For fusion fare paired with a sensual performance or Champagne bottles sparking to the ceiling, come to these Miami restaurants dressed to thrill.
Sex on the Beach: Tantalize
A handsome chap climbs out of his i8 (BMW’s first and revolutionary plug-in hybrid sports car) and scurries to open the car door for his lady. The long-legged beauty, wearing a red sequin number à la Jessica Rabbit, exits with utter grace. The star-studded couple stroll up to a velvet rope that’s seemingly out of place—covertly nestled between a vaporizer shop and Groovy’s Pizza on Lincoln Road’s tourist-ridden south end—and inform the bouncer of their reservation. The two are here for dinner at Tantalize Miami, South Florida’s first sensual dining destination, where risqué skits are served with a side of steak.
And it’s not just any steak that’s served; it’s flawlessly tender and succulent filet mignon churrasco from James Beard Award semifinalist and former District chef Horacio Rivadero that arrives at the table alongside a yucca pastel that rouses the taste buds. “We’re trying to catch everyone’s attention,” Rivadero says. “[We want to] make the food as stimulating as the environment.” Be it with the lamb meatballs whirling in a pool of sherry and vibrant pistachio chimichurri, or with the alwaysdifferent and bewildering performance vignettes ranging (depending on the night) from a domineering Cleopatra and her servants to a bawdy paraphrasing of Chicago’s “All That Jazz,” Tantalize lives up to its name.
“You’ve got to work with the concept,” says Rivadero, “and for a concept like this, you can’t make meatballs with tomato sauce.” As with the burlesque acts, there has to be a twist: “Something to indulge the senses.” Indeed, sensory stimulation is ignited the moment you enter the two-story restaurant and walk up the red velvet stairs to a dining room adorned with matching one-sided booths, black textured walls laden with gold mirrors, and light-bouncing chandeliers. “It’s not like having dinner in a regular restaurant. People wouldn’t expect international cuisine with a pan-Latin flair in a place like this,” admits Rivadero. “But Latino flavors can be very tantalizing.” 330 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, 305-695-1401
Hot & Steamy: Seaspice
If tattooed celebs (David Beckham and Ryan Phillippe, to name two) in snapbacks arriving via yacht are any indication, then Seaspice is the place to be and be seen in nothing but your best. If you pay attention and tune out the Greek music that has servers dancing along at this riverfront stunner, you might just be able to pick up some of the French being spoken to your left; German, to your right; and Portuguese, behind you. Native tongues aside, sizzling-hotstone meats and fresher-than-fresh crudos speak to everyone’s palate. 422 NW N. River Dr., Miami, 305- 440-4200
Classic Elegance: The Forge
When Shareef Malnik assumed his father’s reign at The Forge in 1991, he lifted the dress code. “Who am I to tell anyone how to dress?” he says. For inspiration, however, just look to the maître d’, who wears a white suit and Vans (color varies nightly). Whether on a romantic date, doubling up, or with your entire posse (as recently seen in HBO’s Ballers), the iconic restaurant resembling an opulent mansion is the ideal setting. Let loose during Friday happy hour, or satisfy a red-meat craving, perfectly grilled by Michelin-starred toque Christopher Lee, at the number-one steakhouse in Miami, according to USA Today’s 10 Best. 432 41 St., Miami Beach, 305-538-8533
For Your Eyes Only: Touché
Top Chef Carla Pellegrino’s Italian glass cube, perched on the third floor of Miami’s first and only 24-hour nightclub/ show club, is about as thrilling as thrilling can get. Not only will the tattooed beauty darting around the open kitchen and gracefully yelling in her thick Italian accent mesmerize you, but should you want to dance off her grandmother’s lasagna, you can do so just a few feet away. The rooftop at Touché is Miami’s premier after-hours spot on Saturdays. 15 NE 11th St., Miami, 305-358-9848
Bright Lights: Bâoli
Be sure you’re wearing the right shoes (Louboutins, anyone?) or the bouncer might reject you from this restaurant and lounge—which, depending on what time you arrive, is more like LIV (if LIV were to serve Thai bouillabaisse). If you’re a virgin to Bâoli, the Wednesday night “My Boyfriend Is Out of Town” party is the ideal way to wet your whistle. VIP table number 400, inside the DJ booth, gives you a front-row view of the high-voltage soirée from the best seat in the house. Guys, suit up. 1906 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-674- 8822
Dance Party: Bagatelle
A white-tablecloth restaurant helmed by chef Matthieu Godard (a protégé of Daniel Boulud), Bagatelle is the kind of place where women dance along in their chairs to the DJ’s track list between courses, selfies are snapped every two seconds, a flying Wonder Woman delivers bottles of Moët and life-size sparklers, and shots are chased with oysters, then limes. Stick around past midnight, when things get really interesting—or, better yet, come for the epic brunch bacchanal. 2000 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-704-3900
By Carla Torres