Let me make this clear – Miami is one of my favorite travel destinations. Granted, there are many places I haven’t visited, but Miami already has a special place in my heart. The weather, the mood, the beaches, the daiquiris, the food…it is everything I want in a vacation spot. Two weeks ago, I ended up in Miami during the American Black Film Festival. I did not participate any of those activities, but it did add a bit of black excellence to the air that made me happy. Since I cancelled my trip overseas, this was a great alternative for a birthday trip. This trip was uniquely different though. Every time someone asks me how the trip went, I can’t stop raving about the food. Everything, let me repeat – EVERYTHING I ate was delicious. I can’t stop thinking about the food. That is a rarity for me, especially when I travel.
I arrived to Miami after being slightly delayed by a storm in the sky. I made an acquaintance in the airport from my flight, so we shared a Lyft down to our hotels in South Beach. It was nice to chit-chat with her and my Lyft driver. I stayed at the Cavalier on Ocean Ave. My first night. I loved the décor. Deep greens, gold, black accents lined the lobby.
My room was just above the lobby and was just what I needed for one night. Black metal frame king sized bed, exposed brick wall, decent sized bathroom. Very Restoration Hardware. Perfect for one night. I got situated, changed out of my travel clothes, and it was time to get my vacation started. I walked down to Wet Willie’s and did one of my favorite things to do in life – people watch. It was me, Purple Haze, and a nice patio seat. After some time, I realized it was time for dinner. If you have never been to South Beach, there are SO MANY restaurants lining Ocean Ave. and they all want you to come eat at their restaurant. Everyone is having a happy hour, which is great. The menu items are very similar, it just depends where you decide to go. I ended up at the Palace and had some amazing shrimp scampi. Little did I know my dinner came with entertainment? Half way through my dinner, I was front row center for a drag show. That was quite the experience. I ended the night at the Clevelander, then Fat Tuesdays, and Mango’s dancing the night away.
The next day brought a change of location. I was checked into The 1 Hotel in South Beach. I am in love with this property! From the uniforms the employees where to the décor – I immediately wanted to stay here every time I go to Miami now.
We had breakfast at the hotel and it was a great continuation of the yummy food from the day before. Thick, fluffy French toast with dulce de leche, guava compote, and maple syrup; fresh fruit; and potatoes with a mimosa was a great way to start the day. While waiting for the room to be available, we went to the rooftop bar, Watr and the view of the water was everything with the warm breeze.
The room was more than I expected. Spacious, neutral colors, peaceful. It has a triple water filter! I appreciate the ability to have water available like that. The balcony had a day bed, and that’s where I spent about 2 hours after check in.
It was then time for dinner. When I tell you I’m still thinking about this food. We had dinner at Pao in the Faena. The décor of this hotel was detailed. The spiral staircase leading the restaurant should have been an indication of what I was about to experience. We sat under the unicorn on a golden pedestal. I have no food porn pictures. I decided to enjoy this dinner with just my senses and it was everything. We started with drinks and the salad. That consisted of Napa cabbage, fermented honey, citrus, nuts & seeds, 24 month aged Parmesan. We also had a dish with cantaloupe that was made to have the texture of fish- which was impressive and interesting to eat. Our main course was the Smoked Shortrib Asado, which is 72-Hour Wagyu beef, atchara, seasonal pickles, Japanese sweet potato puré. This was one of the most delicious food items I have ever eaten. We paired it with ‘Arroz con Pollo’- volcano rice, smoked carrot, aioli, crispy chicken, pickles. A great companion of flavors. These two items together definitely created a flavor bomb in my mouth. For dessert, we had the Halo Halo -candied cashews, fresh fruit, shaved ice, Pandan mochi ice cream, berry water; and the Namelaka, which was Gianduja cremeux, chocolate pecan, Nashi pear, whiskey ‘wood’ cask ice cream. Everything is family style, so it’s all meant to be shared with the table. The suggestion for 6 pieces of the shortrib was made- 4 pieces just aren’t enough and 8 would be too much.
The flavors were phenomenal. I would go back there a million times. We headed to a party at the W South Beach for ABFF (American Black Film Festival), which was again some great people watching. I had never been to LIV in South Beach and tonight was my night. Juvenile was going to perform and I was going to live out my adolescence on the dance floor. He didn’t perform as many songs as I thought he would, but he did the one that matter the most to me. I took that floor over for the 99 and the 2000.
Late night turn into late mornings, so we were unable to get seats around the rooftop pool, which continued at the two other pools we went to. We finally got seats at the fourth pool. The sun finally came out. You would think that the pool food wouldn’t be that good. Nope. You’re incorrect. It was super delish. Fish sandwich with fries, lobster and crab roll, Buffalo wings, watermelon slices prompted the woman lying in the seats next to me where I was from because she said I eat like a real woman. She said women in Miami don’t eat. I was hungry and I don’t play when it comes to food. After baking in the sun for a few hours, I soaked in the oversized tub and filled it with bubbles and looked through the glass out onto the room outside onto our balcony view. I was so relaxed in this moment. Then it was time for dinner. We ended up at this Cuban restaurant called Havana 1957 on Ocean Ave. and again the food was just so good. I had the Fricase de Pollo. Chicken falling off the bone. Flavors on 10. Mojitos after mojitos after mojitos. The cool ocean breeze lightly touching my face as I people watched over dinner. Now, what’s a trip to South Beach if you don’t go to Fat Tuesdays or Wet Willie’s more than once during your stay? Another stop at Wet Willie’s started our last night in Miami right. We ended up going to the Edition hotel and partying at Basement. Basement is a club, bowling alley, and ice rink. After 8pm, it’s an adult playground. I will have to some back here to bowl. DJ was great and I danced until my feet were completely done. It was a great night.
The next day was check out, and I was quite sad. I would still be on vacation from work for a few more weeks, but I was not ready to leave one of my happy places. We had our bags stored and went to brunch. That is what Sundays are made for. We decided on Morgan’s in Wynwood since Wynwood Walls was on the agenda this day as well. This place looks like a converted house into the restaurant. Décor was cute, food was yummy. We had the chicken and waffles. Waffle was fluffy, chicken was juicy. Next and last stop was Wynwood Walls. There are murals all over, but Wynwood Walls is a designated area with specific commissioned works from artists from all over the world. I wish I had more time to explore the art outside this section, but it was time to start to head to the airport.
My trip was now complete and I was ready to be back in my own bed and use my own toilet, but I was not totally ready to leave Miami. I know I can go back, but some moments, some moods you just want to continue experiencing. I guess that just means it’s time to go back and create more memories.
Miami – thank you for another great time. See you soon!
What place in the world is your happy place? Do you have more than one? Do you have one? Sound off in the comments.