What can you do and how much can you eat in Miami in two days? A lot, as it turns out! We’re still waiting on our residency papers here in Costa Rica to be approved, so that means having to leave the country every three months so that we don’t over stay our visitor visa. We wanted a location that was inexpensive, relatively easy to get to, and where we knew we were guaranteed to have a good time – Miami baby – queue eyebrow raise and smirk. Miami has a lot to offer: a roaring nightlife scene (not our thing), multiple animal prisons (yeah I said it) like aquariums, zoos, and “swim with the dolphins” crap (we ain’t about that animal cruelty), shopping (eh, could be fun), and wait for it… VEGAN FOOD. Sorry guys, but I get really excited about vegan food. You tell me there’s a new vegan restaurant and I’m all over it like Gollum on the Ring. We spent the days before our trip planning all the details and let me tell you, everything was scheduled around breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We were not disappointed – queue another eyebrow raise and smirk. We did do other things besides eat, but I’ll start with that first because I know that’s what you all came here for.
Where and what we ate:
Planta South Beach… I’m being honest when I say that this is the best vegan food I’ve ever had. You could taste the love in every dish. The ambiance in this place was also so on point. It’s light, airy, modern – just beautiful. We had the privilege of eating here twice!
Day 1 (dinner): We started with the Spicy Tuna roll made with dehydrated watermelon (incredible) and the Cashew Nut Cheese Board. Before going vegan, I was a huge fan of cheese boards, so I was really excited to try a vegan one for the first time, and oh boy, it blew me away. Three types of cheese paired with olives, homemade jam, pickled onions and cucumber, and sesame seed crackers. Yeah, it was messed up how good it was. For entrees, we had the Planta Burger with truffle cashew mozzarella (this was a fried piece of melty vegan cheese, people – it doesn’t get any better than that) and the Bianca Pizza with black truffles (we couldn’t get enough of the truffle). For dessert, we shared (I’m not proud of this fact, but we were already so full) the Flourless Banoffee Pie. Have you ever had banana cream pie? Well this is better than any you’ve ever had, trust me.
Day 2 (brunch): I love me a good brunch! It’s hard to find a fully vegan brunch anywhere, so I was pretty excited for this. We had the Cauliflower Tots to start – I could have eaten a million of these babies. We followed that up with the Bangers n’ Hash, which was topped with kimchi and a spicy Asian sauce, which gave it an unexpected, but bangin’ flavor (see what I did there? Bangin’… bangers n’ hash… sorry). We also had the Fried “Chickn” Mushroom Waffles. The “chicken” was made out of fried oyster mushrooms and all I can say is wowowowowow it was crazy good. Instead of being topped with syrup, it was smothered in a sweet/savory gravy – once again, yum! We left very, very happy. I have to warn you, the food was not cheap, but it was worth every damn penny. I have a new favorite restaurant; it’s called Planta South Beach.
Love Life Cafe is located in a really cool part of Wynwood where colorful and diverse murals cover every wall along the streets, which is really a huge art installation called the “Wynwood Walls.” The inside of the cafe feels like it’s part of the installation with a rainbow wall and colorful sitting area as soon as you walk in the door. It’s a really neat place with a homey vibe and an open kitchen, so we could smell the amazing food as soon as we entered… we were ready to eat! We also ate here twice.
Day 1 (lunch): We decided to start with the empanadas: mushroom, kale, and jackfruit. You can’t go wrong with vegan empanadas – they were so good. We then got the “Best Veggie Burger in America,” which was served with sweet potato fries – I have to say, it is the best veggie burger that I’ve had! We also got the quesadilla – YUM. Everything tasted like home cooking – simple flavors, all from scratch, like yo’ momma made it for ya.
Day 2 (dinner): We had the cheeseburger (I highly recommend it) and some more empanadas (we just had to). Honestly, the empanadas were so good, I would go back just for those. They made me do a happy dance at the table and you will too if you ever get the chance to eat there.
The V Shops… oh my goodness you guys… Located in Coconut Grove, it’s a completely vegan food hall – the first of it’s kind! I couldn’t believe I had never heard of it before. There are multiple vendors, all offering something different: ice cream, juices and smoothies, baked goods, coffee, pizza, burritos and bowls, burgers, BBQ, not to mention a little section where you can buy vegan goodies for your pantry. It felt amazing to walk into a place full of so many different options and to know that they were all vegan. We felt so liberated! You know we had to eat here twice… we would have gone back a third time if we had been able to.
Day 1 (breakfast): We decided to try some baked vegan donuts (matcha, hibiscus, and classic glazed) and a breakfast empazone, which was filled with tofu scramble and vegan sausage. Everything was delicious – god, I could actually go for that empazone right now – and we left super happy knowing we’d be back for more.
