Tattoos, Vegan Tacos, and Bob Marley
I’m Natasha – traveler, writer, and creative. I recently received an invite to work in Miami, and I immediately accepted, visualizing the warm sun and sand in my toes. I’ve always visited the Magic City in short increments with work commitments, so I scheduled a couple of extra days to finally explore solo and soak it all in. Normally when I visit a city, I like to break up my time between hole-in-the-wall spots where I can break bread with locals and more commercial areas where I can hit up health food stores and get my yoga on. Miami proved to be a beautiful balance to my palette. Here are some things to do in Miami.
Palatino Jamaican Restaurant is everything I want a Jamaican spot to be. From the friendly folks hanging outside, to the walls plastered with Bob Marley, pictures of patrons, and some of the best hand painted art in Wynwood, you instantly feel you could stay a while. As a second- year vegan, my days of jerk chicken are long gone, but the first lady, Patricia, lovingly walked me through the menu. I ended up with a side a cabbage to-go as it was late when I swung in. While I waited, I was chatted up by Walter, the resident artist, who is as funny as he is talented. He gifted me a beautiful print of one his signature paintings and took his hospitality further by signing it and taking a photo with me. I left with a smile. When I made it home and tasted the huge pile of steamy cabbage, I was more than impressed. It was truly some of the best cabbage I have ever tasted! I dragged my colleague back the next day for a full meal of rice and peas, cabbage, and sweet plantains and he shared my sentiment. The portions are huge, prices are reasonable, and the food is full of flavor. Palatino is a beautiful addition to the neighborhood of
Wynwood and will be my go-to for Caribbean cuisine in Miami.
I’ll begrudgingly admit, my credit card has more than a few charges from Love Life during my stay in Wynwood’s Art District. It’s one of those places that has mastered the art of creating a gorgeous, clean aesthetic AND delicious, healthy food. The space has lots of plants, a communal book shelf, bright colors on the wall, and a lovely, diverse staff to match. I tried the curry lentil soup, chlorophyll arepas filled with black beans, lentil-walnut taco salad, a Mexican inspired jackfruit bowl, and a couple of their pizzas! Thankfully, not all in one day! Everything was always fresh and delicious, with my favorites being the pizza and jackfruit bowl. The average item is about $16, so I enjoyed going with colleagues, so we could split different entrees and try a little of everything. They truly infuse vegan food with love and SOUL and do it with grace and style.
After a bit of evening salsa dancing, a girl needs tacos! This is a great place to go if you can make it before 11 PM. I ordered the guaca-mango with chips and the smoked portabella tacos. The manager chatted with me while I waited on my food, telling me the history of Wynwood and how it transformed from a crime-ridden neighborhood to an urban gem full of street art, local food, shops, and bars. The guacamole was tasty with fresh mangos and hints of roasted garlic, but the star was the portabella!!! They smoked that mushroom like it was a whole hog! Everyone, regardless of dietary preference, will enjoy this spot.
I switched it up and spent the last two days in South Beach. As evening approached, I shined up my sandals and added a shiny coat of gloss to my lips. I had no clue what to eat in the sea of restaurants in SoBe, so I just decided to walk. I stumbled upon YUCA on Lincoln Rd. The lighting was intimate, the music was live, and vegan lasagna was on the menu. I was sold!! I settled into the bar area and began soaking up the sounds. Frank Lima, the violinist, captivated me with his raw talent and energy. When my lasagna arrived, it was tasty, but very light. I ordered a side of broccoli to fill out my meal, but it never came. The server was apologetic and acknowledged they were very busy with a large party. I would give them a second chance because the atmosphere was lively, and the music was good.
It wouldn’t be Miami, if you didn’t get a spontaneous tattoo, right?! I had the pleasure of visiting Empire Ink the day before my departure. After coming back two days in a row to scout out the place, I finally made up my mind to do it. From our initial meeting, I liked the energy of Steffy, she was assertive, knowledgeable, and nurturing with an edge. After asking her a million questions, she intuitively asked me, “Have you eaten?” I ran to grab lunch and came back with confidence. She finished my hand tattoo within fifteen minutes and I squealed with delight. Empire is the perfect place for first-timers and tattoo vets alike, quick, experienced artists with reasonable prices in the South Beach area.
710 Washington Ave #5,
Miami Beach, FL 33139
My trip to Miami this time around was like finally getting to know someone you’ve only said hello to. I saw a softer side to the city, where the real people are. The people who contribute and create the energy that people travel from far and wide to get a taste of. I’m still in awe of the street art in Wynwood and all the delicious food that chefs poured their love into. I will be back, Miami. Thank you for the love.