Best in Miami-Dade
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Featured AttractionCalle Ocho
Art District Cigars
1638 SW Eighth Street
The stretch of Southwest Eighth Street that begins just west of downtown Miami and runs for approximately 25 blocks, from 12th Avenue to 37th Avenue, has long been known simply as "Calle Ocho" (Spanish for "Eighth Street"). The name change followed the first major influx of Cuban exiles in the 1960s. Drawn to the neighborhood by its cheap rents and proximity to downtown, the exiles transformed Calle Ocho into the main artery of Little Havana, opening barbershops, restaurants, botanicas (Afro-Cuban religious stores), hardware stores and cigar shops. Of the numerous smoke dens along the strip, we like Art District Cigars. Plenty of premium cigars on the shelves and, in the back of the shop, a pair of comfy couches and a fully stocked bar, so you can enjoy your smoke without ever leaving the clubby confines. Occasionally, there's live jazz and Latin music.
Featured RestaurantCharlotte Bistro
264 Miracle Mile
Coral Gables, FL 33134
What strikes most first-time visitors to Charlotte's Bistro is the contemporary decor in this cozy restaurant. Yes, it's homey, inviting, funky, and fun from the colorful plates to the knickknacks on the walls, but let's be serious. Fine dining is a luxury for most of us these days. Remarkably, in recent years, Miami's food has transcended the county's oft-undeserved reputation for superficiality. There are too many good places to eat in Miami to be swayed by mere presentation. Fortunately, Venezuelan chef/owner Elida Villaroel has the food part quite well covered here. Billing itself as a "French modern bistro," Charlotte's Bistro offers a pleasurable dining experience in every respect. On a recent visit, within minutes of sitting down she had sent to the table a thimble of homemade soup, a potato puff, and an outstanding stuffed mushroom. Her dedication to flavor and to good service continued throughout the meal. Everything tasted made-to-order, a gift created just for you. The appetizers came in just the right size. The sea scallops perfectly cooked nestled beside carrot and sweet potato puree. The crab risotto with truffle oil emulsion almost a meal in itself. Standouts among the entrees included a delicious rack of lamb marinated in thyme and nutmeg accompanied by delightful brown butter spring mushrooms, pork chops coated in cilantro seeds with a vermouth rosso sauce, and lobster ravioli in broth and butter that managed the magical formula of being both light and indecently rich. Villaroel offers a three-course dinner special, Monday through Friday, for $30 ithat s hard to beat. But a warning, the portions are ample and you must save room for dessert! All of the desserts are standouts but the star of the show is the chocolate soup. It's not sickeningly sweet but as decadent as dessert comes with molten chocolate and espresso ice cream on the side. The dessert, like Charlotte's Bistro, itself manages to be note-perfect and deeply satisfying.
It's not too early to start getting excited about the Miami Book Fair in November. The fair has a literary themed blog that is well worth a look.
Featured RestaurantJoe's Stone Crab
11 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL
What can you say about a place whose clientele over the years has included the likes of Joseph Kennedy, Will Rogers and J. Edgar Hoover? (No jokes, please.) Founded in 1913, when Miami Beach was still in its infancy, Joe's Stone Crab has been a must-stop for anyone visiting the star-studded sandbar ever since.
We recommend an order of medium stone crabs-about eight chilled, cracked claws-with classic cold mustard sauce and melted butter, an order of crispy hash browns and fresh-made coleslaw. For dessert-as if you had to ask-the legendary Key lime pie. Beware, though, Joe's doesn't take reservations and is open for lunch only "in season"-mid-October through mid-May-so snagging a table isn't always so easy. The good news is that, if you don't want to endure the inevitable dinnertime crunch, you can pop over to Joe's Take-Away, conveniently located next door, get your claws to go and enjoy them right on the beach.
Featured AttractionCoral Gables Venetian Pool
2701 De Soto Blvd.
Coral Gables, FL
With its vine-covered loggias, shady porticos, Spanish fountain, three-story observation towers and cascading waterfalls, the Venetian Pool is not exactly your typical swimming hole. But, then, George Merrick would have settled for nothing less. Merrick was the driving force behind the creation of Coral Gables during the 1920s land boom; his vision was a city of public plazas and Mediterranean-inspired buildings that would serve as a counterpoint to what he saw as Miami's erratic, uncontrolled development.
Indeed, the Venetian Pool was originally not a pool at all, but a quarry pit providing the limestone used in so much of the construction of Merrick's "City Beautiful." In 1924, the pit was transformed into a pool (courtesy of underground artesian wells) and christened the Venetian Casino. In the 1920s and '30s, gondolas navigated its waters, movie stars like Johnny Weissmuller swam its length and live orchestras serenaded couples as they danced poolside, under the stars. There's no dancing anymore, but you can still soak in the glamour.
This blog the Miami Heat Beat features everything you need to know about the most exciting NBA franchise in the league.
Featured HotelFairmont Turnberry Isle Resort
19999 W. Country Club Drive,
The thrills begin the moment one arrives at the door of this lush, elegant 300-acre resort. Palm trees dominate the landscape, along with hanging orchids, bougainvillea, bird of paradise, and other sub-tropical foliage. Inside, furnishings and decorative accents balance the classic and the contemporary, as high-tech touches like flat-screen LCD televisions complement the simple charms of a French press coffeemaker (all standard issue in the resort’s 392 rooms).
Of course, the real reason to stay at this top-notch Fairmont property is the golf. Founded in the early 1970s as a private golf club, Turnberry has hosted numerous high-profile tournaments in its rich history. Now, following a $30 million upgrade of its courses, the resort continues to draw the game’s best—or just those who want to play the same 18 holes. Turnberry also features Willow Stream Spa, a 25,000-square-foot facility, as well as a number of fine restaurants. The only downside? Once you arrive, you might have trouble motivating yourself to get out to Miami’s other attractions.
Featured AttractionVizcaya Museum & Gardens
3251 South Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33129
When James Deering, a Midwestern industrialist, decided to make Miami his winter home, the fledgling town had a population of only 10,000. Amazingly, a tenth of that number—along with imported craftsmen from the Caribbean and Europe—ultimately became involved in creating Vizcaya, Deering’s dream home, a grand Italianate villa on Biscayne Bay near Coconut Grove. Completed in 1916, the house, with its 34 decorated rooms of exquisite antique furnishings and objets d’art, was designed to give the illusion that it had been around for hundreds of years. Sadly, the sickly Deering (failing health was one of his motivations for relocating to Miami) would spend only a handful of winters in the comfort of his creation. He died in 1925. Today, the home and its celebrated gardens are open to the public.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dewang/