After our quick trip to Dallas, I headed to visit the folks in South Beach with my man, Moon, for a few days. Moon had never been to South Beach/Miami so I wanted to give him a taste of my favorite hangouts. After picking him up from the airport, we headed over to meet my sis at Wolfie Cohen’s Rascal House
–a Miami mainstay tucked away near the Orthodox community. The place is an absolute scene and home to many displaced New Yorkers. There have been rumors that it will be closing soon, so get there before it does. Moon had foolishly indulged in Tasty China the night before so went easy and got egg whites with salami. I did no such thing and got the Reuben. My sister got the corned beef hash after her usual 10-minute meditation over the menu. Each meal starts with a few sweets, pickles, rolls and coleslaw. You have to be careful or you’ll get full before your real meal arrives.The prune rugelach
Half-sour pickle: the perfect snack food
Moon’s egg whites with salami
My Reuben sammie
Corned beef hash
Our latkes–we all opted for these instead of the other sides available
Dinner that night was with my family at Macaluso’s in South Beach for some Italian food. The owner is from Staten Island and it shows. Is the food here great? No. But, the shit-talking servers and long list of rules on what you can and cannot do has a certain cache I like. The meatballs set on top of marina and ricotta and garlicky salads are pretty damn good though. They don’t take reservations and there is no menu. It is worth doing once if you are visiting.
The next day was all about Cuban food. I took Moon to Versailles Restaurant which (I believe) is one of the oldest Cuban restaurants in the country. The place is a compound broken up into a cafe, a bakery and a restaurant. We headed over to the bakery for some nibbles and coffees first.
Locals starting their days with a Cuban coffee and conversation
Multi-layered prosciutto sammies in the case
Our spread of nibbles and the first of many, many Cuban coffees (cortaditos–a sweet 75/25 espresso and milk concoction–to be specific) on the trip
The money shot–this stuff is like crack cocaine
A pressed chorizo and cheese sandwich
Yucca and ham croquettas alongside a meat empanada
Cuban sweets, like guava filled pastries, in the case. The place has so many things to choose from…
After our gluttony in the bakery, we decided to hit the restaurant for an early lunch. Hey…we were already there. I got the masas de puerco (fried chunks of pork), moros and maduros–my favorite Cuban dish short of roasted chicken or sandwiches. Moon ordered the boliche, a fresh orange juice (Cuban places are known for a variety of fresh squeezed juices like papaya and mango) and yet another cortadito–I think I got him hooked.
Masas de puerco
Moon’s black beans, rice and maduros
After our little exercise in gluttony, we headed to the beach to lie around like beached whales. After a quick shower, we popped over to The Shore Club Hotel for some mojitos (just okay) and then stopped into Nobu (which is in the hotel) for another drink and some nibbles. I have had great meals here, but this time was lackluster–a shocker since I normally love the place. We just grabbed some fried rock shrimp in creamy sauce and the miso cod. The best part about the experience was watching a table of three women share a salad with chopsticks while drinking tap water. Moon commented, “at least they can say they have been here!” We got a good laugh out of that one.
I went to pick up Moon the next morning and he was pissed about losing his sunglasses the night before. In an attempt to cheer him up, I took him out to Kendall to this Mike’s New York Pizzeria–a place I’d read was well rated on Zagat.com. Just stay away. It was horrible. Is Zagat ever accurate? Then, in true Bliss/Rand McNally fashion, I got us hopelessly lost and stuck in traffic for 3 hours. The whole experience was an utter debacle.
On our way home, I attempted to redeem myself by heading to my family’s favorite Cuban lunch spot, Las Olas Cafe. The little cafe is not much to look at, but the food is always fresh and changes up on a daily basis. My favorites here are the Cuban sandwiches (super pressed which is the key to a good one aside from the ingredients) and amazing masas de puerco. Moon was much happier with his meal.
Masas de puerco with moros and maduros
Close-up of the pork
Our last night was a visit to the dining room at the famous restaurant, Joe’s Stone Crab. I always hit the to-go area, but we decided to have the full dining room experience complete with the requisite 2-hour wait (they don’t take reservations). After a couple of martinis and some apps, we were seated in at a cute corner table next to a window. The place was absolutely packed, but the service was fabulous. We got some of the large claws, fried shrimp, creamed spinach with garlic and the hash browns. Everything was stellar–especially the hash browns.