The Biscayne Times

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Nov 20th
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Written by Jen Karetnick, Special to the BT   
April 2018

A new book, The 500 Hidden Secrets of Miami, guides you on a journey in your own backyard

Secrets_1What are your favorite “locals only” places to eat, drink, shop, or simply enjoy the Miami climate? And are you willing to disclose them to strangers?

The 500 Hidden Secrets book series is a hip take from the Belgian company Luster Publishing. In a world filled with travel guides, Luster strives to present the hidden gems that tourists and even locals have yet to discover (as well as a few that they already have) about each featured city.

To accomplish this, they tap local writers and photographers who are willing to give up their own secrets for the benefit of readers. The books are arranged in picks of five secrets covering 100 separate categories chosen by the authors.

Last September, Luster published their first edition of The 500 Hidden Secrets of Miami. For the Miami guide, the publisher turned to Biscayne Times alum Jen Karetnick to pen the text and Valerie Sands to photograph many of the locations.

Longtime Biscayne Times readers may recognize Karetnick’s byline from her time as our Miami Shores neighborhood correspondent or from any of her 15 previous books.

Her witty writing and savvy picks for this guide include some obvious “must do” choices for the tourists, but there are plenty of surprises for even the most knowledgeable Miamian. Here, the BT is excerpting for our readers a sampling of the lesser-known destinations found within the Biscayne Corridor. -- Margaret Griffis

 

LOCAL FARMERS’ AND MAKERS’ MARKETS

The Miami Flea

1445 N. Miami Ave.
Wynwood
305-625-0949

Sunday afternoon is for drifting through this kid-friendly, pet-happy village of more than 125 vendors. A gathering of community makers, bakers, face painters, thrifters -- whatever you’re browsing for, you’ll likely find it, accompanied by a soundtrack of local musicians. Note: Always check Facebook for event updates, especially during summer or bad weather.

 

BIG ADVENTURES

Ninja Lounge

14401 NE 19th Ave.
North Miami
786-590-5000
ninjalounge.com

Trampoline courts. Ropes. Obstacle courses. Parkour and aerial silks workshops. Handstand and cartwheel clinics. Whether you’re playing dodgeball and basketball or learning a new fitness skill, try it while bouncing off the walls -- literally. A virtual reality park and “soft play” space for younger children (ages 2 to 6) are also on the premises.

Jet Boat Miami/Sea Isle Marina

1635 N. Bayshore Dr.
Edgewater
954-397-6079
jetboatmiami.com

Few things are more exciting than speeding across the bay in a cigarette-style boat -- except for when the captain throws in those 360-degree spins. This 30-minute ride also allows you to see the exclusive homes on Memorial, Star and Fisher islands. Not for the weak of heart or stomach. Departs from Sea Isle Marina.

 

PARKS, PLAYGROUNDS, AND MUSEUMS

IGI Playground

12885 Biscayne Blvd. #3
North Miami
786-615-5655
igiplayground.com

Built like a giant pirate ship, this indoor playground features slides, crawl tubes, trampolines, a ball pit, and so much to climb even a real sailor might have trouble. Additional apparatus and play tables provide safe spaces for toddlers. Great for those days of rain or when the sun has turned the beaches into furnaces.

 

SPECIALTY MUSEUMS

Black Police Precinct and Courthouse Museum

480 NW 11th St.
Overtown
305-329-2513
historicalblackprecinct.org

Too often overlooked, African-American history is preserved here with a special mission in mind: to record the challenges and accomplishments of the Black police officers who were on duty pre-Civil Rights era. Displays feature the bicycles they used, Black Precinct jail cells, original plaques, historic photos and more from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

 

VINTAGE AND THRIFT SHOPS

The Rabbit Hole

791 NE 125th St.
North Miami
305-892-0213
shoprabbithole.com

Specializing in clothing from the 1950-90s, this downtown North Miami boutique is great fun for the creative person who likes to mix vintage street style or party wear with modern-day items. Nothing is outrageously expensive, and there’s a good variety of sizes. The owners also mix in some new pieces from up-and-coming artists and designers.

