I suppose I always knew it would come to this. One day, years ago, when I saw pictures of that infinity pool, I knew that I would luxuriate in its presence. It happened. Oh yes it did.
Thing is, as relaxing as that pool is (and it is!), I'd looked forward to the moment I stayed here for so long, I don't know that it could have lived up to my expectations. It's not entirely fair, but it's honest. The check-in process was pleasant, if not a little chaotic. The clerks couldn't find my reservation and then they couldn't figure out where I was staying. Blah blah blah. At a hotel of this caliber, I would expect a seamless check-in. Once they figured on a room for me, I went upstairs... and the halls were a bit dated. The carpet, the walls, the mirrors... it just didn't fit. After winding the route to my room, I opened up to an explosion of jade: the lamps, the floor, the accents, the bathroom... jade. It's not my style, but I was here to sleep, not to hosts guests (sigh).
The bathroom, while a little much, was nicely spacious. I had plenty of room to move around but not as many products as I expected. Again, these are nits but in an iconic setting, I don't think it's out of the norm to expect the world. Moving from the bathroom to the bed... ah. A large canopy invited me into a pleasant night's slumber each and every time my head hit the pillow. The bed was the highlight of the room. Super comfortable, I'd recommend this bed to any weary traveler. My room also had a balcony view which overlooked the street. Not much to look at, but I appreciated it being there.
I came. I stayed. I enjoyed. I didn't *love*.
Killed it. KILT.it. Let this be known: I am a fruit juice freak. Set some fresh juice in front of me and you get points. If it's a tropical fruit, you're sure to get the red light special. If it's tropical juice I've never heard of... take me; I'm yours!! As soon as i saw the juice menu, I knew I was in for a treat. By the time I left, I was dead sexy, bloated belly, fried food on face and in hair... and i could still get it... cuz I have sexy like that. Trust. Wait. What? Oh yeah. Sabor a Peru.
My friend and i rolled up on this unassuming mom & pop because I was in the mood for good food without pretension. I wanted to eat... no, I wanted to GRUB and I wanted seafood and I wanted some heat. Elements accounted for, my friend knew where to take me. Since moving to Miami, I know that it's essential that I improve my Spanish. Not because it's an ubiquitous language here but so many of my friends are latin that when we go out somewhere and they start speaking, other folks look at me, squint and think, "Oh. He's Dominican or Boricua or something," and then they start speaking to me in Spanish and I reply in a HORRIBLE accent with fourth grade-level words. Sometimes I get a laugh for my efforts. Sometimes a side-eye. This time, the waitress smiled nicely and replied in English. She recounted the juice options for me and I glazed over. So.many.fresh.choices. Even though I had a choice of Mora (!), Lucuma (!!) and Chirimoya (!!!) juices, I chose the Jugo Especial: a special mix of juice!! OMG!!!1!!111!!! Special juice! Made from fruits I'd never heard of! Mixed up!! I almost flatlined but my friend warned me not to embarrass her.
Juice on table, we then proceeded to order nearly everything on the menu. I'm not kidding. Ever since I saw pictures of the Andes and some serious hotties who live in that land, I knew a trip to Peru was in my future. Now that I've had the food, I might have to put the sight seeing and booty on the back burner while I eat my way through the land. Wow. Delicious. Of course, we started with ocopa. I appreciated the salt and heat but it just warmed my jaw up for the main courses: Salchipapa (reminded me of a Filipino dish; gotta be the hot dogs); Chaufa de Carne (for my friend; Trick may loves the kids but he hates the beef); Chicharron de Mariscos (slap somebody if you haven't eaten this; fried squid, shrimp and assorted fish make everything better); plates of rice (heavily doused with rooster sauce); Ceviche de Pulpo (who doesn't like saying 'Pulpo'?); Cancha; Maduros; and Cuatro Leches. I wasn't kidding. We ate everything. Seriously. We had to move from our two-top to a four-top to accommodate all the food. And, guess what? I had no shame and no one cared. Our waitress was happy with our grubbing. Every other table was filled with families who were grubbing. No one was paying attention to who was there or what they were wearing. They were only paying attention to the food on the plate -- which is how things should be.
I can't wait to do it all again.
While i was at Playa Cafe I saw:
some straight up affiliated types;
a smokin'-hot 19 year old mother of a 3 year old (I overheard both ages as one of the affiliated types was trying to holler);
more than a few Cuban yodas (2'-3' tall, very leathery, spoke in riddles);
a Russian bodybuilder with a long, curly ponytail, tank top, jean shorts and a lolita-looking girlfriend;
skateboarders -- who rode their boards into the cafe and down the main isle;
... and I wouldn't have it any other way. I got a taste of the insane, eclectic nature of Miami and I was ready to sign up for a full glass. Service was a little all over the board. An initial phone call to find out how late it was open was greeted with "Que? QUE??? *click*" But once I arrived, I was waited on by a very nice and patient waitress who seemed as amused/resigned to the insanity happened all around her as one would imagine.
I ordered the media noche with fries and a strawberry shake. I ordered in Spanish, she smiled and responded in English. B+ for effort, no? The sandwich was delicious. Served piping hot, the sweet bread/cheese combo with salty ham, mustard and pickle was exactly what my tastebuds craved and I had been jonesing for a real, authentic Cuban milkshake ever since I moved away from Orlando [redacted] years ago. Both satisfied on an extreme level. I wasn't over the moon about the potato sticks (was in the mood for fries) but it was a seriously tiny nitpick. I'm ready to put PC into rotation.
You know when you're watching TV and you see an ad for a movie that's filled with sunny skies, people frolicking and smiling and you think, "That looks like a nice movie." And then the music changes, the skies get dark and people start screaming and you're like, "I've been tricked! Change the channel. CHANGE THE CHANNEL!!!" Welcome to the National. Prepare to scream in terror.
Things started nicely enough. I'd booked an ocean view in the main building. Besides an attitudinal check-in clerk & a PORTER WHO REFUSED TO GET MY BAGS (unfortunately, something I was beginning to get accustomed to in Miami; Point Of Order: when tourism is a main industry, how about we work on customer service?), things seemed fine enough. I took the elevator to my room and... wow. Fantastic view of the ocean. High ceilings. Comfy bed. Plenty of storage/closet space. Charming old bathroom with tile floor. The tub was a little worn but that was all part of the charm. After a long day of travel (and a long day ahead of me), I settled in for a good night's sleep.
I woke up to a sunny day (the worst part about horror is the dread, no?). I showered, grabbed my bag and went about my business. Business completed, I only had about 18 hours left at the hotel. Rather than spend it at the pool, I thought I'd get some work done in my room. As I went to my luggage to grab my computer, I noticed two mounds of dirt on the window sill. "Housekeeping is really slacking," I thought and went about my business. I turned on the light on the opposite side of the wall, sat on the bed and started typing away. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a flutter. Thinking it was an eyelash, I paid no attention to it. Then, I saw another. Huh? After the third, I looked up and saw a flying bug pass my eye. "Gross! The window must be cracked," I thought. I got up and... no. Not cracked. That's when I noticed it. From ceiling to floor, the wall opposite my bed was FILLED with long, spindly, white, maggoty-looking bugs. Ceiling.To.Floor. Everywhere. I didn't even have voice to scream. At first. I called down to the front desk: "There are flying bugs all over my room. Fix this!" I start to gather my things and then it hits me: the dirt mounds. The appearance. The swarm. Termites, My room is infested with termites. I call down again: "They're termites! Send someone now!" Nine minutes pass and there's a knock on my door (by this time, they are alighting on the bed and desk). The maintenance man enters my room and screams, "Get your ISHT and get out of here!" Not needing to be told twice (and itching furiously), I get out and go to the front desk. I am not pleased. The night manager apologizes, admits this "happens" and relocates me to a cabana room. I try to calm down. I get my computer out, sit at the desk, start working and... feel a prick on my leg. W...T...F...? I look down in the chair. A Saltine cracker. There's a half-eaten Saltine cracker in the crease of my desk chair. I look down at the floor. Another half-eaten cracker and many crumbs. I look at my feet. After pacing the room a half dozen times (my previous room had carpet; this one had tile), the soles of my feet were black. THIS ROOM HADN'T BEEN CLEANED. I took pictures and called the front desk again. I get moved to *another* room. By this time, I am shell shocked. I feel filthy and as though there are bugs all over me. I take a Silkwood shower, obsessively check my bed for stains and bugs and spend the rest of the evening curled up in a tight fetal position. I felt like the woman in the Blair Witch Project, crying and snotting under the covers in abject fear.
