1) Best Club: LIV (Frank Malvar)
It could be famous DJs like A Trak and Steve Aoki performing regularly that makes LIV the best club in Miami. It could be the celebrities and beautiful people that the club attracts. Or maybe it’s the insane multicolored lasers, which will make you lose your sight and mind. Let’s not forget feeling like a VIP when you walk down the descending stairs towards the dance floor. You may have to empty your pockets for a cocktail, but a night out at LIV will leave you with plenty of stories to tell the next morning.
LIV is located at 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, Fla. 33140.
2) Best Place to Study on Campus: 2nd floor of Richter (Marlee Lisker)
It’s the night before your big test and you’re officially stressing out. You head up to your room, only to find that your roommate’s in the middle of a heated phone conversation, and your floor-mates have decided to throw a rave in your study room. When you’re starting to feel the pressure of a looming test or project, the best place to hit the books is definitely the second floor of the library. It’s more closely monitored than the first floor, so you won’t have to deal with kids loudly gossiping and discussing their group projects, but it’s not as silently creepy as the Stacks. If you want a seat on the second floor during finals, though, you better get there early, because spots fill up fast!
3) Best Free Event: Football Tailgate (Marlee Lisker)
On those Saturday mornings when you wake up realizing you already blew your weekend budget at the Grove, grab your orange and green gear and hop on the free bus to Sun Life Stadium. Once you get there, join fellow UM fans and party it up at the tailgate. Not only does the beer pour freely, but sometimes there are vendors handing out cool free stuff (after all, you can never have too many pairs of orange sunglasses). You can wander around the parking lot and make friends at the different tents, get in on a random game of Flip Cup or even join a dance party in the bed of someone’s pickup truck. Tailgating is the best way to turn up before noon while showing your ‘Cane pride. So crack open a can of Natty Light and get ready to rally for your team.
4) Best Café con Leche: Versailles (Maggy Torres-Rodriguez)
If you haven’t had Cuban food in Miami yet, it’s time to head over to Versailles. Versailles is the iconic center of delectable Cuban cuisine and culture, so if you are looking for a couple of sexy older ladies willing to salsa with you, heavy political commentary about every country or just warm hugs and great food, Versailles is the place to be. Don’t leave without trying the mariquitas con mojo (Green plantain chips) and imperial rice.
While you’re there, make sure you try the café con leche. Café con leche is an otherworldly concoction of milk with a dash of Cuban coffee. Ordering Café con leche y tostadas (toasted buttered bread), is a must. Never smoked a cigar with a café con leche? Now’s your chance!
Versailles is located at 3555 Southwest Eighth Street. Miami, Fla. 33145.
5) Best Asian: Moon Thai (Maggy Torres-Rodriguez)
In the mood for Thai, but also want to stuff your face with sushi? You’re in luck, because Moon Thai will satisfy both – and it’s conveniently right across US1! With a Japanese and a Thai menu, there’s never a lack of options to choose from. Select a hearty entrée from the Thai menu (the simple Pad Thai is to die for) or a fancy sushi roll from the Japanese menu (the Playboy roll is the flavor jackpot). For the health conscious diners, there are lighter rolls like the Sakesu or the Kanisu.
You can take out food or choose between the indoor and outdoor seating. With dim, low-hanging lights and artsy porcelain statues, the inside is elegant and traditional. So pry open some chopsticks and dig in!
Moon Thai located at 1118 S. Dixie Highway, Coral Gables, Fla. 33146.
6) Best Place to Go High: The Miami Planetarium at the Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science (Frank Malvar)
Stoners find their happy place in the visuals and great music during the Planetarium’s laser shows on the first Friday of every month. Enjoy an $8 laser show (shows vary depending on the schedule) and rock out to songs by The Doors, The Beatles, Bob Marley and Radiohead.
A word to the wise: Don’t forget the diffraction glasses they give! Sober or not, these glasses entertain young and old.
The Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science is located at 3280 S. Miami Ave., Miami, Fla. 33133.
7) Best UM Twitter feed/FB Page: UMiami Secrets (Sherman Hewitt)
Got a secret you’re dying to spill? Enjoy knowing fellow students’ quirks? Or are you just looking to de-stress after a heavy dose of studying? Log onto Facebook and check out the UMiami Secrets page! With more than 4,000 posts, this page has juicy secrets aplenty. Under an anonymous shroud, anyone can post whatever desire or dislike lingers in their mind. Whether they’re about faculty, friends or weekend flings, your secrets can find a home on this catalog of confidentials. Not up to putting your heart out there? No worries. Plenty of other people have, and each secret has a scandalous story to offer.
You can read up on all the secrets at facebook.com/UMiamiSecrets.
