For a city that prides itself on being so Latino, it can sometimes come as a shock to learn of Latin restaurant concepts from other parts of the country making their way to the 305. However, restaurants like Sushi Samba, Mercadito, and Asia de Cuba - all originally hailing from places like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles - have become local favorites in Miami and have brought us new perspectives on Latino cuisine. Nevertheless, all of those aforementioned cities have significant Latin American populations, so it really should come as no surprise to us that they would bring Miami interpretations of Latino cuisines that are at the same time innovative and authentically flavored. But what happens when Miami sees a Latino restaurant coming from a not-so-Latino place like Ohio? South Florida is about to see just how much sabor can come out of the Midwest when Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar, founded in Cleveland, opens in Gulfstream Park this month.
Part of what makes a city gastronomically unique are not only the independent eateries and local food customs, but also some of the homegrown chains that are seldom - if ever - found anywhere else, even though they can be so omnipresent where we live that we assume them as a given. I learned at a young age that Pollo Tropical cannot be found in North Carolina, and more recently that ribs at Flanigan’s can be something for which a homesick South Floridian can really yearn. We might laugh it off now, but after being away from the 305 for a while, many of us start thinking about the little things that we left behind. Being that Miami is a young city, many of our culinary traditions (including chain restaurants) are fairly new and many are developing right as I am finishing writing this sentence. Salsa Fiesta, which first began close to Midtown Miami and before opening a second location in Pembroke Pines, may soon become yet another one of our local food traditions as it opens its third location in Aventura next month with complimentary margaritas to celebrate.
A recent stroll down the streets of Miami’s Design District - especially when one hasn’t strolled down those streets in quite a few months - can reveal some surprising changes. While design still rules in this area of Miami, the kind of design that is on display is changing. It is still a mecca for interior designers and industrial design aficionados, and favorites like Luminaire, Fendi Casa, and Ligne Roset are still present. However, the district is now becoming home to far more many creative venues than just furniture, kitchens, and baths. Christian Louboutin, Hermès, Chloé, and Cartier are among a few of the names making one of Miami’s most fashionable areas even more fashionable, and along with the the designer sofas, shoes, handbags, and baubles, is a treasure chest of fabulous eats from local favorite, Michael’s Genuine, to upscale Greek eatery, Egg & Dart. Among the most exciting eateries to make an appearance in the Design District is Oak Tavern, which plans to open its doors to Miami’s eager foodies this November.
It’s that time of year again when the weather cools down enough in South Florida to have a pleasurable picnic...an outdoors picnic where you don’t have to bring a change of clothes after you’ve sweated through your first outfit. It’s also the time of year when Slow Food Miami hosts its annual Thighs & Pies Pie Contest & Picnic at The Barnacle Historic State Park. On Saturday, November 3rd, the historic house in Coconut Grove - which is interesting enough to warrant a visit any other time of the year - will be celebrating that All-American dessert, the pie, with a competition featuring up to thirty different pies submitted by South Florida locals. Along with the competition, there will be a delicious picnic featuring natural, antibiotic-free fried chicken from FreeBird, as well as tasty sides and sweet treats donated by Whole Foods Market in Coral Gables. This family friendly event will also include live music by Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band to get things into a festive spirit.
This Saturday evening, enjoy cocktails and other adult refreshments at many of Brickell’s best bars and eateries with some of Miami’s finest at the United Way of Miami-Dade’s Young Leaders Society’s Boo’s and Spirits Pub Crawl. The organization consists of young professionals from Miami-Dade who enjoy networking, personal and professional growth, and giving back to the community through the United Way’s constant efforts at improving education, health and financial stability, and proceeds from this weekend’s pub crawl go towards continuing those efforts. The evening starts off at Brickell Irish Pub and finishes at LA Sweets, where participants will be able to indulge in the bake shop’s noteworthy cupcakes.
Upon thinking about the many holidays we celebrate throughout the year, most of them revolve around food...at least to a foodie. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and even Chanukah and Passover center around some sort of banquet. Even patriotic holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day involve some sort of special meal comprising delicacies that are reserved for little else than those specific holidays. Halloween, while definitely a swell time to partake in ghastly amounts of candy, is not what one would consider an “eating holiday”. Nevertheless, a true gourmand would never pass up the opportunity to enjoy terrific food, regardless of the occasion, and Miami’s top eateries promise to offer us foodies some delicious Halloween treats.
If you have any doubts regarding Miami’s importance as a food city, pay a visit during the month of February to understand just how huge the 305 is to the culinary world. For the past eleven years, Miami has played host to Food Network’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which is one of the country’s most important gastronomic events of the year. Next year, from February 21st through the 24th, locals and visitors will be able to attend tastings, lectures, demonstrations, special dinners, and unforgettable parties featuring such personalities as Duff Goldman, Ming Tsai, Emeril Lagasse, Todd English, Anthony Bourdain, John Besh, and many others.
There are few places as exciting to be right now than Miami, which seems to finally be coming of age as a respectable city with a vibrant cultural scene and an identity that, while still not fully developed, is without a doubt one of a kind. Miami seems to be an almost blank canvas of creative possibilities, and the enthusiasm of its native sons and daughters can be witnessed in its art galleries, bars, clubs, boutiques, and eateries. Nearly every week there seems to be new construction or a repurposing of an old site, and this ever-changing Miami that we live in now can sometimes make one yearn for a sense of tradition and history, which can sometimes be hard to find amidst all that is so gleamingly new. Nevertheless, there has always been that tower of opulence in Coral Gables that has always represented a much more elegant time in our city’s history better known as The Biltmore.
There is no questioning the strong bond that exists between New York City and South Florida. While Miami definitely has a certain Latin flair to it, long before we were all eating pastelitos and recharging with a thimble of cafecito, South Floridians were enjoying bagels and reuben sandwiches at delis strewn throughout our tropical paradise that catered to homesick New Yorkers seeking respite from the frigid temperatures and of The Big Apple. New Yorkers continue to flee to South Florida for what appears to them as being nonexistent winters (South Florida natives would disagree), and much of NYC’s culinary culture has become part of South Florida’s local flavor as we welcome more and more chefs from New York. We love the fact that Jean Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud have made their way down to the 305, and the MiMo district has become infatuated with Daniel Serfer’s Blue Collar restaurant, but the newest New Yorker to look out for is Chef Steve Zobel at his new restaurant d.b.a./cafe in Fort Lauderdale opening later in October.
When one thinks of German-American culture, perhaps the last place that comes to mind is Miami, and for a foodie, trying to find a good German eatery, delicatessen, or bakery in Miami can be like trying to find an English-speaker in Little Havana. While sourcing good German sausages or baked goods might be a no-brainer in other places like the Midwest or Pennsylvania, it can be a daunting task in a city where chorizo, in its various incarnations, is the sausage of choice and the pastelito reigns supreme. Nevertheless, Miami does love its celebrations no matter what culture they pertain to, especially if they involved drinking, and every year many of the German-esque bars and eateries in the 305 do their best to recreate an authentic German Oktoberfest experience. While many of Miami’s Oktoberfest celebrations can be a lot of fun for the beer-swilling crowd, many celebrations can seem identical to Saint Patrick’s Day events - just swap out the green for blue and white, and add a lot of sausage. For a lover of good food, or just someone who craves authenticity, Oktoberfest in Miami has usually been a disappointment until Brickell Bier Garden brought Miami a true taste of Germany this past weekend.