By Becky Randel
Miami is a sunny city full of intensity: colours, visuals and intense flavours of all kinds. As one of America's youngest cities (it was incorporated in 1896), what Miami lacks in history it more than makes up for in culture, ambition and a sense of adventure. The southernmost major city in the 48 contiguous states, Miami is surrounded by water. With Biscayne Bay positioned between the mainland and Miami Beach, the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, and the Miami River running through Downtown, seafood is a large part of the ‘Magic City’ lifestyle. From the deliciously sweet, local Florida stone crab (pioneered by the city's oldest restaurant, Joe's Stone Crab) to fried grouper and conch fritters at various waterfront institutions, fresh fish is never far from your plate. Meanwhile, enjoying a waterfront cocktail at sunset is a city-wide celebrated pastime.
With a whopping 70% of the city's population classifying themselves as Hispanic or Latino, Miami – often called the gateway to the Americas – also boasts the best South American and Caribbean cuisine in the country. Sample hundreds of variations of rice and beans at any diner in town, try some delicious Haitian malanga fritters, or go more upscale with savoury steaks at a Brazilian churrascaria. Set your palate on fire with smoky Argentine BBQ, or beat the Miami heat with tangy Peruvian ceviche.
Latin-American flavours are ever-present in Miami, but a burgeoning and diverse local-chef scene crossing all culinary barriers has taken root in recent years. Miami chefs have stepped up to the plate, opening some of the most impressive and innovative dining experiences in the country. As for dessert, Key lime pie is in such high demand that even the gas station versions are surprisingly good.
Above all else, the city of Miami is a melting pot. Not only do a large number of its residents come from Latin American backgrounds, the city also plays host to millions of visitors from around the world every year.
The original waves of Cubans mostly settled in an area...