We visited Cantina la Veinte for the first time last year. It is located at 495 Brickell Avenue on the ground level of the Icon Brickell. It is owned by Mexico’s largest hospitality group, the Cinbersol group. They obviously have deep pockets because this is not your average Mexican joint. It is a 210 seat Mexican showcase, with a black onyx bar, antiqued mirrors, black and white tile floors, dark wood paneling, and shelves with copies of tasteful Mexican artifacts. The space is quite glamorous, the waiters are well dressed, and the crowd is hipsters or wannabes ready to make a dent in their wallet.
When you enter you pass a busy bar and look into a spotless modern open kitchen and you can see them making homemade tortillas on a revolving grill. These are not your standard store bought variety.
The menu is extensive and it helps to have a helpful waiter. We were lucky on our first visit to have a great server explain all the best signature dishes and drinks. I would stay away from the Mojito’s as it tasted like it was from a mix. The Margaritas were a better choice. There is a list of over a 200 brands of Tequila and 100 of Mezcal. Also Pisco Sours, Sangrias etc. They need to improve their wine offerings by the glass.
We have tried many dishes the few times we have gone and I would go with a least another couple to sample more offerings. I suggest sticking mostly to sharing multiple small plates and maybe doing one or two larger plates.
We have tried the mixed seafood ceviche which was good. A standout for us was the ribeye steak with guacamole which we wrapped in gluten-free corn tortillas. Another standout was the soft shell crab that was deep fried tempura style and wrapped in a tortilla. It was placed in an individual shot glass with a great dipping sauce in the bottom. The guacamole with parmesan is also delicious. A signature dish are the wonderful scallops on a bed of truffled rice. On another occasion we tried the ceviche a la vida which was a mix of shrimp, scallops, oysters, crab meat , octopus and chopped serrano chili with a fresh tomato lime sauce. We also tried the lobster tacos with yellow rice, black beans and chipotle sauce. We like the grilled red snapper and you can choose one of three sauces for it. The octopus and the stuffed ancho chili are also quite good.
At around 8:30 a Mariachi band comes on and they serenade the tables. The noise level goes way up but so does the fun. For the young at heart the place turns into a Cantina around 11:30 , with videos, dancing and loud music. I have never stated this late so I can’t report to you about this.
This year I have found that the service and food have gone down a notch. It may have been a bad night, I am not sure. I will definitely give it another try, after all, the restaurant is beautiful, with seating on two levels. The downstairs is a waterfront patio. You will see bold colours, eat bold flavours and you will enjoy watching the glamorous crowd at this high end luxurious Mexican restaurant.