Florida Life - Dining
South American Tour
The Argentine appetite for beef has produced its own Florida steakhouses and parrilladas, from wood-fired asadors to tableside parrillas. Their mixed grill of beef cuts, blood sausage and organ meats such as sweetbreads and kidneys and appetizers of grilled provolone can go beyond standard steak, but the settings are as rich and polished as classic American steakhouses. Plus fine Argentina red wines to match.
For more than a decade, Miami has supported two chains, Novecento, with branches in New York and Argentina, and Graziano’s, with four Miami restaurants. Three Graziano’s have markets to sell other Argentine favorites, such as European pastries and Italian tomato sauces.
And now, Argentina has a place on Miami’s flashiest address, Lincoln Road, where Baires Grill has its sleek new address.
The Venezuelan exodus in the last decade has expanded Florida’s menu. They include Don Pan, a Caracas chain that now has 30 bakeries from Miami to Tampa serving both fine French-style tarts, eclairs and napoleons and the national sandwiches made in arepa patties of yellow corn meal.
At the very high end, eight stories up above Lincoln Road, Venezuelan entrepreneurs have opened the stunning Juvia, with a global menu that includes French and Japanese as well as Latin dishes.
Colombian restaurants have become staple sources of Latin eating in hundreds of spots in Orlando, Tampa and Miami. The fare is substantial, from white corn arepas to rotisserie steaks and the generous bandeja paisa of rice, red beans, plantains, sausage, pork skin and steak with fried egg and avocado garnish. It’s part of the successful Colombian/Peruvian menu of Pio-Pio, a smart modern operation with white tablecloths and fiery brasas in Orlando. Colombian food goes further uptown at Bolivar, a Latin fusion spot in South Beach, where the broad bandeja platter is stacked into tall food and the simplest soups are handsomely plated. El Corral is targeting the fast casual niche in Miami.
You can now get a taste of Chilean white bean porotos and stuffed palta avocados at Viva Chile in Davie.
At Renzo’s, a small steakhouse in Tampa, the sign outside says Argentine style. The owners are from Uruguay and Venezuela, and the steaks include a Brazilian picanha plus Uruguay’s beloved short ribs and the chivito monster sandwich of steak, ham, bacon, cheese, fried egg and olives.
And there’s more to come. South America is big place and closer than ever.