I just got back from a 6-day trip to Miami and I just wanna talk about it! In my first of multiple upcoming blog posts about my vacation, I’m going to cover the essentials that every twenty-something visiting Miami needs: good food, strong drinks, and nightlife experiences you’ll never forget.
La Cosina Cubano
Due to the large Cuban population in Miami, Cuban food is one of the city’s specialties. In fact, some say that the best Cuban food in the U.S. is in Miami. That being said, having at least one Cuban meal is essential when visiting Miami. I have to admit, I had four Cuban meals during my stay.
Not only was this probably my favorite meal in Miami, it may have been one of the best meals of my life. The house special (below) consisted of chicken, white rice, sweet plantains, black beans, and a side salad. Everything was seasoned so well — even the white rice — and I was only able to eat about half of what I was served. (Side note: Even the leftovers were to die for!) Since this restaurant boasts its mojitos, I had to order one. Let me admit, mojitos aren’t anywhere near my favorite drink, but this was by far the best drink I had during my stay and was absolutely the best mojito I’ve ever had. With reasonable prices and incredible service, I can’t recommend this spot enough.
This restaurant kept coming up on Yelp, and since we were craving Cubans like it was nobody’s business, we headed over to Collins Ave to check this restaurant out. The service was fast, the food was cheap, and our sandwiches were massive! This spot is great for anyone trying to get a no-frills lunch or dinner in a diner setting. As a little disclaimer, the wait for a table seems a lot more daunting than it really is, so don’t let that turn you away!
My friends and I hit this spot twice, for dinner on our first night and for lunch on our last day. For Miami, this place is dirt cheap, but doesn’t compromise its quality or portion size. In addition, it’s got a massive menu; there’s something for everyone, from the most adventurous eaters to the pickiest.
Best Way to Start the Day
If you’re in Miami, there’s a big chance that you’re having some late nights. In other words, breakfast is absolutely essential. These breakfast and brunch spots were memorable… and very photogenic!
This little spot offers a massive menu, with various types of juices, smoothies, salads, and bowls. When I had a… headache (cough, cough, hangover)… their strawberry smoothie brought me back to life. I went back another day to grab an acai bowl to bring to the beach. The employees are nice (and always willing to give you a free sample) and the ingredients are really fresh. Plus, who doesn’t crave a smoothie or acai bowl on a hot Florida day?
Palace is Ocean Drive’s first and only gay bar and, yes, offers up one hell of a brunch on Sundays. For one fixed price, you get a choice of an entree and unlimited bottomless mimosas. That’s not all! Sunday happens to be a drag brunch. While you’re eating your meal and sipping your drinks, drag queens will perform fantastic dance numbers and keep you smiling and clapping along. Along with the fabulous brunch, the community and atmosphere at Palace was remarkable; it is unlike anything else in Miami Beach.
Looking for a good, casual coffee shop by South Beach took a Yelp search, which is how we found Shepherd. They’ve got it all, from fancy lattes to plain ol’ cups o’ joe and offer up diverse breakfast and lunch options. I went for a classic two-egg breakfast, which came with eggs, a bagel, a side salad, and a coffee. I decided to upgrade my coffee to iced and the greatest thing happened: they gave me their special, the Cinnamon French Toast latte, instead of my iced coffee, but for no extra charge. Best mistake ever!
Treat Yo Self!
We all need a cheat meal every once in a while. Whether that “cheat” is on your diet or on your wallet, we all need it! This particular spot focuses more on the latter form of cheating, which is pretty easy to do in Miami.
This self-proclaimed “Greek and seafood restaurant” is exactly what you need for a classy meal in Miami. We were immediately seated and treated to complimentary shots of sambuca, which — despite my love of clear liqueurs — I couldn’t handle. The atmosphere and service were spectacular; I felt extremely classy despite the fact that half my trip to Miami was spent haggling my way into free drinks at bars. I got the seafood pasta, which had shrimp, scallops, mussels, and calamari mixed with a sauce that I probably wouldn’t be able to pronounce and topped with a small branch; I felt like a Beverly Hillbilly, but I loved every bite.
Dancin’ the Night Away!
If you’ve seen any movie or TV show that’s set in Miami, you’ll know that its nightlife is outrageous, just one step below Vegas. These are just a handful of nightclubs that this party city has to offer.
By day, Nikki Beach is a breathtaking beach club that looks like something out of Bachelor in Paradise. By night, it’s got a pretty hoppin’ vibe. The Pearl — which is attached to Nikki Beach — is a lounge and nightclub with a hip monochromatic white color scheme and good music. If you’re getting hot on the dance floor or just need a break and want to chat with your friends, you can head outside and sit at a table at Nikki Beach. (Pro tip: Do not order water inside the Pearl. Order it at Nikki Beach. Your wallet will thank you.) Nikki Beach also doubles as a cool brunch spot and bar during the day; its cabanas are inviting enough to pull you in.
When you ask any local of Miami about the hottest clubs, the three that come to mind are LIV, Story, and E11even. LIV was our first night out in Miami and we were able to get in with a promoter for free. I have to say, this wasn’t my favorite spot. Maybe it was the DJ that performed that night or the crowd, but the vibe wasn’t the best for me. That being said, a lot of people say that LIV is their favorite club, so you should check it out!
On the other hand, my night at Story was a huge step up. My friends and I bought tickets, though a promoter approached us to join his table for free bottle service… Woo! Zeds Dead, a pretty famous DJ, performed that night. I loved the music, the drinks, and the people much more than the people at LIV. I had a little too much fun, but that’s what happens when someone with no self control gets free bottle service.
The night my friends went to E11EVEN was the Night of the Terrible Hangover, so I couldn’t handle it. A lot of people in Miami go to E11EVEN after going to other bars and clubs; it’s where you go to end the night. Unlike the other clubs, this is a strip club. My friend described it as “a strip club, but not sad.” I wish I hadn’t missed going, as I heard it’s an interesting experience, but if you go there, think of me while you toss your dollars in the air.
Yet again, I didn’t go to Rockwell, because it was also the Night of the Terrible Hangover. However, according to my friends (and the internet), this club is unique because it has a much more exclusive feel; for that reason, Rockwell is known for its celebrity sightings. That being said, the bouncers will be extra tough on you, so really dress to impress.
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