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With its fantastical mix of eye-popping Mexican folk art and black-and-gold luxury (a Mayan pyramid chandelier; an onyx bar), the décor of Cantina La Veinte, an indoor/outdoor riverfront restaurant in mixed-use condo Icon Brickell, is definitely, decorwise, a Hollywood-glam take on a cantina. But the modern Mexican food is the real thing --- not Tex-Mex, not old-fashioned Mexican street food favorites, but the kind of upscale trendy cuisine, mixing traditional recipes with avant-garde techniques and some international influences (mainly from Asia and Italy), that contemporary chefs in Mexico are cooking up these days. Menu highlights include a make-your-own-taco section. There’s also an onsite market/deli selling everything from Mexican grocery products to sandwiches, pastries, imported cheeses and flowers. The restaurant is the first U.S. venture of Cinbersol Group, which operates over 30 restaurant and lounges throughout Mexico including three La20 Cantinas in Mexico City. Cantina La Veinte, 495 Brickell Ave., Miami, FL 33131, 786-623-6135.
Eileen and Jon Andrade, the sister/brother team behind CubanCube food truck, have opened a brick-and-mortar replacement, Finka Table & Tap. The food at Finka (translation: farmhouse) is trendy Cuban fusion, rooted in both their Cuban immigrant family’s traditional food and their own upbringing in modern Miami, with influences from Peru and Korea. Their family owns the iconic classic Cuban diner/luncheonette Islas Canarias. Korean inspiration came from a recent trip to South Korea. Dishes range from Islas’ classic croquetas to kimchee shoestring fries with Cuban vaca frita and Peruvian pico de gallo. Though “tap” is in the eatery’s name, and both local craft beers and imported traditional brews are offered, suds are almost eclipsed by the cocktail menu from Bar Lab’s Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi (The Broken Shaker). Finka Table & Tap, 14690 SW 26th St., Miami, FL 33175, 305-227-8818.
A third outpost of young chef Sam Gorenstein’s My Ceviche has opened in South Miami. Like its predecessors, the new South Miami eatery is co-owned by Roger Duarte (of Miami-based George Stone Crab, the USA’s largest stone crab home delivery service) and features the same menu of ultra-fresh seafood ceviches, tacos/burritos, rice bowls, and, in season, stone crab, all prepared with classic French technique. A fourth location at Miami International Airport (American Airlines, Terminal D) is reportedly upcoming, as is a fifth in a space recently vacated by the Latin Burger and Taco food truck’s unsuccessful first brick-and-mortar eatery in Coral Gables. My Ceviche, 5900 SW 73rd St., South Miami, FL 33143, 305-669-5000.
Miami firefighter Derek Kaplan, who has been baking pies for 15 years and selling them via farmer’s markets and a food truck (when not working on a city fire truck), has opened Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop & Café. The small space (formerly Clive’s, a beloved Jamaican hole-in-the-wall from the days when artsy Wynwood was a working class residential/warehouse area) currently serves Kaplan’s locally-famed Key lime and salted caramel “crack” pies and half-a-dozen seasonal pies, plus homemade cookies, cheesecakes, pie-flavored shakes, quiches, and locally-produced Azucar ice cream. Expect typical fireman-fueling breakfasts and lunches: hearty sandwiches, homemade soups, more. Fireman Derek’s Café, 2818 N. Miami Ave., Miami, FL 33127, 786-449-2517.
From Jack Garabedian, chef/owner of Jefe’s Original Fish Taco & Burgers, Jefe’s Soul Shack, the pioneering food truck’s first non-wheeled location, is finally open. In a mini-mall near Johnson & Wales University, the California surfer-themed indoor/outdoor restaurant serves all the truck’s favorites, including authentic cheese-free Ensenada-style fish tacos plus new menu items like meal-sized salads and more elaborately topped burgers or crispy fries. The original truck continues rolling on, testing out markets for additional brick-and-mortar locations. Jefe’s Soul Shack, 12581 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami, FL 33181, 305-989-5811.
