Top 5 Luxury Restaurants in South Beach

Prime 112 South Beach Luxury RestaurantIf you live in fabulous South Beach, close to it, or are visiting us, it is helpful to know where you can get a taste of the city’s local luxury cuisine.  South Beach restaurants not only offer some of the world’s finest in culinary creations, but they are also a superb spot to be and to be seen!  Here are our top five South Beach restaurant picks for a distinguished and delicious night out south of 5th: (we think foodies will agree with us, and are curious to know if you do)

•    Prime Italian
•    Nobu
•    Prime 112
•    Casa Tua
•    Sushi Samba

Prime Italian lays claim to some of the best Italian cuisine available outside of Italy.  Complete with an award-winning Executive Chef, the James Beard Award, the plates at Prime Italian certainly sizzle.  The authentic Italian reaches guests in voluptuous portions, often exiting in to-go containers.  With trendy specials, an upscale atmosphere and authentic Italian, Prime Italian made our list of luxury restaurants in South Beach.

Casa Tua is a refurbished 1925 Mediterranean-style luxury restaurant in South Beach.  This upscale eatery encompasses the stylishly sleek aura that is South Beach, and backs it up with some seriously scrumptious Country-Italian cuisine (we recommend the lamb chops)!  The atmosphere is serene and relaxed, featuring several dining areas including a resplendent outdoor garden, a contemporary living room, and a communal eat-in kitchen.  Casa Tua is a South Beach restaurant that made our list by being upscale yet relaxed, and delivering in the taste department.

Sushi Samba sets the scene for South Beach sushi and ceviche, rolling up a tantalizing array of flavor-international style!  Tastes include Brazilian, Japanese, and Peruvian in this multinational New York City import, it is the spot for a sexy night out for outstanding sushi in South Beach.  The typical lobster, salmon, yellowtail, tuna and fluke are available and top-notch, as are dishes such as the Churrasco a’ Rio Grande, an assortment of meats including rice, beans, collard greens and a tempting chimichurri sauce.  For variety, scene and sushi, Sushi Samba is a sushi restaurant in South Beach not to miss.Sushi in South Beach at Nobu

Nobu is another stellar South Beach sushi destination.  Hailed as one of the best sushi restaurants in South Beach, and the world, Nobu’s locations in London, Los Angeles, New York and South Beach are always packed with patrons seeking a delectable mouthful of the addictive rolls, sashimi, and drinks.  We recommend the Omakase, or Chef’s Choice, a multicourse menu that is comprised of selections that are entirely up to the Chef himself-it is a touch salty at $70 per person and up, but it is a magnificent choice that gets rave reviews from those seeking an upscale sushi experience in South Beach. 

Prime 112 is included in the culinary kingdom of Nemo, which includes Shoji Sushi and Big Pink.  As the media sweetheart of the kingdom, Prime 112 is one South of Fifth Street hot spot not to miss.  A sleek and celebrity-saturated South Beach steakhouse, Prime 112 pairs luxury with some of the best steaks in the city.  Drinks at the bar are a must at Prime 112, where dried strips of bacon are served in lieu of nuts, and you have the chance to see a celeb or perhaps one of the luxury rental cars Miami is known for.  Cuisine includes filet mignon, porterhouse, and even available dipping sauces such as truffle, foie gras, garlic herb and chipotle.  Prime 112 is an absolute must for beef lovers, and those in search of a decadent and delicious night out!

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Is 20% the new 15% in Fine Dining? We Turned to Twitter

Tipping standards at South Beach fine dining establishmentsWhen it comes to fine dining, have you brushed up on your dining etiquette lately? Recently Imagine Lifestyles began to ponder this very inquiry, as luxury is our passion and that encompasses all that is luxury-down to an impeccable fine dining experience.  We turned to Twitter, where the tweets flew in-ultimately tweaking our former opinion about what is acceptable in the realm of high-end restaurant tips.

It would seem, based on the wingspan of responses from our fellow tweetsters, that 20% is the new 15% when it comes to tipping at a fine dining establishment.  Whether you are dining to impress dates, colleagues or simply to treat your family, it seems the ante has assuredly been upped-following are some of the results from out Twitter poll:

•    DaisyCottageIRL@ImagineLuxury-I apply the same rules: service, food, etc., check if "service charge" already charged and tip usual 15-20% directly to staff. 
•    GlassFriendsDEU@ImagineLuxury- 10% to 20% depending on the service quality. Sometimes no tip will teach the business a lesson to improve their services.
•     Leyla_a@IChic South Beach luxury dining and how to tipmagineLuxury-20%

The sleek, stylish, and aristocratic crowd knows that showing their appreciation via a plump tip is good measure, and good manners.  This is also an image issue, as you can imagine.  All of the preparation in the world will not save you from poor manners, good grooming, a luxury rental car, or the hottest date.  More to come on this and other luxury news- from Imagine Lifestyles, your source for South Beach luxury rental cars, luxury rental properties, tips on luxury living, guides, and entertainment.

