When my boyfriend and I wanted to get away from the grey and dreary December weather in Canada, we knew we needed sun, sand and great food. For all of this, Miami fit the bill perfectly. And if you’re going to Miami, you may as well go for broke and stay in South Beach!
As soon as the Miami sun hit us we could feel it melt away that nasty winter chill in our bones. It wasn’t until we arrived in South Beach though that we really had a taste of the town’s flavor. The Cuban melodies resonated through the stereos of the passing cars and the tantalizing smells wafted from the numerous restaurants sitting beachfront. As the great Will Smith once said, Welcome to Miami!
We were chomping at the bit to get our toes in the sand, but not before Room5g into our accommodation at the Freehand Miami. We loved its fantastic location – only a block from the beach – and it has a great courtyard where you can enjoy a drink beneath the palms. After a smooth check in process, we were finally ready to hit the beach! It was the perfect cure to shake the winter blues. Soft white sand, crashing blue surf and a pedestrian walkway up the shore made it an ideal spot to enjoy SoBe’s claim to fame.
Food and Culture
South Beach, despite the name, offers much more than sand and water! Its famous and immense variety of Art Deco buildings, and the great restaurant scene played a large part in our decision to visit the city.
Being but humble tourists we thought it best to take advantage of one of the many food tours offered in the area, with Miami Culinary Tours. We strolled along some of the city’s famous streets such as Washington Ave and Ocean Drive. We lunched on some amazing fresh churros from Manolo, a tangy seafood ceviche at Bolivar, and finished our journey with a gelato at Milani Gelateria. Besides filling our stomachs the tour provided us with the interesting history of South Beach and its fabulous Art Deco architecture.
With a ‘Hop on, Hop off’ tour bus ticket in hand, we made our way to Little Havana, a neighborhood in Miami proper, and the heart of the Cuban community in the city. The neighborhood was a feast for the senses. The moment we stepped off the bus we faced a small park overflowing with elderly Cuban men and women, animatedly playing dominos. They laughed and teased each other with jeers.
The rich smell of tobacco permeated our nostrils as we explored a local cigar store. The owner sat out front in a folding chair, chomping on a cigar, giving a kind nod to the customers as they passed through the doors. We then stopped for lunch at El Exquisito, a small restaurant with home-style Cuban dishes. It’s home to the Medianoche, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, complete with pickles and mustard. It may sounds simple but this delicious Cuban club has been voted one of the best sandwiches in North America man times over!
The Perfect Blend
As our days in Miami were drawing to a close, we were adamant on making the most of our final hours in this balmy paradise. We started off the morning as any self respecting Miamian would, at The Palace’s Drag Brunch, a place to enjoy a hearty meal, unlimited cocktails all while being entertained by fabulous drag queens! These ladies worked through their numbers, crisscrossing with waiters and tourists on the sidewalk, never missing a beat. The most fun you’ll ever have while eating an omelet. Period.
After returning from the beach, where we soaked up every inch of sun we could, we had decided on one final meal. We had heard that Yardbird Southern Table & Bar had an unbelievable plate of chicken and waffles, and as all the sun had cooked up a big hunger in us, fried chicken seemed like the right, no, the only way to cure it. The meal exceeded both our expectations and more than filled our stomachs. The perfect blend of salty, sweet and rich. This perfect blend of flavors reminded us of Miami itself. A unique city made of many ingredients; architectural flair, the powerful crash of the ocean, the rich Cuban charm and an overwhelming sentiment of life being too short not to have fun!