Despite a world in which everyone seems to be either mythological Nero or head buried ostrich, life rolls on. And nobody seems to have seized this more than developers and entrepreneurs. Miami today is one giant opportunity. Now that I have revealed my true feelings, let me expunge the truth and join the party.
Beyoncé’ and Jay Z: At the big stadium formerly known by a million other names, OTR II combined the best of Broadway, HBCU bands, B&W film, sound, light, stagecraft, dance, singing, and production. Staggering.
Art Basel: With money, fame, and power washing over big events like this, fully knowing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and deeply subjective, nevertheless, I was deeply disappointed with one giant exception; UNTITLED ruled the roost.
Miami Jewish Film Festival: Last year’s documentaries on David Ben Gurion and Sammy Davis, Jr. were among the superb pieces selected by Igor Shteyrenberg. I like MJFF better than our other big film fest. (There go my comps.)
Trader Joe’s: The only corporate giant I am willing to praise as I hold my nose.
Golden Rule Seafood has been doing it since Woodstock, all with the Mullins family involvement. The chickee has fish and flowering ginger.
Mainzer’s German Deli: Mom and Pop bread, sausage, potato salad, mustard, chocolate goldmine of German and Scandinavian delights since Watergate. Please go!
Books & Books is Mitchell Kaplan’s expanding empire, with attentive vibrations in Pinecrest, the Gables, and the Grove.
Andante Bicycles: Mauricio and sister Selena take care of Cutler Bay honestly and professionally just like old family friends. Total trust on display.
Della at Wynwood Yard: The Forbidden Bowl should be forbidden. Dale on the Dalé Bowl.
El Carajo: Just world class, supercool stop when driving off of 95S to US1. Baked goods, designer empanadas, killer cakes, great bottles of wine and beer to go, a tapas restaurant, and gasolina to boot.
Under the Mango Tree: Addictive acai bowls and dragon fruit smoothies in a cute spot on 5th Street on the Beach.
Macondo: If you have business in Doral — need granite, tiles, bathtubs, or Ikea — stop here for arepas, empanadas, papillote, coffee, and good style.
Vicky (since 1972), Ricky (for 20 years), and Sticky (Knaus since 1956)
Croquetas and tequenos: The best snack a dollar can buy at a hundred Cuban joints, more recently getting a superstar upgrade all over town.
Pinecrest Bakery: Flan Cheesecake and 24 hours.
Neighborhoods on the real rebound: Coconut Grove has lots going on without tearing everything down aside from eyesores like CocoWalk and the Chart House; Upper Buena Vista poses as a Bohemian escape with authentic $4 cups of coffee, but I go to hand it to ‘em — the design is peaceful.
Little River Cooperative Nursery: Cute blossoms in Allapattah, open occasionally.
All the ventanitas
Salsa Craze: Gotta give the U a plug. The best dance course for the price on Earth.
As a result, according to me, the best of Miami is small; big business may make the world’s bigwigs buy boats, but small business makes the world float. New business may seem sexy, but old business has been there through thick and thin. In other words, I don’t know whether we can live without the new donut/sashimi/ice cream/barbecue/ceviche/cocktail/brewery/lounge or Amazon, but it sure would be nice trying. In the meantime, families get by on the small, so kudos to these great local heroes. They are the heartbeat of the city.