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On the Eve of 2003 ...

The long arm of our faltering economy has reached out and touched this New Year's Eve. But don't worry -- you'll be the beneficiary. Most clubs and restaurants on South Beach, even big names like crobar, Level, and the Forge, are lowering New Year's party prices from last year. That might seem surprising as this is the year everyone is supposed to exhale after last year's post-September 11 anxiety and solemnity. But times are tough now, especially in the South American and European countries that are home to many of our visitors. So Beach business owners don't want to give anyone a reason to stay away.

Expect to save some flow, about $25 to $75, if you plan on buying a ticket or making a reservation to a New Year's bash. But don't spend it all. Save some cab fare. Contrary to the popular myth that cabs provide free rides on New Year's Eve to sloshed revelers, a Metro Taxi rep explains: "That never happens. The cab drivers have mouths to feed and bills to pay."

Of course money shouldn't be the focus of your New Year's plans. Other holidays have deeper meanings than this one -- giving thanks, giving praise, or giving period. But New Year's Eve is simply about having fun, and fun means being safe, so use the buddy system, steer clear of rabble-rousers, and be careful with those party favors. Noisemakers and pointy hats have been known to cause injuries in the hands of a seriously sauced individual. Don't be afraid to seek out an officer of the law in a sticky situation, but don't bother them with minor problems like lost cars or missing shoes (it happens). New Year's Eve is the busiest night of the year for cops, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department. So be smart. Inappropriate shenanigans could land you in county jail till dawn shines on a new year.

A good way to secure a fun and safe night is to plan ahead, and that's where we come in. We wouldn't want you to walk aimlessly through the last night of the year without a clue, so we got the dibs on where to go and what's in store. As usual the big clubs will throw big parties, restaurants will put together their most elaborate dinners, and nearly every block will host a house party or two. No matter what you do, though, the people you do it with will have the biggest impact on how your New Year's Eve goes.


Bermuda Bar & Grill: One of the longest-running dance parties is getting ready for another New Year's Eve bash. This party features complimentary drinks till 2:00 a.m. Also included is a champagne toast at midnight for the big balloon drop. Then show off your moves until 6:00 a.m., when it's time to go home. Arrive before midnight and pay a $25 cover charge. 3509 NE 163rd St, North Miami Beach, 305-945-0196.

Big Fish: Party the year away on the banks of a cleaner Miami River (supposedly) at Big Fish. Live music and DJs will keep the rumps bouncing and an open bar will leave the patrons swimming, but not in the river we hope. A $60 cover for those who ate before they left home and $129 if anyone wants a nice seafood dinner. 55 SW Miami Ave Rd, 305-373-1770.

Blue: Blue, decorated with electric shades of blue (hence the name), will offer music to match the mood. Be among the models and locals to pass by this New Year's Eve. An impressive roster of DJs will be spinning tunes to keep you moving all night. 222 Española Way, Miami Beach, 305-534-1009.

Cafe Iguana: Head south to Kendall's favorite hot spot, where $25 admission includes free drinks till 1:00 a.m. At midnight toast in the New Year during the balloon drop. Then dance till you drop or until 5:00 a.m., whichever comes first. 8505 Mills Dr, Town & Country Center, 305-274-4948.

Club Deep: Party into the New Year with Power 96, broadcasting live on the Internet. The night features a hot/cold buffet and $3 drinks between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. In addition each person receives a free bottle of champagne, party favors, and a souvenir T-shirt. At midnight watch the ball drop from Times Square on large-screen monitors. Then look out for your chance to win $1000 during Deep's own balloon drop. The party continues until 5:00 a.m. 621 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 305-532-1509.

crobar: Experience the New Year at crobar's Third Annual Crystal Ball, the Beach's biggest dance party, featuring DJs Cedric Gervais and Juan Mejia and other fantastic disc jockeys (oh, that's what DJ stands for). They'll be spinning house and progressive house, you know the difference. Doors open at 9:00 p.m. and stay open until 7:00 a.m. Advance tickets cost $60 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster or the crobar box office Monday through Friday noon to 5:00 p.m. until December 28. Included are a champagne toast and party favors. Table prices are $1000 per table and include one bottle of champagne and one bottle of premium liquor. For information about table reservations call 305-531-8225. For Ticketmaster call 305-358-5885. 1445 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 305-531-5027.

Fat Kats: Want to ring in the New Year sinking some shots? Then make it over to this no-frills joint for some pool. Be sure to come between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m., when the drinks and pool-playing are gratis. You also get in free. 8505 Mills Dr, Town & Country Center, 305-274-8090.

