by Kiera Geraghty | November 3, 2021

11 New & Noteworthy Openings Around the State

From underground dive bars to immersive art experiences, these are the latest and greatest additions to Florida's entertainment scene.



The Well Floridian Lounge was inspired by the best bars and cocktail rooms in the Big Apple. Photography courtesy of The Well Floridian Lounge.

The Well Floridian Lounge


After a visit to New York that included stops at 27 different bars, co-owner D.C. Reeves wanted to create a haunt that rivals, if not bests, the Big Apple lounges. “The thing I pointed to as my hope is that we have this higher-end, unpretentious, cool cocktail experience that you would probably see in bigger cities that our city can be proud of,” Reeves says. His lush, tropical oasis doubles as a distinctly Floridian watering hole, with a menu boasting cocktails created by famed mixologist Gui Jaroschy of Miami’s Broken Shaker. The lounge also prides itself on a quirky in-house Floridian sour beer. Vibrant greenery, rattan light fixtures and bathroom wallpaper peppered with panthers and flamingos give this space a whimsical vibe without feeling forced or contrived.

The District Wine Bar


Nestled in the heart of historic Springfield, The District transports guests to a modern-day Gatsby-esque hideaway. Settle into a plush velvet chair inside this intimate art deco interior to find charcuterie boards piled high with artisanal cheese and fresh meats, 3-foot-tall mimosa towers bubbling with champagne and a robust wine list that makes this recent addition to the neighborhood a not-so-secret gem. The real jewel of The District is the Peacock Garden, appropriately named after the sweeping mural that serves as the backdrop for this hidden paradise. For a quieter perch, sneak away to one of two yurt lounges in the back large enough to hold small private parties. “We wanted a concept that was really different, so when you walk in you’re transformed,” says Taylor Beck, administrator of The District. The building has housed a local bar for more than 40 years, and this new iteration captures the warmth of the neighborhood in every detail, down to the locally sourced bread from 1748 Bakehouse.

Sainte-George Restaurant

St. Augustine

This St. Augustine newcomer serves American fare inspired by the sophistication of European cuisine, making the most of locally sourced ingredients for its made-from-scratch menu. Don’t be too quick to dismiss Sainte-George as a tourist trap because of its prime location in historic old town St. Augustine, right next to the Castillo de San Marcos. The expertly trained staff waits at the ready to ensure the best wine pairing to elevate menu items like the forbidden togarashi spiced seared tuna, harissa roasted vegetable platter and signature short rib Sainte-George. “When people compare our restaurant to the best restaurants in big cities or even Europe, that is really special to me,” says Vera Duren, president of Sainte-George.

Classic Car Museum of St. Augustine

St. Augustine

Rolling up to the Classic Car Museum of St. Augustine feels like cruising back in time to a 1950s filling station with a glossy red-top diner booth inside to match. Gearheads can expect to catch everything from American classics like the Ford Model T or a Corvette convertible to European models like a 1956 BMW Isetta inside the 30,000-square-foot space home to autos dating back to the 1900s. The invariably friendly owner Sidney Hobbs works to ensure that the personnel, as well as the cars, give enthusiasts an unforgettable experience. Beyond serving as a physical catalog of the automobile industry’s greatest hits, the museum also serves as a special event space. The Classic Car Museum even hosts monthly Cars & Coffee sessions for enthusiasts to share their love of vehicles together, so you’ll always be able to find an excuse to drive through.


This new Tampa classic has already turned itself into the new go-to neighborhood restaurant. Photography courtesy of Jett Butler.



Opening day, at one point, seemed like a near-impossible feat for the owners of Willa’s. Rain flooded the restaurant’s 100-year-old building twice, kitchen walls collapsed during renovation and, of course, a global pandemic stood in the way. But after three years of painstaking perseverance, this scratch kitchen has already proven it was worth the wait. “Willa’s is truly a neighborhood restaurant that loves its people and offers classic food that people want to eat all the time, with an attentive, diverse and engaging team that remembers regulars,” says Nate Siegel, co-founder of Willa’s and its sister cafe, Willa’s Provisions. Amid the cool tones and ample booths, guests will feel at ease as they come back again and again to this Tampa haunt for their whipped ricotta toast with Florida honey or rotisserie chicken topped with salsa verde. Tampa runs deep in the family for co-founder Merrin Jenkins, the great-great-granddaughter of William “Willie” Lowry, a 19th-century Tampa pioneer who inspired the name of the restaurant. “The community of Tampa is woven into the recipe of Willa’s,” Siegel says. “We take inspiration from the neighborhood everyday.”


St. Petersburg

Celebrity chef Jeffrey Jew is already making an impression with his debut restaurant. Jew, recognized nationally for his time on Top Chef and for taking home the gold on Guy’s Grocery Games, is better known among St. Pete locals for his remarkable culinary contributions at BellaBrava and Stillwaters Tavern. Now patrons get to experience a restaurant entirely from the mind of chef Jew, who’s putting his television-grade skills on full display for the people of St. Pete. At Lingr, guests can indulge in a Nordic- and Asian-inspired menu that reflects Jew’s heritage with dishes like mapo ho fun—a spicy rice noodle dish served with szechuan peppercorn—and whole roasted chicken with sweet potato lefse and plum sauce. Not hungry for a whole entree? Slip into a seat at the bar and order one of five cocktails inspired by the elements. The airy grandness of the back patio, which pushes the seating capacity of Lingr to 150, offers guests ample space to enjoy a seasonal drink and dinner from a top chef, giving this Gulf Coast community the upscale eatery and bar that makes them want to, ahem, linger.

