I am BACK!
I was away in South Beach, Miami with my husband for the past week and I cannot describe how nice it was to have one thing on the agenda every day, especially considering the fact that that one thing was to go to the beach! We stayed at a friend’s condo right on Ocean Drive in the middle of all the fun. I have so much to share from this trip that I decided to break it down into a bunch of different posts. Of course I’m going to linger on with it but what can I say, part of the fun of a vacation is sorting through photos once you’re back home and reliving the experience.
Shockingly, I’ve decided to start my recap off with the food. In our earlier vacations Dan would select all the restaurants completely on his own and each night of the trip I would be surprised be his choices. As the years have past and I’ve grown and figured out what I love I’ve helped in the restaurant research/planning process of our trips. It also helps that we share similar taste and both love trying new things. This week’s restaurant selection was a combination of both our research and I have to say, we came up with a damn good selection! Each meal was nothing short of amazing from ambiance to appetizers! I’m sharing these restaurants and our thoughts hoping that someone planning a trip to Miami may find this and enjoy a week full of outstanding dinners as we did! Enjoy!
Miami Restaurants: Breakfast & Lunch
We stayed on the corner of 12th & Ocean which is pretty close to the middle of the strip. In the mornings, before breakfast we walked down to Equinox on 7th and Collins to work out, so for breakfast each morning we either went somewhere on the way back to our condo or ventured further south.
This is one place I didn’t snap any photos of. It’s a cute little cafe with great food right in the heart of Ocean Drive. It’s right on the sidewalk (as most cafes on this street are) so it’s ideal for people watching. For breakfast we got the omelets, potatoes, fruit (MASSIVE fruit salad bowls that include RAISINS! I LOVED the surprise of raisins in my fresh fruit salad) and side of pancakes. Pretty similar to what you would find a good diner. We ate here twice for lunch and both times got salads. I got the Santa Fe Chicken Salad which was basically a fajita over a bed of lettuce. It was fajita seasoned grilled chicken and fajita veggies (onions and peppers) atop lettuce with corn, black beans and chips. I skipped the cheese and ranch dressing and got the pesto vinaigrette on the side. I know pesto and fajita doesn’t really go…but I love pesto and I enjoyed it. Dan got the spinach salad with Mahi-Mahi, pecans and goat cheese one day and the Mediterranean Salad with chicken (cucumber, tomato, tabouleh, herbs, feta and pita bread served with pesto vinaigrette) the next. Love the big salads here!
2. Big Pink’s
My favorite breakfast place in South Beach is definitely Big Pink’s (which I, for whatever reason, always call Pinky’s!!! I even had Dan calling it Pinky’s. If your from the area, does anyone actually call it that?). Big Pink’s is a classic, old school diner with a huge menu and equally HUGE portions! There menu is pretty unique and any place that serves pancakes the size of a hubcap is certainly a winner in my book.
I went here for the first time on my bachelorette trip where I ordered the Pulled Pork Omelet and Giant Pancake. I knew I had to return to Pink’s for that omelet!! So we went there on our third morning, when I was massively hungover. I wish I could go to Pinky’s EVERY time I have a hangover, it’s an instant cure. I got the Pulled Pork Omelet and Dan ordered The Hollywood Breakfast (polenta fries, covered with spinach, topped with two poached eggs and bacon and SWIMMING in some amazing, creamy cheese sauce). We also ordered the Giant Pancakes to share. Yea, it was a massive breakfast. As delicious as it was we were both pretty miserable sitting on the beach all day with GIANT balls of lead in our tummies. I believe we skipped lunch that day.
Despite the heaviness of that breakfast, Dan was just as enamored by Pinky’s as I was my first visit and two days later he was craving it again! We went back for breakfast on our last full day and got two things to split: an egg white omelet with spinach, mushrooms and onions with potato hash and whole wheat toast and the Waffle Combo (two sunny side up eggs, two chicken apple sausage links and the Malted Waffle. We both agreed that our second time around was the perfect amount of food and we didn’t feel Thanksgiving full after or weighted down for the rest of the day!
Big Pink’s is pretty far down on Collins but it is 100% worth the trip! If you go, just walk there, you’ll be thankful for the walk home 😉 Besides the food my favorite part of this place is the fact that it looks like a unicorn puked PINK all over everything, right down to the pink delivery cars (which I really wanted to steal and drive home in..).