Gatsby's: Any Kendall kids out there looking to stick around the hood, good news. Gatsby's is letting everyone old enough to booze (21 and over) in for free to its New Year's Eve fiesta. The party will have all those little New Year's trinkets and a champagne toast. It all goes down till 3:00 a.m. See ya. 8625 SW 84th Ave, 305-412-2220.

Havana Cigar Bar: So some establishments will soon be forced to ban smoking inside, but the Havana Cigar Bar won't have any of that. And what's a New Year's celebration without a big, fat stogie? That's all you need to know to ring in 2003 with live bands plus smoke and mirrors at the world-famous Havana Cigar Bar. A mere $10 reservation is suggested. Havana Cigar Emporium and Lounge, 18833 Biscayne Blvd, Aventura, 305-466-0220.

Hooligan's Pub & Oyster Bar: Looking for a fun party without spending wads of cash just to get through the door? Then drive on over to this pub. Not only is there no cover but you can help yourself to the buffet between 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. Party favors and a glass of bubbly are also included. Dance to the beats of Miami's top DJs until 5:00 a.m. If by that time you've had one too many, don't risk getting behind the wheel. Hooligan's will give you a free ride home and a free tow for your car! 9555 S Dixie Hwy, 305-667-9673.

La Covacha: If you are looking for Miami's hottest Latin and international party on New Year's Eve, this newly renovated club is the place for you. Join the festivities in the tiki hut with its sizzling dance floor and complimentary champagne, or spend a few extra dollars to gain access to the air-conditioned VIP room with adjoining terraces, and drink free. General admission costs $20 and VIP is $60. 10730 NW 25th St, 305-594-3717.

Level: Level is one of South Beach's signature establishments. Hundreds flock to this hot spot on a regular basis to experience wild nightlife at its best and most decadent. New Year's Eve is no exception. Bounce from room to room -- there are four to choose from, offering varying types of music. For the trance crowd, international superstar DJ George Acosta will spin a nonstop ten-hour marathon in the main room. Hip-hop, soul, and R&B will be spun by DJ Touchtone in the boiler room. Tom La Roc will mix the best in hip-hop in the blue room and the upper balcony will host DJ Metro K's house party. In addition there will be outrageous shows featuring over 100 entertainers, outrageous decor, and the most sophisticated indoor pyrotechnical fantasy in the galaxy. Doors open at 9:00 p.m. and the party continues till 7:00 a.m. Cover is $150 and can be purchased through VIP packages include a table for five, a bottle of champagne, and a liquor menu selection. For VIP reservations call 305-604-0009. 1235 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 305-532-1525.

Lost Weekend: The name speaks for itself. A great retreat from the VIP club scene, this informal bar is a good stop for pool, darts, air hockey, or Foosball. Drink specials will be offered throughout the evening. So when your New Year's is winding down, come get lost, just don't puke on the rug. 218 Española Way, Miami Beach, 305-672-1707.

Mango's Tropical Cafe: Make your New Year's Eve stop here for a Latin-themed party complete with the live band Grupo Exito performing throughout the night. Enjoy a five-course dinner with a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne per couple before jumping onto the dance floor. Cost is $150 per person, or, without dinner, the cover charge is $50. 900 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, 305-673-4422.

Marlin Bar: Avoid the overpriced cover charges and all the hype. Spend New Year's Eve at the Marlin, where they're throwing a New York-style block party. Winston's Famous Jerk Chicken will be served through 2:00 a.m. Free party favors and champagne toast at midnight. 1200 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, 305-604-5000.

Miami Velvet: For an erotic good time, take a swing (in more ways than one) to Miami Velvet. Dine on an extravagant dinner of filet mignon, lobster paella, shrimp cocktail, and many more dishes to choose from, including fine desserts. The night will be hot with an erotically charged atmosphere as a live DJ spins the best tunes from 9:00 p.m. until dawn. The splendors of this risqué event are not for the faint of heart! Member couples pay $225. 3901 NW 77th Ave, 305-406-1604.

Mr. Moe's: Mr. Moe's doesn't charge a cover, not even on New Year's Eve. Just get by the big bouncer with the horrible mullet out front and you can enjoy live music and dancing in this Coconut Grove watering hole. Domestic bottles of beer are only $2 and the "you call it" brands just $3. This place is well worth the money. Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove, 305-442-1114.

Nikki Beach Club: Enjoy the New Year on the sandy white beach under the glistening moonlight and shining stars. Located steps from the water, this open-air complex is perfect for those who want to spend an evening in the great outdoors, with the great indoors right behind you. Help yourself to a buffet-style dinner by an internationally known chef and then relax and kick back on one of the hammocks. Once you've regained your energy, hop on out to the dance floor. Don't forget to grab your party favors and free bubbly at midnight for the balloon drop and fireworks display. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. Tickets cost $125. 1 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, 305-538-1231.

