Saturday, October 22, 2016

#ThankYouMiamiStaysInMiami: Staycation At Hotel Colonnade in Coral Gables

While South Beach is a no brainer for tourists and even locals looking for a “So Miami” getaway, there are so many other cool, overlooked parts of Miami. We’re Miami OGs so we know our city goes further than regattas, bongos and palm trees. But we sometimes forget that its various neighborhoods transcend their stereotypical reputations. Yes, the City of Coral Gables is low-key but it is so much more than that too. Last week we kicked off our weekend with a little staycation at the Hotel Colonnade in Coral Gables and it made us see the neighborhood in a totally different light.

We’ve recently found ourselves crossing over to the Gables more and more for amazing brunches, happy hours and inescapable Miami Spice menus, but our time at the Hotel Colonnade showed us there is much more to love hiding in its quiet streets. For starters, we were lucky enough to experience the hotel’s newly renovated…everything, starting with the Bridal Ballroom where we enjoyed an intimate bridal themed dinner. Dinner was a delectable meal of chicken, lamb and sea bass accompanied by good friends (and endless wine), which ended with relaxing live music and a photo booth fully stocked with whimsical props. We kept the vibes (and champagne) flowing into the game room where we enjoyed delicate dessert bites, girl talk, and a very uncompetitive game of jenga. The end of the night was a blur - just as any successful bridal shenanigans should be.

We learned for certain that hangovers aren’t a “thing” at Hotel Colonnade, no matter how much you enjoyed yourself the night before, because waking up in their beds was like resurrecting on a cloud. So much so that our “5 more minutes in bed” led us to missing out on the rooftop pilates class. (Oops!) Luckily we made it in time to catch the end of the class and get a lowdown on their upcoming rooftop yoga and pilates classes—we’ll be keeping an eye on their Facebook page for sure. (Enjoying delicious eats and bubbly is our number one hobby so we’ve got to work off the calories somehow.)

All in all our stay reminded us what we love the most about Miami. Every time think we’ve got it all figured out we venture somewhere new and end up in awe all over again. Next time you find yourself in Coral Gables’ take the moment to admire the beautiful Beaux Arts architecture and european influence of its romantic streets. (The Hotel Colonnade has some spiffy cruisers that are great for venturing.) On our end, our stay revealed to us that Miracle Miles’ year-long glistening tree lights and sophisticated ambiance undeniably make it the most romantic place anywhere near us. We are in love.

P.S. We've been nominated for Best Local Blogger in the 2016 South Florida Blogger Awards. If you love our blog, vote for us! There's no limit to how many times you can vote. Thank you, Miami!


Thursday, October 20, 2016

#ThankYouMiami for Hidden Gems - @LekokeWines

Little Havana is a mecca of hidden gems, most of which have been effectively discovered thanks to how quickly word of mouth spreads around here. Alas we were surprised when we were invited to discover a hidden gem of which we'd never heard. In fact, without said invitation we never would have seen Lekoke Wine and Bites sitting pretty on Calle Ocho, just west of NW 12th Ave. But now we know—and now YOU know—and our life is all the better for it.

There are three reasons why you need to visit Lekoke: stellar wine, stellar food and stellar prices. During our visit we savored a delicious red without abandon, comforted by the knowledge that Lekoke has a huge selection lining the walls among which we spotted some of our go-to wines. (There's something super therapeutic about being surrounded by good wines, no?) For dinner, we enjoyed a prix fixe menu that they offered exclusively for $45 with wine pairings during the Miami Spice months and which we're officially petitioning they bring back.

While we get our petition going, you can order most of our favorite Lekoke items straight off their regular menu. You can't go wrong ordering any of the cold bites but don't neglect the light and delicious caprese salad in your excitement over charcuterie. That would be a rookie mistake. The hot bites are also a win-win scenario, with the empanadillas (in their warm croissant dough), the bruschetta and the kokito toston as the stand-outs in our book. Pro tip: If you ever spy a seafood pasta on their specials, get it. No questions asked. It was our all-time favorite from our visit and the primary motivator behind our aforementioned petition to bring back their prix fixe.

As far as prices go, their regular menu is reasonably priced at a range of $8 to $18 per appetizer dish—a steal from Tuesday through Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. when you can accompany them with 2-for-1 beer and wine. They also launched a boozy Sunday brunch last weekend with all you can eat and drink for $35 that we hope they will continue to repeat. Whether you're looking to shake up your Little Havana routine or drown your sorrows with vino and food, Lekoke's got you. And, since it's still one of Miami's best kept secrets there are no waits, no crowds, just unadulterated goodness.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

#ThankYouMiami Talks Upcoming Events (& Raffles @SobeSeafoodFest Tix!)

Miami's social life is back in full swing so we're coming at ya with a list of seven upcoming local events that caught our eye because they're too good not to share. Our selection encompasses the next few weeks of the best in music, shopping and (an overwhelming amount of) food. Which event are you most excited about? Why?

P.S. We're considering starting an event calendar feature where we can upload events more regularly on our site. What do you think? Would you find it useful? What kind of events would you like to see us include? Oh, and if you enjoy reading our blog, don't forget to support us by voting us for Best Local Blogger in the 2016 South Florida Blogger Awards.

