Talk of the Town in March

The Meat on the Street 

Last month saw the return of Burgerlicious, the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce annual fundraiser that pits burger flippers across the city and beyond against each other in a fired-up competition for Best in Bun. This year’s winner, determined by an impartial panel of eight beef-minded judges, went to Pincho, the Gables-based mini chain with its flagship store on east Giralda Avenue. Second place went to wagyu-heavy Clutch Burger on Giralda Plaza, with an improbable People’s Choice award going to Forte restaurant on Miracle Mile. We say improbable because they do not serve burgers at Forte – but they do have “maximum flavor” Chef Adrianne Calvo at the helm. 

Talk of the Town - Burgerlicious

“Burgerliscious, was a resounding success,” declared Chamber president and CEO Mark Trowbridge, who presided over the event, which was held on a stretch of Alhambra Circle cordoned off for the 13 participating restaurants that served up their best to nearly 1,000 hungry citizens. Previous Burgerliscious throwdowns took place in Ponce Circle, but the event moved this year to the street in front of the new Chamber headquarters and Visitor Center at Ponce and Alhambra. “The crowd was larger than expected, and they were voracious,” said Trowbridge. “And the breeze took that smell of cooked hamburger to heaven…” 

The Trash Tour 

For anyone who regularly attends (or Zooms into) City Commission meetings, Mayor Vince Lago’s relentless insistence that the city keep itself properly groomed is nothing new. So it’s not surprising that this month he will take city staffers on what amounts to a tour of trash and dead (or absent) landscaping on commercial properties. The mayor has been pushing code enforcement officers, along with the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce and the downtown Business Improvement District, to make business owners maintain their properties and sidewalks. He has decried everything from dead landscaping and rusty signage at the Shops at Merrick Park to dirty sidewalks and absent landscaping at the Bank of America. “Bank of America is a Fortune 500 company,” he said. “They should clean their sidewalks, they should plant their landscaping, they should take pride. We have standards here in the city!” Having sent numerous photos to city staff, the frustrated mayor scheduled a go-and-see March 7 tour with staff to drive the point home. “This is a tall task, he said, “but this is a priority for my administration.” 

Talk of the Town - The Trash Tour 

The Slap Heard Around the World 

The incident went viral in the local press and social media, and with such velocity that it spun all the way to a Coral Gables-datelined story in The New York Times. With the headline “Steakhouse Skirmish Dominates Chatter in Miami Political Circles,” the story began, “Every so often, a petty political episode consumes Miami…” The “episode” took place Feb. 9 at Morton’s Steakhouse on Ponce at Miracle Mile, when a lobbyist spotted Miami City Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla and allegedly greeted him with “Hey [expletive], do you remember me?” and slapped him on the back of his head. The lobbyist, Carlos J. Gimenez, was arrested and spent the night in Turner Gilford Knight Correctional Center. 

We appreciate that the Times described us as “the upscale city of Coral Gables,” noting that Morton’s offers a two-course “power lunch” special for $37. Closer to home, local blog Political Cortadito made issue of the fact that the 2 pm arrest was made not by a Gables cop, but by a Miami police sergeant-at-arms who just happened to be part of the commissioner’s entourage. The Gables has a mutual aid agreement with Miami that permits officers to make arrests in the adjacent jurisdictions. Nonetheless, not sure that a Gables officer would have wrestled Gimenez to the ground and cuffed him for what amounted to a misdemeanor.