Wednesday, October 05, 2011

South Florida Eats

After Tampa, I head down to Miami for a few days to visit friends.  Upon picking me up at the airport around 9 pm, my friend decided the first thing I needed to see was South Beach.  It was all I was hoping for from South Beach - the Art Deco architecture, the booty clubs, the hoochie mami outfits, the devotees outside the Versace mansion.  After our walk up and down the beach and the strip, she took me Puerto Sagua - an old Cuban diner just blocks away from the neon scene. 

Apparently she had once had a Justin Timberlake sighting here!  But it's not at all glitzy or glamorous.  This place is old school -- formica tabletops, wood panelling, murals painted on the wall.  I got a medianoche sandwich, and we shared 2 desserts.  Flan, and a quatro leches cake.  The fourth milk in the quatro leches was dulce de leche on top.  I think we should have stuck with tres leches - it was just way too sweet for me!

The next day, still feeling like I needed to get more Cuban food in, she took me to Casa Larios in South Miami.  The place had a nice Old Havana feel to it - men ordered coffee from the take-out window and played chess on the patio.  Here, I got my first real Cuban coffee of the trip.  The milk was piping hot, the shot was strong, and I was glad that they let me put my own sugar in.  I also got the best lunch special deal - $7 for a massive plate of arroz con pollo with a side of plaintains!

Next on my list of things I had to eat while in Florida was Key Lime Pie.  I got that fix in at Books and Books in Coral Gables.  It's a wonderful independent bookstore in a great historic Spanish villa with a central atrium and a nice cafe.  My friend's dessert was a fresh cranberry tart with ice cream.  I got to meet owner Mitchell Kaplan -- he is truly living the dream, running bookstores in Coral Gables, Bal Harbour, Westhampton, Grand Cayman, and Fort Lauderdale and basically being the center of the literary world in South Florida. 

The next day my friend had a meeting in Fort Lauderdale, so I tagged along.  It was nice to see it when it wasn't spring break season.  Determined to have a meal on the beach, we found a spot literally on the sand -- Anglin's Beach Cafe on Anglin's Fishing Pier in the quieter town of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.  My friend got a fresh blackened fish sandwich, and I got the captain's salad with grilled shrimp.  I probably could have gone for another slice of Key Lime Pie, but we were in a hurry to get back to Miami to pick up my friend's kids from school.  I did however, get another thing off my Florida list there - fresh squeezed orange juice.

Puerto Sagua
700 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 673-1115

Casa Larios
5859 Southwest 73rd Street
South Miami, FL
(305) 662-5656

Books and Books Cafe
265 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, FL
(305) 442-4408

Anglin's Beach Cafe
2 Commercial Blvd
Lauderdale By the Sea, FL
(954) 491-6007

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