“If cameraman Korey (@KoreyDavisPhotography) doesn’t shoot it, I won’t eat it.”
My family is overwhelmingly southern in every respect. As a native Miamian, with extended family in Georgia, Ohio and the Carolinas, family visits can be a bit taxing because most of my family members equate Spanish speaking people with being ethnically Mexican. You can imagine the education they received on each Miami visit.
Discussing the differences between Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Columbians and other Hispanic cultures had me exhausted and now craving Mexican food. Reluctantly, my appetite took me to the dreaded Miami Beach where I discovered a newly opened authentic Mexican gem at Olla Mexica Kitchen (1233 Lincoln Road). Yeah, I know, I know, but this place is worth braving the beach.
Executive Chef and co-owner at Coyo Taco, Chef Scott Linquist created this delicious establishment to further explore the amazing regional cooking of Mexico. Named for a Mexican earthenware vessel used for cooking and water storage, Olla is a family-style restaurant where sharing is encouraged, and with some dishes a necessity.
On our visit, we had the privilege of meeting Chef Roberto Hernandez. A super experienced and amazing chef, he gave us a personal tour of his amazing creations. We started out with the Chips and Salsa ($5) and their homemade guacamole with chips ($12), both were enjoyable. Served with four different flavors of salsa, and guacamole that was so fresh I thought they had an avocado tree growing in the back of the restaurant.
Following the chips and guacamole, we turned to ordering a couple of heavy appetizers inclusive of the (mushroom skillet) Huitlacoche ($12) which contained corn “truffles,” wild mushrooms, toasted garlic chile de árbol, queso fresco, and epazote. I found this app very tasty and fresh with the mushrooms giving it a nice earthy taste underscored by the garlic.
We also had the Costilla ($15), which are pretty much short rib enchiladas, with guajillo salsa, queso oaxaca roasted tomato salsita, and a Mexican crema. I appreciated the incredible flavor of this, heightened by their homemade blue corn tortilla hidden under gooey goodness with shreds of flavorful and tender short ribs. An absolute MUST HAVE for sure.
Next was the Bruselas ($8), Brussel sprouts, roasted garlic mayo, lime cotija, epazote and chile morita. So, I’m not sure how, but Chef Hernandez totally removed the bitterness that I loathe from Brussel sprouts and replaced it with an amazing flavor reminiscent of the seasonal sprouts served at Houston’s. The past five years have seen this crazy resurgence of Brussel sprouts on menus across some of America’s most notable restaurants. Olla is joining the party with these flavorful cabbage patch kids!
My favorite dish was the Huarache ($13) served with cured skirt steak, blue corn huarache, black beans requeson, cherry tomatoes, and chiles torreados. Quintessential Mexican street food with aromatics so inviting that I mistakenly bit my fingers while stuffing the second Mexican version of a slider in my mouth. The nostalgia from these little bites had my palette demanding more food truck worthy entrees, so I ordered the Chicharron ($5), served with salsa borracha, roasted garlic mayo, cotija. Lord have mercy. These were the best pork skins I have ever had. Crunchy and dusted with just the right amount of salt, served with a roasted garlic mayo that transformed the dish into a redeemed version of my childhood favorite. No way you can miss this one. A MUST HAVE through and through.
Next was my second favorite dish, the Gordita ($12), consisting of duck carnitas, white corn gordita, pasilla oaxaca orange-kumquat marmelada, and requeson. This dish was freaking awesome. There was a ricotta tasting cheese in there that bursts through the griddled tortilla meshing with the braised duckling which then gives you a delectable surprise of cured onions unifying flavors of sweet, spicy and savory. There are a lot of flavors with this dish and each one was welcomed. All the flavors meshed together with the fruity mole that is an absolute MUST HAVE.
My final dish was the ($26) braised short rib, kabocha squash, crispy sprouts charred oaxacan mole. I am in no way trying to take away from the complexity and sophistication of this dish, but it tastes like an amazing beef stew and I absolutely loved it.
With killer mole sauces, bold and authentic flavors, regional sophistication and of course impeccable service, Olla Mexican Kitchen receives a solid 5 out of 5 stars from the Hungry Black Man and is Hungry Black Man Approved. Chef Roberto Hernandez’s skill and ability to transform Mexican street and Homestyle Southern Mexican cuisine into a sophisticated and complex dining experience is to be celebrated and saluted. Oh, almost forgot! Make sure you order the churros for dessert and wash everything down with their amazing Mexican sodas! The churros were incredible and fresh and the Mexican sodas literally gives you life!
It is rumored that this establishment will be closing soon in search of a location more accessible than South Beach, so I suggest you get to them before they close for relocation. You can make reservations by calling (786) 717-5400 or simply drop in for Happy Hour at 1233 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139.
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