Opium Garden: Spend the night schmoozing with celebrities at Opium and Privé's New Year's Eve bash. This indoor/outdoor spacious complex features five DJs and four rooms to choose from, including DJ Mark Ronson in the garden, and Ivano Bellini spinning the best house, so every musical taste will be satisfied. Arrive early for the open bar between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. Cost for general admission for Opium is $100, $200 for all-access VIP, $1150 for VIP tables, and $1500 for platinum VIP tables. All tables come with one bottle of premium liquor and one bottle of champagne. 136 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, 305-531-5535.

Oxygen Lounge: The Grove's hot new lounge celebrates the New Year with a live concert by Grammy winner Jorge Moreno, percussionists, and other live entertainment sure to leave you gasping for oxygen, and so will the packed house. The event includes open premium bar and sushi, Pan-Asian buffet until midnight, party favors (plastic ones), champagne toast, and a breakfast buffet for those New Year warriors left behind. Try to inhale that. Packages available start at $25 to $75 per person. 2911 Grand Ave, Streets of Mayfair, 305-476-0202.

O'Zone: Hot Latin sounds from DJs Juan Carlos and Mycro will keep the men jumping at South Miami's favorite gay establishment. A $10 cover includes a champagne toast and party favors but they don't mind if you bring your own, you know Pepe always does. 6620 Red Rd, South Miami, 305-667-2888.

Pearl Champagne Lounge: An exquisite dinner prepared by Pearl's acclaimed Chef Frank Jeanetti is guaranteed at this South Beach restaurant. A bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal champagne will accompany your meal. Throughout the night there will be live interactive entertainment and sensational music by a renowned DJ. Don't be late for the 9:00 p.m. seating. It's the only one there is. Tickets cost $350 per person. 1 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, 305-538-1111.

Rain: Pray that it doesn't rain on this New Year's Eve party, but if it does, take cover and dance to DJs Kid Capri and Mr. Mauricio, who will be spinning until the wee hours. A champagne toast and party favors will be provided at midnight. Doors open at 10:00 p.m. Advance ticket sales cost $50. VIP tables are available for $750 and include two bottles of spirits and one bottle of champagne. For more information call 305-674-7447. 323 23rd St, Miami Beach, 305-674-7947.

Sandbar Grill: Once again it's the Pimp and Ho Ball at Sandbar, not to be confused with the Pimp and Ho party at another Coconut Grove bar. The Grill will be open for the long run, 11:00 a.m. December 31 to 3:00 a.m. January 1, with a free champagne toast at midnight. Featured are the Grill's famous lobster tacos and what it calls "the best food in town," which includes the whole Greater Miami area. But the best part is the price -- no cover. 3064 Grand Ave, Coconut Grove, 305-444-5270.

Sax on the Beach: If you can't have sex on the beach, have sax this New Year's Eve. Dine on a buffet featuring a cold antipasto platter, caesar salad, prime rib, and more while swaying to the smooth jazz jams by live bands and a DJ -- all for $52.95 per person. 1756 N Bayshore Dr (Bay Parc Plaza), 786-924-5535.

Score: The balls will drop at Score's this New Year's Eve, and not just the ones on the TV screens broadcasting Times Square's traditional ball drop throughout the club. Lincoln Road's two-story gay bastion will offer DJs and spectacular live performances, all for just a $10 cover. Guys in tight pants and muscle Ts get extra attention. 737 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, 305-535-1111.

Sunset Tavern: There is no cover at this South Miami bar. The party kicks off at 8:00 p.m. but when it stops, nobody knows. Music by DJ Holly Rock will keep the party pumping till everyone is sober enough to go home, they hope. 7232 SW 59th Ave, 305-665-9996.

Tantra: This restaurant/nightclub has lots to offer this New Year's Eve. Chef Willis Loughhead will be serving up excellent cuisine to satisfy your appetite for food, and a live DJ will be present to satisfy your craving for good music. Regular dinner service will be offered from 6:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. and requires each diner to order an appetizer and entrée. Should you choose to cozy up to one of the two bars and stay for the nighttime festivities, expect to pay a cover. 1445 Pennsylvania Ave, Miami Beach, 305-672-4765.

The Tavern In The Grove: Come watch the coconut fall at the Pimp and Ho Ball. Pimps and hos know how to do the damn thing and goshdarnit, New Year's Eve is no exception. There's no cover, which means this Coconut Grove watering hole, a favorite among college kids, will be overflowing with beer guzzlers. Get there early, but stay till close -- 3:00 a.m. 3416 Main Hwy, Coconut Grove, 305-447-3884.

