Best Charity 2021 | Feeding South Florida | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Courtesy of Feeding South Florida

Careful readers of New Times Best of Miami editions might notice a couple of things. First, Feeding South Florida is based in Broward County, which even the most geographically challenged will note is not in Miami. And second, the charity was given this same award in the 2020 Best of Miami issue. But frankly, the organization is just that good, and its services are essential to the neediest among us in the entire region — which includes Miami-Dade County. During the past 12 months, the charity's leadership and army of volunteers have selflessly stepped up to help South Floridians dealing with the fallout from the pandemic. Although the group was recently dealt a setback — losing out on a state food-distribution contract in Broward and Palm Beach counties — its long and impressive track record ensures that it will continue to fulfill its mission for years to come.

Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for PAMM

On their own, Craig Robins and Jackie Soffer are formidable Miamians. He's the commercial real estate wunderkind who's transformed the Design District into one of the world's most visited luxury retail shopping districts. She's the scion to a family empire that built Aventura while forging her own path cementing development partnerships to build North Miami's Solé Mia and the new Miami Beach Convention Center hotel. As husband and wife, Robins and Soffer are an unstoppable force in Miami's high society. Their mutual flair for stylish design, fashion and art has landed them in the pages of W magazine and Architectural Digest. Like many one-percenter tales of romance found, their courtship began, well, in court. According to a 2018 W profile, Robins said they met when "she sued me." It was a dispute over private-jet fees that was quickly settled when they realized "we didn't want to fight anymore." Exactly. Why try to beat your adversary when you can marry instead? Well played, you two. Well played.

At the turn of the next century, if Miami isn't entirely submerged, kids in elementary school will learn about the very beginnings of the Magic City's transformation from a tourist-driven party destination into the tech hub of the Americas. They will click open a blockchain hologram that reveals the ancient Twitter archives of all the founding fathers of Miami's tech-bro scene and up will pop a December 4, 2020, tweet from San Francisco venture capitalist Delian Asparouhov, who typed the following 13 fateful words: "ok guys hear me out, what if we move silicon valley to miami." Among the prosaic answers to that seemingly innocuous question — "humidity is fucked"; "Too far south. Why not Seattle or Portland?" "Does Patagonia make speedos?" — came a response from the personal account of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (@FrancisSuarez): "How can I help?" And nothing would ever be the same again.

Photo courtesy of Selina Miami Gold Dust

The Selina Gold Dust is well on its way to becoming a secret to no one, but the retro boutique hotel on Biscayne Boulevard just shy of 79th Street still makes you feel like you've stumbled upon a hidden treasure. Lucky for us, this hotel is not just for travelers. Enjoy a Miami-inspired meal at Matt Kuscher's Café Kush, a sunny day by the pool at one of the motel's many pool parties, or a late night out at Don's 5 Star Dive Bar, Kuscher's new nightspot hidden beneath the main level and filled with "Don"-related Miami nostalgia, from Shula to Aranow to Bailey (AKA "King of Carpets"). You don't want to miss this new Upper Eastside gem.

Photo by Eve Edelheit

Kristen Arnett is the quintessential Florida woman. And as of last year, in a victory for the South Florida literary community, she's officially a Miami woman. The award-winning queer fiction writer and essayist first captured the Sunshine State in its bizarre glory in her debut novel, Mostly Dead Things. Since then, Arnett has garnered a loyal following on Twitter with her witty repartee and clever jokes about everything from ravioli to 7-Eleven. Each of the Orlando native's essays and books, which mainly focus on lesbian life, are like love letters to the Sunshine State, reminding us of all the ways we love and loathe this messy subtropical place. Her second novel, With Teeth, hit shelves in June.

Now that it's been a few years since Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey shut down, historians can look back and say about circuses, "What the hell was that all about?" Circuses were hotbeds of animal cruelty, exploitation of the disabled and the foreign, and who the hell thought it was a good idea to expose children to clowns? With a historian's careful eye, Miami's own Les Standiford takes us on a tour on the origins of the biggest circus of them all in his new book, Battle for the Big Top: P.T. Barnum, James Bailey, John Ringling, and the Death-Defying Saga of the American Circus. Standiford's heavily researched tome brings alive a bygone America filled with eccentric characters like Barnum and Ringling, who monetized a culture in which every child dreamed of running away and joining the circus.

Photo by Jessica Lipscomb

Islandia Journal may be brand-new, but its founder, author and educator (and occasional Miami New Times contributor) Jason Katz, has the old soul of a zine dude. The magazine's stated milieu: myth, folklore, history, ecology, cryptozoology, and the paranormal in the subtropics. The first issue sported an illustration of Everglades griffin on the cover. A a griffin! Miami, in particular, boasts a rich history of wild truths and even wilder folklore. The quarterly zine accepts submissions in the style of prose, nonfiction, fiction, reported pieces, and even poetry. Its inaugural volume one, Islandia published work by 20 local contributors, including a poem by O Miami founder Scott Cunningham and a story about a Scottish soldier named Gregor MacGregor by Nathaniel Sandler, the brains behind Best of Miami 2021 "Best Bookstore" honoree Bookleggers. Look for volume two to drop soon.

Photo by Ian O'Connor

Emmett Moore has been creating magnificent works for more than a decade. The Miami native finds inspiration from ordinary objects around him and often uses those same objects as material for his craft. He's worked with T-shirts, textiles, wood, resin, house keys, metal — there's no limit to what this man might employ to make art. Moore studied furniture design at the Rhode Island School of Design, which explains why his art pieces predominantly resemble furnishings. His most recent solo show, "The Grotto," featured an array of abstract pieces in addition to a fully functional bench, table, and bookcase. All the artworks were constructed out of an expanded polystyrene-based material along with seashells to achieve the look of coral rock. Moore is currently represented by Nina Johnson Gallery.

Photo courtesy of Josh Aronson

Josh Aronson has made a name for himself photographing actors and models, like Jordan Fisher and Karlie Kloss, for glossies such as Teen Vogue and Allure. He also recently shot for a national Kate Spade campaign. In addition to his editorial work, Aronson self-published his first photography book, Tropicana, in 2020. The limited edition sold out in a handful of weeks. Tropicana featured photos of young artists and activists Aronson photographed over the course of a year in different parts of South Florida. From the swampy Everglades to the sands of Miami Beach, he captures the essence of what life in Florida is like for twentysomethings in this era. In early 2021, he showcased prints from his book in an exhibit aptly titled "Tropicana" in a gallery space in the Design District.

Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art

At the intersection of NE 125th Street and NE Eighth Avenue in North Miami sits the charming Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Its most striking feature is a vast fountain at the entrance that's often activated to showcase some sort of floating or water-friendly art piece. The plaza space through which visitors pass before heading inside is often dressed with art as well — whether hanging from the palm trees or strung in the air, the MOCA makes use of every cubic inch to display art to the community. Once inside the intimate space, one can always expect to be awed. Recent exhibitions include a sprawling collection from the Mexican artist Raúl de Nieves, complete with a life-size carousel inside the museum proper, and a moving show of works by the late Jamaican artist Michael Richards, who was killed in the World Trade Center attacks 20 years ago this month.

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Best Of Miami®