It’s a new day for Española Way. The two-block, throwback tourist destination just finished a big renovation last year, converting to a pedestrian street with new programs, stores and live entertainment mixed in with its 17 restaurants.
The street has shown up on television in “Miami Vice,” in movies such as “The Birdcage” with Robin Williams and “Chains of Gold” with John Travolta, and in music videos by Pitbull and Elton John. Española Way was built in the 1920s as an artists’ colony and a sort of Miami Beach answer to Greenwich Village in New York and Montmartre in Paris. It was the first commercial street in Miami Beach and is the home to three historical hotels built between 1925 and 1926.
“I think Española Way really grew organically,” says Scott Robins, the developer for Española Way. “When I first bought it in the early ’90s, it was really worn down — drug users and prostitutes. That changed little by little, restaurant by restaurant, store by store. It was hard to change people’s idea of what Española Way was all about. Many of [the businesses] have been here for 20 or 30 years. It’s just been a labor of love. It’s been piece by piece. The crown jewel of that process was when the city finally decided to make that a pedestrian-only street. And they funded the city street improvements to make it a very safe pedestrian street. This all took place over time, culminating in this.”
New eateries to come along in the past year or so on this restaurant row include Mare Mio, Numero 28 Pizzeria, Gummy World, Happy Place Donuts and Española Cigar Restaurant and Lounge. Coming later this year will be Burger Yard and Gelato Go. Retailers include Solaris Sunglasses, Soleiado and White Cotton Club. For a complete list of businesses on Española Way, go to VisitEspanolaWay.com.
In addition to new sidewalks, pavement, lighting, landscaping and anti-terrorism bollards put in by the city of Miami, the makeover includes new activities such as:
• Opera Wednesdays by Hosteria Romana weekly at 8:30 p.m. as well as happy-hour specials from 4 to 7 p.m.
• Salsa Thursdays at Havana 1957 starting at 7:30 p.m.
• Flamenco Fridays at Tapas y Tintos starting at 7:30 p.m.
• Yoga a la Española conducted by Synergy Yoga every Saturday starting at 9:30 a.m. (free of charge)
• Samba night at Boteco Copacabana every Saturday starting at 8:30 p.m.
• Española Way Seasonal Market starting in November every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m.
Residents of Miami-Dade County are eligible for the Locals Only Card, which offers a 20 percent discount at Española Way businesses and can be downloaded onto a digital wallet. To download the card, go to VisitEspanolaWay.com and click on “Locals.”