Titanic Brewery and Restaurant: Come aboard the ship this New Year's Eve for the finest handcrafted beer around. Avoid reservations, waiting lines, and cover charges at this joint. Listen to the veteran musicians of Tango 36 belt out good ol' rock and roll tunes. 5813 Ponce de Leon Blvd, Coral Gables, 305-667-2537.

Tobacco Road: The oldest bar in Miami is celebrating New Year's Eve with great food and music. For $19.95 chow down on a two-pound Maine lobster dinner between 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. After that the food stops and the music starts. Shamonay and Good Rockin' Johnny & The Fabulous Mr. D kick things off with Pet da Kat Boy following. Party favors and a champagne toast are also included. Call for reservations and information. 626 S Miami Ave, 305-374-1198.

Twist: The boys have a place to party in the New Year. This club features six different bars and the best music around. At midnight celebrate the arrival of 2003 with a champagne toast and party favors. Don't worry about emptying your pockets at the door, there's no cover charge. Just tip the bartender or he'll get feisty. 1057 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 305-538-9478.

Hotels, Resorts & Cruises

Biscayne Bay Marriott: Start New Year's Eve in style at the Marriott's Bay View Grille for dinner and champagne. They don't call it the Bay View Grille for nothing: A view of the bay in all its glory is exactly what you'll get. Afterward head to the Venetia Lounge for the DJ and dancing, but don't trip, because everybody's watching. Dinner is $75 per person. Biscayne Bay Marriott Hotel, 1633 N Bayshore Dr, 305-536-6315.

Casino Princesa: Casino Princesa will feature a New Year's Cruise that sails at 8:00 p.m. and returns at 1:30 a.m. Onboard, enjoy a real Las Vegas casino with over 200 slot machines along with favorite casino games blackjack, roulette, craps, poker, and more. The cruise is only $25 per person and includes a dinner buffet and champagne so you have plenty of cash left to blow. As always, drinks are free as long as you're playing, and that's a good thing. For info call 305-379-5825.

Discovery Cruise Line: Cruise into the New Year on the high seas. Take a voyage to nowhere aboard this ship where there will be plenty to keep you busy, including dancing and live shows. Bring some extra cash and try your luck in the Las Vegas-style casino. Passengers are also treated to a superb seven-course dinner. Prices start at $149 per person. Ship departs Port Everglades at 7:00 p.m. and returns at 3:00 a.m. For more information visit or call 1-800-93-SHIPS.

Doral Golf Resort & Spa: The world-famous Doral Resort offers a fine celebration this New Year's way out West, far from the riffraff. A four-course meal including champagne will be $75 per person and an extra $50 gets you into the Grand Ballroom where you and a lovely someone can dance all night, or at least part of it anyway. The shindig ends at 1:00 a.m. 4400 NW 87th Ave, 888-993-0725.

Hotel Inter-Continental: Watch the Big Orange drop from the top of downtown Miami's signature hotel at this year's New Year's Eve Blast. Indulge in great food and dance to the sizzling sounds of Junior's Miami Band, a thirteen-piece orchestra. Cost is $139 for adults and includes an open bar. For children the cost is $60. Or dine on a luscious buffet of sensational dishes at Indigo. Listen to the latest hits played by the DJ. At the end of the night take home Indigo's famous cookies. Cost for adults is $48 and $24 for children between ages 6 and 12. 100 Chopin Plaza, 305-577-1000.

Hyatt Regency Coral Gables: Sibling rivalry won't get in the way of this New Year's celebration. The Two Sisters Gala Buffet promises a sisterly touch that is sure to keep any pair of family or friends in cahoots. The menu includes sushi, sashimi, caviar, and of course champagne. Dinner and party package costs $95, but for $120 you get a pass into the hotel's Alacazaba nightclub. 50 Alhambra Plaza, Coral Gables, 305-579-1341.

Loews Miami Beach Hotel: This ritzy hotel celebrates its fourth New Year's Eve with a couple of parties to choose from. The one in the Gaucho Room boasts a seven-course dinner with premium open bar and champagne toast. Enjoy live Peruvian music by Inca Spirit. From the terrace watch a big-screen TV as the ball drops in NYC. Cost is $179 per person and includes access to the Hemisphere Lounge where Deejay Smeejay and DUNA will provide high-energy tunes. Your second option is to dine at Preston's "All American" celebration. Two seatings are available. The first is from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. For $95 enjoy the sounds of the Land Sharks during your meal before going out for a night on the town. The second seating starts at 9:00 p.m. and continues well past midnight. For $140 dine while oohing and aahing at the fireworks display. The price also gets you into the Hemisphere Lounge, which has a $25 cover for all others. The party continues in the lounge with more music and dancing. 1601 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, 305-604-5467.