It's not cheap to stay here. To add insult to (further) injury, I paid a pretty penny to be terrorized by vermin, subject to rude porters and wallow in the filth of who knows how many people because housekeeping couldn't be bothered to clean the freaking rooms. Entirely unacceptable in every way.
Expensive? Yes. Classic Miami? Of course. This is why you're here. A vodka tonic will knock you back $15. A Bella (sparkling wine, strawberries served in a flute) will cost $19. There's an autocharge of 18% just for sitting your perky nalgas on the bar stool. Yes. There is. Annoying? Perhaps. But. BUT. This is the Miami you've seen in pictures, on tv and in postcards. This is the hotel that represents the Miami Philippe Starck, Madonna, Gianni Versace, a whole bunch of super models with bad attitudes, musclebound rentboys, and a drug lord (or fifty... thousand) created and the reason why you wanted to come. Opulent. Iconic. Over-priced. Gorgeous. Luxe.
You didn't come here by accident. Drink your cocktail.
I have joined the zeitgeist! Sorta. After hearing about the awesomeness of Panther Coffee, I had the opportunity to check it out for myself. Rolling up to the shop, I was instantly taken by the cool building, compelling graffiti (love this aspect of Miami) and bustling crowd. In a city that may have fatigue for other forms of the bean, it seems that PC is serving up a hot cup of refreshment.
The place was packed with hipsters and while not my typical crowd, I was pleased that they seemed welcoming... enough. I didn't experience any overt eyerolls or sighs which is a plus. Service at the counter had shades of the slight disregard spoken of in other reviews, but I think it's par for the course. As long as it doesn't venture into the arena of 'rude', it's just something to deal with. And here's the final kicker: I'm not much of a coffee man. I'll have the occasional cup after a long, large meal, to help with digestion and fight off the 'itis but other than that, I'm not searching it down... especially when temps are high and the sun is blazing. So what does a fellow like me order at a place like Panther? Rose Petal Soda. It's not made in-house (hello, COFFEE house, not soda house) but it's available for purchase (duh) and it's delicious. Light in color and taste, fragrant and surprisingly sweet, the soda was just the libation I needed as I tickety-tacketied on my keyboard and met with some area business people. And speaking of business, the folks who run this joint, Joel y Leticia, are about as fantastic as you would imagine. Passionate about their business, coffee, this neighborhood, and Miami, there's a reason why tongues all over the nation are wagging about this new icon of the city. Thanks for the welcome.
You know that scene in Edward Scissorhands when Edward makes it snow (now *that's* some skill; I can just manage to make it hail) on Kim and she just spins around in wide-eyed wonderment? That's sorta what it's like to trip the light fantastic at WW. Yes, it's stunning during Second Saturday. The crush of humanity makes it seem even more alive than it generally is.
But, have you ever been here mid-day on a Wednesday?
Have you ever just walked the grounds to study the graffiti up close and personal? Have you sat under the tree in the back and contemplated your most recent flash mob? Has peeking into the trailer reminded you that's it's been too long since you texted your favorite slam piece? Have you daydreamed of the day you bathe in money a la Scrooge McDuck just by walking into the artists' studios and either a.) watch art in the making and/or b.) peruse the gorgeousness on the walls? I love that the walls gives credibility and attention to the fact that graffiti/street art is relevant, viable and beautiful. In one smooth move, WW combines the heady with the edgy, the desired with the subaltern. I love it. There's so much to see and experience. Take the time to walk the entire surface of the grounds. Allow it to inspire conversation, imagination and your own artistic flair. This is the stuff that dreams are made of. And, whether you dream in Burton, Carroll, Lewis, del Toro, or any number of the visionaries who remind of what happens when we dream, you are promised an experience that will change you for the better. Just allow it.
Art matters. Street art matters. The people who create street art... matter. The people who enjoy it matter. Dialogue. Hope. Creativity. Introspection. Contemplation. Joy. Catharsis. Art is for everyone. And, at Wynwood Walls, art being for everyone is the very reason for its existence. Come experience 'being snowed on' at the intersection of art, culture, humanity, and the senses that is Miami's outdoor art gallery for the people. Come experience Wynwood Walls and be transformed.
This is champion people watching, folks. This is not for the faint of heart. This is for the professional who's used to sitting back, peering down over the top of his sunglasses and having a comment about every.single.person who walks by. So, you know I'm a fan!
There's zero room inside... but who wants to sit inside? This location is all about perching on the right plush red or animal-print sofa, ordering drinks and talking about people. And, there's lots to talk about. This location is always packed. Packed. I don't know what it is. Maybe there's a subliminal message in the booming bass from the speakers but I'm never experienced anything less than fire-hazard-full. The crowd is pretty decisively international but that adds to the fun. That means lots of languages, wildly varying styles, hot messes from almost every continent, and tragedy (which = comedy) around every corner. Of course, it's near impossible to appreciate all of this without a cocktail in hand. Luckily, Segafredo has, about, a billion of them. I committed myself to trying them all but my ankle monito... bracelet had other ideas. Before passing out, I recall enjoying the sugary sweetness of the Caipiwi and the knockout punch of the Planter's Punch. $10 cocktails on Lincoln might seem unheard of, but here they are... in living color!
Because I haven't figured out how to live on booze and bile alone (yet), I set in on the food menu. After all, talking about people works up an appetite. The caprese flatbread was light, refreshing and surprisingly filling for being cheese, tomato and basil. Spend some quality time with the tuna tartare and hummus, also. I don't know that anyone would come to Segafredo for a gastronomic revelation (and, if that's your purpose for coming here, question yourself) but it does what it does well: quality light bites, strong drinks for every taste, music so loud you can barely hear your friends, and some of the best people watching in all of South Beach. You can't miss out on the experience. But come with your 'A' game. I'm watching you.
I love that Miami proudly shows off that it's a rising artistic capital in addition to being an cultural one. Rather than ceding to the hype that Miami is all neon lights, muscles, leased cars, and fake boobs, events like Second Saturday proudly showcase that Miami is art, grit, graffiti, booze, food trucks, intoxicating music, and fake boobs.*
In another stroke of marketing genius, Second Saturdays are exactly what they are described to be: open art galleries, food, people, and fun on the evening of the second Saturday of the month. It's such a deceptively basic premise and it's thrilling that it's not muddied up by spin, hype or foolishness. Yes, the crowds have gotten larger as the word's gotten out. Rather than scrunch my nose at the fact that there are more people to elbow out of the way in the streets, I'm just happy that more people are getting introduced to the art and artists who will propel Miami to the next level and bring about a shift change that folks have been clamoring for for a while.
It's a free event so, yes, it allows everyone to come... that's also the beauty of it. Everyone is invited to be a part of the experience because art *is* for everyone. Again, simplicity and straight-forwardness provide the refreshment that make this event so appealing. It's a decidedly local crowd and you can't get better than that. While tourists are off making bad decisions on the Beach (tattoos are forever... and so are some STDs), the folks who live their day-to-day in the 305/786 (and beyond) are getting to interact with one another in a very relaxed way. If you're a flip-flops kinda guy, cool. Come out and chill. If you're a high heels kinda gal, walk yourself into a gallery and start talking technique. If you're a high heels kinda guy, there's plenty for you as well. That's the thing about Second Saturday: there are no rules or 'right' way to do it.** As long as you're there, having fun, engaging with art, eating food out of motor vehicles, and angling for free booze, you're doing it the right way -- and there's nothing wrong with that!