The Nest


Hidden in the back of Asian tapas restaurant Caracara, the Nest is a cozy craft cocktail room pouring ingenious libations alongside elevated French fare. The secret saloon is the brainchild of the prolific hospitality group behind Tampa success stories Taco Baby and Jack Pallino’s. The pandemic left the team with two choices, according to co-owner chef Traci Ferguson: “Sit still and wait for what’s to come or continue taking risks like we do every other day of the week and forge our own future.” Although she helms the kitchen nowadays, Ferguson used her background in architecture to dress the Nest to the nines. With an eclectic mix of antique furniture, greenery wallpaper and a golden nest chandelier, the intimate lounge, seating about 35 people, feels swanky yet sophisticated. And it’s serving up more than just mojitos and mules. Patrons can experience everything from French classics like coq au vin to experimental offerings like Devilish Duck Eggs and Pork Candy. “Everything is special here, so just follow your instincts or go out on a limb. You won’t be disappointed,” Ferguson says.


Don’s 5 Star Dive Bar slings quirky drinks inspired by Dons and Donnas from the ’80s. Photography courtesy of Don’s 5 Star Dive Bar.

Don’s 5 Star Dive Bar


Kitsch is not only tolerated but celebrated at Don’s 5 Star Dive Bar, an unconventional ode to the famous Dons and Donnas of the Magic City in the ’70s and ’80s. “We are very ‘Miami,’ which means you won’t find this type of place anywhere else in the world,” says owner Matt Kuscher. Upon descending into this underground lounge, your eyes immediately lock in on a naked Don Bailey of Don Bailey Carpets, outstretched on the wall in all his glory. Multimillionaire speedboat racer Don Aronow watches over patrons from his perch above the bar, while Don Johnson of Miami Vice fame waits to greet guests breaking the seal in the bathroom. The menu matches the bar’s over-the-top decor, with drinks like the Donnie Hates Yoohoo, poured in a carton of Nesquik; the La Doña, a spicy tequila cocktail served with a side of Takis chips; or the Don’t F*ck with Don Shula specialty, a potent mix of mezcal, Campari and vermouth. Built on classic cultural touchstones of the city, this not-really-a-dive bar is one big perfectly executed inside joke for every Miamian.

Rm. 901

Fort Lauderdale

Forget the lobby bar: at the Hyatt Centric Las Olas, the real fun is happening in Room 901. This private guest room converted into a speakeasy offers visitors a bespoke, under-the-radar cocktail experience. “Most guests who visit say they completely forget they’re in a hotel room,” says Katherine Beja-McLennan, the Hyatt Centric Las Olas director of sales and marketing. Red lighting embellishes the plush velvet furniture, while vintage lamps emanate an intimate, retro mood that harks back to the Roaring ’20s. The speakeasy only seats 10, so a reservation is required. While the decor feels decidedly Prohibition era, the cocktail menu has no limitations. The bartender-in-residence program brings some of the nation’s best mixologists to South Florida, giving them the opportunity to shake up some of their signature sips for Fort Lauderdale.

Walking through Superblue Miami will change the way that you experience art, by having you literally step through it. Photography courtesy of Carma Connected.

Superblue Miami


This immersive digital art experience, with its mind-bending use of color, light, animation and sound, will certainly have you doing a double take. At Superblue Miami, artists tap into technology to create an encounter that plays with the senses. Visitors won’t just look at a mirrored labyrinth; they’ll have to weave their way through it. Gossamer clouds don’t just float by on a screen; instead they rise up around you in an ever-changing installation of soap bubble tufts that tempt guests to touch and interact with them. The suspension program brings in a rotating series of works meant to make the everyday environment seem extraordinary. “Art is such an important component of life. It is how we express ourselves as humans, and it helps define how we view the world. Superblue was created to be a place of hope, inspiration, and thought-provoking art, and that’s exactly what I hope our visitors experience when entering into our facilities,” says Shantelle Rodriguez, director of experiential art centers at Superblue. The interactive gallery has enjoyed so much success that a London location is right on its heels, but Miami will always be able to say it had it first.

The Capitana Key West

Key West

Inspired by the shipwrecks lining the ocean floor off Key West, this boutique hotel has certainly struck gold in its celebration of the Conch Republic. From chic guest suites to spacious two-bedroom cottages along the canal, the digs at The Capitana ensure you’re always close to the water without sacrificing an ounce of comfort. Snooze in a shaded hammock on the bay-side beach, sip a poolside daiquiri from the tiki bar and have groceries delivered straight to your cottage if you’re planning a cozy night in. You can even take your pet along for the ride when you book a stay here, as the resort welcomes furry family members. The resort’s minimalist design makes the space feel clean and sophisticated without detracting from the natural beauty of Key West.