Miami's Food Halls
Whenever South Florida embraces a trend, it goes all the way. Food Hall mania has taken over Miami. What is a food hall you ask? A food hall is a collection of vendors and restaurant stalls in one space, usually vast In 2017 there were no food halls in Miami - or maybe one if you count Jackson Hall but that’s no longer around. In November 2018 there were four and counting and just in the last couple of months, Yumbrella, St. Roch, Time Out Market , The Lincoln Eatery , The Citadel and Central Fare have opened. I still have yet to visit any of them…that is until today!
So why have these food halls burst all of a sudden into the food scene here in Miami? Good question and I don’t have the answer. But if you take a lot of great chefs and put them all together under one roof, you end up having something that everyone will like. And that’s what food is all about. Food helps provide that social connection. I’d be the first to say that sometimes Miami is a little behind the times when it comes to trends. Now all of a sudden it’s the place to be.
I also think part of the reason I haven’t been to any of these food halls is that I normally cook all of my food. Just the other day for work we drove to Palm Beach and rather then join the group eating at a chain restaurant I brought my own food - no way was I going to spend $10 on food I already had prepared at home that was WAY tastier and looked better than what they were eating. Plus it was a chain restaurant. But every now and then I do eat out . I eat out to gain inspiration. Much in the same way that I peruse social media, different blogs for recipes , and spend countless hours looking at cookbooks, eating out for me helps to give me that little bit of inspiration that can lead to my next recipe to try out
Just the other day a co-worker brought in a few treats for us to eat. She’s always bringing in treats, but this time it led to my next creative creation, rugelach. Never before had I attempted to make rugelach. And to be honest, dough for me is sometimes hard to roll out and get the right thickness and be even all around. Enter my next challenge. Sure enough it was a hot day yesterday and I’ll be honest, the dough has to be super cold in order for you to be able to work with it. 1st batch wasn’t so pretty. But then I got smart and made sure to let the dough chill in the refrigerator each time I had touched it before moving on to the next step. Patience. It’s a must with this Florida heat and humidity. But the end result is/was amazing.
My other experimentation in the kitchen this week was with cassava flour. Cassava aka yuca is a root vegetable that’s rich in carbohydrates and can be used both in sweet and savory dishes. Here in Miami yuca is a staple as just a side dish with onions and garlic and/or can be fried as yuca fries. But finely ground, the flour has a smooth, almost powdery, consistency that’s ideal for baking. It is a little more dense, remember it has no gluten, so while it is naturally gluten-free, you can use it in recipes that call for all-purpose flour as a 1:1 ratio substitute, but it would not work well in recipes that mix with yeast as it will not rise well. Homemade cassava tortillas coming this #TasteTestTuesday!
Back to the food halls in Miami. I finally made my way to The Citadel Miami. As I was walking in there were quite a few people with yoga mats walking around. I kindly asked a few where they had just finished yoga at and they said, “the rooftop”. So not only is The Citadel a food hall but also a place to work out? Intriguing. Although I’m going to honest, come summertime I’m not sure I’d want to be working out outside. But a bar and mingling on the rooftop doesn’t sound so bad come nighttime!
Additionally as I was walking around I even saw what looked to be an area for workshops as well as a vendor area. I perused up to the 2nd and 3rd floor, but those were still under construction. Pretty sure good things are coming it’s way. Has to be with that much open space!
Now on to the food. The part we all came for. They have a variety and definitely something for everyone. From pizza to Peruvian food, BBQ and Caribbean food, the Citadel even has a small bar. I worked my way around the food hall looking at all the menus and had a hard time trying to decide what to order. The meet’n’cheese place was easy to pass by (I’m a pescatarian for all you new blog readers out there). Also not on my radar was the burger place nor the pizza place - I sometimes have to be in the mood for pizza. I finally settled on a taco from Taquiza, some tostones from Manjay, eggplant from Palmar, and a gelato to go! Also of note, since I don’t eat out often, I’ve been known to order wrong. I wouldn’t say I ordered wrong this time around, but I will say there were other items I should’ve ordered…maybe? Or that’s just their way to get you to go back.
Manjay - a modern take on Caribbean cuisine. I ordered the Banan Payzay - aka crispy pressed plantains with some manjay pikliz. I love tostones, which is what a pressed plantain is (the green kind) and I often don’t eat them because they are fried. They added their own flare to the plantain with a mix of spices that was out of this world. Not to mention their pikliz, aka pickled cabbage, on top of the plantain was something I never would have thought to combine. Definitely a source of inspiration - maybe my new taco press will also press some plantains?!
Next up was Taquiza. I kind of think of myself as a taco connoisseur. Any chance I get I’m ordering tacos when I do go out. And seeing that I just bought a taco press, I’m all in! I went for the vegetarian option this time around instead of the fish. And I made sure not to get a too spicy option also. I ordered the Rajas - charred peppers and onions tossed in oregano with crema and cotija cheese. Normally not one for oregano (not that I don’t like oregano, but I think oregano doesn’t like me. I burp every time after having it!) all I tasted were the charred peppers and onions. No problema with the oregano…or I think they forgot to add it in. Definitely will need to be making a vegetarian taco in my future. That taco press is going to be busy!
Rounding out the main dishes, I ordered Chinese eggplant from Palmar. I couldn’t quite place the sauce flavor on the eggplant - thought it might be miso? but regardless the sauce was tasty. They topped the eggplant with kiwi which I never would have thought to do as well as cancha - a Peruvian corn that’s popped, so it kind of tastes like a version of corn nuts, only better. All of the flavors and textures really worked well together. Again, that kind of inspiration that I need - because I definitely would never have thought to put kiwi with eggplant. Never.
For the desserts area I’ll be honest I feel like The Citadel was lacking. Sure there was Bachour and his desserts are amazing, but I’ve already had quite a few of those. (not trying to be snooty, but I think of Bachour as more of a special occasion type dessert, not an everyday dessert). One place had a cookie the size of my face, but they did not look appetizing. After one last walk through I decided I would get some gelato. Like pizza, I have to be in the mood for ice cream. After perusing the different flavors, I decided to try one that I never would think to taint ice cream with - blue milk cookies-n-cream. The blue milk is made from adding spirulina extract in. I’m a dessert aficionado and not one to add health elements in to a sugary laden dessert. But believe me when I tell you that you couldn’t taste the spirulina. It just looked like cool blue cookies-n-cream ice cream. Pricey but worth it. If they were going for a natural hue to get blue ice cream, I’m all for it. If they were trying to add spirulina into ice cream and call it a health food, I’m not buying it. Either way, it gave me inspo for ice cream season. It is upon us!
So there you have it. My first food hall experience in Miami. I definitely can see why people love food halls - variety, eclectic food choices, and they’re all under one roof. Brilliant. Now to decide which one to visit next…