1. Magic City Hippies at Seaspice Live
Saturday, October 15 at 10:30 p.m.
422 NW North River Drive, Miami
We love the Magic City Hippies not only for being a local band, but also because they put on an incredible show. Any chance you have to see them live—like tonight—take it. Trust us.
RSVP by calling (305) 440-4200 or emailing

2. Lekoke Wines' Boozy Sunday Brunch
Sunday, October 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
1225 SW 8 Street, Little Havana
Lekoke Wines is a hidden gem of delicious food and wines we've kept to ourselves since we first visited last month for happy hour pero, now that they've announced their new all you can eat and drink boozy brunch for $35, the guilt of our selfishness is too real. Alas, we've added it to this list and you can expect to see our stand-alone review really soon.
RSVP by calling (305) 848-5656.

3. Robert "Raven" Kraft's Birthday Run
Monday, October 17 at 5:15 p.m.
5 Street Lifeguard Stand, Miami Beach
Raven is a South Beach local world renown for running 8 miles a day for the last 40 years and he hasn't missed a single day ever. In fact, we ran with him through Tropical Storm Ivan and we spotted him running last week with a handful of people during the brunt of Hurricane Matthew. The all-time record turn out for his annual birthday run is 54 people and he's aiming to break it this year. Join us in celebrating one of neighborhood icons by making his birthday wish come true! (If you're not ready to run 8 miles, you can join us for as long as you want/can.)
No RSVP needed for this free run but here's more info on the Raven Run.

4. Sustainable Seafood Soirée at Zest
Tuesday, October 18 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
200 S Biscayne Boulevard, Downtown Miami
This month we're planning to gorge on seafood and it's been making the environmentalist in us feeling a bit guilty so we were excited to discover the cobia starring in this four-course seafood dinner was sustainably harvested. Even better? A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Miami Cancer Institute.
Purchase your tickets here before Sunday, October 16.

5. DIY "Pink Pizza" Making Event at Tino's
Thursday, October 20 at 6:30 p.m. and at 8:30 p.m.
1040 S Miami Avenue, Brickell
In a super unique and fun twist to raising breast cancer awareness, Tino's invites us to make our very own pizza pie with pink sauce while sipping on rosé and they don't have to ask us twice. "I'm hoping everyone not only has a great time and enjoys their pizza, but [also remembers] what it all represents," says Tino's chef and owner Constantine De Lucia.

6. SoBe Seafood Festival
Saturday, October 22 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
7 Street and Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
Celebrate the start of stone crab season with Kendall Jackson wines, Herradura tequila, and seafood, seafood, and more seafood. Need we say more?
Purchase your tickets here. (Use code "THANKYOU20" for 20% off or enter our ticket giveaway at the bottom of this post.)

7. Third Annual "Flying with the Stars"
Wednesday, November 2 at 7 p.m.
5937 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
Italian Michelin-starred chefs Davide Brovelli and Tommaso Arrigoni, in collaboration with Salumeria 104 and Midtown Oyster Bar's very own Chef Angelo Masarin, promise us a six-course wine-paired gastronomic adventure. Yes, this dinner comes at a hefty price tag ($250/person) but you know the meal will be well-worth it and it contributes to two worthy causes—the Dolphins Cancer Challenge and Operation Lift Hope.

8. Thrifter Market
Saturday, November 12 at 6 p.m.
2250 NW 2nd Avenue, Wynwood
Discover and support local vendors while enjoying music and delicious food. Plus, you may spy yours truly in the crowd!

And now for the giveaway... May the odds be ever in your favour, Miami!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

#ThankYouMiami Shares A Red, The Steakhouse Story

Last month when we went to Red, The Steakhouse for my birthday dinner, my friend Jamison—yes, the same Jamison who had the unfortunate fate as leading man in our hilarious Ocio story—showed up dressed like a Ivy-League-college-professor-slash-food-critic. He had previously shown food blogging promise thanks to his (almost snobby) obsession with great food, his bizarrely spot-on observations during past meals, and his ability to point out food trends before anyone else.

On the night of my birthday, however, he was on another level. It's like he took on the food critic persona that we all attributed to him because of his outfit choice to the point that, when we left, our server turned to him and said, "I hope you enjoyed your meal. We look forward to your review." You already got a brief review of Red in our Best of Miami Spice 2016 post, but I asked him to put together a post with his take of the night as a birthday favor. I hope you enjoy reading his unique perspective as much as we enjoyed hearing about it throughout dinner!

Per usual, I was early. Per usual, Margarita was second to show. Per usual, we waited for the rest of our party... Fortunately, this gave us some time to enjoy a drink at the bar and begin our usual banter. In typical fashion, Margarita walked in looking as if she had just come from an appointment at the "blow dry bar". (Editor's note: I'm pretty sure my hair was in an up-do. Men.) I, on the other hand, was out of contacts and came straight from work wearing my spectacles—a look which rarely leaves the house. Margarita was quick to point out I looked like a professor. This point was not quickly let down.

