This past Saturday, I had to go to an event for my job in the morning. The event, PhilADthropy (which I will have a post about later), took place at the University of Miami, which is located in Coral Gables. My co-worker Wendy and I went to the ceremony that morning, then the presentation lasted until about lunchtime – by which time Wendy and I were starving! Because we were already “way down south,” comparatively speaking, Wendy wanted to treat me to lunch at a barbeque place she loved.
Shorty’s Barbeque (“Bar-B-Q” to be completely accurate) is located on 9200 South Dixie Highway. The South Dixie Highway is really U.S. Highway 1, which is also Brickell Avenue, which is also Biscayne Boulevard, which is also probably a lot of other different names! It is easy to figure out where places are in Miami, because it is laid out in a grid. The streets are divided into 4 quadrants: NE, NW, SE, and SW. The division between the north and south quadrants is Flagler Street (which is about 15 blocks south of my apartment) and the division between the east and west quadrants is Miami Avenue. Courts, Roads, Avenues and Places all run from North to South, and Streets run from east to west. This also makes it easy to figure out where a location is based on the address – for example: 15416 SW 152nd Street. Assuming I was standing at Flagler and Miami (relatively close to where I live), I would have to go south 152 blocks, and then west 154 blocks. It’s frighteningly easy. If I can follow it, anyone can. Now, as with all rules, there are exceptions…guess what the main one is? U.S. Highway 1. Yup. That one just kind of wanders wherever if feels like it. But U.S. 1 is my buddy – I seldom venture too far away from it (except when I go to the beach). So mainly I just follow U.S. 1 north or south – I think of addresses in terms of positives and negatives – north is positive, south is negative, and Flagler is the x-axis. The whole point of this paragraph (other than a lovely lesson for anyone who wants to drive a car in Miami – which I highly advise against) is to say that this is the furthest south I had ever gone in Miami, thus far – approximately 107 blocks south of my apartment! (15 - -92 blocks south = 15 + 92 = 107…see, who says English majors don’t use math?!) Wendy, on the other hand, was familiar with this area, and I will tell you why. Because, while Wendy was working in the Governor’s office, this little minor incident happened called the 2000 Presidential Election. This involved a teensy, tiny thorn in the sides of Florida politicians called the Florida recount, which Wendy worked on. For political buffs, I insert this photo for your viewing pleasure:
Wendy says the recount took place within this complex, but she also said that 75% of those buildings weren’t there ten years ago! Miami really has had a huge building boom. Anyhoo. Back to Shorty’s. (Which, by the way, was the name of my speckled gray horse in Yellowstone when I was 8 years old, if anyone was interested in that interesting factoid.)
Shorty’s has been around since 1951, and Wendy said that they ate here frequently while working on the recount. Personally, it was not the kind of restaurant I ever thought I would come across in downtown Miami.
It was definitely one of those places where you overlook grimy faux-log tables and benches, and grubby walls, and sticky railings, because it’s part of the “charm.” And honestly? It was charming. Just not in the high-tea-at-the-Empress way. More in a cow-skull-on-the-wall, Southern-license-plate-ornament, rack-of-antlers-on-the-overhead-beams kind of way.
There aren’t individual tables; rather, there are loooong faux-log tables that run the length of the room. (When I filled out my comment card, which got mostly high marks, I wrote that it was difficult to be seated on a bench in a pencil skirt. Wendy said, They probably don’t get a lot of pencil skirts here.)
They bring you water with a wedge of lime (I’ve only ever seen that at my grandmother’s house!) and in an appropriately-garish paper cup. With a straw. I was in love already.
The décor was wonderful! I especially loved these signs:
They pointed to various locations, with the mileage. But the best part was, they didn’t just have cities that were nearby, like Havana (228 miles), or Key West (129 miles), or Tampa (206 miles). They also had Memphis (818 miles), Kansas City…
…Dallas, Las Vegas, New York, Dodge City, and even Paris! I love these signs! I would want them for my apartment, if they fit in with my aesthetic at all, which they don’t. But I still love them and would want them for my rustic lodge on my ranch that I will own at some point in the future. Aren’t they fabulous?
This is a spray-painted saw. One of those big ones with the handle on both ends that two people have to use to saw back and forth. I’m sure there is a specific name for one, but I don’t know it.
So Wendy and I were seated, and then we ran into a dilemma. What to get? Here is a sample of the menu. They also had a (greasy, sticky, slimy) laminated menu with photographs. Originally, I was torn between the sliced beef plate and the rib special. I prefer beef to pork, but I feel like if you are at a BBQ place, you darn well better get ribs. Right? Buuuuut…then I saw that they had barbeque sandwiches. Chicken, beef, and pulled pork. Yum. I looove pulled pork sandwiches. The best one I have ever had, to this day, are the gloppy, messy, delicious ones you get at Safeco Field, even if they are an obscene amount of money.
So once I saw those on the menu, that made it very easy to decide what to get. I just was torn between chicken or pork. But I asked our waitress, and as soon as the words were out of my mouth she said, “Pork. No contest.” (Not sure what that says about their chicken….) She said the ribs are also a big seller; they have two kinds, one that is smoky and dry, and one that is sweet and sticky. I told her I would put those on my list for next time. Even though I don’t do ribs, or really any finger food, technically, due to my inability to eat anything without getting it everywhere, but I wanted to be polite.
This is the kind of place where everything they serve is yellow, brown or shades in between – buns, meat, fries, corn, cornbread, potato, sweet potato, pecan pie. There were two green things: key lime pie, and the coleslaw. The coleslaw was actually extremely good – lots of mustard seed but it had a nice kick to it. And it wasn’t sour or runny. Don’t laugh! I have had coleslaw that are both of those things.
Needless to say, I used a knife and fork.
I am used to more vinegar-y, strong, spicy, sour barbeque – but this sauce was very light and sweet. Deeeee-lish.
Not to mention, it lasted me all the next day. (Today.) Lunch and dinner. Oh, and also, I just happened to be wearing my plaid shirt that day – how perfectly appropriate! I told Wendy I felt very comfortable at Shorty’s because I fit right in in my attire (minus the pencil skirt). The guy at the table next to us was wearing a cowboy hat. Makes me homesick for the wheatfields of Pullman!
Best part? I didn’t spill any barbeque sauce on my white, dry-clean-only skirt. Which I covered with a paper-towel bib. ‘Cause I’m classy like that.