My apologies for this post’s tardiness! To be honest, I haven’t had a free moment to sit down at my computer since Friday! But today, Steven and I are both working (poolside) and I’m finally able to catch up with you, my favorite internet friends!
Yesterday – the time I had blocked out to work on the blog, we got a spur of the moment phone call from one of our friends who lives here, and we ended up going out for lunch to catch up during my work window.)
But wow, we have so much catching up to do!
I’m going to be straight up with you: we have eaten our way through this city. I’m serious. My stomach is so happy. We have had some fabulous food! That was kinda the vibe – work during the day and go out to dinner at night!
And as someone who has – a) never been to Miami before, and b) loves to eat – I thought I’d share some of the delicious places we’ve eaten, as well as a few of the things I’ve picked up about Miami, and what I found helpful for our next trip!
Hoja Taqueria Miami Beach – this is inside a hotel/hostel on Collins Ave. This quesadilla made with a homemade corn masa tortilla was phenomenal.
Definitely try a cuban sandwich. This was Steven’s that he ordered delivery while we all were working last week. Ask for them to put french fries (aka potato sticks) on it!!
Thusday night, we went out for drinks at the Broken Shaker on Collins Ave, and the bartenders were amazing. It’s an outdoor patio restaurant, but it was raining, so we had the place to ourselves and the bartenders really hooked us up with speciality cocktails and “must hit” places to visit in Miami!
One of which – Sweet Victory! It’s a restaurant that turns into a dance club every night around 11! So we had dinner and then stayed for a little dancing. This is Steven’s burger….pretty epic…
And my other friend had these ahi tuna tacos — and those were as good as they look! Complete with pomegranate seeds!
The following night – Friday – we went out to celebrate our friends’ one-year wedding anniversary, so we went to this swanky rooftop bar called Serena, which is on top of the Moxy hotel in South Beach.
It was so fun to get all gussied up. But WOW the food there was amazing. Steven got a beautiful steak with brussels sprouts….
And I got the most delicious pan seared salmon with a roasted cauliflower head, and balsamic carrots. YUM!
That night – we went OUT! We started off trying to to BODEGA — which had been told to us to be the “hottest club in South Beach.” Well — it was a complete dud. They were suuuuper pretentious and were asking for an outrageous cover fee: $100 per person!!! And when we were like — that’s ridiculous…they ushered us to their sister bar — AKA overflow space — next door, which was awful. Twenty five dollar drinks served in plastic cups….and the music was wack — their “awesome DJ” was literally just a Spotify play list — no one was even in the booth. So we promptly left.
And then went to BLACKBIRD in Brickell! Here’s the long and short of Miami: Most people think Miami is just South Beach — but to be honest, South Beach — and it’s art deco archetecuture and sidewalk cafe’s and muscle beach — it’s awesome! And beautiful! And worth checking out for sure — but for a day. Because it’s like Times Square in New York City – where I live. It’s extremely touristy and overpriced. The restaurants lure you in and then try to upsell you once you’re there. It’s definitely worth going, but there’s SO MUCH MORE to Miami to explore, in the surrounding neighborhoods that AREN’T South Beach! Like Brickell! And Wynwood! These have more of a “Brooklyn” vibe to them. It’s super artsy, super local, a little bit grungy, lots of breweries, and local clubs and restaurants. We spent most of our time here, actually. And it’s only an $8-12 Uber ride from South Beach. Our group said that next time we’re going to stay there instead of South Beach. Plus – you’ll get more bang for your buck if you’re renting an Airbnb.
OK – so: Blackbird in Brickell is a dance club. We stayed for a couple drinks. If you like Top 40’s, or classic early 2000’s (ie: Britney Spears/Backstreet Boys) — this is your scene. It wasn’t really ours…we were looking for a latin scene. So we stayed for a drink, and then went to….
TUCANDELA BAR. Ok — this was another one of those “must hit” spots that frankly…wasn’t worth the hype. We were charged a pretty hefty cover charge at the door — even the girls — and then when we got in there, it was SO CROWDED! almost like a mosh pit, to be honest. There was no room to dance, and we all were getting shoved all over the place. It was a cool spot – but only if you were VIP — there was a special roped off area of the bar — about 60% of the total space — where people had lots of room. But access to it allowed buying a $300 bottle. No thank you.
Anyway – we stayed there until the end of the night, when we went home and got ready for European Fùtbol in the morning!
One of our friends is a huge Liverpool fan, and he had found this cool outdoor bar in Wynwood called Grails that shows sports on Saturday! They were showing all the college football games, and we got the owner to show the soccer game on one of the 30+ screens! And the spot was really cool – it was a bar that paid major hommage to “sneaker culture” — which for my special gentleman who is a major sneaker-head, he was on cloud nine!
They have several $25,000 Jordans that are on display in the back room – almost like a museum. Very cool.
But the food was phenomenal! And just what we needed after a long night of dancing! Steven got a fried chicken sandwich! (Which was much more photogenic than my boring shrimp salad!)
While we were there, we met up with our friend who lives there, and after the game, we walked to the Wynwood Walls! These are graffiti art instilations! It’s like an outdoor street art museum, which was very cool. It used to be free, but now they charge $10/per person. Which we paid….I guess it was worth it, if only for the Instagram photos you get out of it. lol
That night – we all rallied and ended up going out to – in my opinion, THE HANDS DOWN BEST BAR/CLUB I’VE EVER BEEN TO IN MY LIFE. It’s called Mayami, and it’s in Brickell. It was raining cats and dogs outside (so you sense a theme? It rained almost the entire time!) But this club was exactly what I was looking for when I thought “Miami club.” It played THE BEST latin music: J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Maluma, Becky G, Sech, I’m telling you, there wasn’t a single bad song! We met up with our friend who had a table, and so we stayed there, for literally 6 hours – until the wee hours of the morning, and it was one of the top 3 best nights of my life.
