My memorable restaurants of Florida !!

I believe have written on them on general posts of places to see, however, feel obligated to keep them firmly in my blog with a post of their own, This time will take you to a cherish place of mine where I lived for 18 years, that is Florida to remember my favorite restaurants! Of course these are not all, but the best with pictures that I have, Hope you enjoy the memorable moments and can come and visit them one day. Thanks for reading me since November 2010 !!!

Miami’s original Cuban kitchen , La Carreta (the wagon) was born out of the growing demand for an authentic cultural Cuban hub.  A Cuban family-owned establishment, it continues to be a staple of  old Cuba’s family dining traditions of “grandmother style” food and famous Cuban espresso. To characterize Cuban food in terms of other cuisines, it’s basically a fusion of Spanish, French, African and Caribbean cuisines, drawing many distinctive flavors from each of these, with heavy influences of garlic, citrus, and sugar cane. As a restaurant, you don’t stick around for more than 40 years and expand into a local chain if you’re not doing something right. And for La Carreta, that something is food. Lots of it. Though you’ll find some Spanish-inspired dishes, you can’t go wrong by sticking to Cuban classics like ropa vieja (shredded beef cooked with onions and Cuban mojo sauce (coming from Tenerife, and the word use later to describe the mojito drink or little mojo !) , served with rice and sweet plantains) and boliche (pot roast stuffed with chorizo). Even when the restaurant is packed, the waiters are great at making you feel like you have all the time in the world to figure out what it is you want to eat. They’ll help you figure that out, too, if you want, they’re full of suggestions, and recommendations. But mainly they’re super-friendly and fast. Each day, the restaurant offers a selection of three or four specials, and weekday lunch deals ! Expect large portions on the plates and a backroom café for strong Cuban coffee, sweet pastries and sugarcane juice. Though most of the ordering happens at the walk-up coffee window, serving up flaky pastelitos and espressos until the wee hours. We came to them many times and our favorite family location were at the International Mall parking lot outside the mall right next to the Dolphin Expressway (State road 836) coming from Miami Beach at NW 107 ave. you see it from the Expressway. Another location we went is the original restaurant at SW 8th street Miami. And by now, they even have branches closer to my old home in Miramar, Pembroke Pines!!!

La Carreta webpage: http://lacarreta.com/locations/

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Another dandy is TGI Fridays reputation as the best corner bar in town started in Manhattan in 1965 and my fav location was near Sawgrass Mill Mall in SunriseBroward County,  just north of my old home.  Located near W Sunrise Blvd & Yellow Toucan Rd, proudly bringing you the best local mix of food, fun, and handcrafted cocktails. Many times here with the family! Sawgrass Mills shopping center is huge, I mean huge  ,one of the biggest if not the biggest mall in the USA, and Florida’s largest.  Also, tried them while visiting the USA at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport near Gate B19.  They were in Paris, France at 8, Rue Du Faubourg Montmartre 9éme,  but departed by 2013 and not back yet. Also, tried them near one of my old homes in Ormond Beach, FL!  However, they are in Spain and have tried their Madrid branch (calle Virgen de los Peligros)  as well as Prague,(Nádražní 110) Czech Republic!! The TGIF Florida locations webpage: https://locations.tgifridays.com/fl.html

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Another twist on the above is Applebees!  They are  your go-to restaurant for burgers, chicken, steaks, and the infamous riblets all served in a relaxed family-friendly environment. And don’t forget to checkout  their Neighborhood Drink of the Month special. Applebee was Established in 1980 originally base at Kansas City Missouri, later in 2015 relocated to Glendale, California. The first restaurant opened in November 1980 in Decatur, Georgia. Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar offers a lively casual dining experience combining simple, craveable American fare, classic drinks and local drafts. Now that’s Eatin’ Good in the Neighborhood. a chain where the the ambiance is more towards sports decorated walls, location been to Sunrise and Doral by Miami (both now closed here for the memories). I have gone for the trios and seafood platters with plenty of beers.  They now have a new location closer to my old last home there in Pembroke Pines! 

The Applebees’ restaurant webpage on locations in Flhttps://restaurants.applebees.com/en-us/fl/

Miami Applebee by doral aug09

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Another family souvenir is the  Latin American Bayside Cuban Café at 401 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, in the Bayside Marketplace right at the entrance to the Port of Miami.  Awesome food and the Cuban sandwich & coffee are to die for. Great service n friendly staff. Made us go back again everyday while we were there.  For the big eaters this cantine type restaurant is a go and the possibility of choosing from a large selection of salads, meat grills all you can eat. There is a wine cellar and drinks but small selection. However, the location is superb in downtown/city center Miami. The Latin American Bayside Cuban Café  has a nice location, with a small indoor seating area and bar, and a much larger outdoor patio, so you can overlooki Bayside’s harbor a wonderful tropical escape with boating cruises on Miami harbor by the port of Miami and passing by the home of the famous.  This restaurant has closed due to covid they say, unfortunately; here for the memories! They still have a webpage on here: https://latin-american-bayside-cafe.business.site/

