Trip Notes: Miami. A Trip Of Firsts.

-First of all thanks to each and every one of the 129 commenters who shared their tips on where to eat and what to do in Miami, you guys rock and I couldn’t have planned all this without you!

We flew to Miami on Sunday evening with 2 free AA Business ExtrAA awards, and arrived back home early this morning after a nonstop flight turned into a 3 flight, all-day nightmare.

Flying to Miami:

-As I said earlier, this was my first trip to Miami.  It was also my 10 week old son Rafi’s first flight, as long as you don’t count the 26 flights he took in-utero.  Finally it was also the first time I’ve ever had a flight cancelled after waiting hours on the tarmac, an experience which is just dreadful.

-We decided to bring our Bugaboo Frog (yes, of course I got it for free, but that’s a story for another time 😉 ) along for the trip.  It folds up to be quite compact and our Graco snugride carseat attaches to it.  Rafi still sleeps in the Bugaboo bassinet at night, so we checked that in our luggage along with the base for the Graco Snugride.  Rafi rode in the Graco carseat attached to the Bugaboo frame onto the plane.  They gate-checked the Bugaboo frame without any problem as it’s much less than the 20 pound limit and folds up nicely.  There was an empty seat next to us, so we were able to bring the carseat onto the plane without the base and it fit perfectly in the seat on the Embraer 145 jungle jet. The person in front couldn’t recline though with the carseat in place.  Note that when you bring a carseat it must be placed by the window seat so as not to block anyone in case of emergency, so of course be sure to bring a nursing cover when on a regional jet as you’ll be in the aisle.

-Flying with Rafi was a real learning experience, it felt like my  first time flying again!  Thank Gd he was amazing.  We got to enjoy the Presidents Club after the security hassle.  I opted out of the nude-o-scope and got the full body massage, but they did not make my wife go through it as she was holding Rafi, so that was a nice benefit.  Rafi was absolutely amazing on the plane and nursed for takeoff and landing as was suggested.  He took it all in like a pro!  His Australian “Love to Swaddle up” swaddle is just incredible and calms him down instantly and is a must-buy for any parents, it’s incomparably better then the saddles sold in the US.

-Miami airport truly is massive.  American Eagle operates from satellite gates that are as far as can possibly be.  After lots of walking, a train ride, lots more walking, and yet another train ride I finally got to Avis where they had a BMW 3 series waiting for me right up front.  Not bad at all for just $27 a day, although I was slightly underwhelmed by my first time driving a German car.  Call me crazy, but personally I’d take the Infiniti G37x or even the Caddy CTS that Avis usually gives me over it.

-While most of restaurants say on their site that they close at 11, in actuality it’s closer to 10.  By the time I had the car at 10 most places were closed.  Many people had mentioned that Avigdor’s Cafe by Mozart was open 24 hours a day, so that’s where we headed to first.

Hotel:

-We stayed at the W South Beach with Starwood free resort nights.  It was definitely nothing like the amazing W Hong Kong, which was my only previous experience with the W hotel chain (besides for their awesome W mattress that so many of us now enjoy nightly!)  We were upgraded to a “fantastic suite” which is their base suite although I was hoping for the Oasis suite that is also eligible for upgrades for Starwood Platinum members.  The checkin agent said to come back to him tomorrow and he would get us into a nicer suite.  The next day he said he had plenty of suites available and was about to give it to me when he said he had to just clear it “in the back.”  He came back to say that “the owners were all coming in the next day” and he couldn’t upgrade us…mind you that SPG.com still showed multiple rooms for sale every night in all of the suite categories.

-The room was very modern with a living room and bedroom, 2 flat screens, 2 Bose stereo systems with ipod chargers, a sub-zero fridge, and a nice balcony.  It also had several annoyances.  No clock.  A huge shower, but no tub.  The shades are nearly impossible to open and close.  By default they are open, which gives anyone on their balcony a wide open view of your bedroom and living room.  Indeed from your balcony you can see clearly into many other people’s rooms, especially at night.  Every morning our room would stink of smoke, for reasons the hotel could not explain.  Housekeeping came into our room at 8am even though the door was locked and the do not disturb sign was out and then proceeded to ask when they could return when I said to please go away.  On one day they made our room but didn’t give us any fresh towels or toiletries.  When I called their “whatever, whenever” line I was placed on hold for over 10 minutes before I was able to let them know about that.

Valet parking is about $38 per day and is unbelievably slow.  It takes at least 15-20 minutes for them to get your car for you.  Some of the staff were very nice, but others were very pretentious and rude.  The hotel tries very hard to be trendy, so expect to feel slightly uncomfortable walking through the velvet ropes that they sometimes have blocking the front doors, while with a stroller.  Definitely not your typical family hotel and we didn’t see any other families with any kids during our entire stay.

