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Monday, June 3, 2013

Dame la Gasolina.....(Give me the Gasoline) A local's Guide to Miami's coolest gas stations.

A couple of years ago I was with my hubby heading to a party in the area south west of Little Havana, to locals it's called "La Souwesera." Needing to pick up some wine I remembered there was a Citgo nearby with a good wine selection. I hadn't been there in years. As we pulled up we noticed a bevy of expensive cars pumping gas and filling the parking lot. It was your typical Miami thing, Aston Martins, Rolls, Beemers, etc. I thought, well this is odd but they need to get gas too. 
Just another gas station, right?
In the back of the gas station, where the wine used to be was a small, and very chic tapas place called "El Carajo". There happened to be a wine tasting that night and all the Miami wine cognoscenti were there for the annual Beaujolais Nouveau tasting. It was such a weird juxtaposition. in front there were twinkies, lotto tickets, and your typical 7-11 fare, but just few feet more and you were in a chic wine tasting with candlelit tables and the best tapas in Miami. I mean, they could have added a car wash if they wanted more business, but a fancy tapas place? Today, the 7-11 decor is mostly gone, but you can still buy lotto tickets and gas, now it's considerably upscale, gone are the rows of chips and candies which are now replaced with great wines from around the world. 
Honey, don't forget to play lotto and get a slushy for dessert. 
My next favorite gas station is Dade Corners.  Since I was a little boy my dad loved to take us out to Shark Valley to see the gators.  Dade corners is on the corner of Crome Avenue and U.S. 41/8th Street/Tamiami Trail.  Long the hangout of the Harley-Davidson set, on any given day you can see all types there. From truckers to Honda Goldwingers.  It's your classic Florida tourist station. Here you can imagine some hapless tourist from the 50's driving up to fill up the old DeSoto. Inside you can purchase roadmaps, assorted Floridiana, and it even once had the cool machine that if you put in a dollar it would pour hot green plastic in a mold in the shape of a gator.  Now it is a gathering place where yuppie Harley riders mix in with Hell's Angels on the poker runs to the keys. Drop in the lost tourists, ATV riders, cyclists and you get a great feel for all the "outdoorsy" types you get in Miami-Dade County. On a side note: a friend noted that it has several unique octane blends that are recommended for European sports sedans which apparently are only found there. 

In "up and coming" MiMo district, aka Miami's Upper East Side there is the Europa Cafe.  Built from scratch the Europa Cafe is "at the curve" on Biscayne Blvd. Outside it's a gussied up Chevron, gas pumps and a great hand wash. Inside it's a chic and modern décor with plasma TVs, comfortable cowhide chairs and an area that can been closed off with a fabulous chain link curtain.  I have had several business meetings there. It comes across more as a first class lounge than a gas station.  The food is good and the coffee is strong. 


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My next favorite station is the Art Deco station on Coral Way.  Not because it has a "surprise" on the inside. It's shows us that there was a time when things were built not just to be functional, but beautiful.  That something as mundane as a gas station could have flair and whimsy.  I know preservationists have battled hard to keep this gem from the wrecking ball, but honestly, isn't it worth it? 


Happy Summer Driving Folks! Add your own suggestions for Miami's coolest gas stations.

El Carajo International Tapas and Wines
2465 SW 17th Ave  Miami, FL 33145

Europa Car Wash and Cafe
6075 Biscayne Blvd. Miami, FL 33137

Dade Corners Travel Center,
 17696 SW Eighth St. (corner of Krome Avenue andTamiami Trail).

Southland Super Service Station
1700 Coral Way, Miami, FL