For dinner on my first night in Miami, I decided to see if there was a Chart House Restaurant, and as I suspected there was, at a waterfront marina and shopping district near Coconut Grove called Dinner Key. The name of the place (which was once an island, hence the name “key”) probably doesn’t seem very strange to people nowadays, because there are several good restaurants located in or around the marina area there, but the fact is, the island was known as Dinner Key long before there were any restaurants there at all. Historians theorize that boaters sailing from Biscayne Bay to Snapper Creek found the island halfway between the two locations to be a convenient place to stop for a picnic lunch, and anybody familiar with the South knows that for a certain generation of Southerners, “dinner” was the biggest meal of the day, the noon meal. The island eventually became a seaplane base for the up-and-coming Pan American World Airways at a time when there were few airport facilities in the Caribbean or South America, and seaplanes were important. Later, the area was used by the Navy and the Coast Guard, but today, it is the location of Miami’s city hall, several great restaurants, an auditorium, a shopping center and a small boat harbor.
As far the Chart House, it is part of a chain, although a fairly good and reliable one. Chart Houses are always located on water, and specialize in steaks and seafood. If the prices aren’t exactly cheap neither are they outrageous, and the overall experience is usually pleasant. My dinner at Miami’s Chart House was no exception.