Internet is about $15/day, but was waived for me as a Starwood Platinum member, but I did have to request that it be removed from my bill.  Nothing seems to happen automatically here.

I left a nice, non-iron dress shirt from Banana Republic in the closet when we checked out.  I called them as I drove to the airport and asked if someone can check for the shirt while I waited on hold.  They refused and said housekeeping would bring it to lost and found when the room was cleaned and I would be contacted.  I called another 3 times and each time was promised a call back but never got one.  When I called now they just told me that there’s another guest in the room so there’s nothing that can be done.  No returned phone calls and no help offered at all.  Service and guest satisfaction at the W is sorely lacking.

Be sure not to forget your toothpaste!  W Hong Kong may give you Colgate automatically, but W South Beach will provide you with some bootleg no-name toothpaste if you need it…

On the flip side, the hotel has a main infinity pool with day beds in shade and there’s a “hidden pool” to the left of the main pool that’s always empty.  The beach in front of the hotel is lovely and at least in the mornings when I went out there was quite empty.  The hotel sets you up with chairs and towels on the beach.  The lobby is very nice and modern with living room areas and other great spots to sit down.   The location is very near the numerous kosher restaurants on 41 st. and the outdoor shopping meccas on Collins and on Lincoln Rd.

Overall the negatives far outweighed the positives and I don’t think I’d ever return.  Definitely not at their standard $500/night rate or using 20,000 points per night, and even if I had free resort nights again I would try out another hotel instead like the W Fort Lauderdale or the Westin Diplomat.

Activities:

-Our main activity was eating and relaxing.  It was hot and humid ever day and night!  It really never gets comfortable enough to want to be outside.  I’ve been in 95 degree temperatures before, but this just felt very uncomfortable.  Even at night it was still in the upper 80s and was very humid.  Many times when I walked outside my camera lens would fog up from the heat and humidity!

-I did bump into another couple from NYC who came over to me to thank me for their free vacation thanks to DansDeals.  That’s always cool 🙂

-Overall Miami definitely has less traffic than Los Angeles, but the weather in LA is far superior and Miami’s meat restaurants can’t possibly compete with the likes of Tierra Sur, La Gondola, Shiloh’s, Pat’s, etc. and they have no answer to LA’s Fish Grill, PKD, Jeff’s or LA’s kosher bakeries and breakfast joints.  In LA everything is also cholov yisroel, but incredibly there’s a lot of non-cholov yisroel still in Miami.  Still Miami’s dairy, ice cream, and chocolate scene do beat out LA’s.

-We also rented out a boat at Haulover harbor.  If you don’t have a boating license you need to bring a driver along, but you’ll probably want one anyway.  The asking price for 1 hour with the driver was $150 plus fuel and a tip, but I negotiated and settled on $100+. The boat goes very fast and you get a tour of the canal and of celebrities multi-million dollar houses.  Do the houses that the driver pointed out belongs to D-Wade, Mark Cuban, Matt Damon, Billy Joel, or Carlos Slim really belong to them?  Who knows!  But it was still a fun ride and an entirely different and more enjoyable way to enjoy Miami.

We went to the Vizcaya estate as well.  Admission is $15 for adults or $10 with a student ID. Eccentric businessman,  built the place in the 1910s to look as if it had existed there for centuries.  Indeed can be compared to Chateau du Versailles, with decidedly Floridian undertones.  Unfortunately there are lots of stairs there, so with a stroller you are limited to the first floor of the house, and even then there are quite a few stairs to deal with.  The gardens are very nice as well, but there are also numerous staircases to contend with that limit how much you are able to see.  You are not allowed to take pictures in the Vizcaya mansion.

Other activities, like Jet Skiing, Segwaying, the Casino, etc. were just too hard with a baby and we decided that Rafi was just too young to be babybat for quite yet.

-We took advantage of some shopping options in the excellent Aventura Mall, where there are stores sure to please everyone.  Shopping on Lincoln Road and along Collins in South Beach was great as well.

-Another first for the trip, my first cancellation due to the new tarmac rules.  I checked our luggage and dropped Mimi and Rafi off at the airport 90 minutes prior to the flight to start going through security while I returned the car.  The rental car return is quite far from the airport, and the process took much more time than I thought it would.  Avis did drive me back to the terminal in the beemer, but I actually had to run through security and the massive airport to barely make it onto the flight.  We had an empty seat next to us again so the carseat was on the flight.