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Would You Pay $500 for an Impeccable Dinner in the Sky? South Florida’s Luxury Dining Experience

Dinner in the Sky

You would need a pair of stilts to get a peek at what fellow diners have on their plates at Fresh Harvest Restaurant’s chef table at the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek, Florida.  This unique and worldly table is hoisted 180 feet in the sky, where brave diners, casino high-rollers and Florida’s tourists can scale the delicious fare with a lofty view.

The first public Dinner in the Sky event at the Seminole Casino on December 5th, 2008 was the very first one held in the United States, and created such a stir that it was tailed by four more that very day, and five on Saturday, December the 6th.  The exciting Dinner in the Sky event kicked off its new Chef’s Table option at Fresh Harvest Restaurant.

At $500 per seat for the hour long Dinner in the Sky experience, you are paying for both the delectable expertise of executive chef Francois Ternes as well as the towering thrill of dinning in mid-air. As for safety, Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek Florida every piece of equipment used for Dinner in the Sky has passed the German TUV Rheinland (the most comprehensive safety rating system worldwide).

The airy experience consists of a table for 22, who are secured to their leather seats that are attached to a dining table.  The leather seats recline slightly, and the dining table is connected to a crane.  Guests are accompanied by three of Seminole’s chefs, and the special table features a walkway in the center where up to five staff attend to guests secured by harnesses.

The concept of dining off of the ground originated in Belgium in 2006, and has since spread like wildfire through both word of mouth and industry trade shows.  It was at a trade show in Orlando one year ago that entrepreneur Michael Gallant of Fresh Harvest Restaurant first encountered the idea, and instinctively knew it was something he should invest in. 

Rising to the occasion, Gallant and business partner Taj Jordan, hosted the first Dinner in the Sky in the U.S.  The concept has hit upwards of 16 countries, raising the expectations of diners.  The concept debuted in Toronto, Canada just this year as well. 

We do not recommend a dress, but a must-do is a Miami luxury rental car for the occasion.  While the table is suspended in the air, your plane will not take you directly to your seat.  Would you invest $500 to experience extraordinary cuisine in the sky?

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Infused with Flavor, Nobu Reigns Supreme for South Beach Exotic Cuisine

Located at 1901 Collins Avenue in fashionable South Beach, Florida, Nobu Restaurant has a reputation for consistently scrumptious delicacies and service.  Top that off with the fact that Nobu is located within the chic Shore Club Hotel and it is a pairing worth paying for (it is advised to bring adequate cashflow).Luxury dining in South Beach at Nobu Restaurant

But what fun is Miami without spending?  Nobu Restaurant's location within The Shore Club, a hip part of what makes South Beach unique, adds style and appeal.  When the chef at Nobu flexes his muscles, guests are delighted with what is dubbed the ‘tasting menu’, a culinary craze crafted regularly to give guests a taste bud tour of some of Nobu’s finest dishes.  Nobu is often noted for their succulent sushi, some of the best in South Florida.  It is a great venue to host a celebration, enjoy a romantic evening, or just linger with friends.

While Nobu is on the pricier side, most guests agree that you get what you pay for with the ambient atmosphere, attentive service, delectable dishes and fabulous drinks.  If you are visiting South Beach and want a taste of the city, we recommend Nobu.  And while you are in luxurious South Beach, why not add an entrance to your high-end dining experience with an exotic car rental, who says you can't have it all?

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4 Different Ideas for a Miami-Style 4th of July

The day is finally here, and many of us are excited to hit the beach, the pool, or a parade!  (and yes, there will be BBQ free-loading)  It is Independence Day.  While you are contemplating the remainder of the weekend, the following events will be taking place in the area:  Key Biscayne 4th of July Parade, City of Miami Beach 4th of July Celebration, America’s Birthday Bash at Bayfront Park, and an Old Fashioned 4th of July at the Barnacle, among many other festivities!

The 4th of July Parade in Key Biscayne is a traditional parade featuring music, decked-out floats and of course, fireworks.  This traditional parade is a fun event ideal for families and friends.  It will begin along Crandon Boulevard around 11 a.m. and conclude following the fireworks at dusk.