Brooklyn Vintage & Vinyl

3454 NW 7th Ave., Unit C
Allapattah
305-575-9160
brooklynvintageandvinyl.tumblr.com

Sit in a comfy white wingback, slap on some headphones, throw a record on the turntable, and take yourself back to the 1980s. One of only three such stores in Miami, Brooklyn has no pretensions. What it does have is lots of cool factor and some truly great vinyl finds in every musical genre.

 

LIVE MUSIC

Lagniappe

3425 NE 2nd Ave.
305-576-0108
lagniappehouse.com

Live music every night, with a broad range of appeal -- swing, bluegrass, folk, country, jazz, funk, soul -- and during weekend afternoons in the Garden. What’s most interesting are the residencies like the Wynwood String Band who play every Thursday night, and other local regulars. Get to know them personally before they hit big.

 

NIGHTCLUBS AND LOUNGES

Mr. Kream Ice Cream Lounge

2400 N. Miami Ave.
Wynwood
786-659-4541
mrkreamwynwood.com

Kids Rule Everything Around Me. Co-owner Ari Kalimi, who is also DJ Affect, makes good on that acronym/motto by theming every ice cream product in the shop to the hip-hop generation he serves. Enjoy flavors like ‘A$AP Rocky Road’ or ‘Snoopstachio’ while listening the same; this place is a hoot and delish to boot.

Brick

187 NW 28th St.
Wynwood
786-467-1205
brickmia.com

DJ Camilo. DJ Retrokidd. DJ Selecta Renegade. And so it goes. Wynwood graffiti art on the outside of the building; beats and craft beers of all nationalities on the inside, plus cocktails that change with the seasons – such as they are in the subtropics. Open until 3:00 a.m., Wednesday to Sunday.

VanDutch Lounge

The River Yacht Club
401 SW 3rd Ave.
Brickell/Downtown
305-200-5716vandutchlounge.com

Lifestyle impresario Stephane Dupoux’s beautifully landscaped club is where a rotation of renowned DJs such as Jellybean Benitez, Irie and Jessica Who spin so that guests can rock to beats and brunch all Sunday or party the night away outdoors, next to the Miami River where they dock their million-dollar watercraft.

 

LITERARY VENUES

FIU Biscayne Bay Campus Bookstore

Wolfe University Center, 1st Floor
3000 NE 145th St.
North Miami
305-919-5580
english.fiu.edu/creative-writing/events

Florida International University’s north campus bookstore is a low-key place to spot the city’s literati, many of whom teach here, and visiting writers. The renowned Creative Writing Program holds its Writers on the Bay Reading Series here, which has presented internationally translated poets and writers including Ann Hood, Thrity Umrigar and Rigoberto Gonzalez.

 

LATIN CULTURE

Koubek Center

Miami Dade College
2705 SW 3rd St.
Brickell/Downtown
305-237-7750
koubekcenter.org

This historic mansion and its gardens were acquired by the city’s public college with a specific mission in mind -- to promote the Spanish-American diaspora through the arts. The structure was turned into stages, galleries, literary arts opportunities and lecture halls. Now, from films to children’s theater classes, there’s plenty Spanish-American learning going on.

CubaOcho Museum & Performing Arts Center

1465 SW 8th St. #106
Little Havana
305-285-5880
cubaocho.com

More like a gallery than a museum, as the exhibits continually change, this enterprising business model takes advantage of all its space to also display a large collection of Cuban memorabilia. In addition to live music performances, the venue hosts lectures and book launches, and sells fine art prints in its shop.

 

HAITIAN HERITAGE

Haitian Heritage Museum

4141 NE 2nd Ave., #105-C
Little Haiti
305-371-5988
haitianheritagemuseum.org

This flourishing institution was born in 2004 as an educational platform to connect Haitian Americans with their artistic, historic and cultural roots. It does more than that: The exhibits, films, readings, lectures and musical performances allow every visitor to dig deeply into Haiti’s impactful heritage that gets buried beneath other, more dominating immigrant cultures.

 

VIEWS OF DOWNTOWN

Sugar

EAST, Miami Hotel
788 Brickell Plaza
Brickell
786-805-4655
www.sugar-miami.com

This rooftop lounge and garden puts the “scene” in scenic. Crowning the 40th floor, it features 365-degree views of the downtown region and the water -- although you’ll have to tear yourself away from the lush landscaping and Asian tapas in order to take it all in.