Return flight to Cleveland:

-We taxied to the runway and the pilot then let us know about “bad weather” en-route so we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  After 2 hours of waiting the pilot said we would have to go back to the gate in 30 minutes if we could not get takeoff clearance.  I quickly got on the line with the AA Platinum desk who asked me if I wanted to be rebooked the following day on a nonstop flight or on the last connecting flight of the day via Chicago.  We went for the connecting flight and indeed the flight to Cleveland was cancelled, though they didn’t tell anyone that until they got into the terminal and into a massive rebooking line.  We ran past the line to run to the Chicago flight that would leave shortly. Nobody else heard of any weather problems affecting other planes and other planes were taking off around us on the tarmac.   Weather is always a great excuse though as that absolves the airline from having to pay compensation or buy hotel rooms for people.  When we got to the gate though the agents refused to finalize the ticketing changes, and it took a long phone call with the AA Platinum desk to get it all sorted out.  The Platinum agent spoke with the gate agent and was shocked by how rude she was and advised to ask for an airport supervisor…

We finally did get on the flight to Chicago, which had no extra seats so we had to gate check the stroller and carseat.  While Rafi was great on the first flight for 3 hours on the tarmac, now he was getting quite impatient with the process.  He finally fell asleep on the 3rd flight on our way back to Cleveland.

In Cleveland we had 1 of our 2 bags waiting for us.  Apparently that bag never made it onto our original flight to Cleveland and was rerouted via JFK which departed before out flight was returned to the gate…Strange.  Our other bag was just delivered to our home on Friday afternoon.  In all the total travel time was about 12 hours!  Not my finest flying experience.

Kosher Eateries ranked by DD stars (10 stars is best):

Schakolad: 9.5

An amazing and cute chocolate shop on 41 street in Miami Beach with authentic gelato and great coffee drinks.

The heavenly smell as you walk in here should clue you into what you’re in for.  The chocolates that come out of this place are as good as I’ve ever tasted in my life.  There are 3 separate cases with parve non-dairy chocolates, cholov yisroel chocolates, and cholov stam chocolates and they have 3 vats of chocolates and separate moldings for each of those.  There are a few kinds of chocolates only available in cholov stam, but there’s still a huge variety of cholov yisroel chocolates.

This was our favorite place in Miami.

The milk cholov yisroel chocolate and caramel is made on premises and is so fresh and flavorful that you have to try it for yourself.  They easily beat out chocolates from NY stores, and even beats out the incredible Parisian cholov yisroel chocolates from Ardely’s or the also great Parisian parve chocolates from Damyel’s.

Don’t miss the turtles loaded with caramel or the milk chocolate with sea salt on top and caramel inside (sounds funny but is an amazing combo!) Everything from the caramel topped candy apples, to the milk chocolate covered pretzels, to the milk chocolate covered Oreos, to the plain Milk Ganache chocolates are indescribably good!

The owners of the shop are as nice as any place I’ve ever walked into, they take great pride in their product and are ultra-friendly.  It’s a shame that more kosher shops aren’t run like this one.

An Italian guy makes cholov yisroel gelato for them.  We tried Strawberry Cheesecake, German Chocolate, Strawberries and Cream, Cappuchino, and Vanilla Bean, and you really can’t go wrong with any.  They’ll let you try them first and it’s just $3 for a cup with a generously sized scoop, or half a scoop of 2 flavors if you prefer.

They will ship out their chocolates nationwide, so you don’t just have to read this review, you can taste it yourself as well.  Well, besides for the gelato, for that you’ll have to wait for your next trip to Miami 🙂  Shipping is cheaper in the winter time when it can be shipped ground instead of having to overnight it in the summertime.

Skoops: 9

An ice cream shop in North Miami Beach with amazing coffee drinks as well as bagels and other goodies.

We had a French Vanilla Skoopachino (small, $4.60) which tasted just divine and a razzle (small, $4.50) made with yogurt, cookie crunch, granola, and covered in hard chocolate.  And I even got the 5% off discount for mentioning DansDeals 😀

Shemtov’s: 9

A spacious and nice looking pizza shop on 41st street in Miami Beach with a vast menu that extends far beyond pizza.

Apparently they have recently expanded their place, menu, and improved greatly.  I was very impressed with the pizza (personal pie, $8) and Mimi was thrilled were her Teriyaki Salmon Wrap ($10.95).  The Pizza Fries ($5.95) covered in their great pizza sauce and cheese were awesome.  Do not miss the Cinnamon Mochachino ($4.75), it is heavenly!  The cinnamon bun ($3.75) and pistachio muffin ($2.75) were both very good, but aren’t necessarily must haves like the other items.

The Frieze: 8.5

A cute ice cream parlor located just off the Lincoln Road pedestrian shopping mall near South Beach.  Don’t miss it!

I’m craving some Champagne sorbet and Peanut Butter sorbet right now!  While the Ice Cream is cholov stam, the sorbets here are all parve.  Frankly I don’t know how that peanut butter sorbet can be parve, but it tastes way better than any other dairy peanut butter ice cream.   And the Champagne sorbet tastes like Moscato wine in sorbet form–highly addictive!!!  The Red Wine sorbet is good as well.  The selection can change from day to day.

