Beyond The Palms may be tucked away on a quiet residential street in Prahran, but you’ll know when you get near it. Massive wrought iron gates, a towering palm tree and Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up pumping from the speakers are just three giveaways.
Step inside the new open-air, dog-friendly venue and you’re greeted by 1980s-Miami style: neon-painted walls in pink, blue, yellow; bright orange booths; and flamingo sculptures. Playing with these flamboyant design elements can be risky, but Beyond The Palms pulls it off by balancing the retro furniture with with smart dark-wood decking and booths. And to remind you you’re still in Melbourne? The bar is housed in a shipping container.
It’s all very Miami Vice but another inspiration was Wynwood, a neighbourhood in Miami known for its graffiti-covered walls and resident artists and creatives.
“Wynwood’s walls are a giant collection of blank canvases for artists to work with,” says owner Tim Garbis. “The neighbourhood has a lot of open-air [venues] that serve Cuban and Mexican food, so when we saw this new space in Prahran, we realised it created the perfect opportunity to bring a similar thing to Melbourne.”
The space was formerly home to The Bird Watching Society. Garbis and others from the team behind Prahran bar Galah took over the site about 18 months ago. (Garbis, a Miami regular, designed the space.)
Galah’s head bartender Gee Shanmugam has put together a playful cocktail list that includes jalapeno Margaritas, watermelon Caipirinhas and jugs of Mojito and Sangria. If you want to go full Miami Vice, it’s hard to go past The Don, a fruity gin cocktail with pineapple, lemon, rosemary and sparkling wine.
The food menu, by Galah head chef Rory Greenwood, keeps to the Central American theme – loaded fries with queso fresco and spiced beans; fried school prawns with coriander salsa; and charred corn with black garlic sauce. Top your oysters with paprika or coconut and lime. Heftier options include the Cubanos Burger, loaded with pulled pork hock, spicy pickles, cheese, and truffle mustard; and a chargrilled skirt steak with stewed pepper and spicy beans. Half the taco menu is vegetarian, including one with a plant-based sausage topped with slaw, caramelised pineapple and barbacoa sauce. For groups, there are share plates built around stuffed peppers, whole barbeque chicken and grilled fish.
You can catch DJs on Saturday nights, and live music and winter setups are in the works. A brunch menu is also on the way with breakfast tacos and burritos.
It's a holiday vibe the team's going for, and Beyond The Palms achieves it – it feels like the kind of bar you stumble into overseas and, after a few cocktails, turn to your friend to say, “wouldn’t it be cool if we had something like this back home?”
Beyond The Palms
33 Clifton Street, Prahran
Thu to Sun 12pm–11pm