 

GUIDED TOURS

Miami Brew Bus

2003 N. Miami Ave.
Wynwood
786-558- 3860
miamibrewbus.com

Want to tour local breweries? Every Saturday, Miami Brew Bus offers three options, each of which include lots of samples (starting at pick up!), a souvenir glass and more. Tours run from noon to 5:30 p.m. and cost $70 per person. Note: Closed-top shoes required; must be 21 and over.

 

SPOT CELEBRITIES

Seaspice

422 NW North River Dr.
Brickell/Downtown
305-440-4200
seaspicemiami.com

If you want to catch Beyonce and Jay Z in the eating act, this renovated warehouse on the Miami River, with dockage that yacht captains jockey over, is the place to do it. Other superstars who quaffed bubbly and feasted on delicacies here include Barbra Streisand, Ryan Phillippe, Marc Anthony and David Beckham.

 

OLD TIME DIVES

Happy’s Stork Lounge

1872 79th St.
North Bay Village
305-865-3621

A mixture of native hipsters and oldtimers frequent this basic lounge, which you could easily dismiss if you didn’t know better. Great for basic drinks, domestic beers, a game on the television and cheerful drunks. Eat before you come unless you can subsist on nuts, chips, and booze. Open from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 a.m.

 

DRINKING LIKE A LOCAL

The Anderson

709 NE 79th St.
305-757-3368
theandersonmiami.com

From the owners of Broken Shaker, this place lacks the touristy vibe that BS now has. Maybe it just hasn’t been discovered yet. But it has the same great mixology and similarly interesting eats, such as the Korean vegetable pancake with kale and Chef’s kimchee. Also, live music.

 

COFFEE AND SWEETS SHOPS

Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop and Cafe

2818 N. Miami Ave.
786-703-3623

City of Miami firefighter Derek Kaplan proves true the myth that firefighters know how to cook. He started his bakery with his perfected key lime pie, then quickly mastered others, including s’mores, chocolate pecan and multiple types of fruit pies. Enjoy a slice with a macchiato or cold brew or grab one to go.

 

GAS STATIONS

With the best eats and drinks

Chevron Europa Coffee House

6075 Biscayne Blvd.
305-754-2357

An elegantly appointed convenience store, this easily accessible spot provides European-style baguette and croissant sandwiches, pastries and cakes, and coffee drinks. Relax with a tasty, no-fuss lunch or dinner while your vehicle is detailed at the car wash.

 

HAPPY HOURS

Via Verde Miami

6900 Biscayne Blvd.
786-610-3176

This Italian restaurant and wine bar, run by twin chefs from Northern Italy, entices with an extra-long, exuberant happy hour. Because it lasts from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily, it often overlaps with specials like “50% Off Dine-In Pasta Mondays” and “50% Off Bottle Wine List Wednesdays.” Feel 100% free to stay here all afternoon and evening.

 

STEAK HOUSES

Fiorito

5555 NE 2nd Ave.
Little Haiti
305-754-2899
fioritomiami.com

This charming Argentine spot, run by a trio of brothers, serves a tempting breaded steak Milanesa, topped with ham, tomato sauce and mozzarella. The Rioja-braised short ribs, which arrive with a fried egg, rival only the skirt steak with chimichurri and the New York strip with salsa criolla for your attention.

 

LATE NIGHT/EARLY MORNING SPOTS

Bagel Cove Restaurant & Deli

19003 Biscayne Blvd.
Aventura
305-935-4029
bagelcove.com

When you just gotta have an everything bagel with whitefish salad, a chili-cheese hot dog, or a pastrami sandwich at 3:00 a.m., well, now you can. An extensive menu is available for ordering for pick up through the take-out, delivery or dining in the restaurant or on the patio 24/7.

 

Hottest

CARIBBEAN

Restaurants

Jimmy’z Kitchen

2700 N. Miami Ave.
Wynwood
305-573-1505
jimmyzkitchen.com

Chef-owner Jimmy Carey inserts Puerto Rican specialties such as mofongo in Miami’s Cuba-heavy map. Try this plantain-based dish with a choice of proteins: chicken, churrasco (steak), shrimp or mojo (garlic sauce) pork. Several locations to choose from, but the South Beach site offers mofongo only Friday-Sunday.

