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Riverside’s Air Boatyard Garden a Much Needed Open Space

Inspired by a “boatyard garden,” this is an open space to breathe, with good food and drink selection, live music, and some grounding views of this fast-growing metropolis. When fully completed, it will house seven restaurants and have art situated throughout the grounds.

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Downtown Miami has undergone some major changes in recent years with booming sleek high rise condos, office buildings, and new museums along the waterfront. Slicing through the new activity is the fast-moving deep green Miami River, former home of the Tequesta Indians who made circles and mounds, and the current home of thousands of new residents living in those high rise cubes.

What was needed was some open space to breathe, with good food and drink selection, live music, and some grounding views of this fast-growing metropolis. Enter Riverside, located right on the Miami River between S. Miami Avenue and SE 1st Avenue at the base of the bridge, Riverside is serving up a beautifully landscaped waterfront setting unlike anything else serving the Downtown Brickell area. When fully completed, it will house seven restaurants, a taproom, large screen TV’s to watch sports games, and have art situated throughout the grounds. Family-friendly special events are planned and all of it has some pretty magnificent water and skyline views.

Setting up shop at 431 South Miami Avenue, this 120,000-square-foot space boasts two full-service restaurants along with counter-service options from Le Chick, Old Lisbon and Morgan’s, a taproom and beer garden by Miami River Brewery, and open event spaces.

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The space, which is inspired by a “boatyard garden,” will have two dining anchors – AWA, an Asian-inspired eatery, and a high-end steakhouse. The beer garden and taproom are surrounded by over 100 trees and feature local brews and plenty of outdoor seating. There will also be an air-conditioned area serving up cocktails with TVs to watch sporting events.

On a recent visit, I found the just off-work business and leisure crowds streaming in, lured by the nicely crafted reclaimed wooden signage in hues of brown and turquoise and plenty of greenery with mature palm trees and shrubs. Sitting in groups on the outdoor sofas, sipping a cold beer and watching the speed boats cruise by is the main draw. The bridge opens and closes often to allow larger boats passage.

Riverside's Air Boatyard Garden a Much Needed Open Space
(Photo Sandra Schulman)

You can drive right there with several parking options within a block, or walk along the waterfront river boardwalk that connects to Brickell Avenue. Riverside will also be extending the existing walkway along the South Miami Avenue bridge. The space will be accessible by car, the Metromover station that is literally right there, on foot, and since it is Miami, by boat, when the river dock is completed. The space will be open daily for lunch and dinner, for now it opens at 4 p.m.

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The taproom is open, along with the large indoor tented air-conditioned lounge.  The taproom lives up to it names thanks to Miami River Brewery, with its huge fermentation tanks, multiple fresh frosty ale on tap selections, and a rotation of small-batch specialty beers, with signature and seasonal brews and local collaborations. The two-story glass-walled space has lots of indoor and outdoor seating and huge flat-screen TVs.

Also serving up favorite beverages is the main Riverside lounge right on the river, which has an outdoor grassy game area next to it. Sandbag and woodblock throw games are there now, with more being added. There’s also the AWA Bar and the Tiki Bar open, both of which can help you get your drink on.

A grill fires up behind the game area with burgers, gourmet hot dogs, chicken and beef skewers and more. Several completed food court booths are ready for the eatery vendors to move in. Foodie lovers will soon nosh out on Taco Gourmet Mexican, Cage comfort food – think burgers and fried chicken, Lisboeta by Old Lisbon seafood, Crush Pizza bar, and sweets by San Lorenzo gelato café.

The dog-friendly space lets well behaved leashed pooches enjoy the park-like setting along with their owners.

“In the concrete jungle that is Brickell, we wanted to create a unique oasis that will be anchored with a waterfront view, live entertainment, gastronomy, libations, and special events,” said Riverside spokesman Marcelo Goulart.

It all has a bit of the funky vibe that former neighbor Tobacco Road has, the infamous speakeasy blues club that was the holder of the first liquor license in Miami in 1912 and had a large back wooden deck for food, drink and music. After decades of being the only music hang on the river, the Road fell to the wrecking ball years ago, but the need for a laid back, open-air good vibes hang out is being filled by the brand new Riverside.

If you visit, check hours, offers, and hours at www.riverside.miami

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