Friday, June 3, 2011

Miami Café

When I moved back to Philly I craved the flavors of Miami. I missed the diversity, the food, and the music. You can’t find one decent Spanish radio station in Philadelphia, good and authentic Spanish dishes, or walk the streets and hear at least 4 different languages at once. Sometimes I forget I’m back up north and can’t just go off speaking Spanish; it’s English only! I feel restricted and bored; it’s not nearly as entertaining as South Florida. Miami feels like it’s not even a part of the United States; it’s its own country. Don’t get me wrong, I love Philly but the grass is always greener. I may not be able to change the people or the culture but I can find a piece of Miami tucked away somewhere in Philly. I want to immerse myself with Latin food, music, and people so I took on the streets of Philly to find my Miami getaway.

Miami Café
Miami Café is my perfect getaway from the food to the people. It is that piece of South Beach I was searching for. It’s a restaurant and a Latin nightclub rolled into one. They serve excellent Cuban dishes; their signature dishes are copitas de chorizo (sautéed sausage) and pollo planchado (pressed chicken sandwich). They have live entertainment and even offer FREE salsa lessons on Friday nights. Tuesday nights is the only night I would not recommend since its rock night but Thursday’s is ladies night. If you want to dance the night away head upstairs to the Azucar Lounge. Depending on the night the Azucar Lounge plays house, reggaeton, salsa, or bachata and downstairs at Miami Café they are playing rock en Espanol, Latin jazz, or salsa. This place will satisfy any Hispanic or Miami native. You can find Miami Café located at 429 South Street in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cuba Libre & G Lounge

Ms. Miami in Philly
I’m flipping the script…for my next two posts I’m going to take the Philly out of Miami and put the Miami in Philly. I’ve told you my secrets and gave you my favorite hot spots in Miami and now I’m going to give you some of my Miami spots in Philly. For those of you (who are like me) that can’t figure out which side the grass is greener on, these posts are for you…

I’ve been back and forth between Miami and Philadelphia so many times I’ve lost count and each time I’m away from one city I find myself missing it. So when I’m in Philly I need my dose of Miami and vice versa. Miami is big for its nightlife and most places don’t close until 7am but I’m not going to tell you about a never ending club in Philly (they don’t exist). Miami is very culturally diverse and when I’m away from it I start missing the people and sound. Not only do I miss the atmosphere but I miss the sound of bachata blasting out of every store you walk by. No you’re not going to find a little Havana in Philly but you can go to clubs that remind you of South Florida.

G Lounge
The G Lounge reminded me of Miami the second I stepped in from the overpriced cover charge to the music. They played a lot of house music and everyone is well dressed. There are three main bars and lots of seating. You also run into celebrities/athletes at the G. However, it gets packed and the dance floor isn’t that big but people make do. They have a good décor, good looking people, and a pretty cool VIP area. To go to the G Lounge you better be rollin’ like a “G”. It’s located right under Davio’s restaurant at 111 S 17th St in Philadelphia.

Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar
Cuba Libre has more of a Miami feel to it with its palm trees and devotion to Cuban heritage. It is very tropical inside and has an open air setting. Cuba Libre is a restaurant that turns into a Latin nightclub at night. I never ate there but they serve traditional Cuban dishes. Their nightlife is fantastic (if you like Latin music) with nonstop Latin music of all kinds such as tropical dance, salsa, merengue, bachata, and Latin house. They even have professional salsa dancers performing on certain nights. This is my absolute favorite place and make sure to be prepared to dance all night long. Cuba Libre is located in Olde City at 10 S 2nd St.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Big Al's Steaks

“Big Al's Steaks provides 20 minute Philadelphia experiences -- via your taste buds.” – Big Al’s

I know the suspense was killing you and you've all been wondering when I was going to talk about the big purple elephant in the room...cheesesteaks! No true Philadelphian can live without an authentic Philly cheesesteak…you got it I was on the verge of death due to lack of my wiz wit cheesesteaks. This was by far my toughest task and if truth be told I wasn’t even the one who discovered this miracle. A fellow Philadelphian transplant friend of mine, GVC, sniffed out the best and only Philly owned steak shop in Florida. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the cheesy, juicy sandwich…I devoured it within seconds and then regretted that I did not savor this tasty comfort food.

Big Al’s
Big Al and his son Adam are from Philly so they know what a Philly cheesesteak should really taste like. They have their steak rolls shipped directly from Philly, they offer cheese wiz, provolone, and American cheeses, and they slice their meat (not chopped). Not only do they sell cheesesteaks but also rib-eye sliders, hoagies, deep fried hot dogs, fries, and even TASTYKAKES! Big Al’s has won several awards for their cheesesteaks. Not only are they a steak shop but a franchise with multiple locations in Florida. They even teach you on the website how to order a cheesesteak like a true Philadelphian. Cheesesteaks and Tastykakes, all they need is to sell soft pretzels and they would be your Philly one stop shop. Philadelphians you will not be disappointed and Floridians you know you want to try one or two.

Delray Beach, Coconut Creek, Boynton Beach, and Palm Beach Gardens.

“For some, Big Al’s Steaks is the mouth-watering taste of home that they’ve been craving. For others, Big Al’s Steaks is the chance to finally experience what they’ve been missing.” – Big Al’s

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Laurenzo's Italian Center

I’m an Italian-American which means I have to be within a five mile radius of a cannoli at all times. I loooove everything Italian from the food to the wine so I have to constantly surround myself with the culture. Finding a good Italian market is hard to find and they are always good to have around when you’re too lazy to cook (especially when you’re so lazy you’d rather die of starvation than cook). South Philly is predominately Italian and there are tons of places to get your Italian fix, especially at the Italian market. And just like my previous posts…I went back on the hunt for Italian anything. Now this was more of a challenge since you’re surrounded by predominantly Hispanic and Caribbean cultures in Miami; there is an abundant amount of places to find rice and beans, and meat patties but not a decent cannoli. Eventually I found an Italian market through the sea of rice and chicken and it has everything Italian you can imagine.

Laurenzo’s Italian center is a market, café, wine shop, bakery, and a farmers market all in one. They have authentic Italian products and a wide variety of everything; it has a very old school Italian feel to the place especially with its checkered tablecloths and watching a man pull fresh mozzarella right in the cafeteria style café. The café serves lunch and hot meals to-go as well. They have fresh handmade pasta, great Italian cheeses, and an interesting selection of wine. They also have a seafood market with a great seafood selection. The farmers market is filled with fresh fruit, vegetables, and spices all for the fraction of the price at the grocery store. Not only are they the best grocery store substitute but they cater as well. Their catering menu is extensive and they give very generous portion sizes. Laurenzo’s is a great place to find those hard to find strictly authentic Italian items. It’s the best Italian market in south Florida.

Contact Info
Laurenzo’s is open from 9am to 7pm Monday thru Saturday and 9am to 5pm on Sundays. They are located at 16385 west Dixie highway in North Miami Beach.