TIPS ON MAYAMI: It is a hot spot. Women’s wearing flat sandals are turned away. Men have to have nice footwear. There is a cover, but it gets you drink tickets that cover your drinks. (So basically, it’s just a drink minimum off the bat.) But get there early. If you show up past 9pm without a reservation, you won’t get in. Also – go for a late dinner (get a reservation) and then just stay until it turns into a club at 11pm.
OK – the next day – Sunday – we went to brunch at Nikki Beach in South Beach, and this was delightful! It’s an all you can eat brunch buffet set, literally in paradise. It was the only nice day we had, and we spent the entire day enjoying the location. (You book a table, and then you have unlimited access to the amenities all day. The food was terrific — not much for me on the Specific Carb Diet, but the chef made me a special piece of plain salmon that I could eat, and it was so yummy!
The highlight of the buffet was clearly the Belgian waffle station. My friends split this! lol But they had everything from Paella to sushi to classic breakfast fare, to a carving station. Drinks are an additional cost, and we didn’t get any, because it’s not the cheapest dining experience. But we felt we got our money’s worth because we stayed until sunset!!
The following day, Monday – we had lunch at this cute little Mediterranean cafe called Mandolin Aegean Greek Cafe in Wynwood. My sister-in-law reccommended this place as the “best restaurant in Miami” and she was right! I tried to get reservations 4 weeks out, and they were completely booked for dinner! Hence, why we had lunch instead!
But WOW was it ever delicious! I got their Greek Village salad with chargrilled prawns. (Look at those hunks of tomatoes!)
My friends got a lamb gyro, and a chicken kebob. SO delicious. Their highlight of the meal was this beet hummus starter, which they thoroughly enjoyed!
Afterwards, we walked around Wynwood and did some window shopping at this swanky outdoor mall. There, my friends got this really interesting desesrt: BOOZY ICE CREAM from Aubi & Ramsa! It’s such an interesting concept – it looks like a high-end cocktail bar, but they only serve liquor-infused ice cream! They loved it. Steven got a Macallan Whisky chocolate and caramel ice cream, my other friends got a champagne plum sorbet, and a Irish Cream dulce de leche ice cream. I was drooling lol.
We then walked to a few breweries – also in Wynwood – where we sampled a few flights of local craft bear. The highlight was this little outdoor brewery call Dogfish Head in Wynwood that, at each table, they have an old school Nintendo gaming system. So we stayed for an hour or so, playing old school Mario and Donkey Kong!
For dinner, we walked across the street to this little Asian Fusion restaurant, Crudos – where we got some terrific eats! Steamed pork buns…
This spot was neither hit or miss with us — just kinda meh. The restaurant was freezing, and we all were kind of tired from such a long weekend, but it was a solid meal. There was literally nothing on the menu that was gluten free, so the chef made me -again- a special piece of salmon, which I had a side of avocado with. It was alright. Protip: Asian food – unless you like raw sashimi (raw fish) – is tough on the Specific Carb Diet because everything uses soy-based oil, which is not allowed on the SCD. But thankfully, I was able to find at least something. And thank goodness for avocado!!
So. Some final takeaways on Miami. We stayed in an Airbnb, which was totally our speed. Plenty of bedrooms, and a common space with a kitchen, a washer and dryer – which was clutch, and a big table where we could all work! It was much cheaper, since we all split it, and we had everything we needed! However, there are LOTS of swanky, high end hotels!
And right now – we’re actually at one of those swanky hotels – our friends are staying a few extra days at The Confidente starting tonight – and Steven and I are flying back to our homes for Thanksgiving. But we scored a free day pass for the pool while we wait for our flight late tonight! And I will say – it is quite nice to get waited on hand and foot by the pool! But just for an afternoon! Airbnb’s definitely the best value!
Next: layers are the name of the game this time of year. It’s “winter” in Florida, so it’s warm during the day with a cool breeze, and the night time does get chilly enough for a jacket or even pants!
Dinner reservations are super helpful! Resy and OpenTable make it really simple to book from an app!
If you’re going out at night to a club, be prepared to pay a cover fee. It’s just the name of the game in Miami for spots that are worth it.
Use the boardwalk! There’s a beautiful bike/pedestrian boardwalk that runs along the beach on the east side of the island! And people are always biking, rollerblading and running! I went every morning and it was a joy!
There are CVS’s and Walgreens every few blocks, so don’t feel the need to check a bag in order to bring sun screen/shampoo etc. It’s all right here and practically across the street!
Finally, if you’re going with a large group, the app, “Splitwise” is really a great tool – it tracks each individual’s person spending if they take the check, and then keeps track of who owes what. And then at the end it’s connected to Venmo so you literally just press “settle up” and that’s that!
Alright! I’ve rambled farrrrr too long about this trip! Overall, I had an amazing time with my friends. And as we’re coming upon Thanksgiving, I couldn’t be more grateful to have such special people in my life on a day to day basis!
If I don’t “talk” to you before Thanksgiving, I hope you have a blessed and wonderful time together with loved ones, enjoying amazing food with an extra helping of joy!!
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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