3. Il Bolognese
On our last morning we stumbled upon Il Bolognese on Ocean Dr. by fluke! We had to leave by 9am to head to the airport and wanted something for breakfast around 7am (no matter how late we stay out, we’re early risers!). This early hour was the standard time we walked to the gym each morning so based on our observations we knew nothing would be open at that hour, especially on a Sunday. We googled the Starbucks hours to find that they opened at 6am so we walked north on Ocean for a pre-flight coffee. We figured that if we saw anything open on the way we’d stop for a bite. Fortunately, Il Bolognese was shockingly open and ready for business! We were actually pretty upset that we found this spot on the last day because we had a GREAT breakfast!!
We both ordered the same thing, an egg white omelet with spinach, peppers and tomatoes (which came with potatoes and whole wheat toast). We also both got coffee, which was super fresh and delicious. What I really liked about this place were the potatoes. Usually you get a hash which is fried or at least pan fried and is SUPER greasy. Not these potatoes! I’m pretty sure they were roasted but they weren’t greasy at all and weren’t heavily salted. I also loved the way it all came served in a cute little pan. We ate outside and since it was so early it wasn’t overwhelmingly hot and there was still a nice breeze. It was such a fabulous morning to end a great trip!
4. The Tides
On our fourth morning Dan chose our breakfast spot and we ate at The Tides on Ocean Dr. This place is GORGEOUS inside!! The outdoor patio where we ate is decorated in all yellow and it feels so bright and sunny. You can’t not feel happy when you’re here! We came here after a particularly good workout. I had just finished a beautiful early morning beach run and the food and ambiance here only added to my already cheery good mood. The menu was a mix of light, healthy options (egg white zucchini frittata) and sinfully decadent ones (french toast a la mode with maple sugar ice cream). Dan and I both ordered egg white veggie omelets. I got a side of fruit (decent sized fruit bowl with pineapple, honey dew, cantaloupe, watermelon, raspberries and blueberries) and Dan got the fried potato hash. We also split a side of Apple Chicken Sausage which came with four links. We also got iced coffee which was served in stemless wine glasses, an adorable idea that I’m definitely stealing!
I loved The Tides so much that I dragged Dan back the same day for lunch! We both ordered the same salad for lunch, the Grilled Seafood Salad. It was a mix of grilled octopus, rock shrimp and calamari which sat atop a lightly dressed bed of arugula and “avocado foam” (think whipped guac); it was light and delicious!
Another morning we ate breakfast at Mia Bella Roma on Ocean Drive which was by far the cheapest breakfast of the trip! A go to if you’re looking for a great bargain meal. We each got an egg white veggie omelet with toast, fruit and potatoes all for $6.00 each! It was a huge dish with quite a lot of food for a negligent amount of money. We also split the strawberry banana pancakes which were interestingly served with a side of honey. It was ok, but I definitely prefer maple or coconut syrup with my pancakes.
6. The Cardozo
On our second day we had lunch at the Cardozo hotel which was across the street from our condo. I loved both our lunches here! I got the spinach salad with avocado, chicken, roasted pepper, cucumber and tomatoes with a balsamic dressing. It was massive and really kept me full, especially for a salad. Dan got the seared sesame crusted tuna which sat atop a bed of arugula and avocado and was topped with seaweed salad. These salads were gigantic and super fresh and tasty.
7. The Carlyle
We ate lunch at the restaurant within our condo (we stayed at The Carlyle–it’s the spot where they filmed The Birdcage! Dan and I watched it on Youtube a couple nights comparing the differences between the movie set and the current state of the building) twice during our stay. The first day we split the Tuna Tartar which was definitely large enough to share. It was great, fresh tuna mixed with bite size mango pieces and mashed avocado. It was served with sweet soy sauce and plantain chips. The second time we ordered salads. We both got the same which was a mixed greens salad topped with fresh mozzarella, peppers, tomatoes, avocado and grilled chicken. We also split a gigantic sangria because when you see EVERYONE else sitting around you with a big, giant cocktail….well, it’s kind of hard not to want a big, giant cocktail yourself.
Of course, in South Beach there is always room for a liquid lunch and my favorite spot for that is The Clevelander. They make the absolute best version of my favorite frozen cocktail, the Miami Vice (a combination of a Pina Colada and Strawberry Daquiri). Dan and I split the mucho size with extra rum shooters. It was so thick and frosty that we ate it with a spoon, just the way I like it!
If anyone is planning on traveling down to South Beach I hope you check out these awesome spots! All the places on Ocean Drive are also great for Happy Hour and late night snacks and cocktails!