Norwegian Escape's Restaurants: Pubbelly Boys, Jose Garces, Margaritaville, and More

Norwegian Escape
Norwegian Escape
Photo by Laine Doss

Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship — the 164,600-ton Escape — is a massive ship capable of holding more than 4,000 passengers and 1,600 crew members. Pitbull, who was named the Escape's godfather, christened her with a bottle of Voli vodka at PortMiami this week.

Guy Harvey
Guy Harvey
Photo by Laine Doss

The largest of Norwegian's 14-ship fleet, the Escape includes a three-story atrium that boasts a casino, several bars, a coffee shop, and an internet lounge. But for all the pool time, arcade games, and spa sessions, the primary draw of a cruise experience isn't the call of the ocean — it's the siren song of the buffet.

Million Dollar Quartet
Million Dollar Quartet
Photo by Laine Doss

Sure, there's the standard sit-down dining room that serves three meals a day and a large buffet. But allow your hunger to be sated by some of the restaurants on board, including some South Florida favorites. The cruise line has tapped the Pubbelly Boys for their Food Republic restaurant, which features popular dishes from the restaurateurs' South Beach eateries, along with James Beard Award winner Jose Garces. The Escape is also home to the first Margaritaville at Sea. In total, there are 28 dining options, ranging from fast counter-service spots to a dinner theater. Here are some of the tastiest restaurants aboard, including a first look at Pubbelly's Food Republic.

The Brat Pack Live dinner theater show.
The Brat Pack Live dinner theater show.
Photo by Laine Doss

The Supper Club hosts a nightly production of The Brat Pack Live, a cheesy mashup of '80s teen movies like The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Pretty in Pink. The show features performers singing everything from "Twist and Shout" to "In Your Eyes" while you chow down on a three-course surf-and-turf dinner.

Margaritaville at Sea
Margaritaville at Sea
Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

For people who want a cheeseburger in paradise, Margaritaville at Sea offers LandShark beer, burgers, and margaritas with the ocean as a backdrop.

Norwegian Escape's Restaurants: Pubbelly Boys, Jose Garces, Margaritaville, and More (16)

If you prefer a buffet to Buffett, check out the seafood extravaganza, where you can have your fill of Alaskan king crab, shrimp, fresh oysters, mussels, and freshly caught swordfish and mahi-mahi.

Shrimp dish at Bayamo.
Shrimp dish at Bayamo.
Photo by Laine Doss

James Beard Award winner Jose Garces takes his Latin-inspired culinary talents to two restaurants on the Escape. The chef, who owns seven restaurants in Philadelphia and several others in metro areas such as Atlantic City, Scottsdale, and D.C., serves a seafood-centric menu at his fine-dining concept, Bayamo. For an informal experience, try his tapas bar, Pincho. Garces is said to be entertaining the idea of opening a restaurant in Miami.

Food Republic.
Food Republic.
Photo by Laine Doss

Food Republic is the Pubbelly Restaurant Group's eatery aboard the ship. On the inaugural cruise, the restaurant had a steady wait for diners who wanted to get a taste of the signature small plates. Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner, and Sergio Navarro were all at the restaurant making sure guests were happy. Mendin said he and his partners are humbled about being a part of the Escape. "It's very special. It's a good feeling."

Food Republic's Jose Mendin.
Food Republic's Jose Mendin.
Photo by Laine Doss

Mendin said he spent two weeks training the staff assigned to work at Food Republic. "It's quite an experience working with people from all over the world. We have people from Belgium, Thailand, Nicaragua, Argentina. Everyone is well trained, and we have the flavors down. I'm happy with the way things are going." 

Asked about why the restaurant seemed to be one of the most popular of more than two dozen places to eat on the ship, the chef simply said, "We put a lot of love into this restaurant. There's nothing fancy, but at the end of the day, we want people to be satisfied."

Order by iPad.
Order by iPad.
Photo by Laine Doss

At Food Republic, diners can order on an iPad at their table, and food comes as it leaves the kitchen.

Food Republic noodles.
Food Republic noodles.
Photo by Laine Doss

Miami diners will recognize Pubbelly and Pubbelly Sushi favorites such as sliders and pastrami dumplings.

Kimchee fried rice.
Kimchee fried rice.
Photo by Laine Doss

Kimchee fried rice with pineapple was fragrant and savory.

Food Republic buffalo rock shrimp.
Food Republic buffalo rock shrimp.
Photo by Laine Doss

Buffalo rock shrimp had the right amount of heat — a welcome departure from the usual cruise ship offerings that tend to err on the bland side.

Pubbelly food is also served at the District.
Pubbelly food is also served at the District.
Photo by Laine Doss

A limited menu of Pubbelly favorites is also available at the District Brewhouse, so you can enjoy a lobster roll with a Wynwood Brewing Company La Rubia. It's a slice of Miami's best with a spectacular ocean view.

The Norwegian Escape sails weekly from PortMiami.


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