One of the good things about Instagram (or the bad, depending on how you look at it) is the advent of doing things for the ‘Gram. Like, it’s great when you’re taking a photo of your hot dog legs on a beach and showing off to your 400 Instagram followers, but it’s annoying when anyone else who isn’t you does the same exact thing. Well, too fucking bad for everyone else, because I’m here to give you your Instagram bucket list: Miami edition. Whether you’re at Art Basel this weekend, planning your spring break, or just going because you want to live out your Will Smith tour of the U.S. (just me?), these are the places you need to go to—for the ‘Gram, of course.
All your friends’ basic avocado toast Instas have nothing on Leynia, the Argentinian grill located inside South Beach’s famed Delano hotel. First off, the seating is outside (because, hello, you’re in Miami), so the natural lighting cannot be beat. In the background of your Instas may be the Delano’s pool, where the famous Proviseur chairs, originally from Le Jardin St. Payl in Paris, sit. Second, and most importantly, you will not find these brunch foods on any menu anywhere else. They have an El Tucamano egg Benedict that sits on top of a fucking empanada. The smoked salmon Benedict rests on a potato pancake. The French toast comes with a guava dulce de leche, and will make you a believer in sweet breakfast foods, if you’re not already (aka me before I had this French toast). If you manage to take any pictures before you shove all the food in your mouth because it looks amazing, and tastes even more amazing, your pictures will get triple-digit likes, guaranteed.
^No filter needed on this.
For your brunch Instas that are bougie but in a more rustic, hipster, less in-your-face way, head to Beaker & Gray in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. Once again, this is not your run-of-the-mill eggs Benedicts that you’ve eaten at every place in NYC. To quote the great Stefon, “This place has everything”—from spicy chilaquiles with chicken that practically disintegrates in your mouth to a sweet and savory waffle panini with pork belly rillette and maple mustard to a guava skillet cookie. I had a croque madame—a slab of crunchy yet chewy sourdough spread with oxtail, smothered with gruyère and topped with an egg. If I didn’t know any better, aka study abroad in Paris, I’d have thought Beaker & Gray invented it—and it was leagues better than any croque I ate in France. Je ne suis pas désolée.
This is where you and your friends will want to take those not-not candid group photos. This cute little spot has floor-to-ceiling wallpaper in that chic palm leaf print you’re seeing literally everywhere, plus a giant neon sign that says, “I’m never gonna dance again, the way I danced with you…” that’s just begging to be posed underneath of. The DJ booth also has a retro-looking neon sign in the shape of lips, which is another solid option. And you won’t even want to bother the DJ in between snaps to ask him to play the new Taylor Swift (please don’t be that person), because the music is on point. They play a mix of ’80s and ’90s throwbacks and current hits, and you really can’t argue with it. If all that’s not enough for you, they have a gif photo booth inside the bar for your Boomerangs.
Employees Only has an outpost in New York, but if you’ve never in your life managed to get a seat there because it’s always so packed (same), the Miami location has a more spacious interior, plus outdoor seating. It’s a speakeasy, so the drinks taste and look incredible. They serve dinner, if you’re not a rager, but if you are, there’s an insane late-night food menu. Ever had a craving for buttery bone marrow poppers at three in the morning? Me either, but you can make it happen at Employees Only Miami. (They’re actually known for their post-3am chicken noodle soup. Don’t know why, it just is.) Not to mention, it’s located on the Washington Park Hotel property, so after getting (responsibly) drunk off fancy af drinks, you can stumble back to your room, mere steps away.
Step into Byblos, with its eye-catching artwork that depicts ancient mediterranean scenes, accordion-style fabric-wrapped panels, plush turquoise and yellow couches, and gold and silver mirrored statement bar, and you’ll feel like you’ve landed somewhere in the Mediterranean. Settle in with an earthy cocktail like the Ottoman Cartel, a melange of Avion silver, spiced barberry reduction and carbonated beet juice, decorated with edible marigold flowers. Or try their cold tea service—tea infused with spirits and served for two or four in a luxurious ritual reminiscent of a classic eastern mediterranean tea ceremony. The most difficult part of eating at Byblos is going to be putting down your phone long enough to take a bite. The food tastes as gorgeous as it looks—the canoe-shaped Wagyu Lameh Pide houses vibrant Turkish paste made in-house, creamy fior di latté, garlic-y toum, and basil cress. The melt-in-your-mouth, Spanish octopus is perfectly prepared with biber chili vinaigrette and a hint of lemon. Also, Drake eats here. That is all.