8) Best Mexican: Lime (Ashley Martinez)
When you’ve got a craving for those south-of-the-border flavors, Lime is the go-to place that will hit the spot. With classics like the lime burrito, fresca quesadillas, “nach’yo’ momma’s nachos” and “I wanna tijuana taco,” you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of a fiesta as you sit down to enjoy your feast.
After placing your order, make your way to the legendary salsa bar where you can choose from flavors like cilantro, black bean corn salsa, fresh pico de gallo, habanero salsa, a seasonal pineapple salsa, and, of course, limes. Options at this casual Mexican fast food spot range from $3 for a taco to $12 for a fajita platter, making Lime a tasty, satisfying choice that won’t break your budget.
Lime is located in the UC.
9) Best New Restaurant: Buns & Buns (Lyssa Goldberg)
At this new South Menu joint, located right near Sunset Place, the menu keeps it simple but not stupid. Don’t go walking into Buns & Buns looking for a sandwich. There are buns on buns on buns as far as the mouth can eat (try the herb bun or brioche), but the main attraction is the “Grills” section, which are platters of meat or seafood that usually come with a vegetable. All of them are served with a bun – on the side, not sandwiching your order in between it. Enjoy the clever food pairings and whimsical atmosphere, and don’t pass up the bites. Those spinach poofs and quinoa fritters are worth it.
Buns & Buns is located at 5748 Sunset Drive, South Miami, Fla. 33143.
10) Best Kept Secret: Lou’s Beer Garden (Lyssa Goldberg)
Lou’s remains such a well-kept secret because of its location: It’s on North Beach – a neighborhood that’s definitely the best secret about Miami Beach – hidden inside of a boutique hotel on Harding Ave. Once you walk out back to the New Hotel’s pool deck, you’ll realize that this really is a secret you’ll want to keep to yourself. It’s not a full-scale restaurant – mostly some tables and chairs scattered around the pool, along with a small bar – but they make the quaint hangout a unique tropical beer garden and gastropub. The new American menu changes seasonally, but their wide selection of craft beers, spirits and handcrafted cocktails is a mainstay.
Lou’s Beer Garden is located at 7337 Harding Ave., Miami Beach, Fla. 33141.
11) Best Cheap Eats: 100 Montaditos (Lyssa Goldberg)
If you’re looking for cheap food, it can’t get any cheaper than $1 sandwiches. Every Wednesday, Spanish import 100 Montaditos serves up every single one of its 100 montaditos, or tapas-sized sandwiches, for only a dollar. That means you should order at least five, probably seven, but maybe nine if you’re feeling like a big spender. Even on the other days of the week, no montadito is more than $3. With so many choices, you can opt for something as authentic as Serrano ham or do it like we do in the states and get the BBQ pulled pork. Or both. You can afford it.
100 Montaditos is located at 230 Coral Way Coral Gables, Fla. 33134.
12) Best Takeout/Delivery: Moon Thai (Ashley Martinez)
When you’re in the mood for exotic flavors, but can’t bring yourself to leave the comfort of your dorm room, Moon Thai is the perfect restaurant to call for delivery. Located right across US-1, Moon Thai features two menus that highlight Japanese and Thai cuisine.
Best known for its pad thai, the spicy, succulent dish, sautéed with shrimp, chicken and vegetables can’t be missed. Other classics on the Thai menu include fresh spring rolls with crisp vegetables, basil fried rice and refreshing Thai tea. The Japanese menu offers fresh sushi platters, like the Sashimi Regular, Geisha and Samurai served with miso soup and a green salad. Just a skip and a hop down Stanford Drive, Moon Thai is a convenient, fresh restaurant that will satisfy your takeout cravings.
Moon Thai located at 1118 S. Dixie Highway, Coral Gables, Fla. 33146.
13) Best Picnic Spot: The Green (Sherman Hewitt)
The university green provides a beautiful scene for picnics. Imagine an empty field with freshly cut, leaf-green grass and a saffron sun meeting a wispy wind. Only the clock tower’s periodic chime and the lively sounds of student life interrupt the tranquil scene. But even then, your outdoor meal will be all the more serene in the natural atmosphere.
14) Best Day Trip: Florida Keys (Emily Dabau)
One of the best things about living in the Magic City is getting to visit all of the other attractions that are just a car ride away — one of those being the Florida Keys. On a day when your workload is light or during a three-day weekend, grab some friends and take a road trip up to the Keys. Roll down the windows and enjoy the warm breeze and beautiful views as you travel down the Overseas Highway. Once you get there, enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling and swimming at the many keys you will pass by. Once you make it to the Mile Marker 0 at Key West, be sure to visit to the popular Duval Street.
