By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large
You first and foremost visit a restaurant to eat, but let's face it– there so many more elements of a restaurant that impact the culinary experience. How was the service? How is the cocktail and beer menu? Is the sitting comfortable?
But, the first impression for a guest is the restaurant's atmosphere.
This sets the stage for the entire dinner experience. Aesthetics like the restaurant's lighting, music, decor, spacing, and more– all play a role in creating a restaurant's ambience.
Some restaurants take their atmosphere to the next level.
The city of Miami has a vibrant culinary scene with not only an array of different cuisines, but also restaurants with some of the coolest spaces.
With that in mind, we decided to take a look at a few restaurants in the city that have some of the most unique atmospheres.
Dining at this restaurant is guaranteed to be one of the most unique culinary experiences you will ever have.
The restaurant is known for its over-the-top presentations. The Mac and Cheese comes with a mousetrap. The Laughing Bird Popcorn Shrimp comes with an entire popcorn machine. The Lobster Pop-Tarts come in an actual toaster. The Blooming Sea-bass comes with a garden. The Carnival Fun Cakes comes with a carnival shooting game. The Chocolate Indulgence dessert comes and in a treasure chest and everything including the sand is edible.
But, the food presentations aren't the only things that are elaborate at Barton G.
"If a restaurant was the circus it would resemble this outlandish South Beach fantasyland," as Zagat perfectly describes the restaurant.
The decor is lavish, yet inviting– with comfortable, plush and colorful furnishings and the lighting looks like pieces of art. There's tasteful wall decor and stylish drapery highlighting the entrances of the different restaurant rooms.
Each dining room has a different theme and many of the rooms have a romantic feel with dim lighting. Although the restaurant is large and has multiple floors, the divided rooms and decor make it feel intimate. There's also an outdoor garden patio.
So if you are looking for fine-dining in a fun, vibrant atmosphere– Miami's Barton G is just the place.
Right around the corner from Barton G is Drunken Dragon, but from the outside it's not even remotely detectable that the restaurant exists.
There's no sign for the restaurant and it's right next to a Subway in a strip mall. From the outside, it's impossible to imagine what the interior looks like and that's just part of the fun.
Your first impression goes from a state of confusion and low expectations to being impressed.
"The exterior of Drunken Dragon, a plain strip mall, is just foreplay for the provocative and well-crafted interior; as designed by Los Angeles-based [Studio Collective]. As an homage to the Latin supermarket that previously called the space home, the restaurant is marked simply by a red neon “MARKET” sign floating above a set of dark tinted windows. Upon entering the restaurant, guests are greeted by a dim sum cart hostess stand and walls decked out with heavy ropes and steamy photography of Japanese bondage. A 300-pound slab of reclaimed Douglas fir from Oregon is suspended from the ceiling, functioning as a communal table for large groups near the equally striking bar of the same sustainable wood," according to the Drunken Drago website.
The restaurant, known for its Korean Barbecue, has a swanky vibe with dim lighting, chandeliers, and sleek wooden furnishes. There are barbecue tables with communal grills for guests to grill their own meats making it an especially interactive dinning experience.
If you aren't looking to break the bank, the Dragon Hour (Happy Hour) menu is extensive with the average drink priced at $5. There are also bites ranging from $3-6. The Dragon Menu is only available at the bar from Sunday-Thursday.
Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
The Wynwood district arguably has the most unique atmosphere of all the Miami areas.
So it's fitting that in between the art galleries and retail stores, there are restaurants with their own culinary flavors and artistic vibes.
“Über-cool” is how fans describe this “trendy scene” that doubles as a restaurant serving “flavorful” New American small plates in environs that feature “amazing” street-style art both inside and out; all the “buzz” – plus “friendly” service and “decent” prices – means this spot is often “super crowded" is how Zagat describes it.
This Wynwood gem feels much more like a gallery than a restaurant. With all of the interior walls filled with artwork from artists like Shepard Fairey, Os Gêmeos, Christian Awe, and Kenny Scharf.
The courtyard is like a mini Wynwood walls exhibit featuring artwork from renowned graffiti artists, known for their Art Basel murals.
Not to mention, the visually striking atmosphere has a mouth-watering cocktail and food menu to match.