A Day on Espanola Way

 What:

Spending the day doing what I do best: shopping, eating, dancing, snoozing and exploring one of Miami Beach’s most iconic streets: Espanola Way.

Why:

“I can’t think of a better way/ to spend the day/than on Espanola Way.” Especially after its massive multi-million dollar renovation. Sure, it’s always been a popular thoroughfare and yes, it’s always been inspiring, but now, its bustling personality is even bigger and better than before.

The secret ingredient? The street is FINALLY closed to cars, making it pedestrian-only. Now, you can easily stroll down the middle of the road like a boss, fully absorbing everything that makes Espanola Way so special — the enchanting Mediterranean architecture, lively restaurants, eclectic shops and secret nooks and passageways that lead to beautiful boutique hotels.

The area, originally formed as an artist colony back in the 1920’s, reminds me of my beloved Santa Fe and while it’s not necessarily the Wild West, it does have an outspoken bohemian spirit mixed with a European flair I truly appreciate. It’s a place where everyone fits in — I emphasis this because I’ve noticed Miami’s recent penchant for pigeonholing people & places into categories: artsy, hipster, urban, nouveau riche; the list goes on…(for the record, I hate that and happen to live in an up-&-coming “seedy” area). #Whatevezzzz

In full disclosure, for years I’ve avoided “A Day On Espanola Way” because of its touristy reputation but now, the area is flourishing with local activities: yoga classes, salsa nights and free monthly events open to the public. My day there was such an amazing experience. I felt transported to another city; another country even. After a leisurely morning of getting reacquainted with the area, I decided to have lunch, too.

Lucky for me, Havana 1957 was eager to host. The Cuban restaurant, which happens to be a South Florida staple, is not only a true reflection of one of Miami’s richest cultures, it’s also a nod to Havana in its heyday and I’ll drink to that! Speaking of…

I’m crazy about their large selection of mouthwatering mojitos. I tried the Strawberry & Classic, but they also have interesting ones like Red Bull & Diet, perfect for the partier who needs a pick-me-up or for those of us constantly watching our waistline. My favorite appetizer is “Tostones Rellenos Havana 1957,” which are heartbreakingly good. You get an assortment of plantain cups stuffed with garlic shrimp, shredded roasted chicken, ropa vieja and ground beef. Sweet baby Jesus, these are #LIFE…

The Signature chicken, served with rice and plantains, is called Pollo Frita A La Cubana. It’s a crispy marinated half-chicken served in a yummy garlic and onion sauce. The pork is amazing, too. Lechon Asado, a slow roasted pork leg with Cuban mojo, is served with moro rice and yuca. If you prefer eating lighter, Havana 1957 also has a nice selection of salads, perfect for a hot summer day. I ended lunch with Guava Cheesecake. It was so good, I dreamed about it later that night. There I was, in a cloud of pillows eating that very dessert, taking gi-normous bites while trying to talk on live TV. LOL. I’m not sure what that was all about…

But I do know, rediscovering a place I’ve always loved is a magical feeling. It’s like reconnecting with an old friend, you know the in’s & out’s of the relationship, but years gone by have made them more textured, interesting and even better — that’s exactly how I feel about “A Day On Espanola Way” and that’s why it’s one of My Favorite Things.

www.visitespanolaway.com

FB: @OnEspanolaWay

IG: @OnEspanolaWay

Twitter: @OnEspanolaWay

www.havana1957.com FB: @Havana1957Restaurant IG: @havana1957 Twitter: @havana1957miami

 “An invitation to a beautiful street is an invitation to walk within a dream!” — Mehmet Murat Ildan

 James Woodley Photography

1st look: Black Sundress by @BCBGsouthbeach, Sun Hat by Nordstrom.com Black Fringe Purse @V73 Boots: oldgringoboots.com turquoise jewelry from my New Mexico Collection

2nd look: Yellow & White Sundress & Hat Nordstrom.com Lip clutch www.Chiffino.com/ Under The Big Top Heels by Irregularchoice.com

Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez

Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger

Editor: Matthew “NYC 1952” Auerbach

Copyright 2018 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.