*Butts, too. These aren't bad things.
**Well, snagging an early parking spot so as not to have to park blocks away or pay for an expensive valet are right ways. Exception noted.
I'm glad I came back so that I could share in the positive feelings so many have for La Sandwicherie. My first visit here nearly ended up in flames -- I was gonna burn the place down. Either that or I was going to settle my differences with the sandwich makers in a decidedly (Bugs Bunny) French way: I would slap them with a glove... that housed a brick.
Y'see, I waited for 40 minutes -- and watched people who came after me get their food and leave -- just to get my food (not including the time I waited just to be waited on). And, when I was waited on, I was treated in such a brusque manner, I was left speechless. In fact, during my order, the fellow who was waiting on me, got up and tended to someone else as I was in mid-sentence. Insult was deftly added to injury when I was overcharged for the madness. The sandwich I received needed to be the best I'd experienced in life. It wasn't. Look, if Grant Achatz can put together a ball of nuclear fusion and serve it in a daffodil in 20 minutes, there's no reason why an over-charged Subway sandwich should take 40. It -- and the awful, dismissive service -- is inexcusable. I thought I'd never be back.
Fast forward some months and I had co-workers in town, co-workers who had heard of LS and were hankering for a sandwich. Oh boy. Being the gracious host I am, I led my intrepid group north on Collins, turned right on 14th and prepared for obnoxiousness and a time suck. I received neither. Instead of the emos I had back in the spring, this new visit revealed a chatty, smart-assed Frenchman who engaged my group, took our orders quickly, gave suggestions, and was helpful. The simple fact that he wasn't rude was all I needed. The rest was gravy. This time, I gladly ordered a prosciutto and mozzarella over-sized sandwich (hold the mayo) with the famous vinaigrette, lots of those tart little pickles, enough veggies to sooth the most rabid of vegans, and layers after layer of salty, silky prosciutto coddled by clouds of wet cheese. This was a sandwich worth waiting for... and I didn't even wait that long for it. In fact, I was in a group of four. We all ordered sandwiches and smoothies (I got the Sunset with raspberries, mango, orange, and papaya) and got out there in 15 minutes. I'm going to chalk up my initial visit as an aberration and proceed with caution... but i think LS just may be alright.
Unbelievably awesome. Overwhelming. ...Wow...
I don't understand how anyone could have a differing view of Marlins Park. Forgetting the success of the current team. Forgetting the drama of the tax situation. Forgetting all of that... the Park is a modern marvel, a city in and unto itself. It respects the city of Miami, past, present and future, as well as provides for an incredible venue to watch a game, see a show or have an event. MP is the real deal, Holyfield (and even the [redacted] and [redacted] know how I feel).
Coming from someone who's closest baseball stadium for the past eight years was a rotting husk of yuppie dereliction, I'm always amazed by the structural usefulness of MP. First of all, it's mammoth. It could house (almost) a tenth of the city. Think about that. And, then, think about the fact that it's air conditioned. Yes, the brilliance of a/c while watching a baseball game with 360 degree views of the city. How can one complain about that? On the days where the sun isn't trying to kill us, the roof retracts and you're in an open-air stadium. Crazy.
You know what else is crazy? The food. At MP, no longer do you have to rely on footlongs and beer to get you through a long game. Nope. Here, you've got lobster rolls, shrimp burgers, tacos, tostones, media noches, nachos, chicharrones, pescado frito, and more food options than Homer Simpson could eat. It's incredible. And, yes: some of these items are a little pricey. But here's the thing: it's MLB. Long gone are the days of penny candies and nickel sodas. Isht is expensive and if you don't know that before coming to the Park... wel, now you know. It doesn't make sense to go to a steakhouse and complain about all the beef. If you come to a ballpark, know that things are expensive and that, especially, includes food. Do I wish it were that way? Of course not. Am I aware that it is? Yep. You should be too.
Back to the venue. It's a CLEAN marvel of modern event space. From the fantastically high ceiling, to the monster that finds Gloria Estefan's rhythm whenever there's a home run, to the curated art pieces, to the fragments of Orange Bowl memorabilia, to the luxury box lounges and private meeting spaces, to the fact that THERE'S NOT A BAD SEAT IN THE PARK, the architects behind MP obviously put a lot of time, effort, planning and energy behind it and in a city where many people can legitimately complain about things behind done half-@ssed on a regular basis, it's nice to know that MP was completed with an entire @ss in mind. I like whole @sses, don't you?
Food? Here? Why? Oh, young grasshopper, this is South Beach. You're not here to eat. You're here to see, be seen, drink, and get that money!!! I have no idea what Juvia's like as a restaurant and I don't think I am in any rush to do so. Juvia and I have a good thing going on and I'm not going to ruin that with a bunch of talk. Y'see, Juvia's a place to come, get a little spiffied up, drink some sexy drinks, marvel at views of both the beach and the city, and ogle some seriously good looking people. This is the recipe for a good evening at Juvia. Notice how food is not a part of this recipe?
Let me back up.
Come here dressed like a grown-up. Leave the t-shirt, shorts and flip flops at home. Put on a fitted shirt, some stylish jeans and versatile black shoes. Have some confidence. Breeze past the hostesses because you don't want a table; you're going straight for the bar. Arrive at the bar. Push past the HCH sitting at the bar waiting for some mark to buy them a drink and the marks who are sitting there nursing a bevvie in hopes that a HCH talks to them. Make eye contact with the bartender. Get a menu. Peruse the drink selections. Order something yellow or purple. Do it. I'm serious. The Purple Rain piqued my interest but there was no way I would pay double digits for chicha morada. Juvia Lemonade was another contender, as boozy lemonade is always a good call, but the tumbler glass wasn't appropriate for the occasion. After some thought, I had it: Pineapple Martini. Again, it's South Beach. Go for the fruity drink. Do it. Island fruit martini in hand, make your way out to the terrace. Here, you have two choices: go straight to the railing and strike a pose or flock to the back, long table by the wall. In either case, you're now in the perfect place to sip, talk, gaze at two jaw-dropping views, ogle culo, laugh at foolish expenditures of cash for same, and really feel a part of the scene you were looking for. And let's not pretend that this isn't the exact reason for which you came here. Come on.
I suppose there are simple truths one must accept when deciding to dine at an extremely popular establishment: it will be crowded, service mileage will vary, the prices will hurt a bit, it.will.be.crowded. But, if you breathe deeply, exhale and acknowledge that all these truths are self-evident, then possibly -- maybe -- you can have a good experience.
I had a good experience.
I did my research. I planned on coming to Michael's with an out-of-town guest for Sunday brunch. This was full steam ahead, you-know-what-you're-getting-into. Despite having a reservation and arriving before said reservation, the hostess greeted us with a lovely mix of confusion, annoyance and flippancy. Oh boy. This is going to be fun. Assuming that Florida is a three strikes state, I reserved my impulse to 'bless' her and, simply, turned to my friend, smiled and waited. After, about, six minutes we were seated. We requested an inside table because it looked like rain. We sat and... wow. That's tight. As much as I joke about being chunky but funky, I'm actually a trim fellow. I barely fit in the seat. Our table was child sized and I wondered how we would fit more than three plates on it. After a short while, our waitress came by. She had a perfunctory smile and that was good enough for me (even though we received other tables' orders and did not receive ours for time on end). I ordered a Cabarete, received it, sipped the St. Germain, watermelon and sparkling wine concoction, leaned back, and exhaled.
