New Bites

Cocktails on the Roof 

Cocktails -Cebada Rooftop

Coral Gables has been in long need of a rooftop restaurant and bar, but it wasn’t until visiting Cebada Rooftop (124 Giralda Plaza) that I realized by just how much. 

My partner and I arrived on a Friday evening without reservations, and all tables were full – especially along the railing on the edge of the rooftop, which looks down on Giralda Plaza above Coyo Taco. No matter. The sun was setting on the skyline, the house music was subtle yet funky, and the bar was open. 

Cebada is the brainchild of Chef Jorge Ramos (of Barely in Dadeland fame), but we were not here for his Latin influenced plates (though we did try the mojo corn ribs, topped with cilantro, cheese and spicy tajin). We were here for cocktails and the raw bar. 

Fortunately, we had beaten the 7 pm happy hour buzzer, so
our drinks were $10 instead of $15. We went with the “Bro, Why Are Your Pants So Tight” and “Two White Guys Go To A Donkey Show And…” With names like that, who could say no? “Bro” consisted of Voli Vodka, guava, raw sugar, and lime, giving it a sweet, mojito-like flavor with a blush pink color. It was beautifully presented, garnished with Baby’s-Breath flowers. “Two White Guys” was a frozen cocktail made of Dos Hombres Mezcal, mango, agave, lime, and chipotle. It was tart, tropical, and refreshing. 

From the raw bar menu we ordered 1⁄2 dozen James River Oysters, which came with your choice of cocktail sauce, horseradish, or vinegar. At $18, they were decently sized and fresh. We’ll be back for more.

—Carmen Fraga 

Well Fed Intentions 

At one time there were two Argentine restaurants on the Mile. Both disappeared during the pandemic, and while the new Well Fed at 271 Miracle Mile is decidedly more Venezuelan than Argentine, it goes a long way toward filling that South American flavor niche, including their homemade empanadas. 

Chef Federico Tischler is determined to bring some new flavors from Caracas, and you can try his Venezuelan empanadas; his rompe colchón (clams, mussels, shrimps and squid in a spicy orange-tomato sauce); or his toasted cassava bread served with black beans, coconut butter and green onions for $5 each at happy hour. On the regular menu we tried the pork belly sandwich ($24) and the whole, deep fried snapper with plantain salad ($25), both worthy. The décor is not yet up to the food, but it’s comfortably simple, like a neighborhood café, with a nice, jazzy house track.

—James Broida 

Haute Tapas

One of the quieter restaurant locations downtown is the space most recently occupied by Mint Indian restaurant, on Alhambra Circle just east of Salzedo. Mint wilted during the pandemic, and the space has now been repurposed as Las Tapas Gables. With white tablecloths, dark wooden straight-back chairs, and framed Spanish tiles on the walls, it is an elegant entry into the Spanish fine dining category. But why call it a tapas restaurant? It’s not that the garlic shrimp, elegantly served in a blue patterned plate, is not good. But at $18 on the lunch menu, it’s not what tapas are supposed to be – small plates for sharing in a neighborhood cafe, inexpensive enough to order a raft of them. They don’t even call them tapas, but rather appetizers. This is high-end Spanish food, with $45 lamb chops and $15 flans; there’s nothing wrong with that, let’s just get our definitions straight.

—Carmen Fraga 

Argentine Pizza 

New Bites in Coral Gables
Assorted Argentinian pizza on the marble table.

You would think that if a pizza restaurant goes out of business, that’s the last place you’d want to put another pizza place. But the Argentine family behind Craft Coral Gables has done just that, occupying the same location as Lorenzo’s (127 Giralda Plaza) with their own offerings of the tomato pie. So far, so good. 

While Lorenzo’s (felled by the pandemic) at was never our favorite pizza place, it wasn’t all that bad. Craft Coral Gables, on
the other hand, is another story. Their pie is cheesier, thicker and differently styled – in the way of Argentina, which is one of the most pizza-mad countries in the world. Speaking of which, we recommend their Argentine Pizza ($15.95), with mozzarella, tomato sauce, green onions and chopped ternera (Argentine veal). A new spin on the pizza wheel.

—James Broida 

Seasonal Offerings 

New Bites in Coral Gables

With the farm-to-table movement in full swing, more restaurants are shifting menus to accommodate seasonal harvests. Seasons 52 has always been big on this, but you’ll see menus changing everywhere, from Zucca and Tur to Mamey and Zitsum. What we didn’t expect was a seasonal menu at Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, meat being something of a constant. But, in addition to a pumpkin cheesecake and a butternut squash dish, their Fall off-the-menu specials include a white bean pork chili ($11) with pieces of pork chop and apple wood-smoked bacon bits. Must be the poblano peppers, garlic and oregano that are in season.

— James Broida 

True Colombian 

New Bites in Coral Gables

With the pandemic shutdown of Ocio Colombian Fusion on Ponce de Leon Boulevard, the city lost its only formal Colombian dining. Now comes Agasajo, launched six months ago by Colombians Andres and Camila Vera in the space formerly occupied by Small Tea (also nixed by the pandemic). Fortunately, they preserved the amazing, curved interior of this space, which is right down the block from Books & Books (205 Aragon). 

What they have added is truly authentic Colombian food. We tried their pescado camaronero ($22.99), a seafood showstopper of grilled white fish filet topped with garlic cream and large shrimp, served with coconut rice and fried plantains. Of course, nothing beats a good Colombian soup (the most famous is ajiaco, with chicken, corn and three potatoes). We tried the sancocho de costilla, a beef rib stew with corn on the cobb, yucca, potatoes, bananas, onions, and beef broth, which for $11.99 is a meal-in-itself. Agasayo is also big on breakfast waffles and pancakes. Who knew this was a Colombian thing?

—J.P. Faber