indulgent Boozy Brunch

Whisk yourself away to the French Riviera without leaving Miami by indulging in a decadent brunch at Bagatelle, South Beach’s homage to the French Mediterranean. Surrounded by Parisian décor, dine al fresco on Bagatelle’s new seasonal menu launched just in time for SOBEWFF. You won’t regret ordering the Pizza à la Truffle Noire, a flatbread with smoked mozzarella and black truffle paste, as you sip mimosas alongside the jet-set of Miami.


If you haven’t had your fill of the famous wandering the foodie festival, try your luck in Downtown Miami with contemporary Japanese at Zuma Miami, where A-listers flock for chef Rainer Becker’s world-famous cuisine and the restaurant’s proprietary sake, which took two years to perfect. Gawk at the upper crust arriving on their yachts and enjoying dockside dining while you savor the five-course tasting menu featuring rock shrimp tempura with chili tofu, beef tataki with fresh truffle and pickled daikon, miso marinated black cod with citrus wasabi, sushi sashimi platter and more, including a dessert platter to die for.

Elevated Late Night Snacking

There’s no shame in late night snacking, especially if it’s at dbakers Sweet Studio. Open until 9 p.m. most nights and midnight on the weekends, dbakers is the originator of the DIY macaron bar and is now just as famous for its exquisitely decorated cakes taking Instagram by storm (@dbakers_miami). Go for the Nutella Cheesecake Bruh Macaron Sandwich filled with creamy cheesecake and Ferrero Rocher chocolates, covered in Nutella and sandwiched in an oversized chocolate macaron. Or try the more traditional Oversized Apple Crumble Cream Puff. Or embrace the Cuban influence of Miami and try to snag a guava and cream cheese cake. Or . . . you get the idea. Try anything.

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