Today, 4/20, is the only day of the year when more Americans write and comment about pot than actually smoke it. What no doubt started as a story reported in desperation on a slow news day, has grown into something resembling a mainstream holiday -- all that's missing is a calendar notation, appropriate greeting cards, and maybe a few parades.
For those of you who plan on celebrating the day in a puff, here are five places you might consider ambling over to. Perhaps you can even organize a ganja crawl and visit all five. If so, make a written note to save the donut shop for last.
(Note: Eating House would be the obvious choice for this list, as it's the only restaurant we know of that is actually putting forth a specific 4/20 munchies menu. But we've already told you about this -- and, as we say, it's obvious).
Reason: The view. From atop the imposing structure at 1111 Lincoln Road, diners get a sweeping panorama of South Beach and beyond. If you make a reservation in advance, you might be able to nab an outdoor table, which is arguably the nicest outdoor restaurant patio in the city. But even the indoor area, with wraparound walls, offers intoxicating views. Stick with the raw fish items, which are light and will leave you feeling zippy rather than weighed down; it's also what Juvia's kitchen does best.
Warning: In your heightened state, both physically and mentally, do not be tempted to climb over the wire railing and dangle your feet over Juvia's rooftop edge. This leads to the story we all read about from time to time, about an unfortunate plunge due to some derring-do. Plus nowadays somebody might catch the descent on a cell phone video and your death will become the source of amusement for millions around the world. So don't do that. Just stay seated, perhaps with one of Juvia's cutting-edge elixirs. This is a fitting thing to do here after smoking weed, as cocktails are $18 each and let's face it: you have to be high to pay that for a drink.
4. Chipotle Mexican Grill
Reason: Why not? I mean the Mex snacks served here are abundant, tasty, affordable ($5.95 to $6.35), easy to eat with your hands, and ethically reassuring -- the meat in that burrito you'll be wolfing down has been raised in a humane and ecologically sustainable way.One more reason for heading here: No waiters to deal with. In a city noted for notoriously annoying service, this is no small factor. Not that a typically inept server couldn't be humorous for awhile, but if the reefer you're smoking enhances the experience, after the laughter subsides you're liable to start crying. There's a lot of versatility in how you can order at Chipotle, too. "Two things, thousands of ways" goes the slogan. Come to think of it, this could mean big trouble with people who are stoned. Please, try not to hold up the line while deciding. I don't care how high you are, that's just inconsiderate.
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3. Mandarin Gourmet Donut Shoppe
Reason: The munchies. "All the donuts have names that sound like prostitutes," Tom Waits sang years ago. Donut shops, you see, can be inspirational when you're in the proper frame of mind. Of course Waits was more likely drunk than stoned...so forget the inspiration. You'll want to come to Mandarin because you'll be craving something sweet. The Palmetto shop offers up "gourmet" donuts such as Cinnamon Sugar, Color Sprinkles Dip, and White Chocolate Dip, and filled donuts like Dark Chocolate Custard and Lemon Chamomile Créme. The donuts are fresher than at the big-shot chains, and the coffee is good too. You're going to need some for the drive home.
2. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
Reason: The music. Nothing can bring a person down faster than crappy music -- except for Timothy Geithner, but you're probably not going to run into him in a Miami restaurant. Yardbird plays great stuff, especially good old American blues -- which matches up well with the good old American craft beers and bourbons, the latter of which can lend a smooth smoky boost to your dissipating marijuana haze. Sitting at a butcher block table surrounded by Mason-jar lamps and other recaptured rural appointments will make you feel like you've escaped South Beach and are sitting someplace in real America. This might, and should, bring a sense of dread and paranoia, but once you bite into the biscuits, southern fried chicken, meat loaf -- man, you're hungry! -- you'll know you're home. Or at least you'll think you're home, until you go to the rest room and can't find your toothbrush.
The crystal-bright images projected on wraparound LCD walls, with scenes of snow-capped mountains, rolling blue waters of the Mediterranean, city skyscrapers and abstract patterns, immerse you in near-hallucinogenic fashion. A Siberian onyx bar changes colors and a thousand or so ice-cube lights running in rows on the ceiling do likewise. A DJ synchronizes music to it all while young waitresses in skin-tight micro-skirts serve cocktails with liquid nitrogen smoke swirling out of them. In other words, this is as close as you'll ever get to being a guest at Charlie Sheen's house. Best of all: The cool small-plate snacks of chef Todd Erickson are damn near perfect for the occasion -- colorful, creative, whimsical, and intensely flavorful. Haven is a trip even when you're straight.