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.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Parrot Lounge

Now no true Philly fan is satisfied with only one Philly hangout, but come one people its Miami, not Philly! Well settle down, there is one other Philly owned bar in Fort Lauderdale that I smelled out. I believe we all remember 2008 when the Phillies won the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays (GO PHILLIES); well I was depressed since I couldn’t go home to be with my people and enjoy the game to its highest potential. My mom was actually the one that found this bar for me since she knew how bummed I was. Of course I was skeptical as to how “Philly” this bar really was going to be and to my surprise I saw a sea of red. It was packed inside and out filled with Philly love and never an argument. I fell in love with the Parrot Lounge from the very first game and you can bet I was there for every other game and every other Philly team, win or lose. It is defiantly my favorite Philly bar in South Florida.

Philly Sports Nation
Not only is the Parrot Lounge just a block away from the beach but it is a Philly nation bar. The Parrot is a Philly’s hangout and other teams don’t bother stepping foot inside. The second you walk in you feel like you’re in Philly, everyone is covered in their Philly’s sports attire. It is a sports watching atmosphere and you'll end up making friends with complete strangers. Everyone is an Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, and/or Sixers fan. It’s like indoor tailgating by the beach anytime there is a Philly sports game on.

The Parrot Lounge
Aside from the Philly’s watching they have a ton of different beers on tap, and good food. It’s a very casual small bar but they have an outdoor area and they have a very reasonably priced menu. They also have about 20 TVs all around the bar so you don’t have to worry about finding a good seat to watch the game. The bartenders and waiters are very friendly and give great service. They are also almost always having some kind of special; my personal favorite is taco Tuesday. The Parrot Lounge is located at 911 Sunrise Lane, Fort Lauderdale.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Philly Pretzel Heaven - "It's a sin not to eat them!"

“Few places in the world are easily defined by a single food item, Seattle has coffee, New York has pizza, and Philadelphia has pretzels (along with cheese steaks but who’s counting).” – Philly Pretzel Heaven

Pretzels and cheesesteaks were the two things I missed the most while living in Miami. Every morning in Philly I would get a coffee and soft pretzel but living in Miami I had to do without the pretzel. Whenever I went back home to visit I would always lug back a ton of pretzels but they never lasted long. I introduced soft pretzels to my Miami friends and they fell in love which meant my pretzel stash would go even quicker. Once you get a taste of an authentic soft pretzel from Philly there’s no turning back. You may ask well what about Auntie Anne’s Pretzels? Well of course they have Auntie Anne’s in Miami but compared to a real soft pretzel they’re crap. They are thin, rubbery, and not chewy. Once you go Philly you’ll never go back. And on that note Miami I am proud to introduce you to Philly Pretzel Heaven. The best and I’m pretty sure the only genuine soft pretzel place in South Florida.

Philly Pretzel Heaven
When I first walked into Philly Pretzel Heaven I was skeptical and didn’t expect it to live up to my taste buds but when I took my first bite I was right back on the street of Philly. It was everything I didn’t expect and more. I couldn’t tell the difference between a pretzel purchased from a truck on the streets of Philly and a pretzel from Philly Pretzel Heaven. They have great pretzels for even better prices. They sell soft pretzels, pretzel twisters, pretzel nuggets, pretzel dogs, and pretzel sliders. The owner grew up in northeast Philadelphia so he knows exactly what a real soft pretzel should taste like. They’ve only been open since 2006 but they are doing a darn good job. If you never enjoyed a real soft pretzel I encourage you to go try one and if you’re a Philly transplant, trust me you won’t be disappointed. Philly Pretzel Heaven is located at 5021 South State Road 7, #210 Davie Florida.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lost Weekend

Need a place to hang out, throw one back, and watch an Eagles game with fellow fans, well Lost Weekend is the place to go. There are a lot of transplants from Philadelphia and New York in Miami so it’s inevitable that there are going to be a few bars to enjoy your hometown teams. Night after night, season after season I would sit in my room (alone or with one/two other fellow fans) and watch the games. Eventually I got tired of locking myself in my room rooting for my home teams; I wanted to be around my crazy adoring fans so out I went braving all the haters and that’s when I found Lost Weekend.

Philadelphia Eagles Fan Club
During Eagles games fans meet weekly at the Lost Weekend in South Beach. It’s a great place to watch the games. Not only do fellow fans gather here it is also a Philadelphia owned sports bar. The games are shown on HDTV and on huge projection screens. It gets very loud in there which makes it feel like home even more and everyone becomes your friends. You find yourself hugging, high-fiving, and celebrating with total strangers which makes the experience so much better. They also serve authentic cheesesteaks on an amoroso roll. What gets better than cheesesteaks and Philly sports!?