Majesty Casino Cruises: Take a chance at craps or maybe poker's your game. In any case, if you're feeling lucky then Majesty Casino Cruises will help you ring in the New Year Las Vegas style. Cover is $35 per person -- save some for the slot machines. Call 305-532-2111 for reservations.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel: The ultrahip, towering atrium lobby of Mandarin Oriental Hotel, along prestigious Brickell Avenue, provides the backdrop for the party featuring the music of renowned DJ David Padilla, who will be pumping high-energy trance and techno until 2:00 a.m. Partygoers can drink from the open bar and enjoy hors d'oeuvres of delectable sushi for $195 per person (valet parking included). Party starts at 9:00 p.m. 500 Brickell Key Dr, 305-913-8288.

Radisson Mart Plaza Hotel: The New Year's Eve bash at the Radisson Mart features open bars, a champagne toast, and plenty of party favors. Renowned DJs will play enough salsa, merengue, and disco for you to get your groove on. And no, the outlet stores will not be open. Cost is $75 per person. 711 NW 72nd Ave, 305-661-8581.

Sagamore Hotel: The Sagamore Hotel hosts a hot party called Silver Eve with ID models Ana Hickman and Kiera Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin's granddaughter) on its lush and exotic rooftop. Samantha Ronson and DJ AM will be spinning hot house, and everything about this party will be hot, hot, hot! Call 305-438-0130. 1671 Collins Ave, Miami Beach.

Wyndham Casa Marina Resort: Get out of Miami and head down to Key West, our neighbor just four hours down U.S. 1, because the Wyndham Resort is getting it on for New Year's, conch style. A Jimmy Buffett buffet awaits every chum who forks up $200, along with a four-course meal, dancing, and party favors. 1500 Reynolds St, Key West, 305-293-6228.


94th Aero Squadron Restaurant: The All-American establishment across the runway is hosting a special All-American Gala for New Year's Eve in the Nieuport Room. Enjoy an open bar, hors d'oeuvres, a champagne toast, and a four-course meal served with wine. Doors open at 9:00 and dinner is served at 10:00 p.m. Then kick up your heels and dance to the live band and DJ who will be performing. A big screen will also be available to watch the countdown. Party goes on until 2:00 a.m. 1395 NW 57th Ave, 305-261-4220.

Baleen: Come to Baleen in the Grove for a five-course meal including herb-roasted shrimp, goat cheese crostini, or butter-poached spiny lobster among your choices for the evening. A champagne toast at midnight kicks off the New Year. Cost is $150 per person. 4 Grove Isle Dr, Coconut Grove, 305-858-8300.

B.E.D.: The hippest restaurant in South Beach offers up a Black and White Lavish Soirée. There's only one seating at 9:00 p.m., so be there on time. A champagne reception starts things off followed by a lavish five-course meal. Afterward enjoy a bottomless glass of champagne and party to the best in house music. The entire night costs $299 per person. 929 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 305-532-9070.

Bistro Zinc: For a great party atmosphere without big party prices head north to this restaurant. Two dinner seatings will be available. The early one is from 5:30 to 7:15 p.m. and costs $45 per person. The second seating starts at 9:00 p.m. and includes a four-course dinner for $175. Choice of entrées includes tuna, sea bass, filet mignon, lamb, and veal. Live music and a DJ will also be on hand (and foot). 17901 Biscayne Blvd, Aventura, 305-935-2202.

Bolero Bar And Grill: Join the Caribbean celebration at Bolero Bar and Grill for the New Year. The party begins at 7:00 p.m. and won't stop till 5:00 a.m. Caribbean and Cuban cuisine is Bolero's specialty and so is the atmosphere. Dance the tropical night away to live Latin music. 661 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 305-673-6516.

Bruschetta & Co.: Bring your appetite to this restaurant for New Year's Eve. It will be offering a special gala dinner menu, which consists of seven courses including champagne. Also enjoy contemporary Latin and American tunes played by a DJ. 10650 NW 41st St, 305-470-8003.

Cafe Ibiza: Come to this elegant restaurant at the Village of Merrick Park for fine Spanish dining. There will be live jazz and two seatings, 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Call for information, 305-793-8808.

Café Nostalgia: Dine and dance under the stars in the Sky Lounge surrounded by a picturesque view of downtown Miami. The party starts at 8:00 p.m. with appetizers and a dinner buffet in The Courtyard. Tickets are $150 per person. 66 SW 6th St, 305-358-1999.

