Miami has its share of botanicas, but how many are equipped with a kegerator and a full stock of candied bacon? We know of just one.
"I don't know if you've noticed, but we don't have that much space," says Kush owner Matt Kuscher of his not-so-hidden gem. The burger and craft beer joint hasn't even been open for a year and it's already nearly impossible to secure a table (or even a seat at the bar) on weekends without having to wait it out.
Luckily, there's a place where you can do just that with a super solicited brew in hand. "Like at Kush, we've got beers you can't get anywhere else." Including Kush.
So where can you get it? At Kush's secret Botanica.
Here's how you find Kush's Botanica: go to Kush on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night during peak hours (we suggest anytime after 8 p.m.). Put on your best frown when the person at the door regrets to inform you that there will be a wait and asks if you want to put your name down. At which point you'll say yes and, well, wait. Wait for her to hand you a baseball card with instructions to go next door and show this to them. "They'll know what to do." Play it cool and do as she says.
You'll then walk into a shrine to beer and Santeria. Hand your baseball card over to the person at the counter and peruse the self-serve cooler filled with reserve beers. Current options include De Struise Black Albert, De Molen Amarillo, New Belgium Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout, Cascade the Vine, and Dr. Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weisse. Grab one (or two). Pay as you go, no cash. "Strictly tarjeta."
Then take it inside. Like Kush, Botanica is a sliver of a space, but exudes the same kind of matchless ambiance -- only in this case it's a bit eerie.
Might have something to do with all the Santeria paraphernalia lying and hanging around. Or maybe it's the Cuban music that rightfully sets the mood.
Portraits of roosters might seem out of place, but there's a story there. "We have a fascination with the cocks," says Kuscher. "My grandfather partook in fights in Puerto Rico. That's him," he says while pointing to the portrait.
Matter of fact, most of everything at Botanica has some tie to his life. From the crosses hanging on his wall -- "My wife and I collect them" -- to his mom's candle collection and graffiti portrait greeting you when you walk in. "That's Chango. The owner of fire, lighting, thunder, and war." But it's the bathroom that's Kuscher's favorite part. "You gotta go in there," he says with no pun intended.
It does indeed.
By the time you've taken all of Botanica's quirks in, your table at Kush should be about ready. Don't worry, they'll let you know by way of that baseball card you handed them in the beginning. You can open up your appetite by munching on candied bacon or bacon jerky from Miami Smokers.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha