Saturday, December 31, 2016

#ThankYouMiami for New Food Finds: Dine Around At Dolphin Mall

Even though we're not typically mall-goers, we make the pilgrimage to our local malls just like everyone else this time of year—in December to pick up gifts, in January to return gifts and use newly acquired gift cards. Whether you're a mall regular or a seasonal visitor, eating is an integral part of the shopping experience. After all, how else are you going to power through all that walking and heavy lifting? Earlier this month we stopped by the Dolphin Mall with Jamison to dine around their rapidly expanding restaurant options and gather intel on where to refuel when you're in the area. Below we report back our findings—the vibe, cuisine, ambiance, and other fun facts—about the five spots we visited.

Cabo Flats is a tex-mex joint with—to our surprise and pleasure—a real Mexican chef at the helm. It's the perfect place to unwind over an El Cabo margarita, avocabo fries, and Mexican street corn, especially when they're $5 during their twice-daily happy hour. If you're looking for a full meal, they're open for lunch and dinner, as well as for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays to offer drool-worthy options like taco bowls, fajitas, and huevos rancheros. P.S. If you like spicy cocktails, we highly recommend their jalapeño/cilantro margarita (ask them to go light on the agave).

We're super familiar with Burger & Beer Joint's locations in Brickell and South Beach, but we'd never before visited their outpost at the Dolphin Mall. We're happy to report that it is just as awesome a sports bar with mouthwatering burgers as the other two Miami locations and that they also have happy hour—two times a day in fact. On this visit, we indulged on their Mustang Sally burger (wagyu beef, red onion marmalade, brie and sliced prosciutto on a brioche bun) with green bean fries dipped in truffle aioli and french fries dipped in spicy ketchup. We washed all of the deliciousness down with an ice cold Magic City Pale Ale from Wynwood Brewing. In the words of Jamison, "F McDonalds."

Earlier this year we stopped by Kona Grill to check out their seasonal summer offerings and praised their Dolphin Mall location for their digs, stellar service and ample menu. On our second visit, we grew an even stronger appreciation for their contemporary American menu, our favorite dish of which was the poke rice bowl shown above. It includes sticky rice, furakaki (or, if you ask Jamison, "fofumaki") with bonito flakes and seaweed, fresh hand-cut salmon and ahi tuna, wakame seaweed salad, avocado and cucumber. According to Jamison this is the "best poke since I caught my own poke in Costa Rica, which was the best experience ever." Same, Jamison, same.

BRIO Tuscan Grille is another restaurant with which we're familiar and that we've previously raved about for brunch and lunch. (They've saved us on more than one occasion during past mall shopping experiences.) That said, we've never visited them at their Dolphin Mall location and never during dinner. During our visit, we had the espresso-rubbed rib eye which, to quote Jamison, had "fantastic espresso notes" and he would know because he has "six f&*#ing espressos a day". In all seriousness, it was excellent and has piqued our interest in exploring the rest of their dinner menu, particularly on Thursday wine nights when glasses of vino are only $5 at the bar. Plus, if you pick up their free loyalty card, you can get a freebie every 5th visit.

We remember a few years ago when we went to the opening of Brother Jimmy's in Mary Brickell Village. We had never heard of Brother Jimmy's, except for Brad who is from New York and was well acquainted with them from home. The first thing we wanted to do was order the swamp water because we're suckers for gimmicky drinks and between the plastic gator and the twenty colorful straws it's as gimmicky as cocktails get. We actually still have the gator from that visit as part of our living room décor. But we digress... The Brother Jimmy's at Dolphin Mall is the fun-loving, TV-laden sports bar we know and love. It's the perfect place when we want to go catch a UM football game (go 'Canes!) on TV while loading up on barbecue and large quantities of booze. Check out their weekly specials for other occasions well-worth a visit.

Friday, December 30, 2016

#ThankYouMiami How-To: Celebrating NYE Like A Local

Everyone flocks to Miami to ring in the new year because, of all the cities that throw good parties, we have the best weather. And, while we have had our time on the party-seeking end, these days we would much rather spend new year's eve at home with our closest friends, gorging on stone crab and a bottle of Veuve. This year we're putting those plans on hold to see Billy Joel at the BB&T Center because Miami 2017. Nevertheless, we wanted to share a quick post with the six events we would otherwise be attending around town for inspiration. After all, NYE only comes once a year.
Happy new year, friends! We have one more post for you that we will be releasing tomorrow, but we want to take a moment to send you our best wishes to you for a happy and healthy 2017 (and to remind you to not be that guy on NYE...).

Monday, December 26, 2016

#ThankYouMiami How-To: Spending Quality Mother-Daughter Time

My mom (the superstar also known as mamá) lives in Boca. I live in Miami. We're separated by a one hour drive and busy schedules so, when we want to spend time together, we alternate between dinner in Boca and Miami. It's worked for us since I moved here for college, but it is far from ideal.

Earlier this month we stumbled upon a new, better alternative to our mother-daughter dates: the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale. The beach resort is home to one of the Ritz-Carlton's famous luxury spas, as well as rum-centric bar, eatery and market, Burlock Coast Seafare & Spirits. I was invited to try both so I invited my mom to join me for a spa day, followed by brunch. The best part? The hotel is located halfway between Boca and Miami.

At the spa, mamá was ushered away to a manicure as I made my way to one of the wet treatment rooms for a cleansing ceremony. (The Cleansing Ceremony is a featured treatment that stimulates circulation through a full body exfoliation using iced mitts, followed by a lymphatic drainage massage to eliminate toxins.) I don't know about you, but I really needed to be cleansed—scrubbed, de-stressed and detoxed—after this year's Art Basel. Although the iced mitts and intense scrubbing made me squirm, they were just what the doctor ordered and were quickly forgotten by the time the massage began.

Mamá and I reunited equally refreshed in the spa's lounge for a cup of tea to relish in the residual serenity of our spa treatments. When the peaceful silence was interrupted by mamá's excited gabbing about her fabulous manicure experience, I ushered us to Burlock Coast for brunch. There we continued our cheerful chatter over mimosas and so many courses mamá non-stop apologized to the server for the leftover food. I, being the bottomless pit that I am, ate through everything—the assortment of artisanal cheese and charcuterie, the pork belly and eggs over cheesy truffle grits, the skirt steak and eggs, the huevos rancheros, and the key lime pie—like a champ.

Brunch, like our time at the spa, was perfect. Every dish was delicious, made all the better by Burlock Coast's incorporation of local ingredients from South Florida farms like Paradise Farms and Three Sisters Farms. They also source their coffee from Panther Coffee. Nothing revives you after $25 bottomless mimosas, bloody marys, house brews, and/or rum punch cocktails quite like that high-grade Miami jet fuel. Based on location, service, and food, we highly recommend the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale experience and will—to both mamá and my excitement—be making it our hub when we want to spend quality mother-daughter time in the future.


Friday, December 23, 2016

#ThankYouMiami for New Food Finds - Taste of the Yard

Whenever we're looking for a casual outdoor spot where we know we're going to have fun, we head to The Wynwood Yard. It's perfect. The Yard has a great vibe, always has something—whether its live music or workshops—going on, and has a myriad of food options. Their space is constantly evolving, constantly growing. In fact, a few weeks ago the Yard completed a substantial expansion that nearly doubled the size of their lot in time to celebrate their one-year anniversary. The expansion, which annexed the previously vacant parcel to the west, created more space to kick back and to host a bigger selection of food concepts.

Starting clockwise from the main entrance, the Yard is currently home to classic British cuisine at The British Garden, shaved ice at Mr. Bing, omakase sushi at Myumi, Japanese and Spanish fusion at Kuenko, mac n' cheese at the World Famous House of Mac, artisanal schnitzel and fries at Schnitz and Fritz, good-for-you fare at della test kitchen and Radiate Apothecary, ending with coffee and craft cocktails at the centrally located Steel City Coffee and Bar at The Yard, respectively. The current food truck situation at the Yard is so on point it can be overwhelming to choose what to eat. The good news is every Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. during The Taste of the Yard you don't have to! For only $25, you can sample up to 5 culinary choices from the following:
  • The Bar at The Yard: 10 oz. draft of one of the Yard's craft beers or garden-infused punch
  • The British Garden: Mini fish and chips
  • Charcoal Garden Bar + Grill: Grilled sausage
  • della test kitchen: Assorted 4 oz. house favorite bowls
  • Kuenko: Chicken donburi
  • Radiate Apothecary: Kombucha popsicle
  • World Famous House of Mac: Mini mac n' cheese

We passed by with a group of our Miami foodie friends for the first ever Taste of the Yard and made a night of eating, drinking, and sharing stories over great music. We had so much fun we have gone back a few times since. As the entrepreneurial hub and down-to-earth hangout makes way to new restaurant concepts—including the Wynwood Yard's first ever full-service restaurant built entirely out of shipping containers—we're excited to keep falling in love with it over and over again.


Monday, December 19, 2016

#ThankYouMiami for New Food Finds - The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood

Part of the Miami experience is leaving our city to explore South Florida beyond its borders. Whether its a roadtrip northward, southward or westward bound from Miami, you're bound to come across people, places, food and adventures that contribute to and are influenced by the Miami lifestyle. Most recently, we ventured to Hollywood where The Diplomat Beach Resort's oceanfront digs have been remodeled and outfitted with several new mouthwatering restaurants. There we joined the Fort Lauderdale Bloggers through a tour of Bristol's Burgers, Portico, and Diplomat Prime. Each concept's ambiance, menu, and price point was different. However, the quality service, commitment to good food, and incorporation of local ingredients—they source their produce and meats from Swank Farms and other Florida farms—was consistent throughout. Below we break down our thoughts and takeaways from each restaurant.

Bristol's Burgers
Location: West of Ocean Boulevard in Diplomat Landing
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., happy hour at 5 p.m.
Vibe: Bristol's Burgers has a casual diner look with indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the intracoastal waterway and a central bar with TVs.
Menu: Snacks, salads, burgers, slaws and sides perfect for paring with locally crafted brew from Concrete Beach, Cigar City and nearby neighbor Hollywood brewing. Click here for the full Bristol's Burger menu.
Favorites: From the menu, we loved the smoked buffalo wings, the double bacon burger and the smoked boneless rib sandwich which we paired with a delightfully Hollywood Brewing Pilsner. We're not a huge fan of bananas but we finished the brass monkey milkshake (peanut butter ice cream, banana and candied bacon caramel) in one gulp. Last but not least, they have a free play arcade at the front with a Big Buck Hunter. Who's up for challenging us to a game next weekend?

Location: Also within Diplomat Landing
Hours of Operation: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., happy hour at 5 p.m.
Vibe: Portico is a spacious wine and beer garden with only outdoor seating available at a series of picnic tables overlooking the intracoastal waterway.
Menu: Charcuterie spreads, salads and other bar bites (i.e., olives and green bean fries) to go with tap beer ($6/glass), tap wine ($7/glass), and specialty cocktails ($9/glass). They also serve some mm-mm good bruschetta and pizzas. Their menu is in flux but click here to get a general idea of their offerings.
Favorites: Every single bruschetta was delicious. That said, the standouts for us were the Philly roast pork bruschetta (with grilled broccoli, sharp provolone and Calabrian chili, inspired by the World Famous Italian Roast Pork sandwich from John's Roast Pork in Philly) and the porchetta bruschetta (with charred escarole, lemon and caper-parmesan aoli). We're huge fans of outdoor, waterfront spots so we can definitely see this place becoming a regular in our happy hour rotation. 

Diplomat Prime
Location: Inside The Diplomat's lobby (to your left as you walk in the main doors)
Hours of Operation: 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Vibe: Traditional steakhouse that has been serving high quality steaks and seafood in a fine dining setting since the hotel's initial inception. Diplomat Prime recently received a modern upgrade to breathe some new life into its look and its menu, including a pretty awesome steak knife that catches your eye as soon as you sit down.
Menu: Seafood, raw bar, steak and vegetable starters, entrées and sides ideal for celebrating any occasion accompanied with champagne, a velvety glass of wine or one of their new specialty cocktails. Click here for the full Diplomat Prime dinner menu.
Favorites: We love the finer things in life and our palate is no different. Every dish was exquisite but when it came to selecting a few dishes for seconds, we went after the lobster mac n' cheese, the Tomahawk steak, and the seafood tower—it's a tower for Pete's sake!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

#ThankYouMiami Looks Back at 2016 Miami Events

Our new Events page has been a huge hit and we're extremely excited to continue to update it for you on a regular basis. In fact, we will be adding a new roster of upcoming events for you tomorrow morning (along with a brand new food post!). That said, we don't want to forget all of the great events that we had an opportunity to share and enjoy with you. We will therefore be putting together one post a month that we update with all of the social calendar good-good we brought to you in case you want to walk down memory lane or want to look back any event details for reference. Since we're at the tail end of 2016, we will continue updating this until the first of the year at which time we'll start a new post for 2017. Here's three "hurrahs!" for this year's incredible events:

Proud To Be Miami Made: The Official Miami Startup Holiday Party
Thursday, December 8 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
56 NW 29 Street, Wynwood
The Wynwood Yard has created a beautiful gathering place for Miami's entrepreneurs and this holiday season they're spreading holiday cheer to South Florida's startup founders, freelancers, investors, partners and employees. Whether you're an established entrepreneur or you're looking to branch out on your own in 2017, this is the perfect opportunity to meet and mingle our incredible small business community.

