A visit to El Carajo

Dirty words can be good sometimes...that is, when they have another meaning. To most who grew up speaking Spanish (myself included), one hears the word “carajo” (meaning crap or hell) used as a cursing exclamation, as in the phrase popular among my Cuban breed “Vete pa’l carajo!” (Go to hell). It's a risk when a business, moreover a restaurant where the last thing you want to taste is crap, appropriates the word as its own. But in this instance El Carajo, a Miami Spanish tapas and wine spot, the word grabs our off-put attention and then wafts it under our noses so we can wake up and smell the roses - the roses of meaning. The restaurant’s “carajo” refers to the lookout basket at the top of a Spanish ship's mast.

Socarrat Paella Bar

Socarrat Paella Bar
Cuisine: Spanish/Tapas
Price Range: Moderately Expensive

Did you know that there is a name for the slightly burned, toasted, stuck on pieces of rice that accumulate at the bottom of a well-made Paella? There is, and the restaurant Socarrat takes its name from this phenomenon. And they take pride in it too. Once you reach the bottom of the paella dish which has been placed in front of you, a server is only too happy to come by and admonish you for missing the best part, the soccarat. After the gentle chiding comes an effort on the part of the server to scrape every single stuck piece of rice onto your plate, which you then consume with relish, since it really is fantastic.