Miami is a great place to live, but every now and again, you need a getaway. Chef Ralph Pagano must have thought the same thing when he decided to take his Miami Beach party spot, Naked Taco, to Bimini for the weekend.
Pagano hosted a Naked Taco takeover weekend at Resorts World Bimini, the 750-acre beachfront resort and casino located on the closest island in the Bahamas chain. The weekend began aboard the Bimini SuperFast ferry, which departed PortMiami Friday at 7 p.m. Naked Taco weekenders were greeted with their own private outdoor party area, complete with complimentary rum cocktails and tastings courtesy of Santa Teresa rum.
Guests whiled away the three-plus-hour trip to Bimini by dancing, watching the sunset, and enjoying a spread of Naked Taco favorites like tacos, empanadas, and shrimp skewers, turned out by Pagano himself, who was working in the ship's galley most of the cruise.
Although the ship docked late, most people had enough of a second wind to hit the casino (open 24 hours, before crashing at the new Hilton resort that opened a few months ago. The hotel is still under construction, with a rooftop bar and VIP lounge not yet guest-ready, but the rooms are modern and spacious, with some nice touches. Especially welcome were the bedside USB charging stations and the complimentary bottled water and Tazo tea.
On Saturday, Naked Taco stormed Resort World's Paradise Beach for a blowout party. Pagano was seen working the center grill, tending to chicken and skirt steak.
There was so much food a second grill was needed for pork and tortillas.
Of course, no Miami takeover party would be complete without a caja china.
The food was plentiful and included local fish, shrimp, and a multitude of fixings to dress up those naked tacos.
Of course, there was rum and more rum.
And a view to die for. Although the temperatures on the island were warm, major trade breezes made for a comfortable beach party.
These guys were enjoying the day — and the rum.
Sabor is Resort World's fine-dining establishment for dinner. Its trio of conch ($14) is a selection of Bahamian favorites like conch salad, conch fritters, and peppery cracked conch.
Although it was tempting to lounge around the resort's property all weekend, taking the complimentary tram to Alice Town means a chance to head to Sherry's (or Sherri's) Beach Bar on Radio Beach for some grilled lobster and the finest piña colada around. Made with coconut milk, pineapple juice, condensed milk, and what seems like a dozen rums, the drink is a lush and boozy treat. The $8 price tag also includes a million-dollar view. Stick around. Have a second. You really don't want to rush paradise.
The two most popular places for conch salad are Joe's and Stuart's. Both offer fresh conch and lobster salads, made with chopped tomato, onion, bell pepper, and generous bits of seafood. Stuart's, however, has a small indoor seating area, perfect for waiting out the inevitable afternoon rainstorm that drifts in and out in enough time to have lunch with a few Kaliks.
The conch is harvested daily by local fishermen, and the conch is cleaned and cut right on the small docks behind each restaurant.
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Though there aren't many souvenir shops on the island (there is a small straw market), the best gift to take home is a loaf of Bimini bread or a rum cake. There are quite a few bakeries on this small island, but a group of lovely local girls suggested Nate's Bimini Breads, located on Queen's Road.
Owner Nate Hanna bakes fresh bread each morning at his Bailey Town shop (between Alice Town and the resort). Take a few loaves home for friends and buy a piece of rum cake to munch on while walking through town.
If you missed out on this weekend, Ralph Pagano is curating a series of chef takeovers at Resorts World in the coming months. Each weekend will feature a different Miami or Fort Lauderdale chef or restaurant taking over the Bimini resort with parties and dinners beginning on the ferry and lasting throughout the weekend. Rates for the weekend takeovers start at $299, inclusive of round-trip ferry, two nights' hotel stay, and special parties. Check rwbimini.com for more information.