Amour De Miami's One-Year Anniversary Brunch
Saturday, December 10 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
921 Brickell Avenue, Brickell
This week we recapped our delicious experience at French resto Amour de Miami. Their one year brunch celebration gives you the perfect excuse to stop by and try our favorite dishes. The party will feature a special brunch menu, free wine tastings, unlimited mimosas, live music and more.

Miami Flower Market's Hanging Around (Air Plants) DIY Class
Saturday, December 10 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
6964 NW 50 Street, Miami
Love air plants as much as we do? Then this free DIY class for beginners is perfect for you. The team at Miami Flower Market will walk you through designing your own hanging air plant globe to bring your home or office to life. If you're feeling generous, it also makes a great holiday gift for a friend!

Raddest Craft Fair (Holiday Edition)
Saturday, December 10 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
56 NW 29 Street, Wynwood
If you get bitten by the DIY bug at the Miami Flower Market, head over afterward to The Wynwood Yard for Prism Creative Group's holiday edition of the Raddest Craft Fair where local businesses will be leading hands-on workshops. From the workshops currently confirmed, we're amping to make friendship rings with Carla Merino, winter-scented scrubs with HypeGirls, and holiday cards with PrisLetters. Access to the Yard is free, but prices for the workshops vary.

Thrifter Market at Wynwood ArtWalk
Saturday, December 10 from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
2250 NW 2 Avenue, Wynwood
The monthly Thrifter Market is back at this month's Wynwood ArtWalk with a new collaborative of local vendors. Come join us in celebrating our community's creativity by admiring art from Wynwood's galleries and by shopping vintage and handmade finds at the market. Bonus points if you find us roaming around and say hi!

Art, Beat & Lyrics
Saturday, December 10 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
342 NW 24 Street, Wynwood
Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey is bringing one of the largest traveling urban art and music tours to Miami. While you're in the Wynwood area, join us for complimentary Jack Honey cocktails, live music, interactive visual displays from globally recognized artists, including Miami's very own Raheem Milton and Diana Contreras.
RSVP for this free event here.

2016 South Florida Bloggers Awards
Saturday, December 17 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
121 SE 1 Street, Downtown Miami
The first ever South Florida Bloggers awards are here! Come support your favorite local bloggers who juggle 9-to-5 jobs, relationships, responsibilities, and their sanity for your entertainment, including your very own Thank You Miami team. (Thanks to everyone who voted for us and helped us become semi-finalists in the Best Local Blogger category!) There will be drinks and bites provided by the Langford Hotel accompanying a fun day of networking, giveaways and lots of local love. Purchase your tickets here.

Christmas Block Party in the Leah
Saturday, December 17 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
1050 E 10 Avenue, Hialeah
Hialeah's burgeoning Leah Arts District is combining the reason for the season and local vendors for a block party underneath the Christmas light and street laden-murals of their cultural epicenter. Dust off your favorite ugly sweater, pick up an unwrapped toy (to benefit His House Children's Home) and head west for an evening of food trucks, live music, and holiday gift shopping amidst local vendors. It's much more appealing than navigating the overcrowded malls, plus there's free parking.
RSVP for this free event here.

Fr1ends F1rst Annual Holiday Sale & Pop-Up Photo Gallery
Sunday, December 18 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
40 South Pointe Drive, Miami Beach
F1rst Surf Shop, the South Beach surf community's favorite hangout, is hosting their annual holiday sale with 25% off soft goods. Take advantage of this major discount to simultaneously buy local and cross off the beach bums on your holiday list. Plus, local photogs will have prints of Miami's stunning vistas and other photos on display so you can also tackle shopping for your artsy friends. If you stop by, make sure you find us to say hi! We would love to wish you a happy holiday season in person.

Friday, December 16, 2016

#ThankYouMiami for Buying Local - 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

We're huge proponents of buying anything local: our produce, our coffee, our name it! To us, a few extra dollars are worth knowing that we're contributing toward the livelihood and dreams of one of our neighbors. Plus, that money stays within our community and becomes part of the fabric of our local economy. As you look for the perfect gifts this holiday season, we hope that you will join us in shopping Miami's small businesses. We've compiled a holiday gift guide from some of our favorites, organized by the type of people we have on our Christmas list this year, to guide you in getting something for everyone on your list.