15) Best Dessert: Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream (Nadijah Campbell)
When you’re craving something sweet and unique, it’s time to check out Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream. This is by far the best ice cream you will ever taste, and it’s an experience you will never forget. Chill-N makes their ice cream using liquid nitrogen right there on the spot, which allows for people to chill out for a second and enjoy the beauty of science! With toppings like Krispy Kreme Donuts and Pop-tarts in addition to more “normal” toppings, you can create any type of combination your heart desires. It’s a smart choice for both your wallet and your taste buds.
Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream is located at 8271 SW 124th St. Miami, Fla.
16) Best Theater: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (Madelyn Paquette)
In terms of both quantity and quality of performances, there’s no better entertainment destination in Miami than the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Surprise your girlfriend with tickets to a Broadway show, get a group of friends together to check out a celebrity guest or indulge your pretentious side with a high-brow evening at the opera or the ballet. You might even spot some of your classmates performing in co-productions with the UM Theatre Department at the Carnival Studio Theatre! Between its convenient location near both a Metrobus and MetroMover stop and the sheer volume of fascinating performance options, the Arsht is a night out that you won’t want to miss; in fact, it’s worth returning to again and again.
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is located at 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Fla. 33132.
17) Best Happy Hour: The Rathskeller (Spencer Dandes)
Think back to that magical moment when you proudly handed over your ID and got your first colorful wristband at the Rat. You ordered a pitcher, kicked back and probably thought, “I can die happy.” There’s no better place to post up for Happy Hour than our new Rathskeller. Sitting in a glider right along the lake with a beer in hand often makes you wonder why anyone would actually choose to go to school elsewhere. And if you have yet to join the 21 club, don’t sulk. Just grab some chicken tenders and enjoy the view.
18) Best Place to Nurse a Hangover: Bagel Emporium & Grille (Spencer Dandes)
It’s one of those mornings when the room is spinning out of control and you literally can’t imagine being anywhere but your bed. But trust us: Put in a tiny bit of effort and drag yourself to Bagel Emporium. This place is so close to campus you could probably still log onto Wireless Canes. Among the ritzy throngs of elderly Jews, you’ll find masses of other UM students in the exact same boat you’re in. Get a sandwich or some matzo ball soup, maybe a bagel and home fries. You can’t go wrong. Just be ready to wait 10-15 minutes to be seated, or call ahead and pick it up to avoid the line.
Bagel Emporium & Grille is located at 1238 S Dixie Hwy, Coral Gables, Fla. 33146.
19) Best Bar: Monty’s Raw Bar (Spencer Dandes)
Oh, Monty’s. You’re always there for us, and we thank you. Located on the water in Coconut Grove, the Friday afternoon crowd at this gem of a bar is something to behold. UM students usually arrive by the hundreds, washing the week away with Monty’s famous Pain Removers. The recipe is pretty simple: More stress? More rum. Plus, there’s a fantastic and reasonably priced raw bar where you’ll find oysters, stone crab claws and more. TIP: Parking is a nightmare, but the seasoned veterans know there are always spots open in the garage across the street.
Monty’s Raw Bar is located at 2550 S Bayshore Drive, Miami, Fla. 33133.
20) Best Former Student: Dwayne Johnson (Spencer Dandes)
Pop quiz: What action hero completely destroyed the competition in Hollywood last year with $1.3 BILLION in global box office revenue? His name is Dwayne Johnson, and he hails from The U. Better known in our hearts as “The Rock,” Mr. Johnson (Class of 1995) has provided a little more ammunition to fire at the peasants in Gainesville and Tallahassee when they try to argue that their alma mater is better than yours. The man won a national championship in football, became a wrestling legend, wrote a New York Times bestseller, appeared in the Fast & Furious franchise and cemented his status as Miami’s coolest former student. It’s not even really close.
21) Best BBQ: Shorty’s Bar-B-Q (Spencer Dandes)
Shorty’s has the best barbecue this side of the Mississippi. OK, we’re exaggerating a bit. But in Miami, at least, you really can’t beat it. Located right around Dadeland, Shorty’s has been a fixture on US1 for 60 years. They serve up brisket, ribs, chicken, pulled pork and more at decent prices. Most of their plates come with fries, coleslaw and garlic bread. If you want a real treat, start off with cornbread or baked beans. The first time you go, you might be thrown off by the picnic table seating, where your neighbors are probably closer than necessary. But it’s all about the company, so no complaints.
Shorty’s Bar-B-Q is located at 9200 S Dixie Hwy, Miami, Fla. 33156.
22) Best Campus Celebrity: President Donna E. Shalala (Spencer Dandes)
What she lacks in height she makes up for in charm. Donna E. Shalala, UM president and hostess of badass orientation parties since 2001, is a bona fide campus celeb. Some students wait years for their chance to snap an elusive Shalala Selfie. Others have found themselves short of breath when she sits down at the glider next to theirs at the Rat. Bonus points for all the sporting events the president attends with her mom, Edna (102 years old and still way cooler than all of us.) Oh, and have you SEEN Shalala’s house? Swagger for days.
