Story and photos by Karen F. Buchsbaum
You don’t have to drive 24 hours north for a lobster roll, and you don’t have to pay a small fortune.
The Mango Café, right in your backyard, is waiting to serve up a basket with chips and a pair of delicious Florida lobster rolls for less than $10. Unquestionably the most popular item on the menu, guests have said they didn’t know Florida lobster could taste so good.
Located in the Redland Historic District, the café is part of Miami-Dade’s Fruit and Spice Park, a spot worth visiting for many reasons. Plant and garden fans will love the 37 acres arranged by tropical geographic regions (for the scientific-minded, this type of botanical garden layout is called ethnobotanical).
History buffs will enjoy learning more about the area’s turn-of-the-century buildings. One of those, the Bauer-Neill-Mitchell House, which is home to The Mango Café, dates back to 1902. This typical Redland pioneer home was painstakingly moved 8 miles to the park in 1982, only to be destroyed by Hurricane Andrew 10 years later. The current building is a reconstruction, paid for by post-Andrew FEMA funds.
The cute gift shop at the park entrance offers some retail therapy and a lot of unique items and information.
Although it would be a shame to miss the park, the café can be enjoyed without entry. It is open from 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., seven days a week. Park hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
After 4 p.m., the café serves only smoothies or shakes and pie. Smoothie and shake flavors include passion fruit, strawberry, mango, lemon and banana.
Other favorite menu items include panini-style sandwiches, like the Cuban sandwich made with smoked pork and a grilled chicken sandwich with mozzarella.
24801 SW 187th Ave., Homestead;
Park admission is $8 for adults; $2 for kids 6-11;
free for children under 6. Guided tours are offered daily at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.