In the cultural melting pot of Miami it may seem that the choices for dining out are endless and readily available. However, if you are one of the 12 million people in the United States who is a vegetarian, finding a place to eat that abides your dietary standards may prove to be difficult. Tucked into a plaza on the corner of Red and Bird Road, the Beehive Natural Foods store is a small place that will satisfy both vegetarian and health devotees. Even more appealing is a hidden treasure nestled in the back of store: the Beehive Natural Juice Bar.
Chef Carlos Schichi has been cooking up amazing creations here for 13 years. This native Brazilian is responsible for most of the Beehive’s specialty dishes, which are made everyday from scratch. When you sit down at the quaint bar in front of your very own placemat, before you even can say “hello,” Carlos is offering little tastes of the soups and specialties of the day. At the Beehive all preservatives, sugar, and animal products are absent from the food. The wholesome, natural flavors that Carlos uses are pleasantly different and deliciously addictive.
The menu spans a variety of freshly squeezed juices, which are said to cleanse and restore one’s body. The Rainforest special, which consists of apple, carrot, limejuice, avocado, and banana is particularly tasty. The Beehive Bar also serves wheat grass juice – which is proven to be high in vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as several amino acids. It may be difficult to swallow this green grassy liquid, but the benefits associated with it make the hesitation worthwhile. The food selection is consistent with salads containing vegetables and cheese (made of soy of course). The only ‘meat’ in the place is the tuna that Carlos keeps in the refrigerator for the patrons of the gyms nearby – he is very careful that it stays away from the rest of the food.
People who patronize the Beehive range from lawyers, doctors, leftover hippies, anti-war protesters, and students – a meat free diet serving as the common bond. Kim, a regular customer, prefers the Beehive because, “this is really the only great place to get really good vegetarian food.”
The daily entrees are the highlight of the menu, cooked with choice wheat, quinoa, millet, vegetables, beans, seeds, sprouts, and lots of soy. Expect to find some creative dishes such as Seitan Pie, which consists of seitan, wheat gluten, sautEed mushrooms, whole wheat, blue corn and buckwheat crust. Also notable is the vegan version of Shepard’s Pie, made with TVP (textured vegetable protein) and mashed potatoes. The Broccoli Pie is amazing, as well as the Tres Amigos bean dish. There are always different entrees to choose from on a daily basis, and usually two soups as well; red lentil, barley and mushroom, squash, and cream of broccoli being the most common. Eating this way is not only healthy, but with the help of Carlos and the Bar’s customers, it is informative as well.
While eating a meal, be sure to leave room for desert. The desserts vary, but examples include strawberry shortcake and guava pastries made with soy cream cheese. Beehive Bar’s pastries are known to disappear quickly so there is always a safety – frozen banana custard. Somehow this custard, using only fruit, packs more mouthwatering smoothness than Ben & Jerry’s.
Beehive serves food that will convince any skeptic that eating vegetarian is far from boring. Kim jokes that, “the Beehive is one of those places you only share with a few people because it’s so good you don’t want the word to spread too quickly.” Now that the secret is out, my only advice is to get there early.
The Beehive Natural Juice Bar is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Rachael Henrichsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.