 

FRESH FISH

Market-restaurants

Seven Seas Restaurant & Fish Market

5205 NE 2nd Ave.
Little Haiti
305-981-3571
sevenseasrest.com

Dominican Republic-born owners Nicholas and Ana Paulino operate this Caribbean-styled eatery in the Sabal Palm Shopping Center. Seafood rice soup, crabmeat empanada and whole fried or steamed red snapper top the list of seafood favorites, but there’s also mangú (mashed plantains) with fried eggs, cheese and salami for breakfast.

 

Best places to find

STONE CRABS

without the wait

Blue Runner Seafood

Secrets_2

11338 Biscayne Blvd.
North Miami
786-499-9334

Locals know this paneled truck, a family-run business, as the supplier of the freshest fish and seafood, including stone crabs, in the Miami-Dade region. Not only are the stone crabs always succulent, patriarch Paco Fernando and his team sell them for a lot less than the restaurants do. Caveat: Cracking is do it yourself.

 

Awesome

ASIAN

Restaurants

Dumpling King

237 NE 167th St.
North Miami Beach
305-654-4008
dumplingkingmiami.com

Absolutely zero ambiance means you can concentrate on what you came for -- Shanghai-style steamed soup dumplings, along with a host of other pan-fried and boiled combinations (string bean and pork; chives, pork and shrimp). Other dishes are all equally tasty and speedily served, which is helpful when there’s a wait for a table.

 

PASTRIES

Café Crème

750 NE 125th St.
North Miami
786-409-3961
cafecrememiami.com

French pastries can make anyone give up on diet. Here, the luscious house-baked éclairs -- try the coffee flavor for a little Miami influence -- are rivaled by the pithiviers, the hard-to-find Paris-Brest and a distinct strawberry Napoleon. Even if your waist can’t, at only $4.95 each, you can afford more than one!

 

LATIN SPECIALTIES

HalfMoon Empanadas

860 NE 79th St.
MiMo District/Upper East Side
305-532-5277
halfmoonempanadas.com

This commissary caters and supplies restaurants, but it also has a walk-up window and an exterior counter with stools. Snack on any of the savory pastries filled with ham and cheese, spinach, beef or chicken -- plus signature combos like pulled pork with guava barbecue sauce -- while you wait for a dozen to be packed up.

Pão de Queijo
Boteco

916 NE 79th St.
MiMo District/Upper East Side
305-757-7735
botecomiami.com

Pão de queijo is a Brazilian cheese roll with an elastic quality to it. It’s made with cassava, so it’s gluten free, and filled with mild white cheese similar to mozzarella. At Boteco, a terrific Brazilian restaurant with live music, karaoke nights and fútbol always on the television, it’s the first item on the menu.

 

The best places for

SUNDAY BRUNCHES

Morgans

28 NE 29th St.
Midtown
305-573-9678
themorgansrestaurant.com

Everybody loves this Barclay Graebner (Sherwood’s, Black Sheep) restaurant, located in a restored house with a porch. In a rush? Get there early to get a table. Otherwise, since you can order the Mac & Cheese with a sunny side egg or the Mascarpone and Raspberry French Toast all day, it doesn’t matter about time.

 

Local’s favorites for

PIZZA

Evio’s Pizza & Grill

12600 Biscayne Blvd.
North Miami
305-899-7699
eviospizza.com

Even with a roster of specialty pizzas -- try The Gyro, with gyro meat, Roma tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce -- it’s the basic New York-style cheese pizza that has folks raving about Evio’s. Somehow, they’ve managed to get it right: sauce to cheese ratio, texture and the way a slice folds just right in your hands.

 

HOME DESIGN STORES

Glottman

2213 NW 2nd Ave.
Wynwood
305-438-3711
glottman.com

Whether you’re looking for big installations (furniture, lighting systems, storage, flooring) or little objets d’art and home items, you’re going to find a modern, eclectic assortment at architect Oscar Glotman’s place. Many will prove irresistible, such as the skateboard mirror, or the etched metal bookmarks shaped like a pointing finger, a fountain pen or a quill.