Chill Restaurant And Lounge: At Chill Restaurant and Lounge it's all about chillin'. This New Year's Eve there is no cover, no hassle at the door, and no worries -- unless you don't have a table reservation, so call quick. 1436 Drexel Ave, Miami Beach, 305-672-5330.

Dab Haus: South Beach's favorite German restaurant rings in the New Year with live music and two seatings for its five-course dinner. The first seating at 6:30 p.m. costs $45 per person and the second, at 9:30 p.m., is $65 per person. 1040 Alton Rd, Miami Beach, 305-534-9557.

Fish 54: Celebrate the New Year with a fine three-course dinner featuring Fish 54's famous Italian seafood menu. Dinner is $75 per person and includes a glass of champagne and good times. 18841 Biscayne Blvd, 305-932-5022.

A Fish Called Avalon: If you wanted a fish called Wanda then rent the movie. If you want A Fish Called Avalon, then New Year's Eve is a perfect occasion to experience the exquisite touch of executive chef Joe Monteiro's specially prepared four-course dinner. Call for information. 700 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, 305-532-1727.

The Forge, Jimmy'z: Kick the New Year off with some class at the famous Forge restaurant. Dinner starts at 9:00 p.m. and features a four-course gourmet meal by award-winning Chef Kal and a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne per person. Cost is $275 per person. You can also come early and dine on a three-course meal between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. for only $85 per person. Those at the late dinner can breeze on past the door into Jimmy'z for the Ultimate Brazilian Carnival, Miami style. DJ Roberto Costa will keep the place jamming while hot samba dancers and percussionists pound out the beats. 432 41st St, Miami Beach, 305-538-8533.

Gil's Café: Experience the best North Beach has to offer at this Brazilian restaurant on New Year's. The festival-style celebration begins at 8:00 p.m. and dinner is served until midnight. Dance to the rhythms of Bam-Bam Z Trio playing your favorite Latin, Brazilian, and American tunes until 2:00 a.m. Cover is $30 and includes champagne toast and à la carte menu. 216 71st St, Miami Beach, 305-867-0779.

JohnMartin's: For New Year's Eve this Irish pub is planning a buffet extravaganza from 7:00 until 11:00 p.m., featuring a staggering list of good things to eat and drink. There will be a pasta station with every conceivable sauce, from alfredo to bolognese; cold plates of smoked salmon and homemade paté; and gorgeous fruit platters. Hot entrées will include beef Wellington, honey-glazed salmon fillet, duck a l'orange, corned beef and cabbage, lamb stew, and spinach and goat cheese-stuffed chicken breast. Desserts will include homemade holiday pudding, Irish sherry trifle, tiramisu, carrot cake, chocolate cake, and various chiffon pies. There will also be live music and a bagpiper from midnight on. 253 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, 305-445-3777.

KISS Steakhouse and Lounge: Give New Year's Eve a Kiss, and don't forget your date, unless they're ugly. If that's the case then enjoy the spectacular dinner. There are two packages to choose from. The first consists of a three-course meal and glass of champagne at midnight for $125 per person. Package two features a three-course dinner with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne per couple for $150 per person. Or just party for $25. Spend the rest of the night enjoying the extravagant shows consisting of exotic dancers and fire acts, so don't wear flammable hairspray. 301 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, 305-532-8003.

La Paloma: It's easy to get caught up in the New Year's brouhaha and spend a fortune on a ten-course dinner and a glass of champagne. If that's not your style head to La Paloma, Spanish for dove, but that's not on the menu tonight. No cover, no hassle; just dinner, dancing, and fun. Reservations required, of course; you didn't think it was going to be that easy? 10999 Biscayne Blvd, North Miami, 305-891-0505.

Luna: If you're not sure whether you want to ring in the New Year at a restaurant, lounge, or club, try all three at Luna. The trendy South Beach hot spot offers a four-course set menu for $75 per person, with two seatings at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m. Then dance off dinner in the sleek lounge area to the eclectic sounds of DJ Matt Martinez. 701 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 786-276-6101.

Mark's South Beach: An elegant dinner is guaranteed at this upscale restaurant inside the Nash Hotel. Diners may choose from three dinner options. The first is an à la carte seating between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. with a two-hour limit. Those wanting to stick around after their meal will be guided to the lounge, where they will be provided with a champagne toast and party favors. The second option is to dine at 9:30 p.m. A multicourse meal is served with a complimentary champagne toast, all for $100 per person for the first seating and $150 for the second. Mark's also offers special VIP admission to Rain nightclub for an extra 25 bucks. 1120 Collins Ave (Hotel Nash), Miami Beach, 305-604-9050.

