The last two days we have been anchored off of South Beach being tourists. The main street in South Beach was closed to traffic and there were blocks of booths with interesting art and other goods. It is well worth the walk from the anchorage on the West side of the island to check out the local artists.
Opposite the booths the street is lined with restaurants. The marketing at the restaurants here walks a fine line between good advertising and fraud. They get you in the door with offers of 2 for one deals and freebies, but inevitably the cost of the free stuff is built into another part of the meal. We first learned about this when we were looking at the menu in front of one restaurant. A waiter approached us and said that if we sat down right now we could get 20% off. When we said maybe, he said, "I will throw in a free bottle of wine if you order one of the specials." After he told us that he would throw in a free round of shots, we said we were sold.
We sat down at a table right on the street and he told us about the specials. Nicole wisely asked, "How much is the paella?" The waiter responded $120 without a hint of exaggeration. We both laughed hysterically and said thanks, but no thanks. I would have felt bad walking out if I didn't feel like he was trying to take advantage of us.
Now after 20 percent off, the meal would be $96. For a nice restaurant it is not unreasonable to pay $100 for paella, a bottle of wine and a round of shots, but weren't those other things, that I didn't really want suppose to be free? At $120 I will take my Paella with a side of with gold.
The restaurant we settled for had a more reasonable menu and they offered us 2 for 1 drinks. The catch was that the deal was per person. We would each have to order 2 drinks. The cost of a cocktail (not listed on any menu) was $20. Again, the cost of the free one is built into the cost of the one you are paying for. We skipped the drinks and had a mediocre meal.
The whole experience left us with a bad feeling about spending money in South Beach. If I came back I would make sure to ask about the price of everything. Prices are not written anywhere and if you don't ask, you will be charged more (this happened later at a food cart.) I would also be prepared to haggle for everything, including food, something I haven't experienced even in countries with a barter economy.