From 28 year-old realtor-turned-restaurateur Jessica Sanchez, Loba serves food reflecting both of Miami’s main historical sides, as well as its trendy present: an eclectic mix of South American and American Old South cuisines, traditional and (mostly) modernized. Sanchez largely renovated the space herself, but both the kitchen and front-of-the-house operations are a deliberate locally-oriented team effort, including Sanchez’s mom Libia (former owner of the Colombian restaurant chain Patacon), Jeziel Colon (ex-sous chef at MC Kitchen) and Jessica Hernandez (current pastry chef at Michelle Bernstein’s lunch spot Crumb on Parchment), plus several students from Florida International University’s hospitality school, which has provided the student support staff for the annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival since the event’s inception. Loba, 7420 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138, 786-536-6692.
Oostendsegarnaalkroketten? Saladegegratatineerdegeitenkaas? Those dishes aren’t something you’ll find on most menus in Miami but they’re specialties at Belgian restaurant Bistro BE. (They’re really just shrimp croquettes and a bacon-wrapped, honey-topped goat cheese gratin on salad.) The bistro also features over half-a-dozen different mussel pots, Belgium’s incomparable frites with a variety of sauces, Belgian waffles, and almost 60 beers (most Belgian, and many rare). Bistro BE, 1111 SW 1st Ave., Miami, FL 33130, 305-375-0975.
Prohibition has made its debut in the Midtown Miami shops, where pretentious George’s Kitchen used to be. The food is pretty simple but well-prepared and fun --- definitely not pretentious. That’s the concept the owner says he wanted to go with the old-fashioned, two-fisted cocktails. The décor is very warm and welcoming, but so airy and open and high-ceilinged that a speakeasy vibe doesn’t come across.
Chef Michael Shikany has opened his eponymous restaurant, Shikany, in Wynwood. This cutting-edge establishment presents all sorts of combinations that sound like they wouldn’t work --- but then they do. Shikany, 251 NW 25th St., Miami, FL 33127, 305-573-0690.
In the former North One 10 space, Tunky Tunky serves Peruvian food from a brother-sister team. Expect traditional cooked dishes and both modern and traditional ceviches. Tunky Tunky, 11052 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami, FL 33161, 786-953-5825.
Basil Park in Sunny Isles Beach is a new and interesting health-conscious (and largely hitting the organic/fresh/local buttons) place from Tim Andriola. There are many vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and processed sugar-free options that are generally very tasty, too. Basil Park, 17608 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160, 305-705-0004.
Zak the Baker in Wynwood is a nice little café with a big bakery. On offer are soups, salads and sandwiches made with some of the best bread in Miami. Zak the Baker, 405 NW 26th St., Miami, FL 33127, no phone.
NIU Kitchen is a cool New Catalan restaurant that uses modern techniques while also incorporating traditional ingredients. Examples include a basil oil-spiked cold tomato broth with a crouton island topped with spicy mustard ice cream and micro-greens; pork cheeks with a sweet and aromatic glaze; and sweet eggplant custard for dessert. NIU Kitchen, 134 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33132, 786-542-5070.
Chef Ralph Pagano’s Naked Taco presents a menu of tacos, burritos, fajitas and more at Dream South Beach. The restaurant also encompasses an outdoor patio and two bars: Bar Mañana serves coffee drinks while Bar Noche features more than 125 tequilas. Naked Taco, Dream South Beach, 1111 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139, 305-534-8455.
New Michelle Bernstein Project + Michy's Update
On the heels of the closing (reportedly temporary, for a redesign) of Michelle Bernstein’s eight year-old MiMo District eatery Michy’s, the celebrity chef announced a new restaurant project in the still-under-construction Thompson Hotel, a $75 million renovation of an oceanfront mid-Miami Beach apartment building. It now has a name and concept: Seagrape, a “Floriddean brasserie” featuring pedigreed steaks, a grand raw bar and much local produce. Bernstein has reported that Michy’s rejuvenation project is on schedule, and both restaurants should open sometime in the fall. Seagrape, 4041 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33140, 305-397-8309. Michy's, 6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138, 305-759-2001.
