Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.
Miami is in the midst of a taco renaissance. Hip spots are shaking up Magic City’s Mexican-food scene with bold fillings and housemade tortillas. For those looking to figure out where to start, a few Miami chefs share their ideal taco stops.
When Katy Alvarez, chef at Little Havana’s Bar Nancy needs to get her taco fix, she treks to Lure Fishbar on Miami Beach for a tuna taco. “It’s the perfect combination of tuna, cucumber and avocado tossed gently in a soy vinaigrette, filled in a perfectly fried wonton shell and garnished with micro cilantro,” Alvarez says. She does warn, however, that you may just get hooked. “The flavor of the rich tuna and the texture from the crispy wonton shell makes you want to have more than just one order!”
John Rivers, chef and owner of 4 Rivers Smokehouse, has always been a big fan of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, but he’s especially fond of the celeb chef’s Matador Room on Miami Beach. “When a French chef offers his interpretation of Mexican cuisine and uses Miami as the backdrop for local inspiration, the result is a menu that is technically forward and beautifully fresh,” says Rivers. “All the tacos are great, but my favorite is the Achiote Pork Taco.”
Taste of Tradition
Since opening its doors in late 2014, Taquiza in Miami Beach has garnered a steady following — including plenty of local chefs — for its traditional take on tacos, including tortillas made in-house using the centuries-old nixtamalization process to prepare the corn for the dough.
“My favorite tacos in Miami are from Taquiza on the beach, and not just because Steve is my boy,” says Giorgio Rapicavoli, chef and owner of Eating House and executive chef of Glass & Vine. “Not only did I have the privilege of calling him my chef for a while, but I now get to see him bang out the best tacos in Miami. Not many places in the country, let alone in Miami, are nixtamalizing their own masa. It’s something special.”
Henry Hane, chef and owner of Bachour Bakery + Bistro, agrees that the tortillas make the tacos at Taquiza. “I love the lengua tacos at Taquiza, mainly because Steve grinds his own corn for the tortillas, making for the most amazing tacos on this planet, but also because the tongue is perfectly tender and succulent.” The chef does admit that his frequent visits come with an ulterior motive. I’m also secretly trying to get all his sauce recipes. Shhhh.”
Santiago Gomez, executive chef of Cantina la Veinte Miami and Tacology, is lured by a taco option that’s not the typical menu item in the Magic City. His pick? The rare-for-Miami grasshopper. “I love the blue corn tortilla and the crunchy grasshoppers with the guacamole. [The combination] makes for a perfect, crisp bite,” he says.
Photography courtesy of Beth Levendis, Matador Room and Taquiza