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Another hugely favorite of ours is the Columbia Restaurant; we have been to the original in Tampa and also, St Augustine.  Founded in 1905 by Cuban-Spanish immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., the Columbia Restaurant is Florida’s oldest restaurant, and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. It began in Tampa’s Ybor City, (from city area founder Vicente Ybor of tobacco fame) as a small 60-seat corner cafe known for its Cuban coffee and authentic Cuban sandwiches, frequented by the local cigar workers. To this day, more than 116 years since it first openedthe Columbia remains in the same family. Over the years, Columbia Restaurant has attracted some of the most well known athletes and entertainers from yesteryear to today. From Babe Ruth to Derek Jeter, Lou Piniella, Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin, from Liberace to Bruce Springsteen, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Brian Johnson of ACDC, from Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano to Evander Holyfield, from Marilyn Monroe and Liza Minelli to Bo Derek, everyone enjoys the Columbia.  Other recent visitors include George Clooney, Stephen King, Bryant Gumbel, Brooke Shields, and Lauren Hutton. The restaurant’s wine list contains more than 1,056 wines with an inventory exceeding 50,000 bottles, and Columbia has won several awards for their Spanish wines. The restaurant features performances of flamenco, one of Spain’s traditional dances. another wonderful Florida combination of shopping, food, and games for the whole family! The other exquisite Columbia Restaurant we have been sits in the heart of St. Augustine in the historic district of the nation’s oldest city, which was founded in 1565. Located in the heart of the historic district at the corner of Hypolita and St. George Streets. We used to lived 45 min from it and visited often!!  Ybor City is a district comprised of cobblestone streets and brick buildings that are an architectural fusion with strong Cuban/Spanish influences. The area reeks with history, for example President Teddy Roosevelt stayed there during the Spanish American War as did Sr. Winston Churchill who was reporting on the war for the London Daily Graphic.

The Columbia restaurant webpage on locations bottom page: https://www.columbiarestaurant.com/

The Ybor City webpage on the Columbiahttps://yborcityonline.com/columbia-restaurant/

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And now two of my favorite French hangouts while living in Florida USA.

The Royal French Bakery, was run by Christian from Lyon, so it was heavens, now closed ,but post for the memories.  We had our Büche de Nôel always done here as was not sold to the public for lack of knowledge of it;  ordered by my dear late wife Martine. The Royal French Bakery was South Miami’s go-to boulangerie/patisserie, with all that you’d expect from a French bakery (tarts, macarons, croissants galore), plus salads, sammies and cafe au laits. You can score the flaky, buttery treats in flavors like guava, ham & cheese and almond, to name a few of the goodies we got here over the years. The location was at  7370 SW 57th Ave, South Miami, FL 33143.Just off Sunset Ave or NW 72 St. 

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Pleasant to verify the Croissan’Time Bakery at 1201 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL is still there! This bistro, bakery, and grocery store opened in 1986 by Bernard Casse, from  Port-Sainte-Marie in the region of Lot & Garonne France and very nice guy!! We came here for everything French even paying more for import taxes. He had started as a bakery in the southwest of France in the 1960’s and arrived in the USA in 1978. He began working in several establishments such as the prestigious La Grenouille, New York, before starting his own business.  In his team there was also Matthieu Cartron, that had worked in France, Saint-Martin, and New York, that came to lent a hand as well as the baker Garry Petigny. All the breads of Croissan’Time  are done on site from scratch à la Française bien sûr!!! 

The official Croissan’Time Bakery webpage: http://www.croissantime.com/

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And to show how the French community of Florida mingles and get to know each other as we had for many years there from 1990 to 2003; Miami Accueil is managed by the Consulat de France de Miami (very helpful understanding group who helped us immensily the transition from USA to France! merci!) and put together all the French residents in its jurisdiction. The group was done to share activities with French families of all sorts. Here for information for those French there and those thinking of coming to live in France, very helpful.

The Miami Accueil webpage: https://www.miami-accueil.org/lassociation/

There you go folks,  try to be as brief as possible for all these souvenirs of my life ,never to be forgotten and thanks WordPress for allowing me to share it here for my memories and the enjoyment of others. Hope it helps.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

2 Comments to “My memorable restaurants of Florida !!”

  1. This information about French bakeries in Florida is quite amazing, even in Toronto it is difficult to find the same flavours and productions as in France. As you say, due to the lack of knowledge on the part of the locals, even the good bakers are forced to adapt.

    Liked by 1 person

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