Miami is special to us because it’s the only place that Inga and I lived together besides New York City. For many years, we talked about moving and starting a life outside of New York. Our criteria for a new city was that it had to have a major airport so we could fly non-stop to almost anywhere in the world. Another is that it had to have a mix of different cultures. And finally, it had to have good restaurants. Miami checked all those boxes so in May 2014 we left New York for Miami – well, Miami Beach actually.
Two months after moving, Inga found out she was pregnant. We were absolutely ecstatic to start a family in a new city we now loved. I mean, what isn’t there to love? We could walk out our back door and step onto the beach. Plus, the weather is near perfect 9 months out of the year. It’s paradise.
In March 2015, Inga gave birth to our son, Renato III. We call him by his middle name, Gianluca. So this trip was a homecoming of sorts because it was the first time the three of us returned to Miami together since leaving. In case you’re wondering why we left, the best answer I can give is that Miami wasn’t for us. While I agree it is an amazing place, it felt like the vacation that never ended but not in a good way. It just got old for us.
We flew Delta 1765 from LaGuardia to Miami. Our drive from the airport to the beach was awful – bumper to bumper traffic. It’s not usually this bad but Art Basel was in full effect. We stayed with my brother and his family who live in Miami beach. It also happened to be his birthday so we took him and the family to Izzy’s Fish & Oyster (423 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139). It’s a very nice and unpretentious seafood restaurant located in the heart South Beach.
Being stone crab season, we had to begin the meal with stone crab claws. And being an oyster house, we had to order some oysters. Our entrees included Maine diver scallops, stuffed Maine lobster, and the local catch of the day was pompano. If you haven’t tried pompano, you should. It’s typically thought of as a game fish but on a plate, it is mild in flavor with a firm texture. It’s perfect for grilling, searing and broiling. I imagine it holds up well when cooked in soups or stews too.
Another must try while in Miami Beach is the Bandeja Paisa from Mi Columbia (702 71st St, Miami Beach, FL 33141). It’s the national dish of Colombia that consists of rice, beans, fried eggs, avocado, sweet plantains, sausage, steak and or course, chicharrón. The restaurant isn’t fancy but it serves up some of the best Columbian food we’ve ever tasted.
Other notable and uniquely Miami/Miami Beach restaurants for us are:
- Prime Fish (100 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139) and it’s sister restaurant, Prime 112 (112 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139)
- Juvia (1111 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139)
- Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (130 NE 40th St, Miami, FL 33137)
Of course, a trip to Miami wouldn’t be complete without Cuban food. Cuban food can be found everywhere but for us, there is only one place worth driving to and that is Versailles Restaurant (3555 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135). Even if you don’t have time to go for a complete meal, do yourself a favor and stop by, walk up to the open-aired counter, then order a cortadito and beef empanada. You’ll thank me later.
The weather was perfect for our trip so we took advantage of it while we could. The weather in New York City was in the mid- 30’s and cloudy.
We had plenty of time to walk around and spend some time at the pool. Miami Beach is a perfect destination for adults and kids alike. The beach and playgrounds are clean and safe. Lincoln Road, Ocean Drive, and Collins Avenue offer an enjoyable walk with shops and restaurants lining the streets. But if you need a break from the beach and want to keep your little ones happy, check these out:
- Jungle Island (1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, FL 33132)
- Miami Seaquarium (4400 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL 33149