Venues and Menus

By Angela Caraway-Carlton

South Florida knows how to party, but picking the right place and the perfect menu is crucial to any celebration. Whether you ‘re planning a wedding, engagement, birthday bash or bar/bat mitzvah- here’s some inspiration on how to party like a pro.

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts

If you have a flair for drama, put on an unforgettable “show” at the Arsht Center, which offers the chance to wed, or party, on the same stage where Broadway icons and vocal stars perform. The architectural gem caters to large weddings, galas and fundraisers (up to 2,400 people) with venues such as the Zif Ballet Opera House and Knight Concert Hall, where couples can “wow” guests by raising the curtains to reveal their reception on-stage, or even hire singers to serenade guests from the balconies. Beautiful outdoor plazas and elegant private salons are available for smaller affairs. 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305.949.6722;


Bocas House

Talk about an epic ice cream social: this Venezuelan-Peruvian joint, Instafamous for its over-the­top milkshakes, will section off private spaces in the restaurant for celebrations such as birthdays and communions. The guest of honor can create his or her own off-menu milkshake made with everything from truffle brownies and Nutella to cake and tiramisu, and the restau­rant also offers bite-sized versions
of customer favorites like tequefios and ceviche. Looking for a sweet engagement idea? Bocas can also help you pop the big question by hiding the ring in a milkshake and writing “Will you marry me?” in the shake. It’s easy to say “yes” to ice cream. Locations in Doral, Coral Gables and Weston;


Lenore Nolan­ Ryan World Class Catering and Cooking School

While she’s best known for her interactive cooking classes and plentiful Sunday brunches starring ethereal cream cheese biscuits and beautiful artichoke flowers, Lenore Nolan-Ryan will cater any type of party at her restaurant on Fort Lauderdale’s Galt Ocean Mile, as well as off-site venues. Don’t expect the chef to show up with the traditional chafing dishes or convenience foods; Nolan-Ryan focuses on imaginative customized dishes (which look like pieces of art) inspired by your personal tastes and the event’s theme, and she specializes in Spanish, Latin American and Mediterranean cuisine. Must-haves that are trending on event menus lately: fresh ceviche, and bacon jazzed up any way you can imagine. For an interactive experience, throw a hands-on cooking class party at Nolan-Ryan’s restaurant. 3311 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-491-2340;


Brain Freeze Nitrogen Ice Cream + Yogurt Lab

Looking for a spot to throw a kids’ party where they’ll have fun and learn?
On Saturday and Sunday mornings, this cool spot hosts “Scientific Birthday Parties” where the birthday gang will don lab coats and goggles to experiment with liquid nitrogen and make their own ice cream while using syringes to inject other sweet treats like caramel or guava. Adults can also host private catered events and spike their syringes with liquor for boozy ice cream concoctions. Locations in Doral, Kendall and Pembroke Pines;


Sweet Guilt by Angelica

Scroll this baker’s lnstagram bursting with beautiful and crave-worthy confec­tions, and you’ll find a reason to throw a party. Angelica Lenox has mastered the art of baking and creates everything from breathtaking designer cakes to whimsical macarons to cake pops and cake paddles (which are a fusion of cake and mousse that can be decorated). When it comes to what’s trending at bar/ bah mitzvahs, the confectioner is dusting macarons with edible powders in high metallics and neon colors that light up in the dark; and she’ll morph cake pops into anything from mermaids and seahorses to bright succulents for an edible garden. While Lenox says unicorn cakes are here to stay, she adds that llamas are the new face of birthday cakes. 954-591-6494;


Karmic Ice Cream

Take your guests back in time (along with providing a great photo opp) by rent­ing a cool, vintage ice cream truck from a Coral Springs couple who acquired a fleet of them, like a 1931 Ford Good Humor truck, 1930s-style electric ice cream cart and Harley-Davidson ice cream motorcycle. Bow tie-clad servers will show up at your event and scoop nostalgic brands of ice cream in your favorite flavors. 954-688-6090;


Broward Center for the Performing Arts

 You can also set the stage for a theatrical event in Broward County. Grandly situated on the scenic New River, this cultural grand dame has bragging rights to a trio of stunning venues: Mary N. Porter Riverview Ballroom, a dramatic ballroom with panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the river and Esplanade Park; Abdo New River room, a cabaret theater space with rich velvet drapes and a raised stage that’s ideal for live bands and entertainment; and Peck Courtyard, an open-air, Mediterranean-style space made for partying under the stars. The Broward Center hosts everything from bridal and baby showers to weddings and rehearsal dinners, bar mitzvahs and quinces-they’ll even help you set the stage with innovative entertainment, like singing waiters or opera performances. 201 SW 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-468-3313;


Trump National Doral

From intimate garden wedding cer­emonies to grand galas and blow­out quinceaneras that will rival the royal wedding, if you dream it, they can host it. With more than 100,000 square feet of event space including five ballrooms and outdoor spaces with lush gardens and sweeping golf course views Oike the famous Blue Monster), this country club-style re­treat boasts an impressive portfolio of stand-out venues. When it comes to weddings, Ashly Olivier, Director of Social Catering, says couples are skipping the traditional dinner and dancing, and opting for interactive entertainment such as aerialists or laser light shows. “We’re also known for our catering because we special­ize in tailoring menus for client,” says Olivier, who also points out that the resort features chefs from France, Venezuela and Hungary. “Right now, people are following food trends. Instead of the conven­tional three-course meal, they’re choosing smaller courses throughout the night, and going for quality and creativity over quantity. We’re see­ing lots of stations with sushi paired with sake, meats coupled with wine, and Mexican with tequila. People want a culinary experience.” 4400 NW 87th Ave., Miami, 305-592-2000;


TPR Taste

Tired of hosting parties where everyone congregates in your kitchen and you have to do all the work? Take your next dinner party to this culinary theater located in downtown Fort Lauderdale. While the new space normally serves as a venue for interactive pop-up dinners and a test kitchen for The Restaurant People’s new menu items (YOLO, Boatyard, Rooftop and more), the 26-seat spot can also be rented for intimate, interactive parties. Executive Chef Chris Miracolo will help create a one-of-a-kind menu, and you and your guests can watch and learn as chefs prepare a six­to nine-course meal. Keep the party going by heading upstairs to Rooftop for craft cocktails and delicious views. One W. Las Olas Blvd., Suite 100,
Fort Lauderdale, 954.523.1956;


Ann’s Florist & Coffee Bar

Flowers, coffee, wine and Champagne all in one place-yes, please! For a truly unique event space, rent out Ann’s cafe and stunning new Champagne bar tucked away in the sprawling floral shop on Las Olas Boulevard. The pretty space is packed with unique gifts, collectibles and antiques (plus, the fragrance of flowers) and can accommodate up to 20 people for an engage­ment celebration, bridal party or baby shower; the entire store and outside patio can also be rented for larger parties. Another fresh idea for a get­together: floral classes for six to 12 guests where you’ll learn how to arrange flowers like a pro while sipping vino and bubbly. 1003 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954.761.333 4;

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