All things equal to the savory side of the kitchen, I knew that my main objective was to eat everything the Hedy Goldsmith thought about that morning. Hmm, I may have been lying about the 'trim' thing. So, in an effort to get to the sweet portion of the brunch meal, we ordered a breakfast pizza, pate and the double yolk egg. The bacon, egg, jack cheese, and onion pizza was tasty but didn't rock my socks. That duty was left to the egg -- whose gruyere, tomato and chive mix couldn't be sopped up quickly enough by the bread. This is a winner, folks. My friend and I nearly fought over it. Luckily for me, she doesn't like tomatoes. The pate, again, was nice but nothing I hadn't had before. Truthfully, I bunted on the savory because I was bringing my 1972 Miami Dolphins game to the sweet portion of brunch. #believe
Pop Tart: I was, like, $%*&%#^. Sorry. I meant to write ^**)(^%&*I. Uff da. I can't put into words what this pop tart is/was. It called me, maybe. It was the wind beneath my wings. It hit me, baby, one more time and a time after it. I simply couldn't believe what was happening. It's as though I stepped outside myself to witness me eating this treasured piece of Heaven... but then I ran back inside myself so that I didn't miss a single morsel of perfection. If you have even thought about eating something sweet, you have to have this. It doesn't matter the flavor. Eat it. And, don't share unless you have to;
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes: With berry compote, the combo of sweet and tart in pancake form never goes out of style. My friend and I were big fans of shared lemon ricotta pancakes back in Chicago and these fit the bill nicely;
Donut: Peaches.And.Cream. Tears. Crying. Joy. Confession. Twirls. Skips. Jumps;
Snickers bar: We ended the meal with a homemade Snickers bar made from the brilliant mind of Hedy Goldsmith. This was the sweets version of dropping the mutha-f'in' mike and walking off the stage.
For the above reasons, true believers, this is why you will put up with crowds, flaky service, tight fits, and other first-world problems. You will put up with it again and again and again. I know I will.
Can you hear it whispering our your name, begging you to come inject your belly full of delicious calories? If you can't, turn up the hearing aid, grandpa. This is Azucar and it won't be denied.
If you live in Miami, you need to come here. Not only does it reside on Calle Ocho in Little Havana... not only is it a new(ish) city icon... not only does it boast local flavor like Abuela Maria and Mamey... it's uniquely Miami. It's family-run. It's local. Highlighting places like Azucar is why you're on a site like Yelp in the first place: you want to connect to uniquely local businesses... and, in this one, you've got a winner.
First off, I was pleased to see child labor. No, I'm not an advocate of sweat shops but I love seeing the little ones in the family pitching in to support the business. It's important. It teaches responsibility, work ethic and professionalism. Teach the kids now and lessen the chances of stupid stuff happening in the future. I approve. Secondly, chocolate-coated waffle cones. How do you top that? You don't; you fill it. You fill it with cafe con leche (with chunks of oreo cookie), roasted marshmallow s'mores and crazy peanut ice cream. Yes. Yes. Done. Well, not really. There's still the matter of price. Listen to me now and believe me later: 3 scoops cost me, about, 5 bucks. Where can you find prices like this -- especially when it comes with significant quality? This is premium ice cream with fun, unique flavors that will make you smile. It will make your friends smile. It will make their babies smile (true story). And, who doesn't like looking at smiling babies? No one, that's who (well, monsters... but who likes monsters?).
The brightly-colored shop matches well with the nice people standing behind the counter. Everyone with whom I dealt was friendly and helpful. More than anything else, I left here with a smile on my face and just feeling *good.* Maybe it's the ice cream. Maybe it's the people. Or, maybe, it's the magic of Azucar. Check it out for yourself.
I'm officially a Miamian now. I pay in cash. I have significant road rage. I'm late. I get my car fixed in parking lots by 'a guy.' And, now, I've been to El Carnal in the middle of the night to eat Mexican food and sit on the street.
My story to get here began, as I suspect, many tales that end at El Carnal 2 does: productive work day, a text to join some folks for a couple of beers, a couple turns into [my mom may be reading this], speech starts to slur, bars are hopped, bad decisions are made, kidnappings from Rony Romances occur, food trucks in sketchy parts of town are visited, passion fruit juice at said truck is demanded, and before you know it, you're standing inside a taquiera on Calle Ocho, contemplating all manner of food and looking at foreign currency that you had no idea existed.
Are you still in the States?
Check yo'se'f, f00l: you've been kidnapped by one of the greats. Eat your food and beg to be driven home at some time in the coming weeks. Knowing that resistance was futile, I ordered a beer (why not?) and a chorizo huarache with cheese and green sauce. While not as life-changing as the huaraches I ate to the point of stomach ache back in Chicago, this Miami version was quite tasty. But, really. When are onions, pork, cheese, and salsa not a winning combo. I would have preferred a bit more depth to the corn base but, at that time, I also would have preferred to be in my bed. Neither was happening any time soon. I also took advantage of the other salsas and tried to change up every bite with a different one. I kept, though, coming back to the green. Since you're kidnapped and at the will of your captor, play along and shoot the breeze with other kidnapped/kidnappers. These are salt (or, drunks) of the earth. Case in point: one kidnapped/kidnappee screached to see a foot-long roach ambling about the street, poised to attack someone. I went still in an effort to utilize my chameleon-like abilities to blend in and, hopefully, be spared. One of the kidnappers, taco in hand, kicked it (because it was large enough to be kicked) into the sewer and kept on eating. This, ladies and gents, is my new home.
Is a LeBron jersey next?
Stop the presses! There's a dive bar I actually like? Well, yes and no.
Yes: The place has history. In such a relatively young city that tends not to give a lot of credence to its past (at least with respect to architecture), it's nice to see that the old girl is still alive and kicking. And like most people of a certain age, she doesn't give a damn and says what she wants. It's to be expected. In any event, as a resident you owe it to yourself and the city to come to the 'Road and pay homage. Businesses come and go like traffic lights change from red to green. Buildings get abandoned like Kim Kardashian runs away from husbands without high Q ratings and credit scores. TR has avoided both of these fates. That's respect.
No: Valet. A dive bar has valet parking. Oh, Miami.
Yes: Beer. Don't come here expecting the latest in seasonal craft varietals (heck, don't go to a lot of Miami bars expecting that). But, paying attention to the walls around you and people bumping into you, expect cold, cheap beer and get it from the bottle. This ain't a 'pour it in a glass' type of spot. You want a draft? Sit by the window.
No: It sort of cracks me up to see people take umbrage with the food and cocktail selection here. Where do you think you are? With that said, I'll pass on the food offerings. I have it on good authority that the grub is pretty tasty but I don't come to dive bars to eat. I come because I want to hang with friends who like dive bars, drink cheap beer, give people side eyes, and refrain from sitting on anything that isn't metal or wood. Shocked that you can't order your favorite handmade 30-minute cocktail? [redacted because that's just not nice, mister] Come come, now.
Yes: The characters. Off-season Santa (awesome name, Glenn) is someone you need to meet. Whether you annoy him or stay below the radar, he's someone you need to know exist -- just like that pesky Virginia who kept bellyaching about meeting the man with the bag so she could get her presents on. Also -- something VERY cool about TR -- you really should take advantage of their music program. If you close your eyes and concentrate solely on the humidity and music, you might think you're in pre-Katrina New Orleans and that's a good thing.
No: (At times) The fratty crowd -- but I'm sure people say that about me. It's a melting pot. Blend in.
So, 3.5 but I rounded up. Longevity (especially, here) counts. It's like a pig with personality.
I'm glad I didn't read the reviews of the Seas before coming here. Either that, or this dive karaoke bar has gotten a wee touch cleaner. I've had traumatic experiences in dive karaoke bars before (search my reviews, keywords 'microphone touched my lips'; I still have flashbacks) and had I known that this place was as dirty as reported, I never would have step foot in it. But, each time I've been, the lights have been down way low, the ceiling hasn't caved in on me, no patch of mold has walked over to engage me in conversation, and I haven't had a Trainspotting moment in the bathroom.