A shame that the Ice Cream isn’t cholov yisroel.

Pricing is interesting.  It’s something like $4 for a scoop, but each additional scoop, up to 4 total, adds just 75 cents each or so.  They won’t give you an extra cup (well, unless you ask for a cone on the side and for it to be put into a cup ;), so bring your own extra cup and share to save yourself a few bucks each time.

Cinne Cita Cafe: 7.5

A large dairy cafe in Surfside.

This place probably was gorgeous when it opened but now looks and feels slightly dated and worn.  No matter.  The Gnocchi with pesto sauce $14.95) was creamy and delicious and came with a nice portion.  The Portobello ripieni ($12.95) which is a mushroom stuffed with ricotta, spinach, and artichoke was extremely flavorful, but is very small.  Creme Brulee ($8) was perfectly torched/glazed and was quite good.

Harbour Grill: 7

An intimate (also known as small) upscale restaurant in Surfside with generally great food and questionable service.

It’s a tight squeeze in here.  While most restaurants in Miami are huge, this one is very small and was very difficult to bring a stroller into.

We shared an excellent J.B Roll, ($8.25, Salmon, Imitation Cream Cheese and Scallions) and we had them batter it in tempura and fry it.  The sushi here definitely gets top marks.  The Boston steak ($32.95) sliced steak with chimichurri was very flavorful, although they definitely ought to give more chimichurri with it.  The Duo Beef Medallions ($38.95) has a piece of steak  in wild- mushroom and a piece in peppercorn sauce.  I thought the peppercorn sauce was very good, but the wild mushroom sauce was off the mark, bland, and didn’t help the meat out at all.  The meat itself though was very good.  The steaks came with pretty good roasted potatoes or fries.

Up until this point this place deserves something like an 8.5 or a 9.  Here’s where it comes apart.  I asked if their Onion Rings ($5.25) were any good.  The waitress gushed about how “unbelievably awesome” they are, so I ordered ’em.  I’m usually pretty good about asking if onion rings are homemade (as most restaurants that pride themselves in food usually make) or if they are the same frozen garbage I guy buy from my local grocer…but who would call that stuff “unbelievably awesome?”  Besides the look of this place seems like they take pride in their food, and no self-respecting place would serve up frozen onion rings, right?

When I saw they were just the frozen stuff I sent them right back with a complaint.  Unsurprisingly, they were still on the bill at the, but I guess I couldn’t expect any different.  I’d like to think that if I were running a restaurant and a customer was that unhappy with a dish that I’d take it off the bill.  Then again if I ran an upscale restaurant I wouldn’t be serving frozen onion rings.  I asked the owner at the end about them and he shrugged it off and said that their onion rings are just for the kids.  Well then maybe they ought to be on the kids menu and described as such on the menu, or at least be honest and have your waits taff describe them as “frozen” and not “unbelievably awesome.”  He shrugged me off and walked away.  If only they would make the onion rings with the same batter as the tempura for the sushi they would out of this world…shame.  I actually bumped into a couple there who mentioned that they have eaten there previously with someone who ordered the onion rings and made a huge scene out of it, so I guess that means I’m not the only crazy person I guess.

Another major criticism I have here is that they add 18% mandatory gratuity.  I have no problem leaving an 18%-20% tip for good service, but making it mandatory disincentives good service as the waitstaff will get the tip either way.

Far worse than the mandatory 18% tipping policy  is that on the credit card slip they leave a line for gratuity and then even proceed to calculate for you how much an 18%, 20%, or 25% tip would be on top of your entire bill that already includes tax and 18% gratuity!  If you don’t pay close attention to the first itemized bill you get you’ll wind up paying the mandatory 18% and then another tip on top of your food, the tax, and the tip already included on the credit card slip, which makes no mention of the fact that gratuity was already added!

Stay classy there folks…

Jonahs: 7

A medium sized, nice looking pizza shop on 41st in Miami Beach.

I was rather unimpressed with the pizza (personal pie, $10) from here, however their Jona’s Special grilled panini sandwich with roasted eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, onions, mushrooms & fresh mozzarella was absolutely massive and delicious!  It was the size of 4 sandwiches for just $9 and it was well spiced and very flavorful, and definitely recommended.

Grill Time: 7

A large steakhouse in North Miami Beach.

The succulent baby lamb spare ribs appetizer ($13.90) was quite good.  The beer battered onion rings ($7.50) came out as 2 big onion blobs with little flavor (Yup, me and my onion rings…)  The waitress convinced us to go with the Gaza Strip steak but then had to backpedal and tell us they were out of them.  The Hawaiian steak ($35.90) was very moist and flavorful if you can get over pineapple on your steak, I enjoyed it, my wife did not.  The Korean steak ($32.90) had a great garlicky flavor with tons of onions but it was a bit on the dry side, not nearly as moist and juicy as the Hawaiian.

