Word of Mouth: Local’s Guide to Miami

As the art world descends on the sunny South Florida city, these places will stay authentic

The city of Miami‘s cultural offerings continue to expand and advance at a rapid pace. As many members of the global arts community make their way down this week, it’s increasingly evident that Miami warrants more than one visit each year. There’s power in the local museum and artist scenes, creativity throughout the food and drink options, and plenty of passion binding everything in between. If you’re a frequent visitor and are tired of the same old Art Basel haunts—preferring to visit Miami as the locals do—then post up at one of these spots during Miami Art Week.

Courtesy of ALL DAY, by Jeanne Canto


ALL DAY, a design-forward coffee shop, serves breakfast—as the name implies—all day. Owners Camila Ramos and Chris MacLeod designed the space themselves, which includes camel leather seating, mid-century furniture, Snarkitecture accessories and a neon-sign illuminating their menu offerings. ALL DAY’s menu is a parade of local artisans, with bacon from Miami Smokers, crusty bread from Zak the Baker, and blind-tasted coffees from small specialty roasters.

Courtesy of Versailles


The quintessential meeting ground for Miami’s Cuban community, Versailles’ mirrored walls and kitsch decor are favorites in both film and real life. This Little Havana restaurant offers authentic Cuban fare, including heaped plates of morro and yuca frita alongside Telemundo star sightings and loud protests against Castro’s regime. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, try a cafecito—and make sure to order it at the ventanita if you’re in a hurry.

Mama Tried

If you’re a fan of the downtown spot The Corner, then you’ll be thrilled about Mama Tried, a new ’70s-inspired dive bar a few blocks away. Plush red velvet carpets, shiny disco orbs, tufted leather booths and lacquered countertops complete the retro Boogie Nights vibe. A cocktail menu designed by Sweet Liberty’s Tyler Kitzman offers well-priced cocktails like the Porn Star Martini, with Absolut vanilla vodka, passion fruit, bubbles and strawberry.  Snacks include grilled cheese and PB&Js to satisfy any late-night cravings.

Courtesy of Mana Contemporary

Mana Contemporary

Located in an abandoned 1980s strip mall in the heart of downtown Miami, Mana Contemporary—which also has outposts in New Jersey and Chicago—is a new hub of creativity in Miami. Housing over 40 artist studios, Mana Contemporary is home to artists like Queef Latina, a Madonna-esque drag performer and the founder and creative director of Wigwood, Miami’s premier drag festival. You’ll also be able to catch up with the Borscht Corp crew at Mana, as the art collective run their indie film operation out of the space.

Courtesy of Casey Kelbaugh

El Espacio en el Ocho

While the vast majority of Miami’s cultural community is concentrated along the Biscayne Corridor, a new gallery space down south has pulled out all the stops for their inaugural Art Basel program. Alex Valls, a New York-based artist recently opened El Espacio en el Ocho, a storefront shopping center-cum-project space for mid-career and emerging artists. During Miami Art Week, Good to Know, a curatorial platform comprised of Valls, Juliana Steiner, and Julianna Vezzetti, will host La Bodega y Mas, which pairs several artists with storefront windows as a comment on the American strip mall experience and the cultural experience particular to the Cuban exile community. Expect to see works by Kelly Breez, Brookhart Jonquil, and Franky Cruz.

Courtesy of Sodada, by Jeanne Canto

Sodada Salon

Miami’s humidity can wreak havoc on tresses, and Sodada Salon is a great place for a fresh cut and groom. Owner Solange Sarria (an artist whose work outside the salon includes sculpture and performance art) counts many of Miami’s creatives as her devoted clients. With an ethos that encourages authenticity and self-expression over unattainable beauty standards, Sodada Salon specializes in accentuating curls, dramatic undercuts and high-intensity color. The salon also just added makeup services to its roster.

Courtesy of Vinyl Social Club

Vinyl Social Club

If you’re looking for an off-the-radar, locals-only spot, head to Vinyl Social Club, a weekly Friday-night party dedicated to spinning nothing but records. Held in a dive bar called The Club, VSC was built on the premise that Miami has plenty of emerging DJ talent; they simply needed a place to spin their records. The party functions on a “first-come, first-spin” basis, giving local DJs like La Negra Presuntuosa, Teo and Greg Beato the chance to grace the decks on an almost weekly basis. Vinyl Social Club also hosts pop-ups around the city, with collaborators like Technique Records or mobile record store Terrestrial Funk.