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South Beach Diet (the Indulgent Version)

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I recently returned from a weeklong trip to Miami Beach with my good friend Peter. He turned out to be the perfect travel buddy because, like me, we had two plans for the trip: lots of beach time and lots of good food.

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We checked into the recently renovated Palms Hotel & Spa on Collins and instantly fell in love. The view from our seventh floor Oceanfront room was amazing; I did not grow the least bit weary of waking up to it. Though if you want to splurge and really get the full Oceanfront experience, I'd suggest booking one of the top-floor suites, which are bigger, with hardwood floors and balconies. Otherwise, the Oceanfront is truly the only choice. How could you be that close and not opt to see the sea at all times??

I'm sure you can find the beach, so let's get to the food part, shall we?

201004-b-southbeach-icejpgLunch at Essensia, the hotel's main restaurant, was a homerun. Our waiter, Leo, was super friendly and helpful in offering suggestions. What did I order? I started with the coconut shrimp app. (Leo also brought out a small sample of the crisp cucumber soup offered because I was so indecisive.) Then, I dove into a perfectly seared rare tuna tataki with seaweed salad. I couldn't decide on dessert, so I indulged on two (don't judge; it's vaca!): the crème brulee with fresh berries and a ginger almond ice cream. (Both were delightful, but the latter totally stole the show.)

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201004-b-southbeach-eggjpgAnother amazing meal we had was brunch at Michael's Genuine, a farm-to-table restaurant in the Design District. We met up with two friends and took up the waitress's suggestion to share dishes. Among the winners: crispy pig ears (think thick, chewy bacon), duck confit hash with the most perfectly poached egg I've ever seen, cinnamon roll with house-smoked bacon/pecan crunch, and the kumomoto oysters. If I was a local, I'd be a regular.

Some other great spots to check out: Maya Tapas & Grill for the skirt steak salad; Eva Bistro for mahi mahi; and for a night cap, the dimly lit, intimate Piano Bar at the Ritz-Carlton.

All-in-all, it was an amazing culinary trip filled with plenty of beachy goodness—I still have some color to prove it!

Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photos courtesy of Joshua Pramis

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