You do get a ton of Israeli style dips to start with, some of which aren’t bad.  Fries and mashed potatoes come with the entrees but were both pretty bland and flavorless.

We received a glass of water at the beginning of the meal and didn’t receive a single refill, even when we asked for one.

Pistachio: 6.5

A large meat restaurant on 41st in Miami Beach.

Pistachio has a cute menu concept with a create your own deli sandwich or salad.  The lean corn beef on an antipasti ciabatta roll ($17.95) was loaded with tons of meat and was very big, but was not flavorful.  The lean pastrami on green avenue ciabatta roll ($17.95) was very good as was the green avenue turkey pastrami in a wrap ($13.95).  Their heavy duty burger was pretty good and the fries weren’t bad either.  They didn’t have the sweet potato fries that some commenters had mentioned, and they were also out of a few other menu items that we tried ordering.  They did wrap up sandwiches for our plane ride quite nicely though.

Avigdor’s Mozart Cafe: 6

A 24/6 dairy restaurant right near the Hard Rock Casino in Fort Lauderdale.

The Cheese Ravioli ($13.95) here was good but it was drenched in a heavy and bland alfredo sauce.  Panko Breaded Eggplant ($6.95) was very good.  Open Toast ($11.95) was decent as well.  The Lemon mint smoothie ($4.50) was good.  The White Chocolate cake ($6.95) had a yummy thin layer of white chocolate on top of a pile of frosting that was a sorry excuse for cake.

The waitstaff here is inattentive, the owner/manager was too busy screaming and arguing with the staff over a wad of bills, and the male waitstaff member seriously needs to hike up the back of his pants…

China Bistro: 5.5

A large chinese/sushi restaurant in the waterways in fort lauderdale.

The Sesame Duo with Sesame chicken and beef was too salty to eat.  The Sweet and Sour Chicken did not have a good flavor as well, and was barely mediocre.  I’m really not sure what people were raving about their Chinese for.  You can do better for Chinese food in decent places Crown Heights’ Esthers Grill or Cleveland’s Jerusalem Grill.  Can’t compare with Big Dragon in Las Vegas.

The Crunchy Sushi Roll ($11.95) with avocado, salmon, and scallions battered and fried in tempura on the other hand was excellent.

They advertise a beautiful looking blooming onion on the menu, but it’s no longer made.

The avocado spring rolls ($8.95) were not bad, but on the bland side.  They can’t possibly compare with the amazing ones made by La Gondola in LA.

The short ribs ($10.95) were good.

The Fortune Cookie Drink made with Ice Cream, Rum, Kahlua, and Creme de Cacao was very good.  They offer 2 for 1 drinks until 7pm, but don’t expect them to honor that if you’re not there by 7.

Service was subpar with water not being refilled and not caring that the food was too salty.

The menu clearly states that 18% gratuity will be added to parties of 5 or more, but the bill came with the gratuity on it.  When I asked about it, they said they have it written somewhere else that they now charge everyone 18% mandatory gratuity.  When I asked to please see where it was written they were not able to produce anything that stated this policy.  Nice way to make sure I left with a bad taste in my mouth…

Airplane food, circa 2011.  The almonds are my reward for churning the AA card until I hit Lifetime Platinum 😉

Not bad for $27/day, thanks Avis.

Nighttime provided little relief from the heat (or humidity for that matter)

W South Beach Fantastic Suite Bathroom

W South Beach Fantastic Suite Bedroom

W South Beach Fantastic Suite Bathroom

W South Beach Fantastic Suite Living Room

Relaxing in the outdoor “waterfall” lounge at the W South Beach

Outdoor beds by the poolside, W South Beach

Main pool, W South Beach

Bed by the poolside, W South Beach

Bar, W South Beach

Balcony view, W South Beach

 

Hidden pool, W South Beach

Beach outside the W South Beach

Beach outside the W South Beach

W South Beach

Beach outside the W South Beach

Boardwalk outside the W South Beach

View from the boatride.

View from the boatride.

For the low, low price of $60,000,000 this property can be yours!

Gardens at Vizcaya

Vizcaya mansion view from the gardens.

Gardens at Vizcaya

Panko Breaded Eggplant, Avigdor’s Mozart Cafe.

Open Toast, Avigdor’s Mozart Cafe.

Cheese Ravioli, Avigdor’s Mozart Cafe.

White Chocolate Cake, Avigdor’s Mozart Cafe.

Cinnamon Mochachino, Shemtov’s.

Teriyaki Salmon Wrap, Shemtov’s.

