For the past few months my mom hasn't stopped talking about a new outdoor shopping area in Miami called Upper Buena Vista. She wanted to take me there when I visited in July, and again September, but we ran out of time. When I flew down for Thanksgiving this year, we knew we had a full week to explore, so quickly decided on a night to head up there.
Upper Buena Vista is this magical area that feels like a tropical rainforest meets the best artisan market you could ever dream of. Check out the video on their website to get a feel for the space.
My mom, my sister, my cousin and I all met up to do some shopping and then have dinner at Vista, the newly opened restaurant in the center of the market. Vista has a beautiful ground floor, as well as a third story roof deck. The roof deck had just opened the night before, so they were still deciding how to best use it. For the opening week, they were only serving light bar snacks, but they hope to add live music to that top level.
The hostess walked us to a table on the back side of the outdoor patio. All the greenery, the gold chairs and the bright pink pillows feel just like what you imagine when someone says, "I'm going to Miami."
From our seats, we could also see the open kitchen in the far left corner.
While we were deciding what to have, our waiter brought over a basket of focaccia bread with a sun dried tomato spread.
Ever since watching Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix, I can't eat focaccia bread without remembering the absurd amount of olive oil that goes into every loaf.
While we were enjoying the bread and the dip, my cousin spilled a little bit on her white blouse. Our waiter rushed over and offered her a Shout wipe. How nice is that?
Though I always want to order appetizers to share, I knew there were too many picky eaters in this group, so I started scanning the entree sections of the menu to decide on my meal.
Ultimately, I went with the onion and mushroom flatbread. This looked and tasted more like an Elios pizza than a flatbread. Flatbreads are, by nature, flat.
I loved the sweet tasting tomato sauce and the generous layer of cheese. I wish there had been more onions and mushrooms, it felt like they skimped.
To my right, my cousin decided on the greens salad, which had hearts of palm, artichokes and avocado. She added a poached egg on top.
After a few forkfuls she said, "They were very sparse with the avocado. I also would have enjoyed if they had grilled the artichokes, it tasted like they came out of a can."
She also ordered a side of brussels sprouts with bacon. When I asked how they tasted, she raved, "Perfect!"
Next to her, my sister had selected the fennel salad and asked to add both avocado and shrimp. The base of the salad includes oranges, red onion, olives and mint.
When I asked for her thoughts on the dish, she cleared her throat and began, "It was delicious the way I built it. If you ordered it without the shrimp or avocado, it would just be a bowl of fennel." We all cackled. She continued, "I was surprised there wasn't a bed of greens, since it was in the salad section. That said, it was very refreshing. The citrus and the red onion added a bright, bold flavor."
On my left, my mom was thrilled with her choice, the cioppino, which is a seafood stew. It had fish, clams and scallops.
After dinner, we still had more to gossip about, so we decided to keep going and order dessert. My sister asked for a hot tea. On the menu, they advertise that they serve JoJo's, which is a local Miami brand, but when she was handed a cup and saucer with a Twinnings tea bag, she was very miffed.
We ended on a high note with Vista's take on the classic molten chocolate cake. It was served with a scoop on vanilla ice cream (on a whipped cream cloud), a little bit of frosting and chocolate shavings, and a cocoa sun (which is the restaurant's logo).
The molten chocolate cake itself was fantastic. It tasted like a brownie on the outside, and had that famous gooey, fudgey center.
Upper Buena Vista is a really fun place to spend a few hours. All the stores are unique and the huge trees make it feel like you're strolling through a lush jungle. Add this to your Miami must list!