Power couple Gloria and Emilio Estefan's restaurant Larios on the Beach reopens to the public today. Last night members of the press were invited to a grand reopening party to take a look at the new digs.
"Tonight brings back memories from when we first opened Larios on the Beach 22 years ago," Emilio Estefan told Short Order. "After many successful years, we wanted to redesign the interiors and menu."
Emilio came up with the new design concept -- to "bring Miami Beach inside the restaurant" -- he even rolled up his sleeves and placed several of the seashells and marine fossils that adorn the walls. Floors are also made of seashells and recycled glass.
Tourists and locals have frequented the restaurant for more than two decades, since it opened in 1992, for its traditional Cuban dishes and "world-famous" mojitos. Much has changed since the early '90s, though, and the addition of Larios' "Triple C" (calorie-conscious Cuban) concept reflects the shift in people's eating habits.
Gloria is the brain behind the new, health-conscious items, such as marinated and grilled fresh grouper, baked plantain chips, vegetarian black beans, and baked sweet plantains. Larios now also offers a brown rice option and baked versions of items that are traditionally fried, such as empanadas and plantains.
"I am happy with the addition of 'calorie-conscious Cuban' to the menu," Emilio said. "It is very important for us to have healthy options."
The Estefans developed the new menu in collaboration with executive chef Odell Torres, and even though there are plenty of healthful, and even some vegetarian, options, the revamped menu still features traditional favorites such as lechón (award winner at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival), tamales, and arroz con pollo, as well as flan, arroz con leche, and natilla.
Diners also can expect some new twists on old favorites with new items like the sweet and salty bacon-wrapped maduros and black bean hummus served with crisp plantain chips.
One of the biggest changes as far as design is the new open concept that includes an outdoor café, espresso bar, and lounge area. Miami-based multidisciplinary artist Carlos Betancourt, in collaboration with Alberto Latorre, was commissioned to create a three-dimensional, site-specific sculpture to round out the decor. The sculpture, which can be described as "memories suspended in time," features more than 100 3-D objects, including a harmonica once owned by Shakira, drumsticks that belonged to Sheila E, and a microphone used by Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan.
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Larios on the Beach opens to the public today. The restaurant opens daily at 11 a.m. and serves lunch and dinner. Closing times vary. Call 305-532-9677 or visit lariosonthebeach.com.
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