Two things I am always hunting for include a great car wash, and delicious, healthy lunch spots. Recently I hit two birds with one stone when I decided to check out Baywash Wash-Wax at the Texaco station on Alton Road and 18th Street. I pulled in to drop off my car and was pleasantly surprised when I went inside to wait and found a luncheonette counter serving up smoothies, salads and sandwiches. One glance at the sign “Carrot Express” and I immediately recalled the delicious “Gourmet Carrot” restaurant that previously sat on West Ave. The friendly owner behind the counter, Mario Laufer, confirmed my suspicion, and proceeded to whip up a fantastic, wholesome lunch and a fresh-squeezed smoothie for me.
This place is truly a hidden gem: Mario hand-makes everything from scratch using only fresh and natural ingredients. The cilantro chicken salad is exceptional, the hummus is delicious and according to Mario, the veggie burger is “the best” (that’s next on my list of things to try here along with the spinach pies). The sandwich options (including white albacore tuna salad, tofu, fresh veggies and turkey breast) are served in a wrap or on whole-wheat pita bread. Top it off with one of Mario’s savory, home-made dressings (my favorite is the carrot ginger) and add some sliced avocado. Absolutely delicious and only $4.99-$6.99.
Finally, a trip to Carrot Express is not complete without a Julie’s Smoothie. Named after Mario’s daughter, this smoothie includes fresh pineapple, orange, mango, strawberries, banana and honey. At $3.50 – you can’t beat it. If you have a real sweet tooth, satisfy it with a slice of coconut guava cake, handmade by Mario’s mother.
As for the car wash? For $12.95, “The Deluxe” gets you a brush-less, squeaky-clean, shiny car wash. Be sure to ask for a Frequent Customer Card – 6 washes gets you one free.
Baywash/Carrot Express (in Texaco station)
1840 Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139