Pizza Fries, Shemtov’s

Personal Pie with eggplant and sauteed onions, Shemtov’s

Cinnamon bun, Shemtov’s

Pistachio Muffin, Shemtov’s

Yummy Milk Chocolate/Caramel Apples, Schakolad

Cholov Yisroel Chocolate, Schakolad

Parve Bittersweet Chocolate, Schakolad

Cholov Yisroel Gelato, Schakolad

Parve Chocolate Cell phone, Schakolad

Milk Chocolate Dipped Pretzels, Schakolad

A card worth churning from Schakolad!

Milk Chocolate Dipped Oreo, Schakolad

Complimentary dips, Grill Time

Onion Blobs, Grill time

Baby Lamb Spare Ribs

Hawaiian Steak, Grill Time

Korean Steak, Grill Time

Peanut Butter and Champagne Sorbet, The Frieze

Portobello ripieni, Cinne Cita Cafe

Pesto Gnocchi, Cinne Cita Cafe

Creme Brulee, Cinne Cita Cafe

French Vanilla Skoopachino and Chocolate covered Razzle, Skoops

Fortune Cookie Drink, China Bistro

Avocado Sprint Rolls, China Bistro

Crunch Roll, China Bistro

Sesame Duo, China Bistro

Personal Pie, Jona’s

Jona’s Special Grilled Panini

The infamous frozen onion rings at Harbour Grill

Tempura J.B Roll, Harbour Grill

Boston Steak, Harbour Grill

Duo Beef Medallions, Harbour Grill

Tip included, Harbour Grill

Sure hope you paid attention to that first bill, as this one tries to get you to tip another 18%-25% on top of the entire previous bill!

Lean Corned Beef on antipasti ciabatta, Pistachio.

Heavy Duty Burger, Pistachio.

Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Facebook

50 Responses to “Trip Notes: Miami. A Trip Of Firsts.”

  1. ben Says:
    1

    Hey Dan,

    thanks for sharing. would you be able to share with you how you can get a BMW for $27 day.. it is a steal!!! 🙂

    ReplyReply
  2. na nach Says:
    2

    noticed that you used visa card, which one?

    ReplyReply
  3. Rich Says:
    3

    Visa instead of Amex at Harbour Grill?

    ReplyReply
  4. Gabbai Says:
    4

    I was in the Harbour Grill two weeks ago and whilst I would not describe the onion rings as “awesome” they were certainly not bad and tasted very fresh. I agree with you that the 18% gratuity game is gross; I also nearly fell for it. The King Reserve steak is what you should have tried; it was the best steak I have had for a long time. And no, I don’t have nay connection to the restaurant!

    ReplyReply
  5. Chaim Says:
    5

    Last week when i was in Chicago avis also upgraded to me to the bmw328x

    ReplyReply
  6. Kugelfresser Says:
    6

    Can’t believe u didn’t eat in rare on 41st street

    ReplyReply
  7. Jeremy Says:
    7

    Nice trip! China Bistro is horrible (food just about ok, service is terrible) – next time try Lotus, also a Chinese restaurant, just a couple of minutes walk from Harbour Grill.

    ReplyReply
  8. YANKEL Says:
    8

    DAN what do you do for a living?

    ReplyReply
  9. Marks Says:
    9

    Alright, spill the beans – who is giving out free Bugaboo Frogs?

    ReplyReply
  10. Dan Says:
    10

    @ben:
    $27 was the price for an intermediate, from where they will upgrade Chairman’s Club members to their best available car.

    @na nach:
    @Rich:
    Sure!
    Sapphire Preferred Visa gives 2.14 points per dollar on all travel and dining expenditures. And unlike with AMEX MR after 09/30 those points can be transferred to Continental or Hyatt.

    I still use my Starwood card for general purchases, but for double/triple point categories, or for purchases made outside the US, or in stores where they don’t take AMEX the Sapphire Preferred is great!

    @Gabbai:
    No food that’s bought frozen should be served in an upscale restaurant, let alone be described as awesome.

    I can totally see someone paying 18% plus another 18% on top of the entire bill at Harbour grill. Very deceptive in my opinion.

    You should’ve told me to get the King Reserve in the comments on the other post!

    @Kugelfresser:
    The negative reviews in the other post scared me off. If I had 2 more nights I would have gone to Thai Treat and Rare.

    Next time!

    @Jeremy:
    Next time as well I guess!

    @YANKEL:
    What do you do for a living?

    @Marks:
    😀
    Maybe I’ll talk about it on the DD Forums sometime.

    ReplyReply
  11. Chaya Says:
    11

    When I go to Mozarts, we usually eat the paninis, suhsi or salad. Your situation was unusual, I think. They just opened a new location in Deerfield Beach that is really good.
    Miami is the worst! We locals avoid it like the plague.

