In an age of online retail and big box stores, any independent bookstore might be considered a “hidden gem.” The local favorite in the Miami area is “Books & Books,” which has six locations. The flagship is in a historic building in Coral City, just southwest of Miami, but you can also visit them at the airport or the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts downtown. If you’re a book lover, this is the kind of place where you can lose yourself browsing a huge collection. If you’re traveling with people who aren’t book lovers, just tell them about the café. While a café in a bookstore may not sound like a big deal, the Café at Books & Books goes way beyond the coffee and pastries you might expect. It’s a full-service restaurant with an executive chef and a selection of wine, beer, and cocktails, making for a very fun trip to the bookstore.
Books & Books has been around since the early 1980s, and the New York Times recently credited it with “putting literary Miami on the map.” Its founder, Mitchell Kaplan, explains that Miami had a different reputation when he first started working in bookstores here:
Kaplan built the store’s reputation by asking publishing companies in New York to send writers for events here and by stocking books that would appeal to locals, including growing immigrant populations. He also co-founded the Miami Book Fair, which brought influential authors like Isaac Singer, James Baldwin, Hunter S. Thompson and Toni Morrison to Miami.
Three of the locations include cafés under the direction of Chef Allen Susser. The Coral Gables location offers outdoor dining and drinks in a picturesque courtyard. The menu is focused on seafood and veggies, though there are some meat and poultry options. They also offer dessert and an espresso bar.
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