Anyone who lives in Miami knows that one of the most spoken languages in the city is Spanglish, a hybrid blend of English and Spanish, due to the huge influx of Spanish speaking people who have immigrated to this fine city. Love it, or hate it, it is here to stay as the “unofficial” language of Miami.
I was intrigued to try a new place that opened in Wynwood just before Art Basel 2019, called Spanglish. Hailing from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Nicaragua, Manny Picon, Hector Acevedo, who has won bartending contests and even made it into GQ Magazine, Oscar Ortega, and Eddy Fuentes, first came together in forming “The Cocktail Cartel” in 2015. It’s the first foray into a combined restaurant and bar concept by the four superstar bartender friends, who have also developed beverage programs for notable spots like The Fontainebleau, Zuma, Byblos, and The Broken Shaker. They were very smart in recruiting James Beard Award semi-finalist and CHOPPED winner, Giorgio Rapicavoli of Coral Gables Eating House, to devise their menu for the new place. The menu embodies the traditional flavours of Latin America, but they add a modern twist.
Located at 2808 North Miami Avenue, the restaurant is a cool space, that is reminiscent of a speakeasy, with darkened windows outside, and music playing on speakers that draw you in. Spanglish seats around 70 guests, with a mix of tropical decor, forest green seating, and graffiti on the walls. In fact, they hired two well-known artists, one from Brazil and one local Cuban/Miami artist to provide the cool vibe. I love the Latin music that they play, and they have a DJ booth set up for weekends.
The beverage program is fun, whimsical, and unique. We enjoyed cocktails like the Spanglish and Chill, a tequila-based, strawberry-infused drink with sweet vermouth, tangerine, lemon, and pink peppercorn. Or the Pimp my Rye, made with bullet rye, earl grey tea, sage, lemon, and yuzu tonic. There is even one topped with caramel corn. The glassware and presentations were playful and delicious. There is also a well thought out wine list too.
The menu is concise with 14 items. Most are small plates or bar snacks with a couple of large plates thrown into the mix. We tried a number of items like the Croqueta bao buns with Jupiña hoisin, cucumber and sesame, the chips con guacamole, and the delicious coconut shrimp ceviche. We also tried the beef churrasco tiradito, and a great arroz con pollo, which is chunks of deep-fried chicken on a bed of creamy rice and peas. One of my favourite dishes was the timba frita, a cubed cheese that was deep-fried and served in a yummy guava sauce. It had a consistency of halloumi cheese.
The restaurant celebrates the city’s multicultural background and reflects the food these gentlemen grew up on along with the music they listened to.
They just started serving a weekend brunch as well. They are open 7 days a week for dinner starting at 5pm-midnight, and on weekends till 2am.
Their philosophy is parts alchemy, artistry, creativity and fun, bicultural and bilingual. Taking the best of both worlds and fusing them into one unique concept. The staff and owners couldn’t be friendlier. Spanglish is truly a love letter to the very soul of Miami.
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