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An Open Letter On the Myth of The "Other" Miami

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Dear Sandra Beasley,

We read your story in The Washington Post yesterday, in which you describe your quest to find the "other" Miami during your residency at LegalArt, and it made us smile. Some of us are native Miamians, and were happy you enjoyed our hometown. The rest of us moved here from someplace else, and were reminded of our own awkward discoveries during our first months here.

Yours might be our favorite in the recently trendy, rapidly growing "finding the real Miami" genre of journalism. Lately, it seems like every writer who's been to South Florida in the last couple years has been shocked to find that Miami doesn't suck. There's life beyond South Beach! they exclaim in wonder. There's culture here! they gasp in jaw-dropped surprise. You, at least, gave us the benefit of the doubt -- setting out to experience real Miami culture without first expressing shock that it exists.

So we're gonna let you in on a little secret: There is no "other" Miami. Yes, there's plenty to do here outside of the clubs and the beach. But to lump the rest of this diverse city together into one broad category is doing Miami a disservice. This city is a jumble of dozens of "other" Miamis, stitched together and overlapping like a scrap quilt. The attractions you describe in your story -- the Wynwood Art Walk, MOCA, MiMo -- make up only its outer edges.

So when you come back (and we hope you do), we at Cultist have a few more places in mind that we think you'll like.

Fried cheese; spicy slaw; grilled beef; hyper-sweet homemade Nicaraguan chocolate drinks from an ancient native recipe. It's pure Central American food and drink in a highly decorous outdoor seating area, with visitors ranging from post-keg-party high schoolers, to families, cops, businessmen, and derelicts, all on Flagler and 24 hours a day. Yambo is the place. --Jacob Katel

Robert Is Here
The farm to table movement has been a little slow to reach Miami, but our farmers have been here all along. Year-round, Miami produces fruits and veggies of all kinds -- far beyond your typical Florida orange. If you're driving south to the Keys, or have destination Homestead in mind, stop at Robert Is Here. A fruit and vegetable stand with super-delicious smoothies made of fruits grown on site, Robert Is Here is a glimpse into the homestead of Homestead. --Patricia Guarch Wise

Fox's Sherron Inn
Not very many of Miami's snobby, hipster subculture elitists feel anything approaching love for Miami's ugly, douchey, spikey-haired step-brother down south, Kendall. But pick at a boil long enough, and there's bound to be some gold. There's some debate over which came first to this old-school, suburban hole in the wall: the party nights, or the throngs of South Miami 20-somethings that frequent the bar cruising for daily 2-4-1's. Either way, this home away from home is a welcome escape for many a Downtown or Beach partier who gets sick of long drives, expensive parking, and twelve dollar vodka cranberries. They also serve some kick-ass sliders and French onion soup, and did we mention there's a walk up liquor store window? --Ric Delgado

Purvis Young Gallery
From Liberty City native, to prison-educated artist, to Overtown's Picasso, to internationally collected fame, Purvis Young's symbolic explorations of Miami's urban-dwelling devils, angels, saints, and sinners, through a sophisticated iconographic language developed through intense historical art research at downtown's main library, characterize one of Miami's most prolific, underrepresented, and highly sought-after painters. He is now dead, but his work, and gallery live on. --Jake Katel

I only take people I like here. Though I have full liberty to write about it, I avoid doing so, in fear of ending up there one day and seeing the placed packed to the gills with people who can't appreciate its food. Call me selfish. I'd suggest going alone, so it can just be you and the food. No, I'm not joking. Sit at the bar where you can watch the chefs make your food, and order a crispy bok choy (with ridiculous soy garlic sauce) and pork and onion salad. Ask for a calpico (a Japanese tangy milk drink). The waiters will leave you alone to enjoy two of the best dishes you will ever experience in your life. I know you D.C. people have good Asian food up there. But "The Yak," as I lovingly call it, is far more than good Asian food. It's my second home, and the second home of the other smartest eaters in Miami. --Alex Rodriguez

Big Night Little Haiti
Every third Friday of the month, the Rhythm Foundation invites top billed, internationally renowned musicians and artists like Tabou Combo, Belo, and Shleu Shleu, for a free neighborhood party that celebrates Kreyol culture through food, music, and dance in a lively atmosphere that welcomes all. --Jacob Katel

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

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Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.