Miami. MYami. My city!
I hadn’t been to south Florida for quite a long time, maybe a decade or more, and I was pretty excited to come back. I had only spent a very short time north of Miami near Palm Beach and a few days in Key Largo and Key West, but Miami has a much different vibe.
Cubans are probably the most well known population in Miami, and the culture pervades through the entire city. Everywhere you go, people are speaking Spanish, drinking cortados, and eating Cubanos. But more about that later.
My number one fave thing about Miami is the beach. The sand is white and the water is a perfect turquoise just asking to be enjoyed. It’s almost like a moth to a flame, as the color is so hypnotizing. Just check out the view below from my stay at the Residence Inn at Sunny Isles. As I am sure you can imagine, it was almost impossible to leave this view.
As I mentioned before, Cuban food is one of the main things you have to experience to really know Miami. At El Maga de las Fritas, you get the 1000% authentic Cuban experience. This includes a frita, which is a thin hamburger with fries inside the bun. My only regret is that I didn’t get two patties. You know it’s good, too, because if you look around the restaurant, you’ll see memorabilia from Obama’s visit to this family owned business. I even got to talk to the daughter of the Maga (magician) de las fritas (Cuban hamburgers). They were so proud to tell us the story of the President’s visit, and how hard they work to keep their business afloat. I would highly recommend coming here if you want an authentic experience and a really good, cheap meal! The owners even offered me their business card to use if we needed suggestions, help or anything during our stay in Miami. You don’t find this a lot, without ulterior motive. They were truly nice people and I can’t wait to go back!
Probably the most famous Cuban place to visit is Versailles. There is a Versailles in Los Angeles but they are unrelated. I still don’t know why there are so many Cuban restaurants with this name, so if someone knows, please message me!
Anyway, the classic dish here is ropa vieja. Literally meaning old clothes, this is actually a shredded beef stew with peppers and onions, served with rice and maduros (caramelized plantains). If you go the ventanita (little window) next door in the mornings, you can get your cortadito or cortado (Cuban coffee) with a Guyaba (guava) pastry, or any of the dozens of pastries offered. It’s not really on my diet but omg they’re SO good.
I love being in Little Havana. It’s like traveling outside of the country, yet you’re in Miami. If you stay around this area or many other areas, you can exclusively hear Spanish and other languages spoken, played on the radio, and meet so many interesting people from different backgrounds.
Don’t forget the famous Cubano. I actually prefer the Media Noche, which is the same sandwich (pork, ham, Swiss) but on a sweet bread bun.
Probably the most famous thing you know about Miami is South Beach and the Art Deco buildings that were featured in movies like The Birdcage and the TV show Miami Vice. I like to call Miami the capital of pastels, and also where lots of the Portland aesthetics in plant and ceramic shops originated. Here are just a few buildings below that improve Miami is impossibly cool.
Even the lifeguard stands are cooler than we are.
That beach though!!!
The pastels and chic designs aren’t limited to South Beach. One of my fave areas, still being developed, was the Design District. My absolute fave spot of the whole trip was OTL MIA.
Their menu was legit. Usually there are only one or two things I like, but I wanted EVERYTHING. The style, colors and atmosphere were on point. Whether you realize it or not, atmosphere has a lot to do with how people experience their meal. Of course we all want to Instagram our food and this place makes it very easy.
I also love visiting off beat places like Palacio de Los Jugos (palace of juices). Im not sure if this place was Venezuelan or Colombian or Cuban, br who cares. It was definitely a local spot, Spanish only, but don’t let that stop you. Sometimes those places are the most fun, and you can always order something…Even if you have to point at the menu. The juices are also seriously amazing, and cheap. I wish I had places like this at home! And I really regret not getting their tres leches cake.
You can also find plenty of fresh, clean eats all over the city, like these toasts from Green Berry.
…and hipster joints like Panther Coffee (also serves cortados. Duh), and Suviche which had an Asian/Peruvian fusion menu. The happy hour menu was amazing and cheap. So I was able to get multiple dishes – a must for any foodie.
Museum of Ice Cream
You guys know I went to the MOIC in San Francisco and loved it, and the colors and ocean view at the Miami Beach location just sucked me right in. It’s cool how each MOIC has a different theme and vibe, which makes it special (and gets you into going to each location)! This one was no exception. I felt like this one was more interactive with sand exhibits, lots of different types of ice cream, and more elaborate rooms. Check it out for yourself!
Most importantly….the view
If you’ve ever heard about any of the most famous places in Miami or listened to any Pitbull songs, then you’ve definitely heard about Calle Ocho/Little Havana. This short stretch of Cuban business is the proud home to one of the largest immigrant groups in Miami. I’ve never been to Cuba, but I’m pretty confident in saying that this is probably the next best thing to being there. Even their traditions are upheld here, playing dominoes in the town square, playing music on the street, and chatting with friends about politics or the day’s events.
You can even get a taste of the Island, without a passport, or traveling 90 miles south.
If you go to Calle Ocho, you have to try Azúcar, a Cuban ice cream shop serving up tropical flavors and other local specialties you can’t find anywhere else.
Don’t forget to visit the chicken welcoming you to Little Havana. There are tons of super touristy shops, but it’s still fun to take a look at some things you really can’t purchase anywhere else: coffee, cigars, guayaberas (those white Cuban shirts), and of course FOOD.
Murals are the hot thing, now that Instagram has taken over how we experience our own city and new places. I really believe that Miami was the originator of this trend. I had no idea, but the Wynwood Walls are actually located in a gated park-like setting, where people can walk around and view the murals like an outdoor art gallery. The artists were commissioned for each piece. Some personal, some political, but all colorful and interesting.
Sorry this is such a long post, but you can see how much I love Miami. It is colorful, literally and figuratively. The people are fun, diverse and full of life. I think having a mash of different people with different backgrounds and cultures is what makes our communities great. We learn how others live, and broaden our minds, knowing that we are all on this planet together with the same goals: to live, to eat, to enjoy and to laugh.
If you haven’t been to Miami, I highly recommend it, and hope these photos have given you another reason to make the trip!