    ReplyReply
  12. Chaya Says:
    12

    @Chaya:
    I mean Miami Airport, not the city. Florida is not the place to visit in August or September. Can’t you hear us whining all the way up north?

    ReplyReply
  13. YANKEL Says:
    13

    WHAT i mean is that which job allows you so much time for vacation. you are always on vacation. DO you get your whole life’s expenses for free?

    ReplyReply
  14. crown heights Says:
    14

    1. eshters grill (deli) has been closed for years! 2. How did you eat so much in 2 days?! 3. Great report, but doesn’t seem like you’ll go back anytime soon.

    ReplyReply
  15. Eli Says:
    15

    Dan ,

    Another great trip report. Where did you buy the “love to swaddle up” swaddle? Swaddling is a must for flying babies!

    ReplyReply
  16. DovidR Says:
    16

    Thanks Dan! We’d like to vacation in Maimi sometime. You’re trip notes will be invaluable.

    ReplyReply
  17. N. Says:
    17

    DH told me he made your Skoopaccino and razzle.. he said he had no idea I read DD!
    Curious what warranted a 9/10 (the health inspector just gave it a 10/10 last week 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by; will you be back anytime soon or is Miami not as exciting as the exotic ports-of-call you usually travel to?

    ReplyReply
  18. Dan Says:
    18

    @Chaya:
    Oh well, I guess I didn’t know what to get at Avigdor’s.

    @Chaya:
    Yup, I will try to avoid Miami airport now. But AA only flies from CLE-MIA nonstop and I had free tickets on them.

    Continental flies from CLE to PBI and FLL nonstop as well as MIA, so I think that will be the way to go.

    Didn’t have flexibility in the time, wanted to see how Rafi flies on a shorter flight before a longer flight in a couple months…

    @crown heights:
    Lol, well that shows how often I’m in Crown Heights! Years already, wow!

    4 nights/5 days. 2 days would be quite the feat!

    I’ll be back for the chocolates, ice cream, and coffee drinks. 😀
    But for the meat I’ll stick with LA or NYC.

    @Eli:
    http://www.lovetodream.com.au/babySwaddle_original.htm

    http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=10146

    @DovidR:
    Glad to help out!

    @N.:
    I don’t think I’ve been to anyplace in the world that I would give a 10/10 for.
    9/10 is a great review, there’s always room for improvement 🙂

    I don’t know about soon, but I’m sure I’ll be back way sooner than the 26 years I waited until now to check out Miami!

    ReplyReply
  19. avi Says:
    19

    dan
    doesnt sound like the best trip you had. I am thinking of going on vacation in nov. Do you say that my Miami is not the best choice?

    ReplyReply
  20. bd Says:
    20

    Sounds like a great trip, Just wondering how you got that bugaboo frog for a good deal?

    ReplyReply
  21. leeboy Says:
    21

    gr8 report

    ReplyReply
  22. Cholentfresser Says:
    22

    Thanx for the trip report, I love reading them!

    ReplyReply
  23. levi Says:
    23

    thanks dan very helpful ,as usual

    ReplyReply
  24. Ben Says:
    24

    Dan,

    Did you ever consider telling these places what you do for a living to see if you would get some free food 🙂

    ReplyReply
  25. avraham Says:
    25

    next time, go to rare steakhouse. Much better than harbor!

    ReplyReply
  26. JA Says:
    26

    Dan, how does one become Chairmans Club with Avis?

    ReplyReply
  27. Dan Says:
    27

    @avi:
    Personally I would do LA, but that’s just my personal opinion.
    I was happy to do Miami though as I’ve been to LA so many countless times that a change of scenery and trying out new stuff was great!

    @levi:
    @Cholentfresser:
    Thank you guys, always appreciate the feedback on these reports as they take a ton of time to write.

    @Ben:
    Never.
    I think it would feel almost like a threat for a free meal if I did that, and I don’t think that would be right or fair.

    I pay the regular full price, I don’t announce myself, and I review the places as a regular person.

    Now if someplace would happen to recognize me (extremely unlikely) I’m not saying I would turn down a free meal, but that hasn’t happened to me yet. But I wouldn’t tell them beforehand what I do.

    @avraham:
    Sounds like a plan!

    @JA:
    Not easily!

    ReplyReply
  28. anon Says:
    28

    Dan,
    as usual great trip reports!
    We love reading them! You write so eloquently and provide so much useful information!

    Thank you

    ReplyReply
  29. yosef Says:
    29

    the westin dimplomat is the place to be next time you go best hotel on the east coast great service nice rooms and cheap 12k a night! jet sking on the there beach! contact me for more info like free pizza dilivary to the pool and chabad shuls right near there

    ReplyReply
  30. sky121 Says:
    30

    Thanks for the report! Glad you enjoyed your first trip to MIAMI with family! 🙂

    ReplyReply
  31. puppydogs Says:
    31

    Dan,

    Great report. One question and 2 suggestions.

