Story and Photography by Dina Paolella

Versatile and cutting-edge with a hedonistic flair in the air puts Miami on a pedastal as a destination that dreams are made of. The metropolis of over 3 million regulars increased that figure by fivefold when welcoming nearly 16 million holidaymakers in last year alone; and the city never fails to captivate with an endless amount of diversion to thrill any personality.

Whether roaring past Fisher Island into Government Cut secretly pretending you are in an episode of Miami Vice on your Nor-tech 390 CC, strolling through the Design District’s esplanade of boutiques eyeing that new Daytona Rolex, scoring side-line tickets to a Miami Heat hoops game or jet-setting into and around town for Art Basel and Winter Music Conference — Miami is an undeniable hot-spot catering to all tastes. And speaking of tastes, the city’s vast cornicopia of cusine is not just limited to Cuban dishes and café con leches as many expect.

In Center Console Life’s premier issue we take the word “taste” figuratively as we present to our readers a selection of Miami eateries connected by one common theme… the convenience of waterfront dockage. The pure and simple luxury that makes idling up on your dinghy or Donzi as easy as cake and is sure to conjure up a grin on the face of any hungry boater or cranky captain. In a term semi-borrowed from the Food Channel’s Guy Fieri, I call it “the triple D water experience” when you can hop from boat deck to dock to dinner hassle-free. End of story!

No matter which inlet your aquatic adventures led you down, what follows are a list of all-time South Florida favorites to savor the diverse flavors and flamboyance of the sizzling city from Aventura soutbound through downtown and the recently developed riverfront, before finally winding around the new home of the Miami International Boat Show on Key Biscayne.

The Standard 

In close proximitiy to the crazineness of the Ocean Drive Art Deco district and the hustle and bustle of Lincoln Road, the Standard’s laid-back, casual yet chic ambiance, warm bay breezes, priceless sunsets and endless hipster-watching opportunities are anything but the standard.

An attentative staff of loyal ambassadors attending to your every need at this Belle Isle gem will make you want to drop anchor and move on in. That’s actually not a problem… the Standard offers overnight dockage in the event you would like to continue indulging in your filet and Courvoisier minus the stress of navigating the boat back to the marina. The Lido Bayside Grille, 24 hours a day infinity pool, Scandinavian-inspired spa complete with mud baths, a Turkish-style hammam, acupuncture, yoga and meditation, attract aficionados from around the globe.

40 Island Ave Miami Beach (305) 673-1717

Duffy’s

The original name when the first spot opened by two childhood friends in Lake Park, Florida was Duffy’s Drafthouse. Today there are 34 Duffys locations spread out along both coasts of the Sunshine State. For the sun-drenched boaters who either spent the day outside the inlet hammering over the waves in the north end of Miami or opted for floating around on their pink flamingo raft at the Haulover Sandbar, Duffy’s premier sports-themed restaurant in Aventura is a piece of paradise and perfect way to end the day.

Ample and spacious seating indoors and out, and filled with more large-screen TVs than a Best Buy electronics store, promise sports fans will never miss a Champion’s League goal or Miami Hurricanes touchdown. If sports is not your thing then just sit back and sample some Stoli or Stella Artois during the all day-every day, happy hour priced 2-for-1 adult beverages while admiring the breathtaking views of the Intracoastal Waterway listening to the bobbling of boat hulls. Then feel free to take a dip in Duffy’s over-sized swimming pool on the outdoor deck — what more could a patron ask for.

Duffy’s casual dining menu offers an abundance of selections such as award winning wings, Certified Angus Beef, grilled entrees, rice bowls and an assortment of soups and salads and my all-time favorite seared tuna appetizer. Great prices, a kids menu, cordial service with a smile from the waitstaff and an overall welcoming feel for those of all ages keep the crowds rolling in.

3969 N.E 163rd St. Intracoastal Mall (305) 760-2124

Zuma

Founded in London in the year 2002 by acclaimed chef Rainer Becker and fashionable restaurant creator Arjun Waney, Zuma is the modern, minimalist Japanese dining locale downtown at the Kimpton Epic hotel, praised for its glamorous twist on izakaya – the Japanese tradition of eating small meals paired with alcoholic drinks in a gastropub or tavern. Sophisticated foodies can expect a proper bill but will be guaranteed a delectable and flavorsome course sampling of high-quality culinary treasures.

