New York Times' 36 Hours in South Beach: Take it With a Grain of Salt
From time to time, Short Order writers share their travel experiences. We've blogged about our meals in New York, fruit carvings in Singapore, and a coffee plantation in Jamaica.
There's life outside Ocean Drive for tourists to explore.
Travel writing is interesting because it's so subjective. In a long weekend visit, a writer can't possibly find all the perfect spots to visit, and woe is the reporter who gets wooed into recommendations by PR firms, a hotel concierge, or the local tourism bureau.
That's why an article such as the New York Times' recent "36 Hours in South Beach" has to be taken with a grain of salt.
Assuming even that in a 36-hour period, most people won't venture out of South Beach (so let's not even talk about a cab to midtown or Wynwood), the piece still misses most highlights of SoBe and never really delves into why the restaurants and bars listed make good choices.
Restaurants featured in the article are Yuca and Altamare as "refined" choices on Lincoln Road and SushiSamba for "outdoor gawking" and Juvia for its "showstopping" view. While all these restaurants are serviceable choices for Lincoln Road dining, the real misses are off SoBe's pedestrian mall.
There, the writer recommends margaritas and chips at Oh! Mexico on Española Way, breakfast at News Café, where it's even acknowledged that the restaurant's "halcyon days are gone, but the tables still fill up with tourists and a smattering of locals thanks to the reasonably affordable prices." If a restaurant is getting by because of its past reputation, that's a lazy choice for inclusion in an article. Why not research a more interesting place to grab a bite, such as Panther Coffee for its crafted coffees or Las Olas Café as a cheap and authentically local place for café con leche and breakfast?
Even bigger sins are committed when it's recommended that the best options for lunch are either Hyde Beach at the SLS for $20 burgers or picking up food at the Art Deco supermarket. No mention of grabbing some fried chicken tacos at Huahua's or a smoked salmon sandwich at La Sandwicherie to eat on the sand or taking a break from worshiping the sun to grab lunch at Restaurant Michael Schwartz or Pubbelly Sushi.
Speaking of Pubbelly: Also missing from a list of things to do on a 36-hour visit to South Beach is dinner at any of the Pubbelly restaurants for casual, inventive cuisine off the tourist strip, weekend brunch at Tongue & Cheek for Florida shrimp 'n' grits and a bloody mary, and cocktails at Regent Cocktail Club or the Broken Shaker. (Yes, we know it's not technically in SoBe, but it's worth the six-buck cab ride.) That's what I would suggest as an itinerary for anyone visiting South Beach this winter.
So, New York Times, we suggest the next time you're in South Beach, ask a local where to go before you settle on giant margaritas with Coronas floating in them.