Inside Miami's "Historic Spanish Village"

espanola way

Festive lights on Espanola Way

el paseo

El Paseo Hotel at night

lincoln road

Strolling down Lincoln Road

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Take a journey back in time through Old World Europe when you stroll down Miami’s charming Española Way

Tucked away on a palm tree-lined pedestrian street with string lights twinkling overhead, Española Way is a charming Old World throwback in the heart of South Beach. Conceived as a “historic Spanish village” by NBT Roney in 1925, the two-block corridor between Washington and Pennsylvania Avenues was designed to resemble the romantic Mediterranean villages of Spain and France. Here, buildings are made of chalky pink stucco with Spanish tile roofs where sidewalk cafes are shaded by striped awnings. It’s a prime area to escape from the hustle and bustle of Washington Avenue, get some shade, go shopping and enjoy lunch or dinner and a cocktail or espresso.

Three blocks south of Lincoln Road—South Beach’s other famed pedestrian corridor—Española Way is found between 14th and 15th Streets and offers a completely different experience. With bougainvillea climbing facades and artful friezes running the length of the buildings, the narrow street is quaint and intimate, begging you to linger and take it all in.

Start your stroll at Washington Avenue where Esme Hotel anchors the intersection along with Oh! Mexico, Moshi Moshi, Havana 1957 and Pane & Vino restaurants. This is a buzzy part of the street that blends the energy of Washington Avenue with the charm of Española. The historic 135-room Clay Hotel offers a unique and affordable boutique option that positions you just two blocks from the beach in the heart of the South Beach action.

Another boutique property that adds even more charm to this quaint and rustic street is the El Paseo Hotel, nestled on the corner of Washington Avenue and Española Way. Having just undergone a $7 million renovation, this budget-friendly hotel spans across seven, three-story villas where elements of Spanish, Moroccan, Italian and French architecture are prominent throughout. With many one-of-a-kind amenities, the El Paseo experience also combines old world ambiance with modern technology and social media. Through the use of new sunglasses with an integrated video camera that connects directly to Snapchat via bluetooth or wi-fi, images of the environment around you can be transferred directly onto your app. How cool and hip is that? The new glasses are available as part of a "loaner" program at the hotel's front desk.

On this block alone, take your pick from world cuisines, including Mexican, Cuban, Japanese and Italian at a delightful al fresco cafe. Havana 1957 presents an excellent opportunity to sample Miami’s famous Cuban cuisine. The encyclopedic menu has everything including tostones rellenos, green plantains stuffed with garlicky shrimp, roasted chicken or ropa vieja shredded beef; picadillo a la habanera, ground beef stew in criollo sauce with raisins with rice and beans; grilled fish a la plancha; and the classic Cubano sandwich made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard pressed on crusty Cuban bread. Don’t skip a café con leche and pastellito with guava and cream cheese at the end of the meal.

At Pane & Vino, enjoy handmade pasta and authentic rustic Italian fare on the sidewalk or inside the cozy dining room that feels like you’re inside an Italian grandma’s house. Start with beef carpaccio or bruschetta paired with an Italian wine and then move onto one of their sumptuous pastas, like the tagliolini pane e vino made with black squid ink tagliolini, chopped lobster tail, shrimp, cherry tomatoes and arugula.

As you traverse Española Way, you’ll encounter art galleries, boutiques and gelaterias, as well as more restaurants, including Hosteria Romana, Numero 28 Pizzeria, Piccola Cucina and Mercato della Pescheria which will be opening in late June. You’ll notice another historic boutique hotel, Casa Victoria Orchid, offering both rooms and suites in the charming Mediterranean style.

A popular restaurant along the way is Tapas y Tintos for Spanish cuisine. With a warm and colorful dining room, wooden tables spill out onto the streets filled with tapas, paella and boards of jamon Iberico and manchego cheese. They’ve got all the classics on their menu, including albondigas (meatballs), piquillo peppers stuffed with cod, garlic shrimp, Spanish tortilla made with potatoes and onions and Gallega octopus.

One of the best kept secrets on Española Way is A La Folie, a charming creperie and French café on the far western stretch with a romantic pocket garden, sidewalk tables and cozy indoor bistro seating. The menu includes both sweet and savory crepes ranging from classics like nutella and strawberries and la complete with ham, Swiss cheese and eggs, to more creative combinations like the Bretonne with sea salt butter caramel and calvados-bathed apples, and the dijoinnaise made with chicken in a creamy mustard-pepper sauce with potatoes. There’s also a wide variety of salads, sandwiches and classic French dishes, like escargots and tartiflette.

As you can see, a stroll down Española Way easily transports visitors to a quaint European village while dining at one of the charming sidewalk cafes. However, you’ll never totally forget you’re in Miami with palm trees swaying in the ocean breeze and Art Deco neon lights glittering on the pavement nearby.

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