    After eating all that delicious looking food how do you stay so skinny, your secret maybe worth more to us than getting a free flight 🙂

    Next time in Miami I would suggest (like others) eating and Rare and staying at the Ganesvoort.

    ReplyReply
  32. Steve Says:
    32

    Why did you pay with visa @ harbor grill , starwood!

    ReplyReply
  33. Dan Says:
    33

    @anon:
    Thanks!

    @yosef:
    Yup, if I was using points I would’ve gone with the Diplomat, but as I had free resort nights I went with the much more expensive W South Beach as it costs the same with the free night.
    ‘Twas a mistake is seems.

    @puppydogs:
    Lol, I’m not all that skinny. It’s my wife to whom you should be asking that question to 😉

    @Steve:
    You’re behind the times-see comment 10 for the explanation.

    ReplyReply
  34. danny Says:
    34

    I just hope you got back 750 bucks a day from amex plat cause ur bag that came late

    ReplyReply
  35. heha Says:
    35

    Awesome report! Was vacationing in Miami recently and was not very impressed. The beaches were full of brown goo (I don’t know from what). 4* hotel was what I would rate a 1.5*. Attractions are really overpriced. Getting away with the family was beautiful, however the location was far from perfect. I’ll know for next time and I wish I would have been able to read your report before having gone. I find it extremely helpful and honest, while eloquently written in full detail. I’m anxiously waiting for your upcoming report on how to get a free Bugaboo. I have one myself but paid full price for it!

    ReplyReply
  36. Rabbi Issamar Says:
    36

    great post full of fantastic information for Floria visitors.

    but for me… the marketing lesson of the W carpets changing during the day takes the cake!

    thanks for sharing. off to think about how to use it for a client…

    🙂

    ReplyReply
  37. miami steaks Says:
    37

    DAN , Why didnt you go to RARE ???

    ReplyReply
  38. Zev Says:
    38

    Dan, no pictures of the kid from the trip.

    ReplyReply
  39. Dan Says:
    39

    @danny:
    Does it work on award tickets?

    @Rabbi Issamar:
    I did think that was pretty neat.

    @miami steaks:
    Too many negative reviews.

    @Zev:
    He’s the most adorable kid I’ve laid eyes on, but do people really want a trip report full of baby pictures 😉

    ReplyReply
  40. dave Says:
    40

    I hear why you don’t announce yourself at the restaurants but why not at the hotel??? Clearly they did not know who they were hosting!!

    ReplyReply
  41. Sam Says:
    41

    Agree on W South Beach. When did hipness become an excuse for lousy service? Would never go back there.

    Even locals rank themselves as the rudest people in the country: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-rudest-cities/18

    ReplyReply
  42. Moe Says:
    42

    Dan apparently the guy in the chinese place in vages know who you were! was that after you left or before?

    ReplyReply
  43. jack Says:
    43

    dan.
    i love reading your trip notes.
    i got a kick out of the photos of elevator. “good afternoon/evening mats. my wife and i were just in the W and she loved getting in to elevator to see those mats. i joked at her that it was her favorite part of the trip.
    that being said. im sorry u didnt like the W. We thought the their staff was from the best we ever had.
    leave it to Dan to find a hidden pool. i was there for 4 days and hadnt a clue it was there:)

    ReplyReply
  44. Just sayin Says:
    44

    @jack: something tells me you work with the hotel… (anyone else with me?)

    ReplyReply
  45. Beny Says:
    45

    Dan,

    i was just at the St regis in Puerto Ricco with a 3 month old (also a catagory 5, but seems way better then the W). and would strongly suggest it for a real luxurious relaxing vacation. sans kosher food – we did just fine with frozen meat and a george foreman.

    but really unique, excellent service, and only a slightly longer flight then to FL.

    ReplyReply
  46. FanofDan Says:
    46

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/american-aadvantage/1263202-mia-aa-special-untrained-agents-rude-supervisors.html

    ReplyReply
  47. Shimmy Says:
    47

    Dan,

    Kudos for your attitude towards announcing yourself. You can only be a true reviewer if you do what you did. Consumer Reports has the same policy. Actually, they don’t even allow ads in their magazine to ensure impartiality. I’m not saying I mind the ads…

    ReplyReply
  48. Rochel Says:
    48

    BTW- At the Frieze on Lincoln Road they have Klein’s cholov Yisroel soft serve in vanilla and chocolate. Only thing is- some people dont eat there bec they are open on shabbat…

    ReplyReply
  49. Mark Says:
    49

    @Dan:
    What is Avis Chairmans Club?

    ReplyReply
  50. r herbst Says:
    50

    @yosef:
    booked at westin diplomat in february. what tips can you give me?

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Switch to our mobile site