South Beach-focused long weekend recap (LONG)
I used this board extensively last weekend while figuring out where to eat at the tail end of my honeymoon (arrived Friday, left Monday), and left fat and happy. Wanted to share the wealth--hope this is helpful to someone!
1. Arrived early at the hotel on Ocean Drive South Beach and immediately went to La Sandwicherie to get a late lunch while we ate. We both had prosciutto and fresh mozz on a baguette with everything (mine was less the mayo, though). This was an awesome and auspicious beginning. I think you could get pretty much any ingredient (including just avocado for a vegan sandwich) and it would kill, though. The veggies and dressing were the true stars. It was like "if Subway sandwiches were actually good"--in that the style of sandwich is very sub-shop-ish, but the ingredients are truly superlative.
2. Got a little drunk at the lobby bar at the Betsy (BLT Steak, I guess). We had the Paloma (tequila, grapefruit, smoked honey--tasted almost savory from the smoked honey), Apricot Pop (vodka, st. germain, cava, apricot--fruity, sweet, and mild), Lincoln Road (raspberry vodka, creme de mur, blackberry--less sweet than the Apricot Pop), and the Basil Haven (gin, cucumber, st. germain, basil--very summery. Had 2 of those).
3. Staggered to Puerto Sagua for a late dinner. We ordered the bistec empanizada special (subbed maduros and rice for fries/salad), ropa vieja (also with rice & maduros), and tres leches for dessert. All were excellent; maduros were the best we had all weekend. Tres leches was on the less-sweet side.
4. Saturday brunch at Yardbird, whose menu seemed to have been designed expressly for me. We had trouble ordering--there was horse-trading involved. We ended up with the fried green tomato BLT (I loved, h. thought maybe too much pimiento cheese, obviously wrong as there is no such thing), watermelon and heirloom tomato salad with grilled farmer's cheese, biscuits with strawberry jam and honey butter (I had no complaints with these, as they were moist, soft, and somewhat but not too crumbly--less butter flavor than some, though), and the fried chicken, which I thought was awesome.
5. I made h. walk to My Ceviche around 6:00 PM for a post-beach, pre-late-dinner snack of grilled shrimp tacos. They ruled. Corn tortilla and the aioli-ish salsa, as the counter girl recommended/decided, respectively. I wish they had had toronja jarritos, but they ruled nevertheless.
6. Late dinner at the bar at Pubbelly. We got the dates with chorizio, goat crema and bacon (probably the high point), the heirloom tomato w/ tofu and blueberry salad, the burratina with cabbage/plum/pickled onion/ham slaw (slaw was more mild than expected), pork belly & scallion dumplings (delicious--weirdly reminiscent, flavor-wise, of a hard pretzel), and a special of "gambas a la planxa" (big old shrimp. We chickened out on the heads because I am a longtime seafood frowner and even getting me to eat shrimp has been something of a triumph). H. also had some oysters, and we had a local draft wheat beer out of Tampa.
7. Stopped at Frieze for ice cream while walking back from Pubbelly to Ocean Drive. Got the Bosh Frieze special or similar--PB ice cream with fudge swirl and peanuts. Tasted like a Snickers ice cream bar, which I guess tells you that the caramel is more or less superfluous.
8. Sunday brunch at Khong River House. Killer thai iced coffee and tea. Best I've had in a LONG time (my Manhattan neighborhood is more Chinese-focused than Thai-focused, sob, so we don't get good Thai that often). Rotisserie pork buns, Dave Chang-style. I always like them, and that didn't change. Crispy egg salad with fish sauce was awesome--the egg was apparently "poached and then flash-fried." Not sure if repeatable in a home kitchen, but Lord, I hope so. Khao Soi Gai--chicken curry noodle bowl. ENORMOUS. Could not finish it. Very mellow and yummy. I think they keep the A/C so turned up so they can justify keeping this on the menu when it's 90+ degrees out.
9. Michael's Genuine Food & Drink: our sole non-SoBe outing, and totally worth it. A+ to the chips & dip, A++ to the crispy hominy, A+ to the Jungle Bird (Cruzan blackstrap rum, pineapple, lime, Campari), A+ to the egg yolks with gruyere and tomato, A to the avocado salad with frisee and chiles, A+ to the bread (stretchy and gluteny!), A to the pork belly with kimchi, A++ to the grilled leg of lamb with peaches, cucumber, yogurt, mint and cilantro, A+ to the chocolate cremoso, A++ to the passionfruit pot de creme with coconut donuts and lemon/key lime marmalade (I was FULL and I could have taken down a second one, NO PROBLEM). Truly awesome. Fast as can be, in terms of the food coming out, as well. Pain in the ass getting a cab back to SoBe, though.
10. Monday morning breakfast at the counter Playa Cafe. H. got the breakfast special (scrambled eggs, fries, ham, cuban toast, cafe con leche) but I killed it with the desayuno centroamericano with fried eggs (over easy without even asking! Perfect!), as mine came with a tortilla (yum), black beans (mm hmm), and QUESO FRITO OH YES INDEED (truly spectacular state-fair-style goodness). I also got a guanabana slurpee (smoothie with water, no milk) which was solidly excellent. Prices were insanely low, so we left a 50% tip. As you do. Only one slight snafu from the language barrier, but it didn't seem to faze them, and their English was very good otherwise.
11. Managed to stuff most of a pan dulce from Charlotte Bakery into my mouth on the way back to the hotel to pack and get out of town. Perfect texture. Sad I wasn't more hungry for empanadas at any point. Next time.
12. Miami Airport Cafe Versailles on our way out: we managed to pick up some empanadas after all! Ham and cheese (fine), meat (AWESOME, these are filled with picadillo! With olives! And egg! Why didn't anyone tell me?), guava (awesome!), and guava and cheese (also awesome!).
So, locals: how did we do? Where should we go next time?