I feel like this story is best told through photos and videos, but I like to write so here goes.
I’ve been attending the South Beach Wine & Food Festival every year for the past 4 years, and it’s honestly one of my favorite weeks of the year. The weather is incredible in Miami in mid-late Feb, and the events are just so much nicer with a beachy backdrop.
I stayed at The Betsy Hotel on Ocean Drive, which was a wonderful choice. It’s more chic than most South Beach hotels and has a strong arts & culture vibe, which I really appreciate. Might be the only hotel left in the world that has a LIBRARY, a WRITER’S ROOM, and a really nice selection of books inside your hotel room. It’s those little touches that make a hotel memorable, in my opinion. The food was delicious too, thanks to LT Steak & Seafood right downstairs, and The Alley around the corner with some of the best pizza in town. Laurent Tourondel is the chef behind these spots, and he knows the importance of a beautiful pizza in addition to things like butter-poached lobster salad.
In terms of the actual events, we kicked things off with a boat party thrown by Menin Hospitality at The Mondrian Hotel. They brought a bunch of us foodies together and fed us with food and drink by Stiltsville, Pizza Bar, and Bodega. Ohhhh Bodega. I’ll get to that. Married chef duo Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth are the chefs behind Stiltsville as well as Root & Bone here in NYC, which is responsible for some of the best fried chicken you’ll ever have – it’s the “lemon dust”. That’s the key.
Moving right along to Bodega. I don’t even know how to describe my feelings about it. This is the only year I’ve ever gone during the day to eat, soberly, as opposed to 2 am, drunkenly. It’s a taqueria with a whole dark and sexy dancing-dungeon vibe in the back at night (through a secret door). But the al pastor tacos, the queso, the milanese sandwich, and the tortas are really not to be missed.
Halves & Wholes is a sandwich spot right across the street from Bodega, and trust me that’s another one you don’t want to miss. The chicken cheesesteak was insane and I ate my leftovers later that night around 1 am as a late night snack. Fear not though, for they have some healthy options as well like quinoa bowls with sweet potato, avo, and chicken.
If you’re going to attend any event, I’d say one of your best bets is the Burger Bash. This is probably one of SOBEWFF’s most popular events, and with good reason. All of the burgers around the country come together for one epic night, and if you’re going to do it, make sure you do it right. Start in the back and work your way forward, taking a few bites of each sample and moving on. Portion control is key, otherwise you’ll get full on the first few and not have room for the rest. My favorites are Emily, Pig Beach, and Hard Times Sundaes. I gotta rep my NYC peeps, ya know.
More photos below, and stay tuned for Part II of SOBEWFF. There was just too much to fit into one post. If you’ve even made it this far I’m proud of you.