The City of Miami Beach Fourth of July Celebration is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. with music by DJ Irie.  This celebration is known for its South Florida appeal, and for being both entertaining and unique every year.  The festivities will be located on the beach at A1A and 8th Street, arrive early for optimal parking.

America’s Birthday Bash at Bayfront Park will feature an eclectic multicultural blend of cuisine within its expanse of booths.  This festivity is set to start around 3 p.m. and carry on into dusk with the fireworks.  The amphitheatre will serve as the central area, located at 301 Biscayne Blvd in downtown Miami.

The Old Fashioned July Fourth at the Barnacle is an interactive and old-fashioned way to celebrate Independence Day, featuring activities for the kids such as kite-making, knot-demonstrations and other pieces of colonial American history.  This workshop-inspired 4th of July is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but if you are interested in seeing the rocket’s red glare, note that this event does not have fireworks.  It will be held at the Barnacle State Historic Site at 3485 Main Highway.

Top 3 Reasons Miami Will Surprise You

Miami Beach Florida Luxury Vacation

A trendy, stylish urban oasis, when people hear the word “Miami”, they often envision celebrities, nightclubs, beaches and mayhem (think Vegas with a coastline).  While an amount of that does occur, the city is often a surprise for those who are visiting Miami and Miami’s famed South Beach for the first time.

Reason #1:  The beaches are not overcrowded

You see, Miami is quite well-rounded, as is South Florida as a whole.  In fact, there are considerable expanses of beachline that are attractively devoid of other people, making them a surprising discovery for the virgin traveler.  There is nothing quite like the South Florida coastline, the marbled turquoise and cobalt hues invite your eyes to soak and your mind to revitalize.

Reason#2:  Culture

Next, think international.  Everywhere you turn, you find yourself immersed in a plethora of cultures:  Spanish, Latin, Portuguese, French, German, Italian and more.  People from all over the planet love to live in South Florida, and to vacation here regularly.  What this makes for is a multiplicity of divine dishes, exhilarating entertainment options, and the ability to shop for unique pieces that will leave your friends begging to know where on earth you found them (Shhh!…we won’t tell either).

Reason#3:  You Probably Will Not Run Into Will Smith

Though there are so many Dominican women with cinnamon tans, it is unlikely that you are going to personally run into Will Smith; Miami is his just his second home (if you are curious, the Smiths live in L.A.).  Will was definitely correct with his facts though, the water is so clear you can see to the bottom, and hundred thousand dollar cars, everybody got em’.  Many celebrities venture here to escape in our low-key, beachy atmosphere, because while there are plenty of luxurious property rentals and exotic car rentals in South Beach, it is also nice to feel off the radar and relax.  Welcome to Miami…sorry, couldn’t help myself…:)

The Top 5 Luxury Hotels in South Beach

South Beach is an oceanside playground for celebrities, and an invigorating mix of international locals and travelers.  Chic and sophisticated, the city by the sea is also home to some of the world’s best hotels.  South Beach truly has it all-the best beaches, shopping, fashion, upscale dining, lavish entertainment options, exotic rental cars, nightclubs, and of course, luxury hotels with the best in amenities and concierge service.The W Hotel South Beach Interior

We at Imagine Lifestyles are a source of all that is South Florida luxury, most especially South Beach, and for that reason we often compile helpful lists of our top favorite things.  Following are our top picks for the best luxury hotels in South Beach:

•    The W Hotel
•    Setai
•    The Ritz-Carlton
•    Hilton Bentley Miami/South Beach
•    Shore Club

The W Hotel-Residences, Hotel and Lounge.  The W Hotel encompasses all that is South Beach, and then gives you a little more.  The W Hotel is a beachfront Oasis, complete with a private beach area, residences, impeccable cuisine, a spa, refreshing pool and a posh nightclub called The Wall.  The W Hotel features 312 rooms and bungalows with striking views of the marbled Atlantic with its signature W beds.  Located amid the heart of Miami’s hottest nightlife spots, it is also a convenient place to position yourself for your South Beach stay.

The Setai.  The perfect oceanfront setting, The Setai is a private, posh and signature hotel, condominium and resort featuring tropical gardens, glittering pools and amazing rooms.  The soft Asian traditional appeal throughout is relaxing and elegant. This luxury South Beach hotel truly sets the tone for all that is Miami’s seaside excellence, in proximity to the upscale dining, nightclubs and of course shopping!  The Setai features a world-class spa and health club, high-end restaurant and bar.  It makes our list because it is a 5-star jewel of a hotel destination.

