The city’s been quite a-buzz about the fresh meat added to the Miami Heat roster this season. Whether they’re young guns are rookies, or seasoned players, the only image these guys have of our city is based on trend. The truth is, if they really want to get to know the city they’ll be representing, they have to take their talents a lot further than just South Beach or the obvious sports-related locales like International Smoke, 800 Degrees, and Grown. It doesn’t matter if you’re a basketball player or not, we’ve put together a fun little list of favorite go-to spots for any new local to Miami broken down by their various levels of cool. Get ready for so many puns.

In the Paint

This refers to the spots that we love to visit but we don’t often get the chance to frequent. So they’re particularly special.

Ball & Chain on a Cultural Friday – Of course, you can get to know Little Havana at any time of day, but you can get a full dose of the neighborhood’s identity on Viernes Culturales, every third Friday of the month. Get your salsa on at the legendary venue, and bar hop along Calle Ocho’s many new bars and speakeasys (i.e. Los Altos).

Time Out Market – The city’s food hall scene is booming and the options are too many to count. But we love Time Out Market because it truly features Miami’s best chefs in their element. It’s a perfect one-stop-shop to taste Miami’s talent in one sitting. Although catching it at a quiet time is difficult with it being on South Beach, but it’s still worth it every time.

Photo: FujiFilmGirl

Bali Cafe – Easily one of our favorite eateries in Miami hands-down, but it’s not for the picky eaters. Which is why you have to choose your crew wisely for this Indonesian and Asian feast. We suggest getting the tasting menu so you can try everything from their freshly made appetizers to their multiple curries.

Drunken Dragon – Once a little-known secret, this Koren BBQ joint is now as popular as its surrounding Miami Beach neighborhood. Which is why we can truly only experience it around happy hour when the crowds aren’t has scary. At that time, you can sit calmly at the bar, chat up the servers, and enjoy their most popular dishes at a lower price.

Shuckers Waterfront Grill – We don’t often get to visit this gem in North Bay Village, but it’s been a local favorite for years. There are very few sports bars in the city that aren’t indoors or blasting games and music too loud for conversation, and this is one of them. Plus, you can come via boat or car, and enjoy good eats with a breathtaking view.

Photo: FujiFilmGirl

Behind the Arc

Like we said, not all of the best spots in Miami are in the obvious places. In fact, most of them are on the mainland which, to a Miami newb, seems outside the perimeter.

Chug’s Diner – The new outpost by Chef Michael Beltran and @PastelitoPapi is absolutely delicious. In fact, it’s hard to let a week go by without having their stellar eats and baked goods. I’m sure many of the new players will be looking The Grove for a residence (because it rocks so hard), so this spot needs to be on their regular rotation.

The Salty Donut (South Miami) – Avoid the crazy wait at their original Wynwood location, and the classic flavors that tend to fly quick, and head to their newest spot in South Miami. It’s nearly twice the size and a perfect, light-filled place to get work done without a heavy crowd to interrupt your flow.

Photo: Masson Liang

Sweat Records – Every music fan needs a destination to satiate their needs. Which is why Sweat Records in Little Haiti is a great answer to those needs. They have everything from vintage finds and the mainstream vinyl you want to spin on the regular. There’s merch and CDs, and even live shows & listening parties for the ultra obsessed.

Rent Bikes in North Beach – If you really want to say that you went to Miami Beach, fine, we get it. But we suggest you dip your toes in the northern sand and have the beach to yourself. Rent bikes along the beachside boardwalk and make your way all the way down to South Pointe Park if you really want to see what the hype is about.

Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard – This spot in The Hammocks is easily one of Miami’s best restaurants across the board. For almost 15 years, the award-winning and celebrated chef has been serving a perfect blend of European-inspired classics and colorful twists from farm to plate. It’s so good that it doesn’t need to be on any list, since it’s pretty much full every night.

Photo: Yellow Pages

Slam Dunk

As the term implies, these are our absolute favorite go-tos. The ones that check all the boxes when it comes to vibe, accessibility, and entertainment.

The Broken Shaker – If you haven’t had a drink at The Freehand, have you ever really had a drink in Miami at all? The Miami Beach gem is just out of reach of South Beach’s craziness, and offers the kind of tropical poolside hang you actually want to experience. Plus, chances are you’ll meet some down-to-earth people you can build a friendship with.

Mandolin Aegean Bistro – We know that the Miami Design District will be high on these players lists when it comes to shopping and splurging on big brands. After spending the day in the upscale neighborhood, a dinner at Mandolin is not to be missed. Consistently delicious and charming, their Mediterranean fare is a perfect pairing to their romantic location.

Photo: Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Lagniappe – This is the best spot to see live music in a dark and intimate atmosphere. It’s also a great option when you really just want things to be easy. Grab a bottle, get your cheese plate made for you, and just snag a seat outside. You can sit anywhere outside and just blend in with the locals.

The Corner – Chances are at some point you’ll either go to Space for a crazy party or get curious about Eleven. If you do, no one will judge, but we will be mad if you miss the chance to have a late night conversation at The Corner. An epic beer and cocktail list, there’s also yummy bites until late to help soak up the regrets.

The Standard – We absolutely love The Standard for many reasons. Mostly because its bay front views are hard to beat for happy hour, but also because no matter how boujie it is, it still has that retro, low-key charm we get giddy to bask in. Hang in the lobby getting work done, lounge in the garden, or do what the locals do and fight over a spot by the water.

Photo: Curbed

Cover photo by Mandolin.