University of Miami Intensive Language Institute

At a Cuban café, you attempt to order a steamed-milk espresso and you get a meat-filled pastry instead. When an irate driver on I-95 suggests you fellate your cousin, you smile bewilderedly and give a thumbs-up. And at work, the Colombian fellow in the next cubicle always seems to pull twice as many clients as you do. Oye, hombre, this is Miami, where if you don't have at least a working grasp of Spanish, you're a second-class citizen. But there's hope yet for a lead-tongued gringo like you. At the University of Miami's Intensive Language Institute, a handsome facility tucked into a corner of the Coral Gables campus, you can redeem yourself of your high school Spanish-class truancy. The schedule is designed with professionals in mind, meeting two evenings a week or every Saturday. If you feel like bludgeoning yourself with knowledge, the intensive course is eight hours a day for one marathon week. The classes top out around six or seven students, and the veteran professors are attentive and patient. The best part: It's pass/fail, so if you can persuade your boss to pay — an eight-week biweekly course costs $625 — you can miss a class or two without fear of turning in a C-minus with your expense report.

You might know this feisty, self-deprecating broad from '60s rock cover band Guerilla Balls, featuring Miami Beach's legendary boy-in-dress Shelley Novak. Or — more likely — you don't. But if the finest queen should be judged by the campiest one-liners, funniest/frizziest blond wig, and loudest guitar ballads, Connecticut-bred Joanna Mills should be crowned accordingly. Joanna, AKA Joe Clough, seems to think lip-synching and air guitar in the world of drag performance is passé. So she started showing her skills from time to time at gay clubs on the Beach such as Laundry Bar and Score. She's always had the reputation as Novak's sidekick, but she deserves a little recognition herself. She can rock.

Cafe Bustelo

Ordering a café Cubano in a coffee shop owned by and named after Café Bustelo is something akin to panning for gold at Fort Knox: You really can't get much closer to the source. As a matter of fact, Bustelo, America's best-selling Cuban coffee brand, roasts its beans across town from the café, which is nestled off the lobby of SoBe's swanky Gansevoort Hotel. The modestly sized, 20-seat room is warm and modern; one of the walls is adorned from floor-to-ceiling with Bustelo's iconic red-and-yellow coffee cans. And from the espresso machine behind a marble bar pours a prototypical café Cubano: smooth, sweet, and capped by a delicately foamy espumita (single, $1.79; double, $2.39). You can sit and sip from 7 in the morning to 10 at night every day.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®