It’s hailed as the best restaurant in Miami, and for good reason. Helmed by celebrity chef Brad Kilgore and located inside the Ziff Ballet Opera House, this locale will provide some of your most enviable Instas. Unlike other spots, the lighting in BRAVA is perfectly suited for your iPhone camera—and so is the food. The heavenly, marigold-colored lobster risotto is adorned with some sort of classy gold flake that I’m still trying to explain to people. The black-and-white pecorino cheese-filled gnudi are topped with an airy foam. And the pastry-encrusted short beef Wellington is served with a peppercorn demi-glace that the server pours gently over it. This is where you’ll want to break out your fanciest outfit and spend all your money, because you’ll feel sophisticated af. Again, doing it for the ‘Gram.
Sweet and savory food lovers alike will moon over The Salty Donut’s confections. Flavors run the gamut from tangy and creamy Guava and Cheese to rich Nutella and back again. These pillowy, small-batch craft donuts pack tons of flavor, and they look just as gorgeous as they taste. This place sells out before closing every day, and you’ll see why if you take just one bite.
Set in the courtyard of South Beach’s historic Hall Hotel, this open-air space reminiscent of an outdoor tiki bar boasts larger-than-life table games like giant Jenga and oversized Connect Four. Food items like mini empanadas and bite-size ceviche can provide a different perspective to your pics; cocktails like Batida de Maracuja offer a unique twist on your favorite go-tos.
I saved the best for (second-to) last, because the Wynwood Walls are your number one Instagram destination. I would say that they were basically invented for IG, except that there’s a really rich artistic history behind them, and I’m not a total idiot. A short history is that Wynwood used to be an unsafe area artists eventually moved into because housing was affordable—think like every New York City neighborhood on the cusp of gentrification. Different city, same story. In 2009, real estate developer Tony Goldman bought up a lot of Wynwood and created a series of open-air art murals that are today called the Wynwood Walls. Graffiti and street artists are invited to paint a mural at the walls, and there are new murals every year. So now you have this whole neighborhood that’s got graffiti art everywhere—and I’m not talking like, your shitty bubble letter graffiti. This shit is the real deal. Get a tour with Wynwood Art Walk before you go see the walls, so you actually know what you’re looking at and aren’t just an annoying tourist. Then go out and be basic and have a full-on photoshoot in front of your favorite murals—you’ll come out with one-of-a-kind pictures…except for everyone else who took the same photos in front of the same walls.
Located within a five-minute walk to the beach, Washington Park Hotel is an Insta-worthy hotel that even non-influencers can afford. The exterior of each of the hotel’s four buildings are done in the retro art deco style that’s been preserved since the early 20th century. Inside, the chic retro rooms are decorated in an updated art deco style with modern photographs by artists and influencers including Jason Peterson, Ryan Parrilla, Stephen Vanasco and 13thWitness. The hotel bar, Swizzle, makes oversize tropical drinks adorned with local flora, and the frontside pool is an ideal location for lounging and snapping.
At the end of your super special day with super special people and super special speeches, you should be serving a super special dessert. Newsflash—this is like, your last chance to impress your guests. Which makes it all the more upsetting when we see tiny plates of cake pops or a fucking wall of carnival food. I paid good money to be at this wedding, probably, and I demand a delicious dessert. I don’t want your dried out wedding cake and I don’t want some unique shit that you think everyone will love. When it comes to wedding desserts, variety is key, and if you’re serving only ONE of the below items (or all fucking five), let me know ahead of time so I can RSVP “nope.”
Enough already. If you’re having a gross brunch wedding, then fine—hire out that super hip doughnut place and have them create you a cake out of doughnuts. But do not, DO NOT, hang doughnuts on a peg board and call it a dessert table. Fuck you. I’m not an animal, even though alcohol makes me act like one. I am above eating off of a peg board. Fuck you, Alyssa, and your trendy fucking wedding. Fuck you and your pink frosted “I Do” doughnuts.
