Miami surprised me. Growing up, I thought of it as a party destination for college students: tequila shots on the boardwalk and hotels by the beach. But I also thought of New York as Times Square until I spent 5 years living and working and eating an absurd amount of everything bagels there. And while 3 weeks in Miami doesn’t give me the same credibility as 287 weeks in New York, I wasn’t just here for a night out in South Beach.
Miami has beautiful, tight-knit communities. We spoke with E’s friend, a Miami native, who talked about when the woman who runs her local ventanita was on vacation for a few days, the neighborhood freaked out, asking where she was and if she was okay and when she was coming back. Or how it’s common to run into someone on the street and ask about their mom and their sister. And their sister’s sister. Etc.
I like that I’m greeted in Spanish first, English second. I loved Domino Park on Calle Ocho, how people clustered around the domino players, hearing the clicks of the tiles as they shuffled the pieces. The fruterias where a man with a small sword will slice a coconut open and drop a straw in and you can bring the coconut back and he’ll crack it open so you can dig out the coconut meat.
South Beach with its pastels and neons and sights like the man riding down the sidewalk with two lemurs in his front basket and the thousands of tiny lizards darting across the sidewalk.
There are young guys playing chess with old men outside the Chase bank on a spring night. There are paletas with tamarind and dulce de leche. There’s horchata with cinnamon sprinkled on top. Warm empanadas with cheese and spinach. Pastelitos with sticky sweet guava.
And there’s the ocean. Its cooling breeze blowing across the bike trail as we ride up to Sunny Isles or over the trail as we run south towards Miami Beach. E’s friend taught us a new word as we chatted after dinner, asking her about growing up here: sobremesa. It means to linger after dinner, talking after the meal is over. Miami is like the dinner I want to stay at long after the plates have been cleared. I want to sit by the ventanita with a cortadito, chatting and listening on a warm spring evening. - 22 hours ago