Until and unless these things happen, I will continue to come here on Tuesdays to be a stah, mock those who aren't, make sure the microphone never touches my lips, drink cold beer, and watch out for celeb yelpers getting approached by angry girlfriends because, surely, those giggly boys you keep meeting in the bathroom have not-so-giggly ladies waiting for them in the main room. I ain't sayin'. I'm just sayin'. But, perhaps, such is the power of a place like the Seas. It brings people together. It turns radiant stars into superstars (me). It turns train wrecks into hot messes (most everyone else). It turns heretics into political pundits (in the backroom). It turns runners into smokers (thanks to the backyard courtyard). It turns 'straight' guys into giggling [redacted] who cruise bathrooms. It turns yelpers into dive bar lotharios. It celebrates that "all [you] want for [your] birthday is a big-bootied 'ho." It might be so dirty as to send intrepid reviewers into fainting spells had he'd known about it previously. It might -- just, maybe -- be magic... on Tuesday nights only.
After spending an afternoon here, I totally get why Alice was all, "Whatever, Queen of Hearts. I do what I want! I don't care that I busted into your happy home. This isht here is the hotness and I'm taking over!"
Was Alice a pilgrim? #themoreyouknow
In any event, if FTBG doesn't make you twirl around like Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands, you're doing it wrong. Magnificent. Overwhelming. Captivating. I know a lot of people tend to come here with someone else. I would recommend coming by yourself or, at least, walking the trails by yourself. There's so much to see, ponder, photograph, and experience, I think it makes the most sense to do it at your own pace and have an authentic (to you) experience without having anyone else to chime in. We're much too plugged in, accessible and busy. I happily turned my phone off as soon as I walked into the gardens. Enjoy the silence. Peace, be still.
While entrance is, understandably, expensive, the gardens do offer many free days (please consider a donation if attending during one of them; as my former sugar mama discovered, beauty ain't cheap!) so there's less of an excuse to not indulge in a day of fancy and whimsy in the Gables. While here, I like to pretend that I am touring the grounds of my tropical estate. One day (after I have crushed all with my iron fist), I shall do just that. But, for now, I will simply get some practice in at FTBG. I'm in decent enough shape that I didn't have to take the tram tour. If you can walk, I recommend doing so. You miss a lot when you zoom past things. The tram can't go up all the walkways, nor can it enter the lush denseness of the rain forest. If you've already committed to coming here and are physically able, you owe it to yourself to investigate everything. I promise you'll be transported to a world that will make you question the proximity of go-go dancers, bottle service and rampant dog poop. Whilst walking around Center Lake (be sure to take a map and explore the waterways; I found them as exciting as the plant life) and looking at the Jewels of the Caribbean installation, I had to question whether or not I was still in Miami-Dade. It's just so... unlike so much of the area.
Uplifting. Thrilling. Gorgeous. Swoon-worthy. Words cannot adequately describe what only the eyes can take in. Refill your soul and spend a day surrounded by lush beauty from around the world. It's the recharge you didn't know you needed.
Not being a native, I'm going to go with 4 stars for Sun Life (*ducks*) Stadium. I didn't know it as Joe Robbie but, of course, I watched it on TV as JR. I mean, I've seen grainy YouTube clips of it as JR Stadium -- as I am only 21 years old. I have no recollection of things that far in the past.
I can only imagine the aggravation of growing up with this aging monolith as the go-to venue for the majority of sporting needs in the city. I get that it would be annoying. But, to consider the perspective of someone who grew up outside the city -- it's iconic. It's not the Orange Bowl (nothing will ever be) but it is this gigantic spaceship in the middle of nowhere. It's its own field of dreams. Making the 3-hour tour to first come out to the stadium, I was pretty excited. I was going to see the Miami Dolphins play football in Joe Robbie... I mean, Sun Life (*ducks*) Stadium. Even the fairest weather of sports fans has to get a little psyched about that.
Yes, parking is straight from the depths of hell. It's impossible to find your car after games (visible markers... please, look into them; add to that order plentiful lot lighting), the people directing traffic would sooner check their Facebook status than help you and the $20 minimum (I've paid much more) is enraging. But, it is what it is, I suppose. And, at the end of the day, you're in the middle of nowhere. They've got you. There aren't rows of houses willing to make a deal wrt parking like in Little Havana.
Also direct from Lucifer: the food/beer prices. Goodness. I walked the length (more on this) of the stadium in search of a sandwich and beer that wouldn't force me to shake it at Twist in order to make my rent for the month (and let's be honest; if I were shaking it for a living, I would be living in a penthouse South of Fifth; hel-lo!). These prices are criminal -- even in the world of professional sports stadiums. But, what are you going to do? You're in the middle of nowhere. You might also feel like you're on a road to nowhere when looking to find your seat. This stadium is big and I have yet to park at all near where my seats are, despite asking for help from the traffic directors to guide me. I think one needs to be a marathon runner to have enough endurance to make it to/from the lot to the seats. Speaking of seats, be prepared to throw down, Game Of Thrones-style, for your seat. Things like tickets and assigned seating (especially when blessed with good seats) mean little to the denizens that populate Sun Life (*ducks*) Stadium. Luckily, I am well-heeled in the art of seat warfare.
"These are a lot of complaints. You _like_ this place?" Yes, yes I do. Watching a game in the open air is pretty exhilarating and while the engineering prevents the sound wall found at other stadiums, Sun Life (*ducks*) has a secret weapon: the Dolphins cheerleaders. I tried my hardest to not be _that guy_. Really, I did. But O.M.G. I was transfixed. I have no idea who the Dolphins played or what happened (other than they lost). Those angels of the gridiron had me completely transfixed. The start/stop nature of football -- while usually an annoyance -- was a welcome highlight of the night because it meant that they were coming to the field to drop, pop, lock, wiggle, jiggle, puppies, SUVs, American eagles, fireworks, freedom fries, God Bless The USA... sorry. I got caught up. Honestly, I don't even remember what I was talking about. Ohh, pom-poms. I'm a fan.
Lunch, people. Lunch. I see a lot of inconsistency/complaints about brunch, happy hour, etc. Avoid all that drama by stopping by around 12:30 on a Tuesday and going to town on the lunch menu. Odds are, there won't be many people in the restaurant so you can get attentive service in the back room (which resembles one of the many parlors I will one day have in Chateau Johnree). You can order something savory that's not egg-based and end the meal with something sweet that's not a pancake. And, most importantly, you can actually enjoy your meal and experience at this Coconut Grove staple.
As one might surmise, I came for lunch on a Tuesday afternoon and sat my perky (I really should have a workout tape) nalgas on a velour throne and proceeded to pretend to listen to my lunch mate but, in reality, I just stared at myself in the adjacent mirror. Sounds perfect, right? It gets better. Our waiter was friendly and a little goofy. He tried a bit too hard but his heart was entirely in the right place. In the nearly year since I moved to Miami, I have experienced more d@amn-now-I-have-to-CUT-you service than I have in my entire life. If a waiter wants to crack wise and do his best to make my dining experience a pleasant one? Go for it. Unfortunately, he's in the minority.
Jokes cracked, buttocks rested, Arnold Palmer ordered (the best lunch time beverage) and reflection looked at, it was time to decide on food. Let me let you in on a secret: for lunch, go light savory and end light sweet. It's not 'plastics' but I promise you the advice will take you far. Listening to my own advice, I opted for the grilled chicken sandwich. It was of a fairly-large size and came adorned with honey mustard, bacon and swiss cheese. Instead of fries, I chose a side of black beans to go with the sandwich. BAM! I win. I always win. Not only was the meal big enough to sate my appetite, it tasted great, was meal-time appropriate (there's an etiquette to eating) and made me consider the next time I would come to GS to have it again. But, that's not where the story ends. You have to end on a light sweet note, remember? Good. Now, remember this: lemon ricotta donuts with blackberry dipping sauce.
If I have to say anything else after that last sentence, you're not listening or trying very hard. Crazy. Good. Share because you're in public but don't really share by eating the majority of the donuts before your friend can. Sorry, friend. And, that's how you win at eating at GS.
