by galena mosovich | July 20, 2014 | Food & Drink
Where Miami’s South American residents dine for a real taste of home.
It’s no coincidence that South American restaurants are now widespread in Miami. Nearly half of all South America–born immigrants live in one of two US metropolitan cities: New York or Miami. Hundreds of thousands of transplants—mostly from Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru—account for more than 20 percent of the overall immigrant population in the Latin-centric melting pot that is Miami. Here, we look to find out where they eat when they crave a taste of home.
Home country: Brazil
Favorite Brazilian restaurant in Miami: Boteco
PR pro Eveliny Bastos-Klein can’t resist the Brazilian food at Boteco.
At Boteco, a small and always-packed restaurant and bar, Bastos-Klein travels back in time to her childhood on the breathtaking sands of São Paulo. “As a country of immigrants, Brazil has a varied cuisine that incorporates elements of many cultures and the abundant local flavors, which I love the most,” says Bastos-Klein, who visits Boteco (Portuguese for “hole in the wall”) on Friday nights for savory dishes, live music, dancing, and caipirinha de frutas (refreshing cocktails made with Leblon cachaca and mixed fruit). The camarao alhoe oleo (sautéed shrimp with olive oil, garlic, and fresh parsley) is identical to what’s served at her beloved Brazilian beach shacks, and she says she can’t resist the picanha (top sirloin cap steak) sprinkled with farofa (a crispy condiment made from toasted cassava flour). Boteco, 916 NE 79th St., Miami, 305-757-7735
Nick Garcia favors Colombian food like Narcobollo’s mojarra with coconut rice and patacones.
Garcia has lived in Miami for 20 years, but he says a love of Colombian food still runs through his veins. Lucky for him, there are two restaurants in town specializing in his favorites: La Estacion Cafe in Brickell and Narcobollo in Doral. Colombian food, he explains, can be very diverse, as the country’s cuisine is divided by geographical regions. In Baranquilla, his home on the northern coast, the food is dubbed “costena,” and classic street food reigns, including arepas de huevo (fried corn cakes with soft-cooked eggs), caribanolas (yucca empanadas stuffed with cheese), quibes—sometimes called kibbe—(torpedo-shaped fried bulgur stuffed with minced meat), and chicharrones (deep-fried, bone-in pork belly). For a memorable main dish, Garcia reaches for mojarra (fish such as tilapia) with coconut rice and patacones (tostones, or fried plantain slices). “These restaurants are very relaxed and laid-back,” says Garcia. “You don’t need to dress up or make reservations; it feels almost like visiting family.” Narcobollo, 2557 NW 79th Ave., Doral, 305-597-7722; La Estacion Cafe, 1390 Brickell Ave., Ste. 100, Miami, 305-539-7465
Home country: Argentina
Favorite Argentinean restaurant in Miami: Lo de Lea Argentinean Grill
Agustina Woodgate, a visual artist, enjoys Sunday dinner at the cozy, homelike Lo de Lea Argentinean Grill.
On Sundays, this rising star in the art world calls her brother and makes plans for dinner at Lo de Lea, a charming house-like structure in Miami’s Upper East Side neighborhood. A vegetarian, Woodgate begins with provoleta, a thick piece of grilled provolone cheese served very hot. Then, in lieu of a classic hunk of meat, Lo de Lea’s hearty vegetarian platter comes out of the kitchen with grilled eggplant, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and, of course, a side of traditional chimichurri (finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white or red wine vinegar) for dipping. Woodgate adds a glass of Malbec for a perfect accompaniment. Lo de Lea Argentinian Grill, 7001 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305-456-3218
Blogger and stylist Daniela Ramirez gravitates to La Latina when she craves food from her home country, Venezuela.
Venezuelan Cuisine The Caracas-born fashion blogger didn’t realize how much she loved Venezuelan food until she moved to Miami nearly a decade ago. “Every dish on a Venezuelan menu is completely different from the next, but all have special flavors that remind me of home,” says Ramirez. When nostalgia arises, she leans on her two favorites in Miami: La Latina in Midtown and Doggi’s Venezuelan Cuisine south of Brickell. You can find her in the mornings at La Latina, an arepera, where she’s prompted by memories of her family’s big Sunday brunches, brimming with round flatbreads typically filled with cheese, ham, chicken, or beef. At Doggi’s, Ramirez orders the sweet and savory arepa de pabellon (shredded beef, fried plantains, white rice, and organic queso), combining her cherished arepas with the national dish, pabellon. La Latina, 3509 NE Second Ave., Miami, 305-571-9655; Doggi’s Venezuelan Cuisine, 1246 SW Coral Way, Miami, 305-854-6869
photography by gary james