What To Know Before You Go To The Wharf

Wharf aerial view
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By: Angela Caraway-Carlton

With a breezy, prime spot on the Miami River, where mega-yachts and tugboats are always making waves, The Wharf is a destination for scenic views, lively nightlife, top-tier food and plenty of space to revel in the laidback Miami lifestyle. While waterfront restaurants like the long revered seafood spot, Garcia’s, and newcomers Seaspice and Kiki on the River, regularly draw diners to the river, The Wharf offers something totally different for locals and visitors near Downtown Miami. Touted as a pop-up event space, there’s always something happening at the 30,000-square-foot, open-air venue — from corporate, charity and community events to birthday parties and social gatherings — and it’s seen so much success, that plans are in the works for a permanent building.

The Vibe

The U-shaped waterfront spot offers a long row of food stalls, an expansive hardy tent fitted with a bar and bright orange and blue hued furniture (that’s fully enclosed and tricked out with coveted AC during the summer months), and many communal spots to gather. The vibe completely morphs from relaxed days to party-centric nights. On Thursday and Fridays, when The Wharf opens at noon, locals in the area drop in for a scenic lunch; by late afternoon, co-workers and friends trickle in for a chill happy hour. Local secret: It’s one of the only spots in town where you can order a craft beer for a buck, or sip wine for $3. By 10 p.m., it’s a full-on party, with music bumping, cocktails flowing and people dancing under the stars. Think beach club on the river.

On weekends during the day, kids and dogs on leashes take center stage, with many events catering to them. You’ll see families on the artificial turf engaged in games like oversized Checkers, Jenga, ping pong and cornhole; while others create makeshift seating on the dock, lazily dangling their feet above the water. Seating at the communal spots are on a first-come, first-served basis. Expect tables packed with boisterous locals celebrating birthdays or other special occasions. With a dock master on hand, some arrive by Miami’s favorite transportation — boat or yacht — and drop anchor to join the day party. Once the sun sets and the kids and dogs are gone, the party crowd rolls in and the fun starts all over again.

Food for All

Wander down what’s called “Foodie Row” for eight food stalls from well-loved chefs. At Cracked by Chef Adrianne, chow down on shareable plates of truffle fries, a decadent cheese steak sandwich, or a fried chicken sandwich topped with a secret sauce that’s to-die for. Seafood fanatics line up at OG Ceviche & Seafood Shack by Garcia’s and Chef Douglas Rodriguez for fresh-off-the-boat fish, raw bar items like oysters and stone crabs, and crowd favorites such as creamy cod croquetas and buttery lobster rolls. Other top spots are La Santa Taqueria, which some claim serves the best tacos in Miami; longtime staple Spris Artisan Pizza, which offers free pizza on Thursdays when you spend $10 on drinks; King of Racks BBQ for mouthwatering ribs and slaw. Sweets fans can’t miss another Miami original, Mojo Donuts, with ten indulgent doughnut flavors and unique ice cream flavors by Sweet Melody Ice Cream.

Known for a killer cocktail program – cue all the people walking around with Instagram-worthy cocktails served in pineapples — grab a drink from one of The Wharf’s many bars and find a spot on the deck to watch the boats go by. If you want to party like a rock star (or like soccer star David Beckham), there are dedicated seating areas where you can reserve bottle service. Throughout the year, The Wharf also hosts different spirit festivals that focus on whiskey, tequila and rum tastings.

So, what are you waiting for? Your river oasis or party and event destination, awaits.

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