Are you looking at my bum?
When I traveled to Brasil, I was extremely excited to do so. My only real hesitation was the travel. You see, I was a fan of Lost and while it was terrific TV, it also gave me pretty terrible travel anxiety -- especially over long distances/bodies of water. And for full disclosure: Jack was a f00l for going back. Once I hit land in LA, I would have been, like, "Kate, who? Oh, you *want* me to voluntarily return to an island full of craziness, time jumps, things & people of all sort who want to kill me, and a flying smoke monster? Um, no."
So as it happened, I found myself on Miami's version of the Lost island. Thankfully, travel to and from is quite easy. All one needs is a boat. In all my time of flying up and down the various causeways to/from the Beach, I'd never once noticed Monument Island -- which is odd, considering it has a giant obelisk (not a basilisk; that would be very very bad... but also very Lost-like) in the middle of it. The island is man-made, deserted and very quiet. It could be a good way to spend a quiet afternoon of sunbathing, lunching and splashing around. From the looks of all the trash all over the island (seriously, people? You can't clean up after yourselves? For shame.), I'm not the first person to roam the lands and, I hope, I won't be the last. Take some time to wander the grounds and see the obelisk for yourself. Again, it is something out of Lost but it's also so cool that a structure so random and ill-placed has found a home in Miami for so long. It gives the area mystery, presence and character -- even though I would never, never, ever, Taylor Swift, never, ever come here at night or at any time after mid-afternoon. Bad things happen at deserted places at night. I've seen the movies.
It's pretty amazing how much one can see once he opens his eyes. Open your eyes. Explore your city.
I know this review is timely but I'm no bandwagoner: I've been a fan of The Clevelander for a while. Yes, it's on Ocean. Yes, it's a scene. Yes, it can be filled with loud out-of-towners making bad decisions. But... it's on Ocean (with a view of the beach). It's a scene (you're in Miami, [redacted]!). It's filled with out-of-towners making bad decisions (whether you want to observe or join in, it's a party).
While The Clevelander is known for its late night carousing, sports-love, C-level balconies, fruity frozen drinks, karaoke, and semi-naked servers, there's more to this Sobe icon. Namely, the location. Don't believe me? Come here on a lazy Friday afternoon in the fall. Order a frozen beverage (forget the beer cred; you're at The Clevelander and you should give in to the entire experience). Sit at a table facing east. Feel the breeze. Look at the beach. Look at the beachgoers. Sip your beverage. Recognize that this is your life. Not so bad, eh?
I can imagine that late at night it's a different story and, indeed, I've been here late at night when TC is packed to the gills, there's a cover to get in and the likelihood of getting spilled on is high. That's no fun. Anywhere. But, besides watching the drama of drunken cryfests/hook ups/bad dancing at 2 in the morning, I remind myself that I can steal away during the day time for a tasty sandwich and fries and take my time taking in the sun, fun and scene of one of Ocean's most tolerable entities for locals (you know what I'm talking about). It's almost Friday. Where are you spending your late lunch?
I don't know what took me so long. For some reason, I had it in my head that Joe's was a chain (and not a Miami Beach institution). For some reason, I had it in my head that I could delay eating here and that stone crabs weren't *all that.* I mean, after all, who hasn't had crab before?
I was so so wrong. After an evening that left me covered in sauce, shell, crab bits, peach syrup, panko crumbs, and pecans, I howled to the heavens for being so foolish as to have delayed turning my B's to C's and eating like a man on death row. Was that crass? I don't know. I can't tell. All I can think about is my feast at Joe's Take Away and how it's not fair that I have to wait so long to do it again.
After lamenting for the [redacted]th time about not having anywhere to go eat and plump my lumps, my buddy had had enough and insisted on going to Joe's Take Away. "Isn't that place really expensive? Plus, I'm feeling lazy and don't want to dress up."
"There's a more affordable take away spot next door and you don't have to dress up for it."
We walked in and I, immediately, took in the 360 view... of food! If you're a fatty (like me) you won't know where to start first. There's so much to choose from and so much to eat/see/do. I was overwhelmed. I knew that I had to get some stone crabs. Even though I didn't know what the big deal was, I figured when in Rome... I ordered a medium order... for myself... and felt no shame. I wasn't done. I also ordered fried green tomatoes, PEACH Nehi (five stars for this alone) in a BOTTLE (it can't be!), and a slab of chocolate pecan pie. The guys behind the counter didn't even bat an eye. They'd seen my kind before. Are you ready? You aren't ready. I wasn't ready... but I did (food) battle like a soldier.
First of all, can I get a what what for the bread? Soft brown bread with onion inside made me all tingly. It was a sign of things to come. Not wanting to rush the main event, I started with the tomatoes. Whomever's big mama was trapped in the back and had to make these, I salute both of your sacrifices. The tomatoes was perfectly breaded, hot, crisp, plentiful, and when paired with the roquefort sauce... O.M.G. Mamas are getting slapped all over South Beach. I-can't-believe-it's-so-good. And that was only the vegetable. Now, had I known how stone crab meat was procured before I went all Daryl-Hannah-In-Splash, I would have had some reservations about eating them. But, in this case, ignorance is delicious bliss... and when combined with mustard and butter sauce... it's I-must-eat-this-for-the-rest-of-my-life bliss. The meat was succulent, flaky, rich, and flavorful. Yes, you may have had crab before but if you've never had stone crab, it's an entirely different experience. You want this. Trust. As I broke shell after shell in search of sweet sweet meat, I washed it all down with gulps of the nectar of southern gods - Nehi. While Blue Cream is the Zeus of the carbonated pantheon, Peach is right up there. And this peach was made with sugar and served in a bottle.
I couldn't have been happier -- until I tore into that chocolate pecan pie. I'm a bad Kentuckian for not enjoying Derby Pie until I was well into my adult years. What's Derby Pie? (Basically) chocolate pecan pie (with bourbon). Knowing my mistake and resting on the southern goodness of what I'd just eaten, I trusted that I was making a good choice in ordering the baked delight. I must have blacked out. I came to and my teeth were black with chocolate, I had crust all over my hands and my buddy said that he could never look at me the same way again.
That's a successful night. When's stone crab season start up again?
Coffee. Come here for coffee. Cafe con leche. Cafe Cubano. Cortadito. Whatever. Just expect it to be small, a little more money than you're expecting to spend and order from the window. But it'll taste decent.
If you're coming here for food, abandon all hope. It's a bit shameful that a SoBe institution such as David's is half-@ssing it. With all of the Cuban eateries (and people) in Miami, there's no excuse. I suppose as long as there are drunk tourists, though, prime location and late hours will always get the bills paid. If you live in Miami Beach, however...
I came here one Sunday night* in search of a quick sandwich because I didn't feel like eating the food in my house. First-world problems, all the way; I know. I rolled up to the window and placed my order -- a media noche and yuca fritas. I thought the take-out window would be the way to go but judging by the rolled eyes and heavy sighs I encountered, perhaps I was mistaken. 40 minutes (yes, FORTY) and $13.85 later, I had my food. Opening the container to make sure I had the right stuff, I noticed I had eight (8) fries. I paid $.50 a fry. What the what? The media noche was alright but certainly not worth the wait or the money. There are too many choices for Cuban food late(r) at night on the beach. DCCC, I've learned my lesson... the hard way.
*In all fairness, I was also here one night after spying the heartbreaker from my 11 Street Diner review. Unfortunately for me, David's is all windows and attempting to hide behind a large bush while attempting to peek inside only works in cartoons.
I have long been entranced by city parks. I think it's because I learned to swim, ride my bike and drive all at city parks. The idea of communal urban green space has always resonated with me. I love it. Oftentimes, as well, I find parks to be centerpieces of neighborhoods; anchors of urban exploration that do much to reveal the soul of an area or community.
Such as it is with Maximo Gomez 'Domino' Park.