The Melting Pot: This cook-it-yourself-style restaurant features a special New Year's Eve menu. As an appetizer enjoy mouthwatering cheese fondues prepared tableside. Then eat a gourmet salad before digging into the main entrée, which includes center-cut filet mignon, teriyaki sirloin, fresh fish, shrimp, and chicken. To finish up the meal, have one of the delectable chocolate-fondue desserts. Call for prices. 11520 Sunset Dr, 305-279-8816. Or travel to the North Dade location and get the same meal for $60 per person. 3143 NE 163rd St, North Miami Beach, 305-947-2228.

Mezzaluna: Ocean Drive's and Mezzaluna's elegance converge as the restaurant extends outside its doors, offering dinner under the canopies on South Beach's most scenic stretch. The set four-course meal includes a glass of champagne. Seating is between 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. and costs $65 per person. Reservations required. 834 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, 305-674-1330.

Mezzanotte: Mezzanotte has been known as one of Miami's finest Italian restaurants since its opening, but on New Year's Eve it will also get bumping. DJ Peter Martinez will spin the best salsa, merengue, and disco. Dinner is $100 per person and getting your groove on is also required. 3390 Mary St, Coconut Grove, 305-448-7677.

Pacific Time: Celebrate the New Year Pan-Asian style at Pacific Time. A sultry selection of entrées includes wild salmon, crab won ton, and bamboo-steamed local lobster. Enjoy live entertainment by the unfathomable George Lane and the Miami House Rockers all for just 145 smackeroos! 915 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, 305-534-5979.

Peppy's In The Gables: Founding chef Domenic is best known for his sauces that tantalize the taste buds. For New Year's Eve dine at this restaurant, which offers a romantic garden setting for your Northern Italian meal. Peppy's will offer a limited regular menu with special selections from the chef's spectacular repertoire. Live music and a midnight champagne toast are sure to bring more pleasure to your evening. 216 Palermo Ave, Coral Gables, 305-448-1240.

Renaissance At The Gables: The New Year's gala dinner party features a delicious French-style full-course dinner and an unlimited premium bar. Music by a superb international orchestra and professional DJ will keep everyone dancing till the next year. Cost is $100 per person and $65 for children, so you can bring the little rabble-rousers along too. 2340 SW 32nd Ave, 305-445-1313.

Rumi: There's always room at Rumi, but it might be a tad cramped on New Year's Eve. Lincoln Road's stylish restaurant/lounge offers up the best of its Floridian nouveau cuisine for $200 per person. The menu includes oyster with caviar, boniato gnochetti with truffle cream and Parmesan, roast rib of beef with lemony potatoes, and a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier. Don't worry about eating too much because after dinner the restaurant shows off its South Beach flair with dance music and lots of champagne to get your date drunk. 330 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, 305-672-4353.

Rusty Pelican: If an intimate romantic setting is what you are looking for, this restaurant is the perfect choice. Located along Key Biscayne, this place boasts breathtaking views of the Miami skyline. For dinner a four-course meal is offered with strolling musicians to keep you entertained. The cost of dinner ranges from $45 to $65. Those looking to spice up the evening can head over to the Four Amigos party in the grand ballroom. For $70 per person enjoy an open bar, hors d'oeuvres, and the pulsating rhythms of the DJ. Party starts at 9:00 p.m. and continues until 2:00 a.m. 3201 Rickenbacker Cswy, Key Biscayne, 305-361-3818.

Saoco Restaurant: Ring in the New Year with fine dining at this upscale Coral Gables restaurant. A multicourse dinner and complimentary glass of champagne will start the New Year off right. 61 Merrick Way, Coral Gables, 305-444-8833.

Scully's Tavern: It's all about good eats at Scully's, and they're not letting anybody down on New Year's. Unlike other places (who shall remain nameless because there are about 300), the $59.95 price tag on dinner is for two people, not just one. And food is delicious, starting with the rack of lamb all the way through the chocolate-dipped strawberries. The complimentary glass of red or white wine might ensure you'll be dipping more than strawberries in the chocolate. 9809 Sunset Dr, South Miami, 305-271-7404.

Six Degrees: Six degrees separate everybody from one another, but $59 separates you from Six Degrees. Enjoy live music and a DJ at this trendy South Beach restaurant. Seatings are offered at 8:00 p.m., which includes a six-course dinner, and 10:00 p.m. for $95, which includes an eight-course dinner with the obligatory champagne toast. 685 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 305-538-2212.