Lost Weekend
Located in South Beach at 218 Espanola Way Miami Beach; open until 5am. It’s a great neighborhood bar for locals and tourists. It’s a small place (or a large square) and a little dingy which makes it all the better and more like home. They have an extensive beer selection and ladies drink for free on Wednesdays. They have pool tables, foosball tables, darts, videogames, and a jukebox. The music tends to be mostly rock and a little old school rap here and there. My favorite feature besides the Philly fans and cheap drinks would have to be the chalkboard bar top.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where To Get Your Kicks

If you ask me, Philly is known for their food (cheese stakes) and unique sense of fashion; especially their kicks. I’m going to get off the topic of food, since my last two posts were dedicated towards savory treats and focus on sneakers. In Philly everyone has their own style sense and follows the beat to their own drum whereas in Miami everyone is dressed from head to toe in Ed Hardy (boring). If you’re a real shoe feen or collector then you understand the importance of having fresh and original kicks. I have an extensive collection of kicks and most of them are either limited editions or just really expensive. My favorite brands are Dunks, Chucks, and Supras and I’m always on the hunt for the hottest kicks out there. And once again Miami didn’t have that kind of Philly style, so on the hunt I went. I found two completely different sneaker places: Philly In Miami and MIA Skate Shop.

Philly In Miami
Philly In Miami is a custom sneaker shop located at 1059 Collins Ave in Miami, Florida. This store is a great place to really get one of a kind custom kicks. You can be sure that there isn’t a duplicate out there since you can be the designer of your own shoe. Every shoe is one of a kind and very unique. The artists are very talented and will create anything you can imagine. No two shoes are identical. Not only do they specialize in custom kicks but they also sell mix tapes, clothing, fitted hats, and much more.

MIA Skate Shop
Although a predominant skateboard shop, MIA Skate Shop sells exclusive kicks. Its located on South Beach; 229 9th St Miami Beach, FL. They only sell men’s clothing and footwear but that never stopped me. I’ve found tons of shoes that I fell in love with here and brought them home. I also got a lot of exclusive kicks from here. They carry brands such as Lakai, Enties, Nike SB, Supra, Vans, DVS, ES, Emerica, Adidas, Habitat, Alien Workshop, Girl, Element, and many more. Their apparel consists of element clothing, element shirts, element jackets, element sweaters, and element pants. I love the kicks here; they are always getting new shipments in every month. It’s a very small store tucked away good but that’s what makes it even better, no one really knows about it. I’ve been in so many times they know me by name now, not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. The MIA Skate Shop is my favorite place to purchase kicks from in Miami.

Friday, May 6, 2011

We Take The Cake

Bakeries in South Florida are few and far in-between making it hard to find a good birthday cake. Of course they have bakeries in their grocery stores but they don’t cut it, sometimes you want a REAL cake - or what I like to call them “fancy” “bourgie” cakes. There’s nothing like an exquisite dessert from a good, real bakery. Growing up there were bakeries all around; it was never a problem finding one, especially the Italian bakeries mmmm and that’s where we always got our cakes. Naturally when I moved to Miami I didn’t expect anything different. Every year for my birthday all I want is an excellent gourmet birthday cake and the grocery store cakes just aren’t good enough. After extensive searching and driving my mother insane she finally found a bakery that holds up to my standards. Just like the ones up north, ‘We Take the Cake’ really does take the cake!

We Take The Cake
They started off as a mail-order bakery in 1997 and has flourished since then. This award winning bakery is located in South Florida (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale) at 1021 N Federal Highway Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304. They have been featured in newspapers such as The Miami Herald, The Palm Beach Post and magazines like Southern Living, In Style and La Vie Claire to name a few. They have also appeared on Food Network shows such as Challenge, Road Toast, and Unwrapped. Even though they have been in the spotlight they didn’t let it go to their heads and stayed a small company. Not only can you visit them in the store but they deliver anywhere in the United States.

Cakes & Cupcakes
They use homemade recipes and each cake is handmade and hand decorated. They sell both cake and cupcakes for pick up or delivery. Their cupcakes are huge with cream cheese frosting and then decorated with a butter cream frosting flower. Since I’m a chocoholic my all time favorite birthday cake is their 9’’ chocolate layer cake. It is a very dense and rich chocolate buttermilk cake filled and frosted with chocolate cream cheese frosting finished with a drizzle of chocolate ganache and then topped with chocolate curls.

Oprah’s Favorite Thing
Even Oprah put their Key Lime Bundt Cake on her favorite things list and sure enough the Oprah effect took over. After being featured on Oprah they went from a business that was barely making ends meet to getting overwhelmed with orders and doubling their business. Oprah put We Take the Cake on the map! The cakes are now available in every Whole Foods store in Florida.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Steve's Pizza

Let’s face it, Miami isn’t known for their pizza but what are they known for other than their beaches and babes? All they really have are chain pizza joints which aren’t that good to begin with. Being from Philly and growing up with pizza as a constant in my life I craved some good neighborhood pizza where the slices are bigger than my head. Well never fear because I found a great pizza shop just like home, Steve’s Pizza! It’s a great little place that reminds me of what I grew up with located at 12101 Biscayne Blvd in North Miami at NE 123rd St.

Steve’s has huge individual slices and it’s open until 3am on the weekdays and 4am on the weekends. Not only do they have pizza but they have an extensive Italian menu which includes hoagies, spaghetti, ziti, pasta, and salads. But let’s face it; it’s all about the pizza! The sauce is sweet, the crust is amazing, the cheese is gooey, and each slice is a monstrosity. The atmosphere is very laid back with a casual setting with no waiters so don’t be afraid to make yourself at home. They have Miss Pac-Man in the corner and graffiti on the wall, so don’t be afraid to leave your mark. There’s no other pizza in Miami compares.