One of the most notable tropical vacation spots in the U.S. (and the world), Miami is a vibrant city that also (almost) never sleeps. From private parties to musical events, to beach concerts and other outdoor events year long, to water sports, boating and cruising - Miami has a party face on, all the time. Everyone from your favorite celebrity to that spring break dude loves Miami. How about vegans?
Tropical location like this one calls for delicious tropical produce too![/caption]
As someone who has lived in Miami area for a few years, and was vegan at the time, I have to say I had my share of disappointments with the vegan, vegetarian, raw food and healthy food scene. Yes, disappointments! The tropical climate of this area, although not perfect for growing lettuce or apples (it’s too hot!), still beats any winter-heavy climate. Access to tropical fruits like mangos and avocados, fresh coconut water from actual coconuts, a variety of veggies and greens, isn’t limited to a particular season. Quite the opposite, local farmers markets are filled with delicious produce year long! Hence, I couldn’t understand why local eateries do not include more vegan and vegetarian friendly options to their menu. As any oceanfront city, Miami area boosts seafood on every corner. Burgers and fries are a popular option, specially among the younger crowds. I’m honestly amazed by how good all the beach folk look, considering healthy foods aren’t as easily available as one would think looking at all those toned bodies.
However, things seem to be changing! I’ve been away from the Miami scene for just under a year and a half, and things seem to be shifting towards the vegan friendly direction! Visiting South Florida for my birthday this January was such a treat! Not only did I get to avoid a snow storm in Asheville, but I got to enjoy all the changes that have occurred in the time I was gone. And I am very happy to see this place progressing!
Walking through one of my favorite markets ever, the Yellow Green Farmers Market (Hollywood) I was pleasantly surprised at how many vegan and vegetarian, including raw food, stands I encountered! From baked goods to raw coconut meat wraps, healthy plant based foods were everywhere.
Miami metro area is pretty huge, for the lack of a better word. If you live here, you probably spend a lot of time in the car driving, and are used to it. If you’re visiting, I do invite you to drive around and get to know the surrounding areas. In my Vegan dining guide, I am including surrounding areas, and all the vegan hot spots (that I know of) in greater South Florida area.
Fresh coconuts on the beach are a must! You can usually find someone selling them on Miami beach[/caption]
I simply can’t wait to see the Vegan movement grow in South Florida! Until then, here’s a roundup of a few of my favorite places!
Full Bloom in Miami Beach
I was very excited to find a beautiful all-vegan location in Miami beach to celebrate my 30th birthday. Just a few months ago, the only fancy sit-down restaurant in the greater South Florida area was Sublime (review further down). But it seems to me Sublime got some serious competition going on! And it’s the kind of competition I like - who’s got the nicest venue and serves the most delicious vegan food? Both are winners in my book!
Full Bloom is a gorgeous waterfront restaurant located in a hotel (it might be harder to find - it’s on the second floor). I visited during nighttime, after running the Miami Marathon earlier in the day. The ambiance was very nice, with slightly dimmed lights, perfect for a romantic evening, and soft background music. I imagine this place is simply stunning during daylight, or at sunset, since we couldn’t take advantage of the ocean views this time around. It has both indoor and outdoor seating.
The food is exactly what you would expect from a high-end restaurant. As much as I enjoy homemade style vegan eats, vegan comfort food and raw foods, I love to eat some delicacies every once in a while, and Fool Bloom definitely delivered. From satisfying raw zucchini noodles with sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts, to gourmet farro risotto of the day, to black and white sesame crusted tofu with grilled pineapple macadamia, every dish was a feast. Besides the listed, I would definitely recommend the tiramisu and chocolate ganache pie!
Raw zucchini pasta, full bloom miami[/caption]
Vegan Tiramisu was fantastic, full bloom miami[/caption]
Good company makes any dining experience that much more pleasurable[/caption]
Choices Cafe in Coral Gables
A great restaurant to satisfy your cravings, any time, and for (almost) anything. A nice, simple yet central location, they have outdoor seating - which you can use most of the days of the year! As I travelled with my baby Zen, this was a big plus, I love places where I can bring my dog along.
Choices Cafe has a few prime locations around Miami, and it definitely serves an array of foods you would expect in a hot tropical South Florida location - from burritos to quesadillas, all of course vegan, some gluten free, and mostly organic. I love their 10 under 10 (dollars that is) menu, from which I highly recommend Mexicano salad and Insane Taco sliders.
If you are just passing by, they have tons of grab and go options - like delicious brownies (I loved chocolate PB), smoothies, juices and cold brew coffees.
Mexicana salad, choices cafe coral gables[/caption]
Delicious wrap, choices cafe coral gables[/caption]
Sublime in Fort Lauderdale
One of the top vegan fine dining restaurants in the US is located in South Florida, a few miles north of Miami, in Fort Lauderdale. If Miami becomes to wild and busy for you, take a trip north and enjoy equally beautiful white sand beaches, tropical breeze, and an active but slightly calmer tropical destination.
Sublime has topped VegNews Magazines Fine dining restaurant of the year list for a few years now, and for a good reason. The ambience is enhanced by dimmed lights and waterfall walls, and the restaurant is big enough to host a huge party, or run away from one in a quite corner. The food is sublime (I had to), and I’m giving an extra point to the desserts menu - their cakes melt in your mouth! Chocolate nirvana is just as good as it sounds.
Lasagna is always a good choice, sublime fll[/caption]
Arugula and beet salad, sublime fll[/caption]
Pizza Fusion in Fort Lauderdale
Skip fine dining in lieu of vegan comfort food, and a small, always fun and active pizza joint. This is not a vegan-only restaurant, but it’s one of the very few in Fort Lauderdale that serves real good vegan pizza. There are a few veg pizzas on the menu, and an option to build your own with the longest list of veggie toppings you’ll ever need. Vegan cheese and gluten free crust are also available. Zucchini alforno and stuffed mushrooms are great appetizers, and this place has huge veggie-packed salads (specially for a pizza joint!).
Make your own pizza is always my favorite choice, pizza fusion fll[/caption]
Great salad dressing, pizza fusion fll[/caption]
BONUS: The cafe in Key West
If you have time to explore South Florida, the keys are a place to visit! Key West is a notable vacation spot, famous for bachelor or bachelorette parties (yep, tons of strip and drag clubs here), a famed cruise port and a spring break city. But even if you’re into none of the above, it’s still a beautiful location to spend at least a few days in. The drive to Key West itself is absolutely amazing, with turquoise blue waters surrounding the highway on both sides. The best way to really appreciate the area is to run it, however. I had the absolute best time running Ragnar Florida Keys twice - 200 miles, from Miami to Key West, on foot covered by 12 (crazy) teammates.
How did I recover after that crazy adventure? With a delicious vegan brunch at The Cafe. For a long time, this was the only vegan friendly eatery in the area. Their waffles and cauliflower wings are very satisfying, and I must highlight their in-house made, absolutely refreshing drinks!
A brunch to remember, the cafe key west[/caption]
tofu on toast, the cafe key west[/caption]
watermelon in a glass, the cafe key west[/caption]
My perfect vacation formula is: tropical beaches, great temperatures, ocean you can actually swim in, a fresh coconut in hand, and vegan eats for when you are famished from too much sun! Florida is a retirees paradise, and extremely hot and humid in the summer, but it has it’s charms… and as the vegan movement grows stronger, so it becomes even more attractive as a vacation destination!
Till next time, Miami!
Did I hit any of your favorite spots? And do you have any to add? Because if you do, I’ll check them out next time I’m down there, for sure!