Natalia Jiménez never thought she would live in Miami, but after more than 10 years, she is grateful and happy to be in the city. “I would come for work sometimes, and for vacation. When you live here, it’s not like the beach city that you imagine. Miami and the beach, or South Beach, are two completely different things. I like the inland neighborhoods of Miami that are more urban,” says the Spaniard.
From Madrid, where she grew up, and from Mexico, where she lived for several years when she was a singer in the group La Quinta Estación, she misses the mountains and the geography with a climate that is better for hiking and climbing. But the beautiful sunsets and the colors that the setting sunlight creates in the city have gradually won her over. The city has also given her a lot of support. Her first years in Miami marked a big milestone in her career, like the launch of her first solo album Natalia Jiménez. Her second record, Creo en mi (I Believe in Me), capitalized on Miami’s diversity and style. Now she is promoting her latest record, México de Mi Corazón, titled after one her beloved cities.
For several years now, she has been living in the quiet neighborhood of Coconut Grove in southern Miami, and she loves this nature-filled part of the city. “You can do so many things outdoors, and you feel like getting out. Since I have dogs, parks are the places that I visit the most. I love Kennedy Park and riding my bike on Commodore Trail.”
Natalia thinks that the people of Miami are special. “They are very friendly, they greet me as if they were family. In other places, people will approach me and say: ‘Excuse me, are you Natalia?’ In Miami, they hug me and throw themselves at me.”
If she decides to go to the beach, she likes Surfside Beach, a calm, pristine beach with beautiful paths for running or bike riding that goes from 88th to 96th Street without any interruptions or retail stores. Outside of her neighborhood, she also likes walking around Edgewater, a residential neighborhood near Downtown and the Design District, which has benefitted from an artistic and creative wave, with its beautiful views of Biscayne Bay.
She loves taking her daughter Alessandra to the Columbus Boulevard Park, in Coral Gables, and the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, that in its new location has a three-story aquarium with species and habitats native to Florida and a planetarium with the latest in technology.
For a romantic night, Natalia heads to Il Gabbiano in Brickell’s financial district, the Italian restaurant of the brothers Gino and Fernando Masci, with beautiful views—ideal for a date or dinner al fresco. For good music, she recommends Estefan Kitchen, Emilio and Gloria Estefan’s Cuban restaurant, in Palm Court in the Miami Design District. When recommending pet-friendly places, she mentions Lincoln Road, but admits laughing that her dogs “are a little wild and aren’t good candidates to take out to eat there.”
Among her favorite discoveries in Miami are the guava pastries from La Carreta, a Cuban restaurant on Calle Ocho. To go back to her roots she visits Delicias de España, a store that sells products from Spain, and Xixón Spanish Restaurant on Coral Way, a traditional tapas bar that grew until it became one of the city’s classic restaurants. For a good coffee or to meet up with friends she prefers La Boulanguerie, an artisanal bakery, with local, fresh, and healthy food, also on Coral Way.
She hasn’t lost the simplicity of the 15-year-old girl who sang in the subway and on the streets of Madrid. The talented, award-winning and family-oriented woman acknowledges the challenges that women face in the music industry. “I’m inspired by success stories and people’s drive to get ahead. It’s all very positive and worth writing about in songs. “We humans who never stop keep looking for ways to be successful and grow.” And we are delighted that Natalia considers Miami “her home.”
“For breakfast you have to go to The Big Pink or Versailles on Calle Ocho where you can also find guayaberas. Then you have to go to South Pointe at the end of South Beach, to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, to kayak in Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables, and eat at Smith & Wollensky in South Pointe Park in Miami Beach. That would be a very long day.”