 

MIAMI-BASED FASHION DESIGNERS

Rene Ruiz

18143 Biscayne Blvd.
Aventura
305-445-2352
reneruiz.net

Cuban-born Rene Ruiz debuted his first shop in Coral Gables, and quickly became a name to know for quality fabrics and sophisticated gowns. Now his chic designs are housed in an atelier in an Aventura shopping center, where customers range from brides and couture collectors to men seeking sophisticated, crafted clothing.

Ramona LaRue by Arianne

3400 N. Miami Ave.
Midtown
305-456-8191
ramonalarue.com

These highly original separates and dresses are a fashionable tribute to designer Arianne Brown’s mother, Mona, who taught the Coconut Grove native how to hand-paint silk. Every item begins life as actual art. Then the designs are transferred to flowing clothing, all manufactured in Miami, that sway to the tune of the body.

 

ANTIQUE STORES

Stoneage Antiques

3236 NW South River Dr.
Brickell/Downtown
305-633-5114
stoneage-antiques.com

Collecting and selling for more than half a century, this huge, riverside storefront specializes in nautical antiques, and often supplies props for TV and film sets. The inventory is vast, so try taking a virtual tour and then calling in your order. The business might be Stoneage but it’s 21st-century tech savvy.

 

MIAMI SOUVENIRS

Bottle of Miami’s Only City-Distilled Rum
Miami Club Rum

6468 NW 77th Ct.
Miami Springs
844-642-2582

The city’s first distillery offers hourly tours of its facility; these include tastings of the rum, made with local Florida ingredients. Buy a bottle to bring home (but only if you’re checking your bags). The next time you make a mojito, you’ll practically hear the rumba in your glass.

 

UNUSUAL GIFTS

INIVA Miami

Secrets_3

Wynwood Block Space #19
2621 NW 2nd Ave.
Wynwood
786-614-8380
inivaboutiques.com

Stylist Sandra Bellon and designer Sophie Pozmentier run this concept dedicated to African artists and artisans from countries including Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal. Sibling to two boutiques in Gabon and Burkina Faso, the INIVA Miami location stocks photography, handmade bronze jewelry, juju hats, limited edition masks, eco-friendly wax print clothing, soaps, scrubs and more.

 

FARM-TO-TABLE

Charcoal Garden Bar + Grill

82 NW 29th St.
Wynwood
786-646-2998
charcoalmiami.com

Named for the powerful Josper ovens that the chef uses to cook everything from the gluten-free cornbread to the heritage chicken raised in Ocala, Florida, Charcoal sources its ingredients regionally. Salads are pulled from the urban garden mere feet away. Even the exterior of this Wynwood Yard eatery is sustainable, created from recycled shipping containers.

 

PERFORMING ARTS

Sandrell Rivers Theater

6101 NW 7th Ave.
Liberty City
305-284-8800
momentumdance.com

Dance companies that have been kicking around since the early 1980s certainly deserve their own performing arts space. Momentum Dance Company, led by Delma Iles, finally has this spot in Liberty City to call their own. Look for contemporary and ballet performances choreographed by Florida artists, as well as lectures, workshops, master classes and demonstrations.

 

RESTAURANTS THAT ARE SO MIAMI

Sherwood’s Bistro & Bar

8281 NE 2nd Ave.
Little River
786-359-4030
sherwoodsbistro.com

Don’t be confused by the Native American references and artwork. They’re meant to reference the area’s connection to the Tequesta Indians (there’s a burial mound close by). Other notable factors: The reclaimed vintage floor and ceiling are oh-so-MiMo, and the fare is oh-so-modern, with the eclectic menu roaming from ramen to rabbit potpie.

 

TATTOO PARLORS

Society Ink Tattoo Company

7623 Biscayne Blvd.
MiMo District/Upper East Side
786-615-9590
societyinktattoos.com

Tucked away in a strangely positioned strip mall, Society Ink is somewhat unnoticeable. That doesn’t bother the staff, a talented group who operate without the monstrous industry egos found elsewhere. Dependable and friendly, the artists will execute the work in any style and color the client wants, from custom to cover ups, watercolor to black and gray.


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