With an array of robata (charcoal grilled) and tempura selections, vegetarian-friendly choices and the customary sushi, sashimi and maki headliners, loyal guests regards the Zuma dining experience as an elixir of life. Hopefully you will feel the same. Come celebrate weekend brunch which includes bottomless cocktails, live jazz performers and is available in three tiers either: classic, signature or premium (which includes a truffle-shaving garnish). Due to the overwhelming popularity of this restaurant retreat, do plan on making reservations prior to your dockside arrival. The wonderul and efficient staff will also not disappoint.

270 Biscayne Blvd Way (305) 577-0277

Garcias

A chilled-glass case lined with an assortment of fresh catches and succulent stone crabs sit in front of the register when you enter the family-run and always packed Garcias Seafood Grille and Fish Market. It’s been called unpretentious and old-school and you’ll feel right at home in shorts and a pair of Havaiana flip-flops. Count on hearing mucho español at the Cuban-themed “Me-ami” River historic fish house, but no need to be alarmed if you haven’t been practicing your Rosetta Stone Spanish greetings because English is also widely spoken.

Once in the door you can sit inside, outdoors or head upstairs where you get the sensation you are chugging along on a giant tugboat. Clearly a menu tailored to the seafood connoisseur, carnivores will need to look elsewhere for edible gratification. After sampling the complementary fish dip and chips, for your main meal recommended favorites include: clam chowder, conch fritters and the grilled, blackened or fried fresh fishes of the day. Be sure to add a homemade key lime pie to your order if you still have room and can fit in dessert.

398 NW North River Drive  (305) 375-0765

Rusty Pelican

It’s not uncommon to see lounging manatees and dolphins wading by as you sip your sangria or handcrafted cocktail at the legendary Key Biscayne landmark the Rusty Pelican. An extensive $7 million remodel a few years back delivers a fresh feel and treats guests to a 360-degree panoramic view of the invigorating city skyline from any seat in the house. Also included in the modern revamping was the addition of a sleek temperature-controlled, glassed-in corridor for wine storage for the grown-up grape juice enthusiasts among us.

Honestly, there is no where else can you watch the sunset and magnetic and shimmering lights of downtown Miami come alive by night while savoring luscious lobster risotto, ceviche and cherry cheesecake, or another specially prepared plate from the contemporary American and fresh local seafood filled menu. Receiving countless top-notch write-ups, the Rusty Pelican has been voted best brunch time and time again. The iconic venue draws a hefty Saturday and Sunday gathering of hungry fans so it is advised to plan accordingly with reservations for brunch.

3201 Rickenbacker Cwy Key Biscayne (305) 361-3818 

Monty’s Sunset

Monty’s Sunset is just a few blocks away from the soft sands of South Beach and the über-congested MacArthur Causeway. Well-known to locals, water-sports lovers and boaters alike due to its pristine location in the middle of the Miami Beach Marina, guests can kick back and enjoy a relaxed vacation-esque vibe while gazing out over the glowing tangerine sun piercing high above the facade of the downtown buildings.

Indulging in happy hour specials every Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., splish-splashing in the pool centerstage on the patio, and singing along “All Summer Long” on the nights when there is live music, are all forces to complete the Monty’s Sunset visitor experience. For your eating pleasure one can feast on a variety of foods including budget options, soups, salads, sandwiches, sushi, and main entrees such as baby back ribs and mango mahi mahi. The restaurant’s floating dock provides 90-minute “parking” with proper validation at the Miami Beach Marina.

[You may be confused because you thought Monty’s is actually on the other side of town. You are correct! Established in 1969 and often called where “Coconut Grove Meets the Bay”, further south is the original Monty’s Rawbar on 2550 S Bayshore Drive. For boat parking at the Coconut Grove location, it is advised to contact Prime Marina in advance (305) 856-3992]

300 Alton Road, Miami Beach (305) 672-1148  

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