Art Deco meets Mexican folk art at this waterfront restaurant on Brickell. Cantina La Veinte opened in the summer of 2014 and is one of the first restaurants in Miami to offer fine Mexican dining. The menu focuses on authentic Mexican dishes and regional specialities that are rarely found outside of Mexico itself.
The restaurant was designed by the renowned Mexican architect company Niz and Chauvel and fuses art-deco inspired design with colourful Mexican folk art. The restaurant is spread over two floors. Upstairs has a sleek 1920s glamour feel to it, the dark interior is lit up with touches of gold, frosted glass and splashes of colour from traditional folk art and textiles. Downstairs is open on two sides and looks out onto the waterfront and Brickell Park. The blue-gray decor and tiled floor gives the space a light and airy feel and whilst it lacks the visual impact of room upstairs it has a much more laid-back feel to it and is the perfect place for large groups and private parties.
Whilst the decor is impressive, it is the food that really captures the attention. The menu is elaborate, offering a wide range of dishes that focus on regional meat and seafood specialities. There is a whole section dedicated to stuffed chillies and whilst there is a taco section the main event is the big plates to share with specialities such as Huachinangos al gusto, Langostinos al nojo de ajo and Albondigas al chipotle. This food has little in common with the standard Mexican fare that has been exported across the across the world and is as plentiful in Miami as in most big cities. The focus here genuinely seems to be on the ingredients, many of which are brought in directly from Mexico. The end result is food that speaks for itself and keeps people coming back again and again. There is also a formidable drinks list that includes over 200 varieties of tequila and 100 kinds of mezcal which are mixed into a seemingly endless selection of cocktails. If that sounds overwhelming, then one can’t go wrong with a classic margarita and Cantina’s margaritas are some of the best you will taste outside of Mexico. In fact the drinks are also causing quite a stir and are rapidly gaining the reputation as being some of the best in town making the restaurant’s stunning black onyx bar a destination in its own right. So far, Cantina La Veinte, seems to be carving out a niche for itself in the ever changing Miami gastronomic scene, its ability to offer consistently good food and pretty good service too is making it the destination of choice for Miami’s demanding clientele.
In fact the restaurant’s success in Miami is paving the way for its expansion. Cantina La Veinte Miami is the first restaurant outside of Mexico, there are three in Mexico City, and it is rumoured that the group has plans for openings in New York and Vegas. Let’s hope they put London in their sights soon.
Cantina La Veinte is located at the Icon 495 Brickell Ave, Miami, FL 33131
Footnotes and credits: This is an independent review. The writer has always dined as a regular guest and paid for their meal.