I knew when I moved to Miami, there were a few things I needed to do: have a Cuban sandwich, smoke a Cuban cigar, hit the beach, shake it on Ocean Drive, yell at strangers in Spanish, enjoy a coffee at 3:05, and come to the park to watch the old men play dominos and yell at each other. There's not much (any?) green space to speak of. The park is a cultural institution that allows tourists to gawk and abuelos to do their thing. That's pretty much it... and it's entirely worth experiencing.
The space is pretty tight and there's not much to it so come in with a plan. If you walk around to gawk and take up real estate, prepare to be yelled at (or, at least, given a good glower). One aspect of the park I really enjoyed was the mural with all the heads of state of various Latin American countries. Despite being at the park with latinos who looked like me (complexion, etc.) there was little representation of that pigmentation on the wall. It's interesting that countries that have so much color are governed by, well, I don't need to spell it out.
It was an interesting observation (especially given the park's named after a revolutionary who inspired ALL Cubans against a common enemy - the Spanish).
Enjoy the park as resident or tourist and gain a sense of Miami (or, old Cuba) that doesn't translate that well to book or video. Cross it off your bucket list or go to spend time playing a game I still don't understand no matter how many times the rules are explained to me. Just don't stand in the way.
No ma'am. No sir.
My buddy had told me *for months* that I had to eat here... that I wasn't truly a Miamian without having a late night meal here. Okay. Let's try it. Well... the first time I walked through the door, the place reeked of hot garbage. I'm not kidding. It upset my stomach. I'm guessing that someone had mopped with old/unclean water and that action combined with Miami heat/humidity equaled a dining experience that made you want to do anything but eat. We left and my buddy admitted his folly.
Fast forward months later and I'd had a good, active Saturday. It was getting late and I was hungry, so I decided to roll the dice. I let my buddy know I was up for giving Big Pink a try again. He thought I was kidding but I assured him I was serious. We arrived and the place was packed. No sweat. It's to be expected. I put our names down and wait in queue with everyone else. About twenty minutes into our wait two guys waltz in, kiss the hostess and grab a booth -- not a two top. A booth. Without waiting. When there's a line.
Not having it, I take my turn to waltz up to the hostess and [explain why what just happened was an unfortunate thing to do to a queue of waiting customers].* Three minutes later, we have a two top. Nope. Not good enough. I.want.a.booth. Usually, I wouldn't have been so adamant but I was incredulous about what just happened. Butt in seat, we ordered some beers and nachos. Beer and nachos are always a good combo and these were decent. A bit salty, but decent. Feeling better about how the evening was going, I prepare for the main dish: the turkey burger. I mean, who can screw up a burger, right?
Big Pink can screw up a burger. I was served a mealy slab of salt. The consistency of the patty was... unpleasant. It was mushy, despite having a crispy crust. The overwhelming flavor, despite the vegetables and condiments, was salt. Not only was it unenjoyable to eat, it was physically hard to eat given its size and mass. Unfortunately, given the first impression I had, the egregious line situation, overuse of salt, and mealy gummy mess that should have been a turkey burger patty, I can't recommend eating at Big Pink.
I don't get it.
*I'm not crazy. That convo will not be committed to print.
I was a bit disappointed that I didn't meet AC when I finally made my way to this fabled truck. As an aspiring mean old man, I wanted to get some pointers.* Instead, I got a ginormous cup of icee cherry lemonade perfection. I'll take it!
Spending my youth in Kentucky, I became quite familiar with carny-fare. The state fair was an event we waited all year for. Not because of the cows and chickens (and the horrible smells that came with). No. All Kentuckians are not straight out of District 12. We waited for the rides and food. Tiger Ears. Elephant Ears. Corn dogs. FROZEN LEMONADE. I am a frozen lemonade connoisseur from way back in the day. I have gulped it to the delight of my belly and the fright of my belly for many many years.** To make a perfect frozen lemonade, said drink must be appropriately sweet and tart, generous in portion, icee enough to keep the correct slushy texture, and cold enough that it stays enjoyable enough to sip/spoon it rather than slam it.***
AC's passes each test with flying colors -- and ups the ante with a different flavor. Vas ist? Cherry? Ohhh, adding cherry icee to lemonade... you got your chocolate in my peanut butter. Me gusta. Unless you're a purist of the sad sort, there's no reason NOT to blend flavors. You get two for the price of one and each flavor is properly apportioned (and flavored) that you get three distinct tastes depending on your sip/scoop: lemonade, cherry and cherry lemonade.
Refreshing. Addicting. And, with 345 days of summer in Miami, there's hardly ever a bad day to venture down to the Grove for a cup. There ain't nothing wrong with that.
*The young man working that day was exceedingly pleasant.
**Which is amazing, since I am only 22.
***You don't slam an icee. Brain freeze is for amateurs.
I didn't eat here. Whaat? I know. But, I wasn't in the mood to throw down later at night... plus, it was packed (which isn't unusual). So, what's a fellow to do? Get a cortadito.
The coffee was as good as you might think. In fact, I am not a fan of coffee and I enjoyed every sip. What wasn't so enjoyable was how out of place I felt at Versailles. I get that it's a Miami institution. I get that it's popular. I get that generations of the same families have been coming here for years. I get all that. But I felt so genuinely ill at ease. I didn't feel welcomed at all. I have dined at all sorts of ethnic eateries and felt as though I felt right in. Here, I felt like an outsider and as though I wasn't really valued as a customer. The service was dismissive. I had to wait quite a bit to even get served at the counter. Despite trying to make conversation, I didn't get so much as a smile in return. Eh. It is what it is.
Thanks for the coffee.
Okay, then. Checked off the list and done. I don't know why I resisted hanging with Dirty Purdy for so long. Well, actually I do. Crowds make me itch and I don't do dirt very well. Tales of the happenings of Purdy Lounge didn't appeal to my grown & sexy self.
But, I suppose you can only live on/in (I never get that right) South Beach for so long without being drawn into the black hole that is Purdy Lounge. I'm pleased to say that not only did I survive the experience but that it wasn't so bad. The cover doesn't exist, the music is good, the people are chill (until a certain hour and then the hordes that make sure we can't have anything nice™ descend on to the lounge and it all goes to Texas). Admittedly, while I am not one for dive-y environments, playing pool whilst drinking some sort of well beverage, people watching and, occasionally, drop pop popping to the beat... it's not so bad. Purdy is most certainly a party and you have to respect that it's stayed in the game for as long as it has without changing what it is. In(/on? why can't I get this right?) South Beach, that's a huge accomplishment. I can appreciate that. Recognize.
I haven't stayed here. That out of the way, I've been to the FB for their pool, for their gym and, many times, for their events. I've always been impressed with the grandeur of it all. If you're coming to Miami Beach, you have to factor some part of your stay at the Fontainebleau.
Not that the FB needs any more adoration. As Miami icons go, the FB is it. Laden with restaurants and clubs a'plenty, for me, the FB is a nighttime experience and/or a daytime luxury. At night, walk into the main lobby and look up. Odds are you're there for some big gala to-do and you're probably running late. Be a few more minutes late and look up. Listen. Look around you. Life is teeming in this lobby. Sounds, sights, beauty, and ridiculousness of all sorts surround you. In no other moment will you be caught up in such a microcosm of the decadence that is Miami Beach. This part was for the tourists.
This is for the locals. Come during the day. As terrifying as it might be to visit the pool area what with it's nonstop pulsating and grinding, it's a gorgeous site to behold and every Miami resident needs to slink on to those pool chairs at least once. Come with the family, your SO or alone and take it the beauty of the place where so many others spend mucho dinero to visit. You live here. Take advantage of it, Also take advantage of the gym. It's not what's in the gym that makes it a must, it's what's outside of it. If you can't find motivation to work on your fitness by looking out of those windows at the bodies below... then you're doing it wrong.
Whether you come by day or by night, come to the Fontainebleau. It's just the kind of Miami everyone needs a taste of -- tourist and local.
