New Bars Are A Sign of Evolution for Downtown Miami

Such a find in downtown Miami, best known for its lawyers, homeless population, and blocks of shuttered storefronts, seems impossible. But over the past six months, three creative, approachable, and reasonably priced bars — Jaguar Sun, Mama Tried, and Lost Boy — have opened as the city's urban core which seems poised for a long-awaited revival.

-Miami New Times, Zachery Fagenson


Chances are if we have spoken anytime in the last few months we have talked about the evolution of downtown Miami that is happening now. Perhaps we even toured the restaurants, night club or catering locations that are now available. But whether you've delved into this conversation with me over coffee one morning or not, you should read this article from New Times that came out yesterday. It perfectly captures the signs that this is the moment of the tipping point for Downtown's revival.

Image from newtimes.com courtesy of Mama Tried

A New Crop of Bars Could Be a Harbinger for Downtown Miami

full article on www.miaminewtimes.com

excerpts from the article...

Such a find in downtown Miami, best known for its lawyers, homeless population, and blocks of shuttered storefronts, seems impossible. But over the past six months, three creative, approachable, and reasonably priced bars — Jaguar Sun, Mama Tried, and Lost Boy — have opened as the city's urban core which seems poised for a long-awaited revival. Previously, 1306 and the Corner moved into the neighborhood. And more are on the way, including Over Under from Broken Shaker alum Brian Griffiths and a multilevel drinking and dining complex in the former post office on NE First Avenue.


"For years, downtown seemed abandoned, but it's always had this great potential, and now there's so much more with the new developments and the excitement in the area," says Domingo Murillo, who in early June opened Mama Tried (207 NE First St., Miami; 786-803-8087; mamatriedmia.com), named for an old Merle Haggard tune, in the space once occupied by the dive bar Pub One.


Murillo; Dan Binkiewicz of Purdy Lounge, Sweet Liberty, and Blackbird Ordinary; and Mauricio Lacayo of the Bend Liquor Lounge replaced the gritty vibe with a clean, '70s-inspired motif. Spherical copper lamps hang above a wooden U-shaped bar flanked by green banquettes. This is a drinker's bar, and it's priced and designed as such.

...[E]fforts to make Flagler Street more pedestrian friendly and the emergence of developers such as Moishe Mana — an Israeli investor who, with opaque plans, has bought up tens of millions of dollars' worth of property in the area — have it poised for a revival. Some restaurateurs, such as Niu Kitchen's and Arson's Deme Lomas and Karina Iglesias, have seen the opportunity, and now bartenders are following suit.

"We never looked anywhere but downtown, and we started looking in 2015," Griffiths says of the forthcoming Over Under. "I would spend days just walking around and looking at every single space."


After nearly giving up, he landed a spot in the historic Alfred I. duPont Building and has since been slogging through construction delays. Though a late-summer opening was delayed, he hopes to be pouring by the end of the year. The drinks here will highlight rare tropical ingredients found in Central America or Southeast Asia but that are also abundant in South Florida.


"Citrus fruits are obvious here, but also being able to utilize unique fruits like large pomelos and tangelos is a huge opportunity," Griffiths says. "We have beautiful mangoes, and we want to use them in both their green and ripe forms."

Recently, he and chef James McNeal, formerly of Roberta's in the Design District, have been trawling South Florida farms for ingredients. Griffiths has been experimenting with hard-to-process fruits such as lychees, longans, and rambutans. There have even been tests with durian, a custardy fruit with an aroma so offensive it's banned on public transportation in some parts of Southeast Asia. "I love it — it's like onion jam — but I don't know that people will stay in a bar that smells like it," Griffiths says.


With a growing base of well-heeled office workers and downtown residents, these already-creative bars will likely have more room for experimentation. On a recent Saturday night at Jaguar Sun, Brickell pizza royalty Franco and Ashley Stanzione are sitting on floral-patterned stools while polishing off a kouign-amann ice-cream sandwich ($8) when Thompson emerges from behind the bar with a bottle of Riesling he says will be just the right pairing. When a plate covered by waves of salty country ham ($9) from Finchville, Tennessee, is set down, Thompson returns with a bottle of sherry and a promise it will do the same.


In fact, all of Thompson's cocktails pair perfectly with Hynes' food. That country ham seems a nod to the chef's time at Momofuku, where David Chang has long extolled the values of this uniquely American product. Hynes also worked at Thomas Keller's Per Se in New York City and Pascal Barbot's Astrance in Paris, and it shows in dishes such as perfectly cooked house-made campanelle ($18) with little knots of stone crab. The seasonal crustacean's sweetness is perfectly complemented by floral almonds and saffron.


As the bowl disappears, chef Michelle Bernstein and her husband stroll in for a quick predinner cocktail. Something special is happening downtown. It's obvious, and it's about time.

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