Andrew and I got a cheap tickets to Miami over Labor Day weekend. Although our flights sucked and we will probably never fly American again, we had a great time. The old lady in me loved the size of the city (not too big not too small) and how easy it was to drive around + park. The 26yr old in me loved the vibrancy of the city, the beaches and the fresh squeezed juice. I can’t wait to go back and hey, if Alaska keeps dangling that $248 round trip offer in front of my face I will probably be sitting on the beach come December.
When I started doing research on the Miami dining scene I couldn’t find much info. There were only a couple food bloggers and most of the info online seemed iffy. I learned that restaurants were either really expensive or really cheap. So I decided to nix all expensive restaurants from my list. The $$$ restaurants seemed to be more of a seen and be seen event, with over the top decor and boring menus. I never tried one so I can’t totally say whether or not it would have been worth the money but I am going to assume not. After all my research I only had a couple of places I really wanted to go, mainly cheap Cuban & Caribbean places that would require a car.
We arrived at El Palacio de los Jugos fresh off a red eye and ready to eat. It was located in the all Cuban neighborhood of Hialeah. I had no idea there were whole neighborhoods in Miami that only speak Spanish. Not really knowing how or what to order, Andrew pointed to a meat in the hot food case. I quickly found the corresponding picture and shouted the name out. We still don’t know what we ordered but it was amazing. Well actually I do know it was pork, yucca, rice and beans but I have no idea what the dish was called. It cost $8 and it would have fed family of 8. It was Andrews favorite dish of the trip and it would have been mine if I didn’t have a life changing ham and cheese sandwich.
After El Palacio de los Jugos we went to La Camaronera a fried fish sandwich joint. When we walked into the restaurant we saw people standing at one continuous counter all along the kitchen. Not really knowing what to do and once again only hearing Spanish, We went to the register where a nice man helped us get a spot and took our order. “Original Pan Con Minuta” Fried snapper sandwich SO delicious. It’s was all a fish sandwich ever needed to be a great piece of fried fish a soft bun, onions and a special sauce.
El mago de las fritas. One last stab to the gut before we boarded the plane. Cuban hamburgers, I’ve never heard of such a thing and had no idea what to expect. We ordered pan con bistec (pounded hamburger) and the cubano frita (chorizo spiked hamburger). Seriously, why wasn’t there a line out the door for this place? If it was in Seattle they would be sold out by noon. But instead no line, no curious Americans, just a couple eating on their way home from work. That’s obviously a major difference between Miami and Seattle. I guess this is a good time to announce my new money making scheme to open a swanky restaurant using all of the recipes from El Mago de las Fritas, charge $30 an entree and call myself “the God of all things Cuban”.
Ok I’ve saved the best for last. Las Olas was on my list but I had no intention of eating there because it didn’t come highly recommended. I happened to pass it on a walk and decided to stop in for breakfast. I ordered myself an empanda which was good but it left me wanting 5 more. Andrew ordered a ham & cheese. As he opened his sandwich I noticed it was cut the long way so I was immediately intrigued. He gave me a half of his skinny sandwich, I planned to take a bite and give it back but after taking the first bite I decided there was no way I was giving it back. I ate the sandwich in about 30 seconds flat. I felt a little bad especially because it was his breakfast but holy cow talk about delicious. It was simple, basic and the bread oh my god, the ham not scary, no mayo, and the cheese! And how do they keep the meat so perfectly tucked in. Seriously if I lived in Miami I would eat this sandwich every morning. For most people it would be nothing to write home about but for me a simple pleasure that is hard to perfect. Why did I have to find out about this place on my 2nd to last day! I wish I could have eaten it for every meal. Anyone know of a good ham & cheese in Seattle?
Another lesson learned: Just because 1,000 people don’t recommend a restaurant doesn’t mean it’s bad.
Ok so a little story. We had a taxi drop us off in what we thought was the Design District but looked like middle of nowhere. We crossed train tracks and a very busy intersection and ended up in the right place. There were a bunch of high end stores including Celine, Margiela, Marni and a bunch of vacant buildings. It felt a bit like Prada Marfa (totally ghost town). I know this area is not suppose to be totally full until 2014 but it’s just weird I’ll be interested to see if it last. From the Design District I figured we’d walk to Wynwood “the artsy neighborhood”. We had to walk through a pretty bad neighborhood to get there. It’s obviously that this entire area is going through some sort of gentrification. We stopped at Legitmutt, a schnauzer store to oogle over some goodies. As we started getting closer to Wynwood, we started seeing small amounts of art but really didn’t realize how much art we’d see until we got to the main area. Its pretty incredible. Miami has such a great art scene. Art covers about 90% of the buildings.
I came across a really cool plant store called, Plant the Future.