Miami may not have the history* of other big cities but when visiting a site like the Deering Estate at Cutler, it's hard to make that argument. With a home and view that would have fit in perfectly with The Great Gatsby, the mansion and grounds allow you to daydream of a time long since past.
First off, take note of the various festivals and promotions that take place here. If you time it right, you can even visit free of charge. I know that's the magic phrase in the 305. So, research and make your wallet happy. From there, there are three distinct ways in which to enjoy the site: the mansion, the grounds, the water.
The mansion. This is the way to live -- no unsightly white cubes. No neon lighting. There's 'just' beautiful Spanish tile, ceilings, balconies, windows, drawing rooms, porches, grand staircases, clawfoot tubs, and the like. Typically, my eye isn't drawn to this style of architecture (give me a Southern Colonial any day every day) but while walking through the house, I definitely day dreamed of where I would put my things and how I would rule the land with an iron fist... until I heard whispers that that joint is haunted. Um, I'm okay. Daytime visits only.
The grounds. Strolling the green space at the Estate will truly make you feel like a person on means. The trees, the gorgeous grass, the mangrove trail, the fire pit, the majestic front lawn, and the various walking paths all demand your attention and coerce you to fall in love with nature. Not that you heard it from me, but the experience is rather romantic. Earn points, fellas.
The water. As mentioned before, I am an Earth sign. I am much more likely to wander a field and enjoy the woods than I am to spend a day on the water. A day *looking* at the water, however, is a different things altogether. Leaving Miami, I tend to forget that the shoreline extends all the way down the rest of the state. This is waterfront property at its best and laying down under a tree, legs outstretched, feeling the sun on your skin and breeze on your face isn't a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I much prefer a tranquil water scene like this to the madness of South Beach. On a clear day you can see forever and there are many many clear days at Deering Estate.
After a long day of exploring some of the gems found in the southern parts of Miami-Dade county, I'd worked up an appetite. Not as familiar with this part of town as I'd like to be, a friend suggested we hit up Joanna's. 'Isn't that a grocery store?' I said. 'It's so much more,' my friend told me. Being that she's a native and knows the city like the back of her hand, I took her word and made my way north on Dixie Hwy (yep, north; we were pretty far south). With ample parking taking the worry out of meters and credit cards, we made our way inside the grocery store with so much more.
I love places like Joanna's. Every which way you turn, there's a new nook to explore and in each nook, there's a specialty. Joanna's is a staple for a reason. It concentrates on doing things well; not being all things to all people. That said, there's a pretty high likelihood that many-to-all people could be happy with what they'd get here. Wandering around the store like a preteen with ADHD, I had a hard time making up my mind. But rather than focus on one thing, I decided to take a piece here and there to make the perfect meal. From the sandwich board, I made my own creation of curry chicken salad on rye with vegetables. From the beer cooler, I nabbed a frosty brown ale. The snack stand revealed some old bay chips i should have passed on (sour cream & onion ftw... always), and the dessert case begged me to get a slab of chocolate cake. But... what's this? After 6, baked goods are BOGO? What? WHAT???
This could be a problem.
I'm not -- in any way, shape or form -- a dive bar kind of guy. So, if dive bars are your thing, feel free to ignore everything I have to say. That said, I appreciate Mac's for being what it is and surviving as long as it has in the heart of South Beach. I imagine it can't be easy and the neighbors aren't happy but the world needs diversity and SoBe nightlife can't be all designer drugs, hookers and blow. The common (wo)man needs a place to hang out. Enter: Mac's.
Open late and packed with people & cigarette smoke, this is the place you come when everything else is closed or you just want to go out for an evening and not spend 4 hours getting ready. It has everything you'd want from a dive: smoke, dirt, crazy characters, large doormen (who are slightly pushy), non-nonsense bartender, neon art, and very limited light. This last thing is probably a good thing. My colleagues wanted to see another side of South Beach, so I brought them here and prayed that my exposed skin didn't touch anything. They raved about the cheap wells and stiff pours. I stayed with bottled beer because my lips don't touch dive bar glassware. Ever.
What can I say? I'm not a dive bar guy. If you are, by all means, hang out at Mac's and have a blast. I give the venue propers, though, for standing tall in the face of plastic surgery, rent boys, leased cars, and foreign money. If you come to South Beach, you owe it to yourself and Mac's to, at least, say you've been here. Just don't touch anything.
It took me to 2014, but I finally had a frita! When deciding where to go to try this Miami staple, where else but to the mago? I don't spend much time in the Flagami area, so I was doubly happy to have a reason to eat some good food and see a different side of Miami.
Don't come in expecting anything fancy. This is a diner. Come in. Say 'hello' (more like, 'hola'). Sit in a booth. Look at the walls. Look at the menu. Order. Make sure that order includes a frita (duh) and a jugo. It's pretty basic. Order in, El Mago started to do his thing. There's a reason why the POTUS is on the wall, smiling and satisfied. El Mago es el mago. This stuff is delicious. Being a fan of all things fresh fruit, my jugo melon was bursting with vitamins, aromatics, pulp, and the deliciousness you can only get from fresh fruit juice. I could drink a gallon of this stuff. To wait for our fritas, a couple of folks at my table enjoyed the split pea soup special of the day. Being that I've seen The Exorcist, I stayed away from the stuff and waited for my frita. I ordered mine a caballo. The egg, onion, cheese, and potato stick combo was a flavor experience of pure enjoyment. I wondered how much fat and cholesterol I just ingested but reasoned that i countered it with the jugo melon.
P.S. Click on the website and start jamming.
|No, this isn't some kinky list of perversions nor is it a list of rage. It's a list of the cold, creamy, yummy wonder known as ICE CREAM. Oh, it's so good. And, in the winter time, I can eat as much of it as I like and no one knows the shame that hides under my sweaters and dress shirts. Win win!!||Everyone deserves to have 'Snoopy dance' experiences (although I am more of a fan of the kid in the orange shirt): youtube.com/watch?v=YBPc….|
|Not Five Points -- that's an intersection.||Chicago is known for its pizza. I don't like Chicago-style pizza. I liked it before moving to Chicago but after living here for a while...not so much. It's sorta like giving up cased meats after you see how sausage is made. Here is a pizza list you can live with if, you're like me, and don't care much for gloopy gloopersons.|
|Places I go, according to my phone. I hope I don't regret this list...||I'm learning about beer. I love school.|
|It's not a big deal...right? It happens to every guy at least once...right? These are my worst reviews. Call me?||Is this really a thing?|
|Multi-location establishments and cars, you perv!||Between binging and starving, I take rest stops in regular eating. Chicago doesn't make this easy for me because it's decided that food should cost more than anything reasonable. This is not a good thing. Because man cannot live off snark alone, here's where my spirit is broken and my cash is taken.|
Nashville, TN, Vereinigte StaatenYelper seit
Februar 2008Dinge, die ich mag
my mom, deee-lite, jenna maroney, indigo girls, benny lopez, hot messes, peggy hill, joan calamezzo, 100 percent juice, the dixie chicks, when people go rogue or bbm, vacation, cooking, 30 rock, the simpsons, the mediterranean, peru, cupcakes, writing, comic booksHier bin ich häufig anzutreffen
need of good lovin'Heimatort
Louisville, KYMein Blog oder meine Website Wenn ich nicht gerade yelpe, dann ...
what is this "not yelping" of which you speak?Warum du meine Beiträge unbedingt lesen solltest
i'm pretty funny and always honest. usually.Meine zweitliebste Website Was ich zuletzt gelesen habe
'Stone Cold Bummer,' by ManipulateMein erstes Konzerterlebnis
janet jackson rn1814Mein Lieblingsfilm
the naked gun (but i like a lot of silly movies...arty ones...well, all kinds)Meine Henkersmahlzeit
what a horribly depressing questionErzähl's nicht weiter, aber...
rumour has it...Meine neueste Entdeckung
Brazilian [redacted] lives up to its reputation. Got dang!Ich schwärme gerade für