2. Cotton Candy And Other Carnival Fare
Wtf? The fact that people do this is disturbing. I understand that, along with the Chinese-Mexican fusion food truck you have out front, having a cotton candy machine for dessert is totally UNIQUE and a hipster’s actual wet dream. However, no one older than age seven is going to appreciate you dishing out this slimy, crusty, sticky, spun sugar. You know what cotton candy and funnel cakes are good for? Being sticky. I don’t want to be sticky at this current juncture. I’m hoping to get to a nice, drunk place without wondering tomorrow, “Wtf is in my hair?” Fuck you.
3. Cake Pops
These reached their peak around 2010, so anyone serving this shit now can go shave their back. Be honest—have you ever had a cake pop that was amazingly good? The answer is “no.” Nothing on a stick has ever ended well. That includes dessert. It’s fucking science.
4. Literally Just Candy
I seen’t this shit, and it ain’t pretty. I get that you may be trying to cut costs, but for the love of god, please don’t let your dessert suffer by providing jars of candy for your guests as “dessert.” I’d literally rather you poured me another glass of wine than put some glass jars of candy on a table and thrown me a bag to fill. I didn’t like trick or treating when I was eight, and I sure as shit don’t like it now. We demand pastries and cake—not dried-out old Reese’s and questionable truffles. PASS.
You know by now that I hate cupcakes at weddings. They’re tacky. They’re usually not that delicious. I hate buttercream for reasons I’m not going to get into here. Your red velvet chocolate or key lime crème can’t save you. If you’re having a bunch of CHILDREN at your wedding (first of all, ew), then yes, go ahead and serve them. But not everyone likes cupcakes, and you’re totally alienating the rest of us.
What do we want, then? We want variety. Choosing one or two desserts (esp. the above) fucking sucks, and we demand a full dessert table with everything to choose from. We came, we got you a gift, and we’re sitting through these awful speeches. Give us sugar or give us death.
Look, we understand that weddings are stressful for everyone involved. The groom would probably rather eat his shoe than be the center of attention. The bride is locked in a battle of financials and décor with her mother and mother-in-law. The bridesmaids are ready to stab each other over splitting the bill for the bachelorette party. And we, your wedding guests, just want a simple open bar and some goddamn hot food.
But Pinterest and the internet have betrayed us. Food trends for weddings are running unchecked into really fucking stupid territory. Be it naked cakes, or food trucks, or all things fusion, we’re here to guide you on what you def should not do for your wedding when it comes to feeding us.
These belong in brightly colored stores dotting the crappiest highways, not on a cutesy peg board at your dessert table. I’m sorry, but is that shit just ASKING to be poked, prodded, burped on, and otherwise touched by the nasty toddlers you allowed to be present during your special day? Hard pass.
These were cute in 2012. They now have no place on your dessert table. Negative bonus points if they’re mini and form your cake. You, ma’am, can fuck right off. Are you a bride or a bitch hosting a sweet 16? Grow up.
3. Food Trucks
Are you a Brooklyn hipster, a hipster hopeful, or just trying to be a dick? Go ahead and have a food truck at your wedding. While we deem these acceptable for cocktail hour (but barely), making your guests stand in line for made-to-order food, when we’re already drunk and tired and just want to eat mashed potatoes through a straw, is cruel and unusual. Did you know that food trucks used to be referred to as Roach Coaches? Yeah, so go ahead and have one. I fucking dare you.
4. Breakfast For Dinner
Oh, I’m going to keep my food cost low but thrill my guests with lukewarm pancakes, runny eggs, and tepid potatoes! Yippee! You realize I could have this for a quarter of the price down the road at Waffle House, right? A wedding—especially an evening wedding—is no goddamn place for your brunch dinner.
5. Mini Everything
Oh my gawwwwddddd, look how cute this tiny taco is, next to my tiny tequila shot, next to my tiny beef wellington. Hey guess what—if you have an open bar, I’mma need some real food up in this bitch. Full size servings, please. Unless you’re planning on hosting a tea party for small children, go ahead and put me down for the full size steak, full size shots, and full size fucking dinner.
6. Around The World And Fusion
Pick a fucking country—even two—and settle on it. Unless you and your intended are each like, Indian and Mexican and Native American and Italian and Jewish, you don’t need 20 fucking dishes representative of your culture. Uh, no, I really don’t want Korean-Jewish fusion tacos or sesame chicken next to my matzah balls. Knock it off. As was once said in Forgetting Sarah Marshall: “It doesn’t make you a traveler of the world, it makes you full of shit.”