Beneath an enchanted canopy of behemoth Banyan and oak trees, Heartland has quietly emerged as the crown jewel of Little River. 

Open since November, the sprawling outdoor concept, illuminated by the warm glow of string lights and the flames of its open-air grill, is “not a restaurant, not a bar — just come and enjoy,” manager Laurent Pingaud says. 

With live music every night and an extensive wine list, Heartland hits all the right notes and ushers in a welcome change of pace with a ‘come as you are’ sensibility; that breezy, sepia-toned, tropical-casual energy that’s unmistakably Miami, yet blends in elements of New Orleans and other far-off, music drenched locales. 

Miamians have quickly and wholeheartedly embraced this virtually pandemic-proof garden of curated sounds and simple pleasures, with well-distanced tables and a safe, al fresco atmosphere — where it feels like you can actually relax. 

When it comes to the food, start with the Chorimar Roll, a house made seafood sausage made with salmon, octopus and shrimp. For your main course, you can’t go wrong with skirt steak with chimichurri, with a big, perfect bowl of sharable french fries, and a bottle of red wine, finished off with smoked pineapple with mascarpone for dessert. 

As far as the music goes, you can expect a solid rotation spanning Cuban, Latin, and Jazz, featuring local favorites like Lemon City Trio, French Horn Collective, and Afrobeta. 

To fully absorb the experience, it’s best to get there early. Heartland doesn’t take reservations, and subscribes to more of a European mentality, encouraging patrons to come and go at their leisure and linger in good company. “People stay for hours — from Hedgefund managers to cashiers at Target,” Pingaud says. 

Beginning this Tuesday, March 2nd, Heartland will launch ‘Burgers & Blues’ on Tuesday nights,  with entertainment by local blues performer Ryan Cooper, and a burger menu including a cheeseburger, lamb burger, Impossible Burger, seafood burger, and a special ‘surprise’ dessert burger. 

Also this week, Heartland kicks off its Sunday evening jazz series, with live jazz to cap off the week from 7pm-10pm. Looking ahead, Heartland is in talks with their neighbors at Space Park to plan collaborations with top international DJs. Heartland is open Tuesday through Sunday from 6pm.

Photos courtesy of Heartland and Julia Cavalieri.

Fueled by Florida sunshine and iced café con leches, Julia is a marketing and PR manager by day and a rollerblading, concert-seeking, Tropical Disco Barbie by night. Keep up with her playlists, cat pics and South Beach adventures at @jecavalieri.