Monday, July 14, 2014

Latin House Burger & Taco Bar

     No other way to start than by saying BEST burger I've ever had in Miami, and I've been living here for 34 years! When I heard there was an award-winning burger place in my neighborhood, I couldn't get there fast enough.
     As you walk through the doors, you are greeted by a handsome bar with two flatscreen TVs, and two large seating areas open on each side of it. On the side where we sat, a bold mystical mural in deep, dramatic colors adorns the entire wall. Even more seating is available outside in the form of tall tables and cheerful red chairs. Based on all my observations and the buzz on their food, my conclusion is that this place attracts large crowds.
     Let me tell you about their menu... but where to begin? When my husband is faced with a menu of this magnitude, he becomes overwhelmed. For me, on the other hand, it feels like that moment when you first enter DisneyWorld- the possibilities are endless! I hadn't made my choice for this visit and I was already wondering what I would have next time.
     I'll mention some of the things that caught my attention, but I can only scratch the surface without turning this into a thesis. In the appetizer section I saw Calamari Blossoms with Asiago cheese, Tangled Love, potato crisps topped with avocado lime sauce, pico de gallo, cheese and your choice of protein, and Timba, fried queso blanco squares injected with guava marmalade.  (Big sigh!)
     I'll skip over the Main Event entrees section of the menu in spite of items with enticing names like Taqueria Calle Tacos (rumored to be the best in town) and Puffy Flatton. My ultimate destination was the Burger Love section. Eleven choices danced in front of me, every one more inviting than the next. You can choose from a quarter pound or half pound patty, but if you choose the half, they will split your portion into two adorable sliders (Muffin Tops, they call them) that can be two different menu selections! I was all over that!        
      John the Purist would not venture outside the boundaries of the classic burger so he ordered the Original, nothing to scoff about since this is the award-winner, and it's easy to see why. This is the classic but the 2.0 version, if you will: maple-glazed bacon, three cheeses, butter-grilled onions and mushrooms, crema (sour cream) and Avocado-lime sauce. See, this is what I call going above and beyond in attention to detail. This is what I mean when I say put love into your cooking. I don't think I'll ever forget Hubby's face when I gave him the "well?" look. His eyes widened, his lips fought a smile while working on a mouthful of deliciousness, and his head gave a serious nod of approval.
     I of course, took the opportunity to sample two burgers and ordered my half-pounder split into the Cuban, with guava marmalade and Queso Blanco, and the American, similar in construction to John's Original. The ingredients in each married blissfully. A note about the meat: Latin House is not secretive about their formula for rich, juicy, savory patties. They use a mixture of ground sirloin, chuck and brisket, and it does set these burgers apart from the mundane.
     A special mention must be made of the sides. John ordered fries and got the most ethereal potato shavings, lightly fried and yet perfectly brown around the edges. How do they do that?! I ordered the Sweet Petals, and if I liked sweet potatoes before, these crisps have taken my devotion to a whole other level.
So delicate, so ambrosial, they melt in your mouth right after the crunch. So addictive!
     I can't close without talking about Willy, our waiter. A would-be stand-up comedian who infuses his mordant style into the presentation of the history and menu of the joint. Before he begins, he warns, only half-jokingly, that no interruptions or questions are allowed until he's done. You don't know whether to be indignant or amused.
     Casual food can have flair and demonstrate inventiveness in preparation, presentation and even menu design. Latin House proves that the dining experience can be adventurous and amusing regardless of price range. I rest my case.

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