Miami is like New York. It is full of culture and history.
Miami is like Pattaya, Thailand. Beautiful beaches lining its coast.
Miami is like Denver. There are bars and restaurants on nearly every block.
Miami is a tourist dream paradise, it is a city well-connected by flights, the food is delicious and there is plenty to do no matter what time of day.
The city is dominant by Spanish language which wasn’t a huge surprise to me given the geographical location to Latin America. I was surprised how many people spoke Spanish to us in Spanish and not English first. The majority of the drivers and a few restaurant workers spoke to didn’t speak English which made it difficult at times to get around.
Miami Beach is an entirely separate city from Miami proper. To reach Miami Beach you travel over a bridge.
The heart of Miami is undoubtedly South Beach. Home to clubs, restaurants, hotels, shopping and the occasional celebrity sighting, the community provides something for anyone visiting.
The southern tip of South Beach is home to Ocean Drive. There you have the legendary Art Deco buildings, the late Gianni Versace’s mansion and multiple locations that were featured in Hollywood motion pictures.
The Birdcage staring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane was filmed at The Carlyle. Bad Boys and Scarface filmed scenes along the area.
728 Ocean Drive was the location of the Sun Ray Apartments in Scarface. Here the legendary chainsaw scene took place at the back of the property before Johnny Rockets occupied the location. It is currently being remodeled into a new CVS.
Expensive mixed drinks are available at bars and restaurants with views of the beach across the street.
Tucked in a palm tree lined pedestrian street, Espanola Way is a throwback to Old World Europe. Take your pick from Cuban, Italian, Japanese and Mexican food. Walking up the street, hosts from every restaurant greet you outside with menus readily in hand.
Transporting you to Havana in the 1950’s, Havana 1957 allows you to relive the glory and glamour of Cuba. I was treated to my first and long overdue experience of Cuban food. I ordered Vaca Frita, a dish with grilled shredded beef, onions in Cuban mojo. Served with white rice and black beans. I paired it with local fresh red Sangria that was the perfect compliment. While I cannot recall the name of our server, he was a very classy and knowledgeable fellow who shared stories coming over from Cuba and his artwork created.
My last evening in Miami began with a return trip to Espanola Way at Hosteria Romana. The interior of the restaurant held the essence of central Rome that provided you with a brief trip to Italy. From traditional music to exquisite plates of Roman Jewish cuisine, Hosteria Romana brings South Beach the culture of Rome, Italy.
We ordered an appetizer of freshly sliced prosciutto ham and melon. Unlike traditional meats found in delis, this was the freshest that I have come across. For dinner I ordered Bucatini o Rigatoni Amatriciana. The name is lengthy but the dish boasts robust flavors of tomato, romano cheese and an Italian bacon (pancetta) sauce.
I can be rather picky when it comes to quality Italian food. Other than the restaurants that occupy Little Italy in New York, Hosteria Romana is the most authentic and appealing Italian restaurant I have come across during my travels.
For my first experience in Miami, despite the humidity it truly lived up to its expectations of a party city and full of culture. While I am not sure when I will return, it has earned a return someday..