People who live in South Miami know they’ve got the best of both worlds. On one hand, they enjoy the Florida tranquility of avocado groves and fruit trees that loom over quiet residential streets and beautifully maintained ranch-style homes. On the other, with easy access to Dixie Highway and the Palmetto Expressway, and being situated fewer than 10 miles from downtown Miami, South Miami is in range of everything the Magic City has to offer. Up next: the redevelopment of Sunset Place, creating a true mixed-use town center and positioning South Miami as a more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly city.
Meet our South Miami guide
Speaking of Sunset Place, George Spillis is not only a South Miami native and longtime resident, he’s also principal of Grass River Property, one of the companies that has acquired the shopping center for $110 million and is leading the charge in its transformation. Spillis has fond childhood memories of riding his bike to the old Holsum Bakery for day-old sticky buns, and of fishing in Biscayne Bay and the Bahamas with his father. Along with his wife, Sharon, he’s watched South Miami evolve over the decades as his three children grew into young adults. “I find motivation,” Spillis said, “in walking the streets of South Miami to get ideas and speak to our neighbors.”
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Best time to see neighbors
“FootWorks on Sunset Drive organizes Sunday morning runs that are a lot of fun. It’s a great chance to catch up with friends and meet new people. You also come away with the latest community news.” 5724 Sunset Drive; 305-667-9322; footworksmiami.com.
Best spot for date night
“I recommend Marhaba Lebanese restaurant. My family is Greek, so Mediterranean is my favorite cuisine. Beyond the food, my wife and I always enjoy their wine, which is reasonably priced, and the service is excellent.” 5861 Sunset Drive; 305-666-9600; marhabainmiami.com.
Where to go with the family
“Splitsville at Shops at Sunset Place is a good one. Bowling is the main draw, but the food and drinks are great, too. Be sure to reserve a lane in advance — the place is packed on the weekends.” 5701 Sunset Drive; 305-665-5263; splitsvillelanes.com.
Best restaurant for a power lunch
“I always run into friends and colleagues during the lunch rush at Shula’s 347. My wife and I dine at Shula’s once a week, because her Cryo Body Spa is across the street and I’m always in the area for business.” 6915 Red Road; 305-665-9661; donshula.com.
“We’re transforming Sunset Place into a destination for the performing and visual arts. We’re partnering with the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami to host a free jazz concert series every Saturday.” 5701 Sunset Drive; 305-663-0482; shopsunsetplace.com.
Favorite brunch spot
“Head to Casa Cuba for the best Cuban dishes. Our family goes on the weekends for brunch. Felipe Valls and his family have brought their mastery of Cuban cuisine to South Miami, and it’s become a neighborhood hotspot.” 5859 Southwest 73rd Street; 305-709-1214; casacubarestaurant.com.
Coffee or tea?
“I don’t drink coffee, but I do love tea. Tea & Poets at Sunset Place is unlike any other place. The owners, Joaquin [Ortiz] and Francisco [Musalem], have created an artisan market where local vendors sell their crafts, artworks and handmade gifts. The tea is delicious.” 5701 Sunset Drive; 786-216-7201; teaandpoets.com.
“Chocolate Fashion has the best desserts in town. It’s a great spot for a sweet treat or a cake for a special occasion. Their croissants are a must. Don’t count calories here —just enjoy the sweet experience.” 5868 Sunset Drive, 305-661-7200; chocolatefashiononline.com.
“I still think Whisk is one of South Miami’s best-kept secrets. It’s a favorite with locals, and it feels like a neighborhood place. The staff is warm and makes you feel at home.”
7382 Southwest 56th Avenue; 786-268-8350; whiskgourmet.com.
Must-try place for cocktails
“The South Miami bar scene has really come alive in recent years, so it’s hard to choose. Station 5 Table + Bar is one of our favorites. It’s locally owned, the staff is welcoming, and the cocktails are well-made.” 5845 Sunset Drive; 305-668-7405; station5miami.com.
Go-to for gift-buying
“Arango is a modern design store. They sell cool accessories for dining rooms, kitchens and bathrooms. I grew up in a family of architects, and my parents have been shopping here for decades.” 5864 Sunset Drive; 305-661-4229; arango-design.com.
“A family favorite, dating to when my kids were younger, is Dante Fascell Park. It has beautiful new tennis courts.” 8700 Southwest 57th Avenue; 305-666-8680; southmiamifl.gov.