A March 2004 trip
to Miami by Ally
Quote: After several freezing weeks in NY, I was due for a warm-destination getaway. A quick trip to Miami was the fix I needed to indulge in some sun and delicious food.
The best places to visit are: South Beach (for the beaches, shops, and clubs), the Villa Vizcaya (beautiful mansion) and wherever you are in Miami, you MUST try some of the local Cuban, Haitian, and other Latin foods. If you have time, try to squeeze in a drive to Key West.
Hotel | "Doubletree Surfcomber"
With such comforts, guests would rarely want to spend time in their bedroom, which is a standard hotel bedroom, offering nothing extraordinary. The only true detail that proved I was actually staying in a chain hotel was the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie, which I receive upon arrival.
It was interesting to people watch at this hotel from my poolside lounge chair. For the first few days, there were many spring-breakers enjoying their time away from studies. On the last day or two, the Winter Party (gay) crowd come to host the week-long events. One problem I encountered at the Surfcomber were the exceptionally thin walls; I could hear the spring-break revelers in the wee hours of the morning.
All in all, we enjoyed our stay. This hotel is certainly a popular one, with its beach access and proximity to Lincoln Road and South Beach. And you get that boutique-y feel, with the dependability of a brand name hotel.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 26, 2004
Surfcomber Miami South Beach, A Kimpton Hotel
1717 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
You may want to dress to impress for this sexy, luxuriant restaurant/bar to get past the velvet rope (without a reservation) and to get yourself some notice. Some female clients fiercely compete to expose the most in a tight “dress.” Only the most rico-suave men get their attention.
Though we weren’t looking to score, or even to impress, we had fun watching the other people, hearing vibey music, and enjoying French cuisine while sitting/lying atop a comfy, pillow-surrounded, plush, queen-size bed (sorry, no blankets). Yes, I said a bed, literally, which makes you feel like you’re doing something very taboo, something your Mother wouldn’t approve of while you're eating dinner. People can reserve one of the nine huge white beds for dining or hang out by the bar. The latter looked quite envious of those with bed-rights.
Quick food facts: It’s actually pretty good, but extremely overpriced. I had an interesting goat cheese croquette salad, where a quarter of a large zucchini was stuffed with goat cheese and then deep-fried. Tina had the crab salad. We both ordered the flavorful filet mignon (Tina's was overcooked as she ordered rare, and got a replacement a while later) and shared a Rio – a caramel dessert with plantain chips. Appetizers/dessert cost $12-15, the filet mignon $36, glass of cab $8. Like most Miamian restaurants, service/tip was included – 18%. Service was so-so and wouldn’t be complete without a little attitude, right?
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 31, 2004
929 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
+1 305 532 9070
Drinks, we discovered, are purchased at another window. Don’t make the mistake that we did, thinking that the restaurant would carry aguas frescas – those are Mexican, not Nicaraguan, and the restaurant workers will be quite confused if you try to ask for those! Instead, try out one of the Nicaraguan fruit drinks.
Crowded, small tables are outside but covered. Colorful signs, murals, and plain ol’ what my Mom would call junk, decorate the walls and ceiling. Regardless, the restaurant is as close as you can get to Nicaragua without actually going. Locals hang out, get loud discussing their homeland’s politics, enjoy the familiar foods at good prices.
Bonus point: They’ve got an original Ms. Pacman video game there.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 31, 2004
1643 Southwest First St
Miami, Florida 33130
+1305 649 0203
Restaurant | "Delano"
Somewhat pricey, by the looks of the buffet, you'll understand why. Fresh shrimp cocktail, squid salad, made-to-order omelettes, Belgian waffles, French beignets, roast leg of lamb, loads of fresh fruit, including papayas and strawberries, and an extensive table of desserts! The most interesting was the chocolate mousse with a hint of fresh peppermint.
Besides the obvious culinary delights, the setting of this Ian Schrager-owned, Paul Starck-designed rich and famous retreat provides much eye-candy. Super high ceilings with gauzy white curtains flow down to the floor, funky rocking chairs sit amongst colorfully painted Latin ladies, and lounge-worthy summer furnishings complete the long lobby area. Even if you can’t afford to stay or eat at the Delano, it doesn’t cost a thing to check out the lobby!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 26, 2004
Delano Hotel Restaurant
1685 Collins Ave
Miami, Florida 33139
There is always music of some type to entertain shoppers and non-shoppers alike, either emanating from the open air Mexican restaurant or the live cover-singing entertainers performing on the main balcony; and yes, sometimes from both directions. You can enjoy this from sitting in one of the café/restaurants, or one of the open tables on the 2nd floor, as we did, savoring a chocolate/strawberry crepe.
Neighboring streets contain more stores carrying warm-weather tanks, pants, sandals, as well as a variety of restaurants – a steak house, Mexican, Indian, Italian, French, and Chinese. Since we were looking for a light meal, we stopped by a smoothie bar & café called Zoom Zoom (3415 Main Hwy), to enjoy a “fandango” (chicken) salad, and a “tree hugger” sandwich – cukes, cream cheese, sprouts, avocado, tomato on wheat. Though it may not sound too exciting, it was all quite tasty, and cheap.
3015 Grand Ave
Coconut Grove, Florida 33133
+1 305 444 0777
One of the most obvious signs pointing you to Miami’s Design District is the corner of the Living Room Building (see picture below). Decorated in the city’s bright trademark palette of pink and orange, one can sit on the gigantic concrete couch and enjoy a large, open window "painting" on the wall. The area has been the city’s center of design since the Art Deco era and was recently renewed in the 1990s. Unfortunately, on the Monday that we visited, we did not get to see such rejuvenation; the streets and shops were astoundingly empty.
Red leather sofas, plastic space-age chairs, ingenious swiveling nightstands and tables fill the stores of the quiet Design District. The area is a wonderland for interior designers and homeowners in the market for modern or antique, elegant, sometimes funky, and usually pricey home furnishings. Sales assistance is plentiful, knowledgeable and friendly, even as we sifted through piles of designer sample sofa fabrics, in various colors, patterns, and textures.
You’ll find some of these same furniture designs in other major US cities, but if you’re not from one of these areas or don’t know where to go, the Miami Design District shop keepers will advise you on the best way to ship your purchases, either direct from the factory or from the store, at a reasonable cost.
I can only hope that these shops get more business on the weekends, as I enjoyed this neighborhood of creativity. If you decide to visit, look ahead of time for some of the nighttime events and receptions hosted by these galleries and studios. Regularly schedules events are on the second Thursday night of each month. http://www.designmiami.com/
Miami Design District
North Miami Avenue to North East 2nd Avenue
New York City, Afghanistan