23) Best Place to Splurge: Prime 112 (Stephanie Parra)
Looking to spend big bucks for a quality meal? Prime 112 is the perfect place. Situated in the historic Browns Hotel (the first hotel built on the shores of Miami Beach in 1915), the restaurant’s menu boasts top-notch beef selections. The fancy location is often a good place to spot some fancy celebrities like Kim Kardashian and her klan. In the mood for some classic American fare? The Truffle Lobster Mac and Cheese is a swanky spin on an otherwise ordinary dish. Prime 112 serves large portions, so you sure get plenty of bang for your buck.
Prime 112 is located at 112 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, Fla. 33139.
24) Best Brunch: Green Street Cafe (Stephanie Parra and Marlee Lisker)
For those looking for a breezy brunch, Green Street Cafe is the place to be. Nestled in the heart of Coconut Grove, Green Street Cafe’s menu offers a wide array of breakfast staples and provides a twist on classic favorites, like their Nutella stuffed French toast. Interested in a bubbly beverage? Their assortment of champagne-based drinks are sure dull the effects of last night’s drinking debauchery.
Green Street Cafe is located at 3468 Main Hwy, Coconut Grove, Fla. 33133.
25) Best Neighborhood: Brickell (Spencer Dandes)
Brickell strikes a great balance between the swanky Coral Gables dynamic and the partially sketchy Downtown Miami scene. While some students live in Brickell high-rises and commute to school, others enjoy the neighborhood as a fun departure from their normal routine. Its popularity comes from a variety of restaurants and bars that blend upscale entertainment with the young professional crowd. Hotspots like Blackbird Ordinary and Fado Irish Pub (located in Mary Brickell Village) make for a great night out and they’re just a short cab ride away.
26) Best Museum: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (Lyssa Goldberg)
Think of museums in Miami, and you probably won’t picture the beautiful outdoors. But the greatest part of Vizcaya, a Victorian-era mansion built by James Deering in 1916, is its 10 acres of elegantly landscaped gardens and the view of Biscayne Bay that looks like it doesn’t belong in Miami. Don’t miss out on the historical architecture and furnishings of the main house, either. Make sure to dress to impress – you’ll be taking tons of photos in the garden and selfies as you dine on scones and tea at the Vizcaya Cafe.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens are located at 3251 S Miami Ave., Miami, Fla. 33129.
27) Best place to get laid on campus: The Stacks (V)
Having sex in the stacks has been on many a UM student’s bucket list. If you’ve been able to do this in your time here, kudos to you. I’ve gone up and down those floors looking for the optimum conditions but have often fallen short. Finals are the best time since the library is open 24 hours. I suggest hiding out in the bathroom and waiting until the late night security detail is gone. Once you get through that hurdle, you can quietly make your way to a nook in the corner and have at it. Just make sure to get in and out as quickly as possible. If you can, have a friend keeping watch on the second floor just to make sure there’s no guard when you get out of the elevator. Follow these steps and you should be able to cross this milestone off your bucket list with pride.
28) Best Juice Bar: Jamba Juice (Ashley Martinez)
After a long day in the hot Miami heat, nothing beats a refreshing drink from Jamba Juice. Known not just for smoothies, Jamba Juice’s freshly squeezed juices are simple and fresh. The Purely Carrot contains nothing but a blend of carrots, letting the fresh veggies do all the tasty work. The ingredients in the Purely Orange drink? You guessed it, just oranges. Having nothing but the fresh goodness of fruits and vegetables provides a light, refreshing treat to jumpstart your day. For those who want an extra punch of nutrients, try the Wheatgrass. With a location right on campus, Jamba Juice is the perfect local juice spot.
29) Best Place for a First Date: Stir Moon (Erika Glass)
Stir Moon has a diverse menu, full of options sure to satisfy any palate. If your date is a lover of Pad Thai, this is the place to take them on your next big night out. The full sized plate is only eight dollars. Get more than one dish and share with your date. The added sense of intimacy and typical Thai atmosphere is sure to make sparks fly between the two of you. And if not, you can take comfort in knowing that you didn’t break the bank on a flopped date.
Stir Moon is located at 1100 S Dixie Hwy, Coral Gables, Fla. 33146.
30) Best Festival: Ultra Music Festival (Stephanie Parra)
Each March, a sea of neon colors and glitter forms at Bayfront Park Downtown Miami. Thousands of people make pilgrimages to worship the electronic music gods, and do so dressed in their finest attention-calling garbs. This year, headliners included M.I.A., Tiesto, and MGMT. If you plan to take the metro to Ultra, we recommend leaving plenty of time. You may get stuck in the sea of ravers riled up and ready to go.
For more information, visit ultramusicfestival.com.