By: JEN KARETNICK
For design buffs, the restaurant scene in South Florida is the stuff of inspiration. Open the door to just about any establishment, and you’ll find an idea to emulate in your own space. Some venues go above and beyond, investing time and capital in concepts that guarantee an exceptional experience, culinarily and vibe-wise. Here are our picks.
SEXY FISH MIAMI
Even before Sexy Fish opened its doors in Miami, its ocean motif was rumored to be so scenic getting reservations at the newcomer was almost impossible. The riotously hued, mid-century-inspired scheme, conceived in collaboration with Martin Brudnizki Design Studio and owner Richard Caring, highlights 12 Damien Hirst sculptures and 26 Frank Gehry bespoke fish lamps, all floating around a large interior waterfall. Glossy eucalyptus wood tables and coral leather seats echo the colors of the fish and live coral in a tank that stretches across an entire wall, while a bar with a pink onyx top and teal-colored stools scream “Miami.” Even the restrooms get in on the fantastic eye-candy action that has been well documented on Instagram.
Major Food Group is as renowned for its interior designs as it is for its fare, and Principessa Ristorante in Boca Raton is no different. Designed by the Rockwell Group, the restaurant’s historic timber ceiling beams, and floor-to-ceiling arched windows are accented by neo-classical features, including rich cherry woods and jewel-toned leather banquettes. In addition, the northern Italian ambiance is enhanced by brass accents, giant urns filled with flowers, a mural featuring berobed figures, crystal lighting fixtures, and marble floors. Positioned
Harborside by the Palm Court Terrace, the restaurant offers stunning views of Lake Boca Raton
that glimmers in the sunshine.
On the flip side of the old-school supper club, nothing says opulence like lapis velvet-
covered walls, from which the likes of Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel—two members of the Jewish Mafia—watch over you while you dig into a meal at David “Papi” Einhorn’s place. Dine under their eyes and a crystal chandelier in this renovated space where celebrities like Venus and Serena Williams, Bad Bunny, and Eva Longoria have sliced into thousand-dollar meals. Trust us, the azure roses on the custom-fabric seats will bloom for you just as they did for them.
Aba Miami brings the outside in with huge potted heritage trees and enough lush greenery to blur the lines of indoor and outdoor dining. With various lighting fixtures hanging over the woven chairs outside and the lounge-style seating inside, plus high-backed leather chairs at the gleaming, up-lighted bar, you can choose from many elegant spots to enjoy the variety of mezze. Close your eyes, and you could almost feel the Mediterranean breeze—but of course, the whole point of the lush ambiance is to keep them wide open to soak in the vibe.
Anthony’s Runway 84 closed in 2022 and reopened eight months later with a new name of Runway 84 and a $4 million renovation. Thanks to Bigtime Design Studios, the space offers “gangster chic” feels via a live music lounge—cue the grand piano—and a lofty new bar proffers a glamorous gold, green, and burgundy color palette. Under a coffered walnut ceiling, the dining room offers emerald green velvet banquettes, custom-made crystal chandeliers, and brass art lights. It’s Goodfellas meets Copacabana, with a dash of its own history thrown in for good measure. A “Wall of Fame” pays homage to the clientele who frequented Anthony’s Runway 84 over the past four decades.