Adventurous Friend: The HUNT Miami
Our new guide to Miami's independently-owned businesses, The HUNT Miami, is a stocking stuffer no-brainer for a friend, local or not, who loves to explore and wants to get to know Miami better. You can buy it locally at The Palms Hotel gift shop or order it online from Amazon for only $12. If you opt to go online, use which allows you to shop like you normally do while designating a local charity (like Life Is Art) to receive a small percentage of the profits.

Artsy Friend: Stunning Photos of Miami
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a photo of Miami's stunning vistas is worth a billion and who better to capture it than the talented photogs that have grown up in the 305. This Sunday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. F1rst Surf Shop (40 South Pointe Drive, Miami Beach) will be hosting their Fr1ends F1rst Annual Sale and Photo Gallery Pop-Up where you can peruse and purchase images from South Beach's very own Lou Lozada, Oscar Socarras, Jesse Wicker, and Steve Clark to give your favorite art-loving friend(s).

Athletic Friend: ResetSport Kinesiology Taping Socks
The past few months we have been training vigorously for a half-marathon and have learned to appreciate anything and everything that can help us prevent injuries and recover quickly, like ResetSports kinesiology taping socks. We usually shy away from giving functional gifts, but you have no idea how grateful we would be to get these. Also, each type of support is a different bright color which is super fun. The socks are technically made in Spain but your favorite #ThankYouMiami food contributor, Jamison, is their business manager and, because they're sold on Amazon, your purchases can benefit local charities with Amazon Smile.

Beach Bum Friend: Merch from F1rst Surf Shop
While you're at F1rst this Sunday shopping for your artsy friend, take advantage of their 25% off soft goods promo and get your beach-loving bestie (girl or guy) everything from a new swimsuit to a new Hershel backpack to a new tank with cheeky South Beach sayings. In past years, we've bought our family and friends their "If it's knee high chop, we're your shop" t-shirts to great success. We can't wait to scour the racks this weekend for new tees and other fun finds.

Coffee-Addicted Friend: Locally Roasted Coffee
It's no secret we're addicted to coffee which is what makes us the right people to tell you how important great tasting, quality coffee is to people like us. We absolutely adore our Miami specialty coffee shops and are excited to see a new socially-conscious, environmentally-friendly roasted coffee make its grand entrance in their midst. Not only is Great Circle Coffee roasted in our very own Little Haiti, but they also offer their organic coffee in three lines (handcrafted blends, single-origin coffees, and cold brew style coffees). Great Circle Coffee is available online or locally at 1 Hotel's Nativ Café in South Beach and at Perricone's Market in Brickell. Monthly coffee membership, anyone?

Fashion-Forward Guy Friend: Unique Accessories from Local Markets
Last weekend we ventured into Wynwood for the Thrifter Market at Wynwood Art Walk and came across a lot of incredible vendors, including TV Head Company out of Hialeah. They make super unique wooden products (sunglasses, watches, bow ties). We are particularly enamored with this flamingo bow tie design which is perfect for the fashion-forward man who's look is inspired by the beauty of the tropics. You can shop it and other TV Head Company products online and in person at this Saturday's Leah Arts District Christmas Block Party where Thrifter Miami has curated another incredible selection of local vendors.

Fashion-Obsessed Girl Friend: Unique Accessories from Local Markets
In a world of fast fashion, where everyone is sporting the same look, one-of-a-kind accessories are critical in setting yourself apart. Last weekend's Thrifter Market was chockfull of options for your favorite female fashionista. Our favorite purveyor is mobile boutique Sugar Luxe Society which had  several racks of fun clothes and beautiful jewelry like the lock bracelet shown above. They too will be on site at the Leah Arts District Christmas Block Party so you can spoil your fashion-obsessed girl friends. Can't make it? Items from their inventory are also available for purchase online.

Health Nut Friend: Holiday Box Set from Radiate Apothecary
In the new expansion at The Wynwood Yard, the Della Test Kitchen courtyard acquired a new tenant that has everything your health nut friends need: Radiate Apothecary. Here you can purchase everything from kombucha on tap to natural toothpaste to fermented veggies. We recommend customizing your own gift set a la carte or allowing founder Susan Duprey to guide you in selecting the best plant-based, organic and locally sourced contents for its lucky recipient.

P.S. Santa, if you're reading this, please see above for our Christmas list.

Images via Margarita Wells, Oscar Socarras Photography, ResetSports, F1rst Surf Shop, Great Circle Coffee and Margarita Wells, respectively.
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