Day 2 (dinner): We went back to The V Shops knowing we would be ordering a couple of pizzas, but I had no idea that these pizzas were going to be the best pizzas I had ever had in my entire life. We tried the “Buffalo Bob,” which had buffalo chik’n, cheese, and a ranch drizzle, as well as a classic pepperoni pizza. Do you ever have food and you’re just so blown away by it and excited that you feel like laughing and crying at the same time? Mmmmhm yeah. The pizzas were huge, so we ended up saving some of it and eating it on the plane two days later – it was still bomb. We also got some vegan fried donuts. Cream filled. Strawberry, Blueberry, and Guava cheesecake. All freaking amazing. I wish you could see them in all their glory, but I didn’t get a photo because we got them to go and they were in a cardboard box – not exactly photo worthy. Guess you’ll just have to go there and try them yourself to see how beautiful they are. Don’t be mad.
Where we stayed:
We chose to stay in the Element by Westin. The Element – sounds fancy, but it was right by the airport – a very industrial area. I mean, one night we were driving back to the hotel using our navigator and I thought, “Why are we being taken down this sketchy road?” Then I see us coming up on our hotel and realize, oh, it’s because our hotel is on this sketchy road. Made me laugh. Being real, the hotel was very decent and nice looking inside. The rooms were comfy and we got to watch a Harry Potter marathon on TV every night, so it was all good. Next time though… I will probably choose to stay at the Hotel Arya. It’s literally right next door to the V Shops. Donuts and empazones for breakfast every morning? Yes, please.
What we did when we weren’t stuffing our faces:
Coconut Grove is a little section of boutique shops and restaurants – a nice place to walk around, get a bite to eat, and maybe do some shopping. While walking around, we stumbled into a really neat bookshop. In case you didn’t know, I previously worked for two years in a bookshop called Books & Books in Grand Cayman. I left the job only a few months ago when we moved to Costa Rica, so I was feeling very nostalgic when inside this quaint little book store that reminded me so much of the one back home. I was looking around and noticed “Books & Books” written on a blackboard inside the shop. I then realized I was in the fairly new Coconut Grove location of Books & Books, my old stomping grounds!… (kind of *wink*). It was a cool, serendipitous-feely moment. We looked around for a while and took some photos (it was a very photogenic little place). I highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the area!
The district of Wynwood: besides the food, our reason for going there was to check out an ethical clothing shop called Reformation. I really had no idea where it was; I only had an address, so we followed our navigator and ended up at the Miami Design District, which is a super upscale outdoor shopping mall, featuring designer shops and expensive cars parked on every street corner. We found Reformation and I ended up buying five pairs of pants – not kidding. Their stuff is high quality – a little bit on the pricy side, but that’s what you pay for ethical clothing that will probably last you forever. Check ‘em out! Once we left, I was pretty certain that none of the other stores would be in my price range *nervous laugh* so we window shopped for a little while and mooooved on.
We decided to check out the Frost Science Museum. I had read about activities you can participate in, a dinosaur exhibit, a bird rehabilitation center, and a planetarium show. Cool! Or so we thought… I don’t want to get all negative here, but I want to keep it real. The place bummed me out. First of all, we were there on a Saturday. There were tons of lil whippersnappers running around, taking over all the activities, yelling, doin’ what lil whippersnappers do best. The exhibits didn’t wow me; I felt like I was back in high school (I really didn’t need that feeling again). Then we had to walk through the aquarium section, which we were not wanting to experience for obvious reasons. Seeing animals behind bars makes me sad, man. By the end, we felt mentally drained (probably on account of the screaming children), so we didn’t even stay for the planetarium show that was included in the price of our ticket. The only thing we really got out of the place was some photos of Miami from the roof top. Unless you really love science, screaming children, or places that are full of people, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Aventura Mall – I hadn’t been in years and I was excited because I have fond memories of hanging out there from when I was a tween – getting an iced tea from Starbucks, shopping at Urban Outfitters, checkin’ out all the cute boys – you know how it is. We went on a Sunday, so of course it was packed with people. We did get some Starbucks though, and we did walk through Urban Outfitters, so it was worth it! When we were ready for some peace and quiet, we decided to go and see a movie: Annabelle Comes Home… which was not very good… not to mention this particular theater experience was the strangest I have ever had. It was like we were on another planet where common courtesy did not exist. I’m not angry, okay? I’m laughing as I write this because it was bizzare. I’m talking people constantly getting up to get more concessions, people texting, scrolling on Instagram, using their phone flashlights to look for something in their bag, tripping over their food containers when leaving, talking to one another in normal voices… one guy sneezed below us and, from above us, we hear, “Bless you!” and then from below, “Thanks!” I’m like where the f*ck are we and what is happening?! I wanted to stand up and pull a Patrick Star: “WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?!”
Well, that’s it… Back to Costa Rica we went! It was a fun trip and most of all, I was really pleased to see so many vegan options available in Miami. A simple google search will provide you with way more options than I’ve presented here, but the restaurants that are presented here are crazy good, so you better check them out next time you find yourself there and in need of sustenance. Would I go back to Miami? For sure! There are some more things that I’d like to do, like visit the art museum, maybe check out the beach, and of course, have some extra time to look for more vegan food. There are some nice spots to walk around, amazing restaurants, and if you’re missing anything from your closet, Miami is the place to get it! It’s a perfect weekend getaway.
Are you planning a trip to Miami? Maybe you’ve already been! Let us know in the comments below :)