The Ritz-Carlton.  The Ritz-Carlton’s reputation often precedes it, yet in South Beach they truly continue their tradition of pulling out all stops.  An unforgettable escape, this decadent luxury hotel offers all amenities that one expects, with an extraordinary 16,000 foot spa, 375 guest rooms including two poolsidRitz-Carlton South Beach Luxury Hotele lanai wings, delectable restaurant, elegant bar and a 20,000 square foot compilation of meeting and conference space.  Steps from Lincoln Road, a 10-block stretch of the best nightlife, shopping and dining, The Ritz-Carlton is in the center of South Beach hotspots.

Hilton-Bentley Miami/South Beach
.  In the world of luxury hotels, Hilton is on top.  One of the finest South Beach upscale hotels is Hilton’s Bentley Beach.  This amazing hotel features a prime seaside location and a luxurious array of amenities including elegantly furnished suites, European kitchens, views of the ocean and city skyline, terraces, plasma TVs, lavish and large marble bathrooms, upscale dining, fitness areas, pool, and complete concierge service of course.  The Hilton makes our list of top 5 luxury hotels in South Beach for its attention to detail, and impeccable service standards, all in proximity to all of the city’s hotspots.

Shore Club.  Last but certainly not least on our top five list is Shore Club.  This elegant South Beach hotel was designed by famed British architect David Chipperfield, complete with a landmarked Art Deco lobby and labyrinth of gardens.  Radiant with charisma, this hotel is also home to Sky bar and popular upscale restaurant Nobu.  You will find all luxury amenities at Shore Club, as well as an eclectic and provocative mix of international marketplaces in its décor.  But don’t take our word for it!  Super Bowl XLIV is fast approaching in terms of reservations, and we have just handed you five of the best ideas for Miami Super Bowl Accomodations.  You are thinking now, so don’t overlook the need for a hot set of wheels to burn up the city streets, a luxury rental car Miami style is a must to match your breathtaking luxury vacation! 

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Kobe Club Faux Pas, South Beach Restaurant Update

The New York Times made a mistake when they reported that the Kobe Club on South Beach was closing for good. Doesn't sound that far-fetched to us but according to China Grill Management's Director of Product Development, Terry Zarikian, a New York Times reporter got it wrong. Zarikian said, "Kobe Club Miami will temporarily close after Saturday, May 2, but it will re-open in August when Miami Spice starts and will continue to be open after." Seems the New York Times reporter had selective hearing but we can't blame her. Kobe Club is not worth the money, there is nothing special about the steakhouse and no reason for a repeat visit. Especially, when there are other great steak spots on South Beach, like Prime 112 and Meat Market. Swallow that Kobe!

Another Take on a New York City Institution

The legendary Plaza Hotel which opened in New York City in 1907 has changed ownership several times. Trump bought it from the Hiltons back in 1988 and then sold it. El Ad Properties bought the Plaza Hotel in 2004 and began mega revamp-age. The historic hotel doors closed in April 2005 to re-open in March 2008 with a proper Fifth Avenue facelift. Today the Plaza Hotel and Residencies are for the rich and famous. However, yesterday The Plaza's famous restaurant The Oak Room re-opened to the public. Redesigned by architect Annabelle Selldorf, the more contemporary looking restaurant will furthermore feature a new executive chef and menu. The chef is Eric Hara who has most recently run the kitchens of David Burke Townhouse and Fishtail. Hara has developed a new American cuisine menu for The Oak Room, with prices that take a bad economy into account. Entrees will range from just $22 - $35 and with so much new; the Plaza Hotel seems like the perfect place for some hope to grow.

The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival is Here

The annual Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival is basically here. The  national, star-studded, four-day destination event begins February 19th. Putting attention on the world's most renowned wine and spirits makers, chefs and culinary personalities. The beach will be jam packed with top chefs and the best culinary minds in the world. Food Network stars Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray, Tyler Florence; Iron Chefs Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Cat Cora; Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio and previous Top Chef contestants Hung Huynh and Howie Kleinberg, will be few among many. Each day and night Miami Beach will be host to private events, luxurious parties, charity affairs and cocktail soirees in the name of Wine & Food. The best parts of the Food Network Wine & Food Festival are sold out but there are still tickets available for the less publicized happenings, google it. We will be in the mix of the festival, bringing you highlights and scene-y things. You know, who eats, who doesn't eat, who gets sloshed, the best chefs, the worst and so on. This hurts a little to say but if you can't drink it and taste it, at least, we can. And we will tell you all about it. If you already have your tickets then you've probably stopped eating to start saving room for the wine and food. The decadence is here, yum!