MiMo Magic – Miami’s Historic Biscayne Boulevard

By Jennifer Agress | May 14, 2018

See what’s new on MiMo’s Biscayne Boulevard.

Miami’s MiMo Historic District wasn’t always what it is today. In fact, for decades this stretch of 27 blocks—from NE 50th to NE 77th Streets, along Biscayne Boulevard—was nothing more than abandoned failing architectural gems, closed restaurants and motels renting rooms by the hour. In 2006, the City of Miami reinvigorated this neighborhood by giving it a historic designation for having South Florida’s largest collection of MiMo (or “Miami Modern”) buildings. Since then, low commercial rent prices have led to its boom, and the MiMo Historic District has once again come alive with trendy boutiques, must-try restaurants, throwback hotels and eclectic bars.

“Mimo,” Explained

What is MiMo, or Miami Modern, you ask? The short definition is it’s a whimsical, resort-style of architecture. The long answer is that it’s a neighborhood in South Florida, just north of Downtown Miami, named after that style because of the prominence of Miami Modern architecture in that area. This style developed right after World War II, when big name architects and designers like Morris Lapidus, Norman Giller and Igor Polevitzky fused international and Bauhaus styles in their work. The term “MiMo,” however, was actually coined by Randall Robinson, Jr. and interior designer Teri D’Amico, who helped write MiMO: Miami Modern Revealed, which is considered the authority on MiMo architecture.

Where to Eat, Stay & Shop

As part of it’s reinvention, MiMo is booming with new and renovated hotels, restaurants and boutiques that have become must-see spots for locals and visitors alike.

In terms of hotels, the Vagabond Hotel is not only the neighborhood’s most popular hotel—it’s a Miami icon. Restored to its original glory, this 1950s-inspired hotel has an open courtyard, a glistening pool and the famed Vagabond Pool Bar which is perfect for day or nighttime fun. The hotel has a casual fine dining concept called Vagabond Kitchen and Bar that’s become as much of an icon as the hotel itself. Catered to the contemporary “vagabond,” this quirky, glamorous spot serves a modern menu of global food and drinks like Blue Crab Bucatini with lemon bread crumbs and Chicken Pumpkin Waffles with fried chicken, apple compote and a pumpkin spice chantilly. Other hotel options include the New Yorker Boutique Hotel. Here, an old-school neon street sign complimented by a teal and white exterior is hard to miss, and its retro interior is a testament to Miami’s Art Deco history.

When it comes time to eat, there is no shortage of great restaurants along MiMo’s Biscayne Boulevard. At Phuc Yea, chef/owner Cesar Zapata whips up an eclectic Vietnamese menu with a twist, from Sweet N’ Sour Roasted Pork Buns and Cola Confit Duck, to a weekend “Boozy Bottomless Brunch” menu with Viet Coffee Banana Pancakes and the Sticky Rice with Eggs. The ambiance is as artsy as the neighborhood, and its restaurant has both a speakeasy-like dining room and an outdoor space named the Lantern Garden where in-the-know Miamians can sip Lychee Sours. When in MiMo, you can’t miss chef/owner Danny Serfer’s throwback neighborhood diner, Blue Collar. Home to some of Miami’s best comfort food, drop in for Shrimp and Grits, Cuban Sandwich Spring Rolls, Conch Fritters, The Big Ragout pasta with pork and veal shoulder, and a chalkboard menu of more than 20 vegetable dishes.

No matter where you do dinner or lunch, follow it up with drinks at Anderson Bar or BarMeli69. If you’re in the mood for a stiff drink, the first of the two is where you want to go. Anderson Bar is a neighborhood tiki-patio bar that plays everything from 80s hits to old-school hip hop, and serves specialty cocktails like the Death by Stereo with Olmeca Altos Tequila, Ancho Reyes and Averna infused with Mexican chiles and Epazote syrup, or the Madonna-inspired gin twist on a Cosmo called Like a Virgin, with jasmine tea and lemon peels. For something more low-key but fun, BarMeli69 is a mom-and-pop wine bar with Greek and Italian wines and a Mediterranean menu. It feels more like your best friend’s living room than a wine bar and hosts weekly wine tastings every Wednesday with live music in a plush, comfortable setting.

Every historic neighborhood needs a vintage shop, and MiMo has two. Fly Boutique sells an impressive collection of new and vintage Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chanel accessories while Rebel lines its shelves with an eclectic inventory of new and repurposed clothing, shoes and accessories for Miami’s fashionistas.

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