A Cultural Snob’s/Hipster’s Guide to the Gables

The bar at The Local. Cayla Nimmo//The Miami Hurricane

As you begin your college experience, your orientation leaders bombard you with what to do, see and eat in Coral Gables. With seminars such “Getting Around Campus and the Community” and “Diversifying Your College Experience,” they almost guarantee you’ll find your place at UM and the City Beautiful.  But to be quite frank, you’re not buying it. You know you’re more sophisticated than the rest, and your taste transcends the frat boy sports bars, lame chains and mainstream hangout spots they suggest. Here’s your guide to the real local scene that your hip self has always longed for.

Aragon Avenue

The pamphlets, Intro to Miami seminars and shuttle rides all highlight Sunset Place Mall as the go-to spot in town, but you’re sorely disappointed. Where does cultural enrichment fit in with the mall rat lifestyle? Instead of feeling like a tween catching a flick at AMC then sulking in Barnes and Noble, head over to Aragon Avenue for a slightly more erudite experience. Catch indie and foreign movies before they hit the megaplexes at the small, single-screen Coral Gables Art Cinema, then stop by the nearly 30-year-old, locally owned Books & Books where you can finally check off those Jack Kerouac novels from your reading list.

4Coral Gables Art Cinema: 260 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. 786-385-9689. gablescinema.com.
4Books & Books: 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. 305-442-4408. booksandbooks.com.

Just the Funny

Why did the UM student cross the road? Get down to Just the Funny, Miami’s Home for Improv and Sketch Comedy to find out! The comedy troupe, which formed in 1999, has been performing at the eponymous venue since 2007. Catch them every Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. for family-friendly shows and later at 11 p.m. for the adult version. And at just $10 per show, it’s a great place to take a date without ever seeming like you’re trying too hard.

43119 Coral Way, Miami. 305-MY-FUNNY. justthefunny.com.

Riviera Park

What used to be a plain ol’ plot of land behind Publix, has recently been renovated to fit every elitist’s playground dreams. Larger-than-life statues of cute, smiling animals like frogs and dinosaurs are the perfect backdrops for your next Instagram masterpiece. Here, you can slip on your wayfarers and escape the world of mundane college life by sinking into the kind of book they don’t offer in ENG 105. If you’re feeling meditative, take a blanket and stretch out on the grass to watch little kids take on the miniature rock-climbing wall. Isn’t it just a metaphor for life?

Between Monza Ave. and San Remo Ave., Coral Gables.

The Local

It’s the name that draws you in. You feel like you’re part of a small crowd that you can only see lurking the seedy underbelly of the Gables at night. All right, so there is no seedy underbelly here, but this hole in the wall resto-bar off Miracle Mile is a mecca for the craft food and drink scene in the Gables. Order an IPA ($6) to go with your jerky in a jar ($7) and malanga tater tots ($5). If you don’t know what that means, you don’t deserve to eat here.
4150 Giralda Avenue, Coral Gables. 305-648-5687. thelocal150.com

Gardner’s Market

Face it, Whole Foods `stopped being hip when you found your childhood friend’s mom wearing Birkenstocks and buying purple carrot juice in aisle five. The alternative? Gardner’s Market, a locally owned and operated specialty market on Red Road. They provide gourmet products like farmhouse cheeses, artisan breads and desserts, and heirloom varieties of fruit and vegetables; plus, they stay away from trans-fats, artificial colors and preservatives. Stop by before your next intellectual dinner party.
48287 SW 57 St., South Miami. 305-667-9953. gardnersmarkets.com.

Alexandra Leon may be contacted at aleon@themiamihurricane.com.