On occasion I like to write about the nooks and crannies around town, places I've lived, or traveled to. This category, Nites Out, is a special section for eating outside of my own kitchen! Search for Nites Out to find more places to dine...
Before Big Brother started school this year we took a family vacation. Florida was hot and humid, but not as hot as Texas (and many other states during the crazy heat wave) and we welcomed the rain.
Being our first visit to Miami Beach, we had no idea what to expect in terms of restaurants and what kind of fare we would find. Here are the three food highlights from the trip.
First stop was Maya Tapas & Grill (Lincoln Rd). We were seated outside under a canopy. Our waitress/hostess was very friendly and she gave us directions to stores and where to park. I ordered the Smoked Turkey sandwich with salad instead of fries. The salad alone could have been my entire lunch, and there wasn’t a lick of iceberg on the plate (which is a good thing). We ordered pizza for the kids, which had a great tomato sauce on it, and Hubby had the salmon. My plate won the best value award, and there were leftovers. Something else to note: a can of pop will run you 2 – 3 bucks each! After that shocker we headed to find a store to buy bottled water and juice boxes.
The next day we found ourselves at the north end of the island in an area called Hollywood. It didn’t look glamorous as the name would have you believe. Everything looked tired and old, nobody was hanging around this area so it was very quiet. I pulled into a small parking lot with a restaurant at each end. Tavern Opa (410 N Ocean Dr) was about to open for the day, at 4 o’clock. Arriving early had its advantages, one being free parking, the second is having the whole place to yourselves. Soon after we ordered, a couple more tables were populated. The owner was sitting behind us, placing his orders for food, albeit very loudly talking on his mobile. It’s your joint, I get it, but don’t you have an office somewhere? I ordered a couple of appetizers, lamb sausage with peppers and the opa fries. The sausage was really greasy and very umm… lamb-y. I wondered if it was goat instead of lamb, or what parts of the poor thing ended up on this plate in order for it to taste so strongly of mutton. Opposite to the lamb were the fries. A small portion, probably less than a Russet’s worth, of potato fried in olive oil and topped with cheese and herbs. They were a hit with the kids, as fries are not part of our regular meals, neither are nuggets nor cardboard burgers, but that’s a whole other subject. The table also came with bread and humus that you pounded in a tall mortar with a wooden pestle. It was heavy with olive oil and garlic. The interior was dark and you could see the bay from most tables. The wait staff were not friendly, even though we were obviously tourists, maybe that’s how they always are or they were not looking forward to the mess the kids left behind. My kids are not messy, they might have dropped one piece of food the entire time, they can get loud though.
The final restaurant we tried was El Rey Del Chivito (6987 Collins Ave). Collins avenue runs parallel to Ocean Drive and is home to several restaurants and grand hotels. We walked from our hotel up Collins and had a variety of places to choose from. The saying that busy places are the best ones can be used if you ever find yourself in Miami Beach. Chivito had a couple of open tables left by the time we arrived at 9:50pm. Guests all seemed to share a jovial mood as they ate and chatted away the evening in something that resembled a high school cafeteria. Small lacquered wood tables huddled together throughout, the wait staff could barely maneuver the spaces left in between. This was a unique restaurant, the founder is a guy from Uruguay, the walls were covered floor to ceiling with football memorabilia (the correct name for soccer, you’re welcome) and license plates. I tried to speak only in Spanish with our waitress, trying to practice, trying being the operative word. I might have confused the poor girl with my Spanish because we ended up with the same dish. Hubby wanted the Emperor sans pan, while I ordered the sandwich version. After waiting over 30 minutes for the food to arrive we didn’t have the luxury of time to correct it. Big Brother was grasping at consciousness while Little Sister needed a change of scenery and space to be a toddler. It was late and were flying out the next morning. So we enjoyed the steak, egg, ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce, bacon sandwiches and kept the kids from having a meltdown. Miracle I tell ya.
Miami Beach was cool, I gave it a “Corpus Christie on steroids” rating. It’s completely tourist-driven. Here’s a puffer fish some kids found at the beach, I spotted a sea turtle too.