If you would have told an average American fifty years ago that this country would be obsessed with hot and spicy flavors in the twenty first century, they’d probably think you were crazy. It really is quite curious how, for a culture whose cuisine doesn’t traditionally embrace spiciness, we have really adapted our palates to the addictive burn that only chili peppers can provide. Sriracha is now almost as ubiquitous in the American pantry as ketchup, and it seems as if no casual dining menu is complete without a chipotle-spiked something or other. Besides embracing heat, Americans have also begun to embrace a lot of other flavors and textures, not least among them being sushi. I don’t think anyone would have ever imagined that a dish of rice, seaweed, and raw seafood would ever become as popular in this country as sushi has. Needless to say, the flavor profiles of American cuisine are changing at a rapidly exciting rate, and there are fewer places to celebrate our new culinary preferences this evening than at SAIA, which is putting on a special “Social Hour” to celebrate all things hot and spicy.
Once upon a time, I lived in a faraway land called Kendall. For those who are unfamiliar with that unincorporated part of Miami-Dade County, Kendall can seem like a faraway land with it’s own culture, expressions, and rules of traffic. For those who know Kendall but have been away for a while, a recent visit will make it seem like it has been “once upon a time” since you’ve last been there. It seems as if every time I return to Kendall, something old has been replaced with something new that is a dramatic improvement from what used to be there. Take Town & Country Mall, for instance. It was a fun hangout in the early nineties, but by the time Y2K came around, it was dead. After the AMC movie theater closed, there seemed to be little hope for reviving what had once promised to be a thriving commercial and nightlife center...that is until the mall rebranded itself as The Palms at Town & Country Mall, polished its image, and invited more upscale retailers like Loehman’s and Nordstrom Rack to move in (trust me, that’s light years ahead of what used to be there). Dining in Kendall is also improving, especially at the new and improved mall, with Devon Seafood + Steak set to open its doors tomorrow.
I had once written an article for my college newspaper about how dim sum would replace sushi as the new trendy Asian thing to eat, and how sushi had become so played out that it has become pedestrian and unexciting. While dim sum has become increasingly popular and better known than it was nearly a decade ago, it has yet to catch up with sushi in the trendy department, which is why we have yet to see “dim sum bars” dotting every block of South Beach. Dim sum is delicious and sophisticated in its own right, but whereas sushi seems to be in a constant state of innovative reinvention, dim sum selections manage to remain pretty consistent to what they have been for decades...if not centuries. Furthermore, some of the best places to enjoy this Cantonese breakfast/brunch tradition can offer very little in terms of ambiance, and even the nicer ones are not what one would consider to be “design forward”. Such factors have never been deterrents for serious foodies, but a recent dim sum brunch at BLOOM in Wynwood is showing that dim sum is starting to break the mold in Miami, becoming sleek, modern, and quite cosmopolitan.
Midtown Miami, besides offering nearby residents much needed retail venues like Target, Home Goods, and Petsmart, has come to be one of the most exciting dining districts in Miami right now. It seems as if almost every restaurant that has opened its doors in Midtown has offered locals and visitors, alike, nothing short of delicious food whether it’s at Sugarcane, Sakaya Kitchen, Mercadito, 100 Montaditos, or several ofthe other newer restaurants that seem to be sprouting like mushrooms after a rainstorm. It goes without saying, then, that any restaurateur who’s really serious about food would be looking to have a spot among Midtown Miami’s roster of great eateries, which is exactly what George-Eric Farge has done. The gregarious French owner of George’s in South Miami and Coconut Grove is opening the doors to his newest venture, George’s Kitchen, today in Midtown, and he promises to make it not only an unparalleled dining destination, but also a mecca of nightlife for the area.
Outside of Mexico, there are probably fewer people in the world who are as in love with Mexican cuisine (or an interpretation of it) as Americans. One never quite realizes just how good we have it in the States when it comes to finding tasty Mexican or Tex-Mex food until one travels to Europe where the difference between a wrap and a burrito isn’t quite as understood as it is here. Our approach to Mexican cuisine has also changed considerably as our culture has begun to embrace bolder flavors, and today’s foodies demand authenticity. While we still love our cheesy, sour cream-laden, Tex-Mex #3 combo specials, a lot of restaurants - even those owned and operated by gringos - are incorporating more and more authentic Mexican flavors and techniques into their menus, and even more restaurants are elevating Mexican cuisine to a level of sophistication previously unseen. Dennis Max’s new Boca Raton restaurant, The Mexican Cocina & Tequila Bar, has managed to bring diners a unique combination of bold, authentic flavors paired with creative innovation and the familiar flavors that we, as Americans, know and love from Mexican cuisine. The result is a restaurant that offers a fun, uninhibited ambiance with great food that teases and plays with your palate in very exciting ways.
For some reason, it seems as if time really flew between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, which means that most of us have been scrambling to get our greeting cards and presents in order, as well as trying to keep track of the various holiday functions we feel obliged to attend. When your main preoccupation is trying to find just one good gift for your mom and realizing that you haven’t sent anything to your in-laws while they sent you a box of presents, the last thing on your mind is planning a Christmas (or Noche Buena) feast. Sure, you can do what I do and round up a selection of charcuterie and cheeses from Graziano’s and Epicure to nibble at throughout the holiday - or visit a Blue Sky for your lechón - but with so many fabulous restaurants offering such wonderful Christmas and Christmas Eve dinners, it’s hard not to take the easy way out and leave the preparations to the gourmet chefs. If you’re finding yourself in Miami without dinner plans this Christmas, let Joonbug outline a few suggestions for you:
Anyone who lives in Miami knows that we are no strangers to the night owl lifestyle. In a city where one meets for dinner with friends at 9:00 PM (which really means 10:00 PM) and people don’t arrive at the club until well after midnight, it should come as no surprise that Miami has its fair share of late night eats. Nothing works up an appetite quite like a night of drinking and dancing, and with Miami’s unmistakable Latin flavor, post-party dining options include a wide array of not only typical pizza and burger joints, but favorites from throughout Latin America.
Few restaurant empires have as unique a story as that of Serafina. Two best friends, Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato, were stranded in Hampton Bay one day during a horrific storm and made a pact to each other if they came out of it alive: to open a restaurant serving the best pizza and pasta in the world. Nine restaurants later, including one in São Paulo, the have finally reached the Sunshine State and have continued to make South Beach one of the most delicious concentrations of authentic Italian cuisine. Occupying the space attached to the Dream South Beach Hotel that formerly housed Tudor House, Serafina’s Miami Beach location is in the heart of all the action, making it the perfect stop to savor exquisitely prepared northern Italian cuisine before enjoying an evening of SoBe’s legendary nightlife. A recent dinner at Serafina demonstrated that besides an unwavering dedication to quality, the driving force behind Serafina’s success throughout the world is a love and passion for food that can be felt and tasted everywhere at this restaurant
- Hawaiian Spiked Tuna Pok
- Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail
- Local Fish Ceviche
- “The Big Easy” Seafood Gumbo
- Prosciutto Wrapped Brie
- Super Lump Crab & Crawfish Cake
- Hearts of Romaine Ceasar
- Fresh “Burrata” Mozzarella
- Iceberg Wedge
- Lump Crab & Corn Roasted Grouper
- Pan Roasted Mahi-Mahi
- Herb Roasted Salmon
- Grilled Filet Mignon
- Lancaster, PA Hormone Free Chicken Breastfig & Olive Rubbed Grilled Local Swordfish Sautéed Jumbo Shrimp & Garganelli Pasta
- Lump crab & Corn Roasted Grouperpan Roasted Mahi-Mahi