Last year, it was dark when we left the hotel and hit the streets. I was apprehensive about being out in an unfamiliar area at night. My fears were quickly laid to rest when we stumbled upon a production crew filming a commercial around the corner from our hotel. I figured that we were safe, the police would not allow the main export (Miami's photogenic nature) to be compromised.
We roamed the dark streets and at that hour, on a Sunday night, everything was closed. We were so hungry! It was then that we saw Tony's restaurant. Its soft neon glow beckoning to us. The place was empty. Being the only customers, we received the royal treatment. Fish in brown sauce for me, Jamaican steak for Joe. We tried to pay with a credit card, but Tony only accepted cash. All our money was in the hotel room..
So I take off. Tony assured me that I would be safe and I believed him. That and the fact that the commercial crew was so close to us. I was lost immediately. 1st Ave. S.E., 1st. St. S.E., 1st. Ave S.W....aaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! I spotted a woman smoking a cigarette in the doorway of an office building and somehow she was able to give me instructions, in Spanish, to find the hotel.
I made my way back to Tony's. The 20 minute walk to the hotel took five minutes returning to the restaurant.
The next day we passed by Tony's restaurnat numerous times. He was always sitting in the seat by the window. We would wave at him, he would wave back. We grinned at each other. His restaurant was located one half block from Biscayne Ave, the Bayside Market, and the Port of Miami. I would not have traded the meal I ate at his place for any of the national chains located a stones throw away.
When we returned last week, I looked forward to returning to Tony's. It was not to be. The building was surrounded by a chain link fence. Slated to be torn down to make way for progress.
My first impressions of Miami were of Tony and his place. The feeling of being able to run through unfamiliar streets without fear and full of exhilaration, I wanted to thank him for that. Thank him for something more than just dinner.