The rest of our party "soon" arrived, and we were "quickly" seated. (Editor's note: Yes, the rest of our party arrived on Miami time to our reservation. Yes, the hostess did make a big deal about it and made us wait an unusually long time to be seated even though a thousand tables were open.) The dinner coincided with Miami Spice so the default theme of the night became affordability. To my MASSIVE surprise, Red has a bring your own wine corkage fee. An even bigger surprise? One of our guests had the wherewithal to bring two bottles (Editor's note: It wasn't just any red. It was Caymus. My friend Roy brought two bottles of Caymus.) Naturally, "the professor" was asked to taste and approve the wine to which I obliged. While I would love to provide more details on which red wine we paired with our red meats, keep in mind it was provided by another guest in our party (read, free). Thus, I didn't care and I don't know.

After some great conversation with friends old and new, its was time to peruse the menu options and order. The preferred Miami Spice menu was typically structured ($39 for three-courses prix fixe) with a caveat. Each section had add-on options that came at an up-charge. One such option—a quite popular one at our table—was the burrata. Another appetizer option was calamari. Going with either these choices increased the Miami Spice dinner cost to $49. If memory serves me correctly, 8 of 9 guests had ordered off the Miami Spice menu and 7 of 8 had ordered the petite filet entrée by the time the server arrived to take my order.

Now, burrata is a dish that I hold dear to my heart and I had recently been on a burrata kick. Under any other circumstances, the standard order of burrata followed by filet would have been my go-to. However, this steakhouse has a distinctly Italian flare so the veal chop parmesan caught my eye. Naturally, I had important questions for our server, such as "Is it good?" He informed me that it is one of their mostly highly rated dishes on the menu and, with a wink, added, "It is huge." SOLD!

After countless glasses of wine (and a stolen bite of burrata for me), everyone else's empty appetizers plates were cleared to make room for the main course. The table quickly filled with petite filets, followed by my dish. The petite filets were, well, petite. On the other hand, my veal chop parmesan was enormous and looked all the larger surrounded by the rest of the table's 6 oz. mini steaks. My plate could have fed the whole table! After eating about 1/3 of it—it was delicious!—and sharing a bit more, I tapped out deeply satisfied. From the smiling faces around the table, I could tell everyone else also enjoyed their meals.

By this time, it was getting quite late and the evening was starting to wrap up. Dessert was dessert. (I really don't know many people who get overtly excited at this point in a meal.) The most noteworthy moment at this point was Margarita's reaction to the birthday song. While most people would be embarrassed and bear the singing with their heads bowed, our fearless birthday girl chose instead to reprimand us. "I can't hear you! Louder!" she exclaimed while motioning her hands up and down like a conductor. Thanks to the food, the ambiance, and the company our evening at Red was truly a one-of-a-kind and spectacular night.

Jamison waiting at Red's bar.
The famous and well-worth-it burrata at an up-charge. 
"Mine is bigger than yours."
Jamison and at least a week's worth of veal chop parmesan.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

#ThankYouMiami for Seafood, Seafood & More Seafood - @SobeSeafoodFest 2016

First and foremost, thanks to the old gods and the new for sparing Miami from Hurricane Matthew's path. We're extremely grateful our beaches, our roads, our homes and our people look like they did before the storm skipped past us, allowing us to return to business as usual. In fact, III Points successfully kicked off its first day yesterday. (Yes, due to the storm, the festival lost one headliner but none of its killer vibes were damped by the news and tonight Thievery Corporation is going to bring it!) Today the 'Canes are playing against FSU and we're going to be right in the thick of it, eating a bajillion hot dogs and yelling our orange and green hearts out. Last but not least, Miami Beach's Ciclovía is still go for tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Washington Avenue. The entire street will be closed from 5 to 16 Street for biking, skating, jogging or walking and is a great way to soak up the outdoors after the 48 hour storm quarantine.

The last event that we attended pre-storm was the SoBe Seafood Festival's Chef Showdown Preview on the Dream Hotel's rooftop. (You may recall that we attended the chef competition preview last year and loved it.) Unlike previous years, 2016 was all about tequila because Herradura is one of the title sponsors and new to this year's Chef Showdown is a Herradura bartender competition. In addition to the delicious shrimp, tuna, surf n' turf, taco, lobster and other food competitions, you'll also get to sample and vote for the delicious cocktails that come out of the competition! Plus, you'll also get access to the Casa Herradura Experience which is coming to Miami especially for this event. (Here's a post describing what you can expect at a Casa Herradura Experience.)

At the preview, there were ample Herradura samples (read, shots) and delicious margs to go around, which we enjoyed with our #foodiefriends as we collectively fought each other for the passed Naked Taco bites. Seriously, whenever a tray of food came out, it was like the "Mine. Mine. Mine." seagull battle from Finding Nemo. In fact, thanks to our #foodiefriend Amber Bond we expertly positioned ourselves under a tree right where the food was coming out so we could have first dibs. The food went so quickly so our food photos from the night are the worst but take our word for it, you want it all. Every. Last. Bite. Grab your tickets ("thankyou20" for 20% off) before it's too late. After all, the SoBe Seafood Festival is only two weeks away!

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