So what happens when a just-graduated English major takes a wild, whirlwind postgrad trip to the biggest party city in the USA with some of her best friends from college?
Naturally, I went to a bunch of bookstores.
Lucky for me, Books and Books on Lincoln Rd, the ONLY independent bookstore in Miami, was just a five minute walk away from my hostel. And even better, it also popped up on some in-depth google searches for gluten free friendly places to eat in Miami.
Alas, gluten free friends, Miami is NOT the place to go for your next gluten free holiday. It’s not that I had a bad experience, but if you’re looking for special menus everywhere, bread replacement options, knowledgeable waitstaff, etc, you’re going to have a rough time of it here. My best advice to a gluten free traveler to Miami would be to accept the chill vibes of the city you’re in and try to go with the flow…luckily a lot of the local cuisines (mexican, spanish, cuban, seafood) are naturally gluten free. Try not to have too many expectations. And GO TO BOOKS AND BOOKS!
Okay, so this restaurant didn’t blow me out of the water 100%, but you have to consider that gluten free options are limited in Miami. At Books and Books, there are gluten free options marked on the menu (not bread replacements), and a knowledgeable staff. This is far more than you’ll find at other restaurants. There are only about four options listed but they all looked amazing. I had the pumpkin and sweet potato soup for $4.95, which was the cheapest gluten free option on the menu.
It was oaky, sweet, filling and simple. Kind of counterintuitive to be guzzling hot, thick soup on a 95 degree day by the beach…but hey, I’ll take what I can get.
I also opted for the mango-lemonade after a bit of thought. I’m still functioning with the brain (and wallet) of a cheapo college student, which means “just tap water, please” is usually the first phrase out of my mouth at restaurants. However, the mango was fresh, local, and just picked, and exactly what I needed on a hot day. I savored it by sipping on it while perusing the bookstore.
The other gluten free options on the menu looked fresh, innovative, and so yummy, but they were more expensive ($10-$20), and I was functioning on a limited budget. Although Books and Books is a bit pricy, I’d say it’s comparable to many other restaurants you’d find in Miami Beach. It’s also quite renowned for its vegan and vegetarian options, so take your vegan, book-loving friends to Miami!
The location was one of the best parts of the restaurant (and I know they have another location in Coral Gables). In Miami Beach, it was just a few blocks away from the beach and right on popular Lincoln Road, so very easy to get to. The cafe part is actually more like a breezeway between the shops on either side, as you can see in the photo. It is open, airy, and has fans whizzing above to save you from the Miami heat. The atmosphere is both casual and relaxing, as you are waited on but can order and pay either at the bar or your table. A quick walk out the back end of the breezeway brings you into the actual bookstore.
And what a bookstore it is. The store is lined wall to wall, floor to ceiling with books. Old books, just-in books, best selling books, guidebooks, photo books, plays, you pick it.
My friends said it had a “weird vibe,” but frankly most of Miami has a weird vibe. This isn’t your average slightly worn and well loved bookstore…it is pristine and put together with separate enclaves for different genres.
Overall Miami’s Books and Books was a very pleasant experience for this hungry gluten free traveler. What it lacked in affordability and wide options it made up for in location, atmosphere, and BOOKS, and I definitely recommend it.