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Ocean Ave is way too trendy, upscale, Hollywood for me. For a place not quite so ... South Beach, you might try Espanola Way. Is this "Historic Spanish Village" touristy? Sure, but not crawling with high heels, skimpy dresses, and pseudo gangstas.
We passed through Espanola Way during the morning on our first day in Miami Beach while exploring the neighborhood. After exploring the neighborhood we couldn't wait to get back to this area to try one of the unique bars or restaurants for lunch. We ended up eating at "Oh Mexico!" restaurant, which was a nice meal out on the sidewalk where we watched the people pass by. That was so nice, we decided to come back here to one of the bars for a few hours until just before midnight when we walked back out to the beach to see the fireworks.
Unlike the rest of South Beach's art deco (whatever that means) architecture, Espanola Way is straight out of Spain. The Clay Hotel will probably be your first sight here;it was built in 1925 and shown in the TV show Miami Vice's first and last episodes.
Located west of Washington Avenue, between 14th & 15th Streets you will find Espanola Way. This promenade, which was created in the 1920's, was built based on a Spanish style village.
It is a fun place to go for a browse. The pedestrianised mall is lined with little shops, cafes and restaurants. There are also a couple of galleries with some interesting collections. On weekend afternoons there is a craft market.
I did read about a couple of good dining options on Espanola Way, but we didn't get the chance to eat here. Plenty of people were though, when we wandered by.
There is a great atmosphere here, and walking along the shady street made a nice break from the hot sun beating down on the main streets.
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