Retro, casual and totally cool, Stephen Starr's The Continental is Miami's much buzzed about eatery known for its global cuisine and fresh tiki-inspired cocktails. Inspired by the much-loved Philadelphia staple Continental Restaurant + Martini Bar, The Continental follows the success of Starr's Steak 954 and Makoto restaurants.
"Continental was my first restaurant, and it's like my first child. It will always have a special place in my heart," Starr says. As the original in Old City Philadelphia celebrates 20 years in business, check out five fabulous reasons to dine at The Continental in Miami.
#1. The Location
Steps from the Ocean and the Convention Center in Miami Beach, The Continental is in the center of it all. Hotspots including the 1 Hotel South Beach, The Setai and W South Beach are all within walking distance.
#2. The Decor
Its signature '70s style was designed by Shawn Hausman, who has partnered with Starr many times before and also designed interiors for Chateau Marmont and The Standard. Taking inspiration from its natural surroundings, the restaurant flows from interior to exterior with seating for 225 people, creating a tropical oasis with lush vegetation that surrounds the outdoor patio and interior. Contrary to Continental Miami's Philadelphia predecessor, the South Beach restaurant reflects the era's fascination with tiki culture with touches of banana leaf motif and cocktails served in the iconic Polynesian ceramics. Hausman has translated the glamor of midcentury modernism into a contemporary moment by designing furnishings in a bold palette composed solely of primary colors and softened by warm tones of wood and natural cork. The blend of carefully selected vintage and custom designed pieces creates an atmosphere that is both chic and effortless.
#3. The Cuisine
Overseeing the kitchen is Matthew Oetting, who most recently was executive chef of Starr's Caffe Storico in New York City. Erik Battes, Starr's corporate chef, who held lead culinary roles at Morimoto and Jean George, both in New York, worked with Oetting to develop the menu. The Continental features inventive dishes, inspired by the unexpected intersection of global flavors. The menu is designed to be shareable and enjoyed by the entire table. Menu highlights include Build Your Own Sushi where tuna, salmon, sushi rice, toasted nori, vegetables and garnishes are presented in a bento box with instructions on how to be your own sushi master, the Backyard Burger with aged cheddar, Nueske's bacon, onion, pickles, ketchup, mustard served on a Kaiser roll with French fries and Korean Fried Chicken with spicy soy-garlic lacquer, pickles. In line with its retro theme, fondue is also on the menu for a way '70s treat.
#4. The Libations
Cocktails are a driving force behind the success of the original Continental, and the beverage program in Miami continues that tradition, focusing on quality classic and inventive craft cocktails made from boutique liquors and fresh ingredients. Be sure to try the Tiki-inspired Melolo Swizzle with Martinique coconut rum, Banane du Bresil, pineapple and fresh basil swizzled on crushed ice or the Trinidad & Ta-Boo-Yah with a callaloo of island flavors including dry gin tangy passion fruit, exotic honey with orange blossom. Have more classic taste? Sip on the Starr 75 with bombay gin, galliano, fennel and sparkling water.
#5. The East Coast Nod
Paying homage to The Continental's Philly roots, the Cheesesteak Eggrolls with cherry peppers, American cheese, sriracha ketchup are not to be missed on the menu. And with the reputation that no place knows how to brunch quite like the East Coast, The Continental sublimely serves it up seven-days-a-week with bottomless mimosas or bloody Marys for $25.