Monday, July 15, 2013

Vegan in Miami, Part One

I spent the weekend in sunny Miami! I'm an editor/reporter for an alt-weekly, The Memphis Flyer, and every year, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies holds its annual conference in a different city. This year's event was hosted by the Miami New Times.

My only knowledge of Miami comes this Will Smith video, so naturally the song from which was playing on repeat in my head the ENTIRE TIME I was there. We stayed in the fancy-schmany Intercontinental Hotel, which is right next to the ocean. I ran while I was there, and I was blown away by how gorgeous the area was.

After a little Veg Out app/Happy Cow research, I figured that Miami was about as vegan-friendly as Memphis — a handful of totally vegan places, a few vegan-friendly places that vegans rave about, and a ton of places with options that don't get much attention (in other words, the kind of places you just have to know about). Thankfully, I had this handy guide from blogger Emily Nolan of My Kind of Life.

Our plane landed in Miami at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, and my roomie/co-worker Hannah and I immediately went for a run by the hotel. We were starving afterward. Most of the vegan options I'd found online were a cab ride away from the hotel, and that seemed too complicated for a quick post-run snack. But we found a little tavern nearby.

The Biscayne Tavern only has a handful of vegan items — grilled portabellos, Brussels sprouts, homemade potato chips, and fries. We were only snacking so that was fine. I ordered the Sweet Potatoes Fries, which were thinly cut and very crispy.

And I washed those down with the best regional beer I tried all weekend — Cigar City Brewing's Maduro Brown Ale.

After our snack, we attended an AAN welcome reception with free wine and beer. The appetizers there were not vegan. While mingling with reporters, designers, sales staff, and editors of other papers, we met a reporter from Philadelphia named Randy. And guess what? Randy was vegan! So Hannah, me, Randy, and our Flyer marketing guru Matt made plans for dinner at Gigi, a vegan-friendly Asian fusion tapas restaurant in the Wynwood neighborhood (at the suggestion of our new friend Kat from the Miami New Times).

We took a cab to Gigi, which was packed with AAN folks. Randy and I split some vegan small plates, while Hannah and Matt split meaty tapas. On the vegan side, we had Shrooms Buns. These were like little tacos made with hoisin-seasoned mushrooms, tahini, and sweet chili with a steam bun in place of a shell. God, I love those spongy steam buns.

We also split an order of the Chilled Soba Noodles. Good, solid edamame-packed noodles.

After dinner, we were all sleepy. Well, except for Randy. He found his Philadelphia people and stayed up much later. But Hannah, Matt, and I retired for the night. I'll be back tomorrow with my vegan eats from day two!


wtfpuertorico said...

i am from miami and had never heard of gigi.. will put in my to visit list. thanks/

aimee said...

Enjoy the lovely beaches!! xo

Surlygrrrly said...

Oh, wow, do those shroom buns look delightful!

I was in SoFlo in March, but did not get to see much in Miami proper. We made the mistake of going downtown on a Sunday, when everything was closed. But, the public access to the beach was great!

Other parts of the metro-area had a TON of vegan stuff-- most of it raw. Absolutely delicious. Cannot wait to go back!