This Christmas, James and I traded 40 degree weather for something much warmer. Since our relatives just moved to a suburb of Miami, we decided it was time we paid them a visit. I’d happily trade mittens and scarves for flip-flops and t-shirts any day.

James and I had been to Miami 10 years ago when our cruise to the Bahama’s stopped off at South Beach. It was a short visit however, and we decided we’d like to get another glance at Miami Beach (An island off Miami city proper that includes South Beach and is about to turn 100 years old in 2015). Not surprisingly, Miami Beach was even cleaner and nicer than we remembered. The well-manicured sidewalks and trails lead to a beach with smooth white sand. If you stay late enough, the sun sets over the city at the edge of the beach, offering a beautiful silhouetted skyline with those iconic art deco marquis for which, Miami is famous.  

South_Beach_Miami_Beach

South_Beach_Sunset

Like any good travelers, we consulted the New York Times on dinner recommendations near Miami Beach. We decided to scope a place called YUCA (Young Urban Cuban American), which was a 10 minute walk from the water’s edge and located in Lincoln Road Mall, an outdoor shopping area that’s similar to one we once visited near the Santa Monica Pier. All the trendy corporate shops you could possibly desire can be found here. To James’ delight, we found YUCA next to a Tesla studio and to my delight, we were seated outside under the stars and surrounded by Christmas lights. 

Miami_Beach

YUCA_Miami_Beach

Lincoln_Road_Mall_Miami

YUCA, we discovered, offered appetizers, small plates, and entrees so we decided to order a few things to share in order to get the full experience. When we tasted our cocktails, we knew we had found a special place. The drink menu offered mojitos in something like 10 different styles. Order “The Don” with Don Q Coconut Rum and you won’t be disappointed. 

Mojitos_Miami_Yuca

Next we sampled a delicious fresh gazpacho, then seared scallops and Tuna Tatake. These were items on the small plate menu and equaled the size of an entree. The scallops were seared and rare in the middle with a side of goat cheese and truffle mashed potatoes. The melt-in-your-mouth tuna was over a bed of romaine with tomato, avocado, and mango.

Last, but not least, came the Paella. It was a solid hearty dish of clams, scallops, shrimp, calamari, and chorizo with yellow rice. Once again, the dish was fresh, flavorful, and exceeded our expectations. On point, NY Times, on point.  

We concluded our evening by walking around the mall, espresso in hand. Miami Beach, we’ll be back again for more – and hopefully before another 10 years goes by.