Save the date: Biscayne Corridor

The original signs of the 1953 Vagabond Motel on Biscayne Boulevard and 73rd Street. Photo: Ronna Gradus.

As you head down Biscayne Boulevard between 50th and 79th Streets, the first thing you notice are the motels. (Then you probably cringe thinking about what goes down in them.) Until recently, it was a stretch of road you’d want to avoid altogether, especially with a date. However, a turnaround is well underway. Restaurants line the strip, the area’s unique architecture, Miami Modern (MiMo), is gaining appreciation and last month’s Cinco de MiMo Festival, the area’s coming out party, was a success. Will MiMo help bring the magic back to the Biscayne Corridor as Art Deco did for South Beach? Time (and the real estate market) will tell, meanwhile enjoy all the area has to offer.

In a city known for it’s nightlife, the day date is often ignored. Buck the trend by waking your date early Saturday morning (hopefully he or she is lying next to you from Friday night) to refuel at Jimmy’s Eastside Diner. The cheap eats here will soak up even the lowest shelf of vodka you threw at your stomach the night before. The late Maurice Gibb could often be seen at a table in the back after a morning of paintballing.

Now it’s time to work off those grits and gravy. Each Saturday at 10:30 a.m., lifelong Belle Meade resident and retired architect Antolin Carbonnel leads walking tours of Biscayne Boulevard that start from The Vagabond Motel. He’ll have you fascinated by stories that have been hidden by time. Standing in front of an auto parts store, Antolin describes the beginning of the decline of the Biscayne Corridor-horny men, who would come out of the Playboy Club looking for some easy company. After the tour is over, head inside The Vagabond, which houses Transit Boutique. Before you think low rent, the owners are the former heads of Hugo Boss and Dolce & Gabbana. Ask nicely and they may show you the stunning new plans for The Vagabond.

If your date still looks good in full sunlight, head south ten blocks to the weekly Upper Eastside Green Market. Originally scheduled to take a break for the summer, it’s been such a hit that it will continue on through Miami’s dog days. Situated at the gates of Legion Memorial Park, the market offers everything from orchids to backrubs to ribs. Hit the Ceviche Parlor tent and grab a cup of melon and scallops or mango and shrimp as a cool snack to enjoy as you stroll the park. It’s barely 2pm and you’ve already had a long day, so head home and take a nap. If you were fortunate enough to have a guest during your rest, shower, then suggest a return to the Biscayne Corridor.

An explosion of restaurants in recent years gives you a variety of dinner options. Two top choices for any part of Miami, are Red Light and Michy’s. Red Light is new on the scene and buzz has been building since a preview during Art Basel this past December. Enjoy Little River-front dining and environmentally friendly cooking practices and ingredients. BBQ shrimp and mulberry ice cream are customer favorites. Michy’s is a bit more established because of the namesake’s appearances on Top Chef, Iron Chef and The Food Network, so you’ll need reservations. After dinner visit The Upper Eastside Garden for a nightcap of indie-induced pleasure. UEG shows classic movies every Thursday night, has a unique putt-putt golf course and recently opened an upstairs lounge. There’s also a very good chance world-renowned artist Hernan Bas will be mixing your drinks (take that New York art snobs). The summer BBQ series shouldn’t be missed: a band hand-picked by John Hancock of Miami’s Awesome New Republic ( is paired with a smoked meat.

If things didn’t go so well, break a ten-spot and head over to Black Gold. Proceed to honor the ghost of the Playboy Club by making it rain.

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Published: 6/08