I wasn’t really planning on writing any additional posts for 2018, yet here I am. I woke up this morning shimmying around the house while humming songs I’d never heard of until last night. Why? Well, I attended La Placita‘s first Christmas festival: ¡La Parranda! This was chef Jose Mendin’s fifth event in Miami (the others took place as SOBE’s Pubbelly) and probably the liveliest one I’ve been to. Side note: I’ve attended them all #truestory.
In case you don’t know, a parranda or trulla is a Puerto Rican tradition: a form of caroling others during the holidays, usually as a surprise. Minutes after guests took their seats, we experienced our very own parranda by the very talented crew from Plenatarium. The band strutted in, instruments on hand, and brought the place down with their catchy songs. Judging by everyone’s animated singing (to every word they knew by heart), I might have been one of the few non-Puerto Ricans in attendance. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying a night of dance, song, and extreme gluttony. Que, que? Pa’ que tu lo sepas.
Partnering with Goya’s executive chef, Fernando Desa, Mendin’s annual festival took place at his soon-to-open restaurant. This was the first time the restaurant officially opened its doors to guests, and I loved the private sneak peek. The night began outside with a cocktail reception at the new bar and lounge area. A long banquette, upholstered in bright tropical prints, rustic wooden tables, and even a swing set the tone for the space. The decor continued inside with plenty of nods to la Isla del Encanto throughout the restaurant. Even a trip to the bathroom surprised me. Wall art and floor-to-ceiling materials transported me to El Yunque National Forest, along with the melodic sounds of the coquí (a tiny frog common to the island) that played overhead repeatedly when triggered by the bathroom door. Nice touch!
Served family-style, the traditional homestyle Puerto Rican feast did not disappoint. The parade of soulful dishes began to roll non-stop starting with cuchifritos (think fried goodness), climaxing with the expected lechón asado, and ending with sinfully rich desserts. I was told this would not be the same food served at the restaurant once it opens in a couple of weeks, but it definitively whet my appetite for more.
As I sat there towards the end of the night,
feeling full and unable to move feeling blessed and joyous, I noticed Blue Collar’s meaningful bright neon sign across the street. What a treat to continue to experience the skyrocketing of Miami’s culinary show. What once felt like a lone star on Biscayne now defies odds and anchors arrivals such as La Placita. Watching other local chefs show up to genuinely congratulate Mendin for this newest accomplishment (I’m looking at you chef Kilgore of Alter & Zapata of Phuc Yea), between pats on the back, hugs, and laughter, solidified the meaning of our tight-knit, supportive community.
I walked out with a full heart and smile on my face. Welcome to the neighborhood, La Placita. I look forward to my first official dinner! Please accept my RSVP to the 2019 Parranda and please bring back the coquito! Wepa!
6789 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33138