North Beach Is the Best Neighborhood in Miami, and Here's Why
North Beach, you're it, baby. Lord knows I've wandered, slumming the Pubbelly restaurants of South Beach, trolling the art galleries of Wynwood, diving the waters of Key Biscayne. But listen, North Beach, I always come back to you. You're what I want. You're what I need. You're it.
North Beach: the least-recognized and most-misunderstood neighborhood in all of livable-Miami. (Sorry Hialeah, I love you for the Red White And Blue Thrift Shop, but I hate you for your traffic.) Whereas other neighborhoods got swag and pinanche, North Beach is subtle and understated. It's incredible not for what it has. But for what it doesn't.
It has Woody Allen charm: it creeps on you. At first you're all like, where the bars at? But then, you be like, I can drive down the streets here? I can live here for what amount? Then you realize North Beach is your destiny. You come to appreciate it for many reasons. But, specifically, for the following ten.
10. North Beach has few tourists. This place isn't suffocated by droves of tourists, which chokes so many other parts of the city. This means you can stumble to the corner store for your morning cafecito without encountering some 65-year-old white dude wearing a safari hat, cargo shorts, and talking in an Australian accent.
9. There are places to park. Actual places. Not like those instances where you slam your car into a spot several feet too small and hope it goes unnoticed that your hood is sticking out like a jagged tooth. Indeed, there are spots to be found up here. Not only for your car, but your girlfriend's car, and her parents car when they come to visit. Best of all? You don't need to pay the city anything, and you don't need a pass.
8. All the $$$ you're saving. What's that? It costs $1,000 for a 900-square-foot apartment that comes with a pool? And you're a five-minute walk from the beach? This is not South Beach. When you're looking for an apartment, you don't need to lug around a cashier's check when looking at apartments because fifty people are waiting to take it if you don't. Living costs are way down, and so is the competition.
7. The beach There are many reasons to be stoked about North Beach, but its beach, which melts into the sapphire and turquoise waters unlike any other in Miami, has got to be right up there. Its neither clogged with trash, nor tourists, nor madness. In a word, it's tranquil. And constitutes everything one seeks in a beach.
6. It's got an edge Parts of North Beach feel how the Lower East Side must have felt before Rudy Guiliani pushed out all of the poor folk under the banner of gentrification. It's got attitude. Sure, there's crime. And that's nothing to scoff at. But it has bars like On The Rocks, which has real people discussing real problems and getting really drunk. There's no fronting. And the entire neighborhood grooves to that aesthetic.
A path leading to the boardwalk
5. The boardwalk Tracing the shoreline from the Sixties up through the Seventies and into Surfside, this thing thing keeps an entire neighborhood sane. North of 79th Street, its cement gives way to an even more beautiful sanded walkway that swarms with joggers, endowing this area with the purest ocean view in Miami Beach.
4. Affordable restaurants Critics often deride North Beach as something of a culinary desert. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Granted, it's without the "fine dining" spots of Midtown, the Design District, and South Beach -- but whatever. We have real, affordable food. Case in point: Athens Juice Bar. Save your Jugo Fresh for South Beach. You can get the same thing here -- for half the price.
3. The people Cliche as it may be to say, North Beach has a small town feel in a big city. There's a smattering of sprawling hotels that separates North Beach from South Beach -- so the glitz of city life can seem far away. And the people of North Beach share some sense of camaraderie. (That doesn't mean that we don't honk at each while driving. This is Miami.) But these are family neighborhoods, where you can actually know your neighbors.
2. The North Shore Library. This has got to be the smallest institution in the history of libraries. It's like a small, quaint house, filled with books and lots of homeless people. But this library's small stature belies its meaning to the community. This place is slammed with patrons all day. And, while it keeps some rather strange hours -- closed Fridays and Sundays? -- it has personality and a street-hardened character.
wikipedia creative commons
1. All of the goddamn cats They. Are. Everywhere. All the beach on the boardwalk. Underneath cars. In the alleys. Prowling the back roads. Hundreds upon hundreds of cats. Though they're overwhelmingly skittish, and some look like they're hitting the crazy pipe pretty hard, this is one of the best reasons to live here. They rid the neighborhood completely of rats or other unpleasant creatures of the night.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.