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First Time in Miami, Have A Full Day For Food Fun, Game For Anything, Can You Help?

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My DC and I have a full day to explore in Miami next week. We're both snowbound New Englanders, food enthusiasts, adventurers of all sorts, and also basically ignorant of what to do, where to go, and, most importantly, where to EAT in Miami.

We're not looking for the "best" of anything - I've been reading through the various Miami-related posts, many of which are a bit older, so I've gleaned some names, ideas - but are looking for ideas that might result from any of the queries below.

- What do people think of as a 'quintessential Miami eating experience?'
- What areas/neighborhoods should someone go for interesting markets/food shops/restaurants/watering holes, etc.?
- Is there an artsy/quirky section, somewhere with galleries, bookshops, bars and the like?
- Where would you recommend that someone simply wander around exploring & looking to get a feel for the 'real Miami'? (That's a deliberately subjective question, everyone's 'real Miami' is different, I know).

Any ideas/comments/recommendations that might address any of these questions, or questions like them, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance! Can't wait to come down and explore a totally new city.

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  1. As a former Miami Girl and New Yorker (for over 30 years), whenever I go to my hometown, I go for a fix of what I can't find elsewhere, that is the best there....2 things for certain, and that is stone crabs (i only visit during stone crab season!), and Cuban Food.

    These are both essential and something you won't find in New England.
    The classic place to experience stone crabs is Joe's in South Beach, or for me, in the keys somewhere--but, Joe's works fine for me...I've got a great connection there, so I can whiz in without a wait on a weekend night..but for most it's a long arduous wait---so, best thing to do is go right when they open for lunch, and then it's not bad at all...get the stone crabs, the lyonnaise potatoes, the shrimp with garlic, the key lime pie, it's all superb. I usually get the large crabs but sometimes the medium--depends on the count and the sweetness...

    For cuban, many choices---abound...and for authenticity, you might want to wander sw 8th street....check out this website for some very good tips....http://icuban.com/
    ..if you're in a specific area, then look up the best of cuban food thread, lots of good tips there, too.

    In terms of areas where people just sort of hangout shop and eat...the most obvious would be South Beach lincoln road vicinity--and ocean blvd area...great architecture from the deco era--not to be missed when you're down there...

    The design district has some good restauarants, Michael's Genuine, and galleries and such..so this might be a good spot for you to check out...http://www.michaelsgenuine.com/

    In terms of "real Miami", that's a loaded question...while south beach does possess classic architecture, etc...it can be very touristy and not "local" during season--but, the other outlying areas and residential old Miami Beach is worth a drive around..a good thing to do is take a boat tour of the beautiful homes that adorn biscayne bay---

    Miami is full of many gated communities with people who drive everywhere, and don't have a lot of street contact with their neighbors---it's a cosmopolitan city that can feel very dead even when it's trying so hard to be alive...sorry...but that's the way I see it, having grown up there and experienced the way a city really thrives in terms of its interrelationship of movement and beings...but having digressed....I would say that South Beach area, and Ft. Lauderdale areas seem to have the most going for them in terms of energy...otherwise you're dealing with large swaths of basically suburban area living with strip malls and shopping centers..it all starts to look the same after awhile...no real character in the landscape, except for Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, South-Miami Beach, Ft. Lauderdale....and The Keys are really cool if you can take a detour there...

    But, that being said, there are little gems all over the place---enjoy yourself!