At the MiMo District’s Taperia Raca, a traditional Spanish tapas bar with creative twists from chef Giorgio Rapicavoli and GM Alex Casanova (Eating House), original chef de cuisine Ryan Harrison has departed. Harrison will pursue his own project. Meanwhile, Rapicavoli has been spending most of his time at Taperia, especially creating more unusual off-menu daily specials. Taperia Raca, 7010 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138, 786-751-8756.
German-born William Crandall, a sous chef for three years at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami's top-end restaurant Azul (and who, previous to that, worked under chef Andrew Zimmerman at Chicago’s NoMi), has stepped up to the post of executive chef. Crandall’s just-introduced first menu features elegant dishes like a white almond gazpacho with yuzu merengue and nasturtium foam, utilizing classic French and avant-garde techniques with influences from Asia and continental Europe. Azul, Mandarin Oriental, Miami, 500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami, FL 33131, 305-913-8254.
Marlon Rambaran is now chef de cuisine at Scarpetta, chef Scott Conant's eatery at Fontainebleau Miami Beach. He replaces Nina Compton, a "Top Chef" contestant who has decided to take time off to travel before coming back to professional cooking. Scarpetta, Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33140, 305-674-4660.
James Seyba, an Idaho native who previously worked at Michael Schwartz's 150 Central Park on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Sea cruise ship, recently joined the team at The Broken Shaker. He has created a new menu, which features local ingredients, with items like smoked St. Louis ribs, house-made ricotta and a burger served with sharp cheddar, drunken onions and house-cured bacon on toasted brioche. Other new items include grits with hickory smoked tomato, cured meats served with bread from Zak the Baker and "Broken Donuts" with cafe con leche sauce. A few new beers grace the menu as well: Cigar City, Jai Alai IPA, and Rekorderlig Pear Cider. The Broken Shaker, Freehand Miami, 2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach, FL 33140, 305-531-2727.
Jumbo’s, an iconic soul food eatery that was a 24-hour oasis in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood since 1955, has closed. Owner Bobby Flam, who took over his family’s diner in 1967, wants to spend more time with his grandchildren. When Flam first began running Jumbo’s, few South Florida restaurants had integrated staffs or seating areas; Flam did both, becoming a Civil Rights landmark. For those already suffering fried shrimp/chicken deprivation, there’s hope: Though the property, on NW 75th Street and Seventh Avenue, has been sold to a developer (who plans to raze the building to construct a retail/residential complex on the land), Flam says he may re-open Jumbo’s in a new location.
In South Beach’s western Sunset Harbor area, PB Steak, from the Pubbelly Restaurant Group (which also operates the original Pubbelly and Pubbelly Sushi in the same neighborhood, plus Barceloneta in South Miami and L’Echon Brasserie in the Hilton Cabana Miami Beach) has folded citing the rising costs of real estate. Pubbelly is already looking for a location “over the bridge” in mainland Wynwood, midtown Miami, or elsewhere along the Biscayne Corridor where rents are more reasonable than South Beach, to re-open PB Steak. PB Steak, 1787 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach, FL, no phone.
After six years, Prelude by Barton G. had its final curtain call at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. The restaurant was restaurateur Barton G. Weiss's second Dade restaurant, after his Miami Beach flagship, Barton G. The Restaurant. Prelude by Barton G., Ziff Ballet Opera House, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132, no phone.
Porcao, the "farm-to-grill" restaurant, lounge and cigar bar in Brickell, has closed after a little more than a month in business. Porcao, 901 S. Miami Ave., Brickell, FL 33130, no phone.
After 15 years at the AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami, Gloria Estefan's Bongos Cuban Cafe has closed. The restaurant will still operate a concession inside the arena. In addition, the other Bongos locations in Orlando, the Seminole Hard Rock and the South Terminal at MIA will remain open. Bongos Cuban Cafe, American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132, no phone.
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