Touch Restaurant: Get in touch with your taste buds on New Year's Eve. Located on Lincoln Road, this eatery features two packages. The first consists of a three-course meal and a glass of champagne at midnight for $150 per person. For $195 get a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne per couple instead of a glass. Or just join the party for $25, which includes a glass of champagne. While indulging in the cuisine allow the fire acts, belly dancers, Touch dancers, congo players, and DJ to keep you entertained. 910 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, 305-532-8003.

World Pie: World Pie, nestled in between a grocery store and small hotel on Collins Avenue, seems quaint but the food is far from. Gourmet pizza and the best calamari on the Beach abound as usual, but so will the festivities. On New Year's Eve, World Pie opens its seldom-used back-yard patio for live music and a world-class fiesta. Call for reservations because many already have. 1906 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, 305-695-8869.

Xixon Delicatessen: You've never seen a delicatessen gourmet market go off on New Year's the way Xixon will this December 31st. There's a buzz going around about a cold-cut explosion, but you didn't hear it from us. Oh and there's no cover, but you'd probably come even if there was. 2855 Coral Way, 305-567-0408.

Special Events

Big Orange New Year's Eve Celebration: Take the whole family out for an all-day affair at this thirteenth annual festival taking place at downtown Miami's Bayfront Park. There will be plenty of adult and children's activities to keep everyone entertained, including an array of international musicians, folkloric performances, ethnic food, and crafts. Headlining the music lineup is Damien "Jr. Gong" Marley, yes, son of that Marley; local rap stars Iconz; and just to keep it as inclusive as possible the salsa king of Miami, Hansel y La Orchestra Calle Ocho, will be performing. The highlight of the evening is the 400-foot ascent of the 35-foot Big Orange. At the stroke of midnight when the orange reaches the top, an extravagant laser and fireworks show begins. Admission to the park is free. Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd, 305-358-7550.

Flagler Dog Track: If you are a die-hard sports fan who wants to catch all the college football action on New Year's Eve without spending big money, head out to the dog track. Be sure to get an early start because all your favorite bowl games will be televised on giant-screen TVs beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the sports bar. There is free admission to the track and the food specials can't be beat. Wings cost only ten cents and beer is a buck. At those prices you'll have plenty of cash left over to bet on the dogs! NW 7th Street and 37th Avenue, 305-649-3000.

Jeffrey Sanker Presents Miami 2003: There's nothing small about New Year's for some people. Those in search of the "big bash" will look forward to Miami 2003, brought to us by big bash extraordinaire, Jeffrey Sanker. Superstar DJ Victor Calderone, who's worked with the likes of Madonna herself, will be throwing down nonstop house for lots of shaking butts. General admission is $100 and VIP $150. For reservations call (305) 535-8606. Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr, Miami Beach, 305-673-7000.

Junior Orange Bowl Parade: Now that the Orange Bowl Parade no longer struts down Biscayne Boulevard on the New Year, the Junior Orange Bowl Parade is the biggest one in town this holiday season. It strolls down the streets of Coral Gables on New Year's Eve with major floats and marching bands from local high schools. The parade, now in its 54th year, celebrates youth and is a perfect family outing if you don't want to take your kids out to a bumping South Beach party. And there's no admission, so you can bring the little rascals and their friends. For information call the Junior Orange Bowl office at 305-662-1210.

King Mango Strut: Begin your New Year's Eve by celebrating a day early at this twentieth annual alternative parade. This year promises to provide more comic relief with the theme "United We Strut." The festivities start at 2:00 p.m. December 30 at the corner of Commodore Plaza and Main Highway in Coconut Grove. Immediately following the strut, local bands take over and grind out tunes of their own. The only requirement to attend is a sense of humor. For more information call 305-401-1171.

Ménage: Mysterious romanticism is something lost from today's blatant, in-your-face sexuality. But this New Year's Eve a place appropriately named Ménage, as in trois, hosts a masquerade ball for all the lost romantics who want to ring in 2003 with the stranger of their dreams. The cover is only $30 before midnight and there'll be a prize giveaway for the best masquerade mask. 1532 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 305-538-9191.

Vizcaya Museum And Gardens: Start your New Year at one of the most gorgeous landmarks in Miami. Feel the ambiance of the beautiful grounds while dancing under the stars to the beats of Atlas Shrugged and a DJ. Included is an open bar and light hors d'oeuvres. To make this black-tie-optional gala even more memorable, there will be a spectacular fireworks display at the stroke of midnight. Party starts at 9:00 p.m. and continues until 2:00 a.m. Call 305-856-4866 for ticket information. 3251 S Miami Ave, 305-250-9133.


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