There's no doubt that Miami is having a love affair with tacos. Diners can't get enough of the Mexican street food that's available in pretty much every form — from traditional al pastor at Homestead's Taqueria Morelia to high-end creations like the Bazaar by José Andrés' Japanese eel version.
Tequilas and mezcals are also having their day, with bartenders using the agave-based spirits to give classics like Bloody Marys and Old Fashioneds a new lease on life.
This Sunday, November 8, from 6 to 9 p.m., a dozen of Miami's favorite chefs will team up with some of South Florida's best bartenders at the Vagabond Restaurant & Bar for the Taco & Tequila (TNT) Showdown.
The Liquid Projects' Jennifer Massolo, who's teaming up with MIABites.com to host the event, explains the idea behind the TNT Showdown came from a chat between herself and Everett Rashotsky from We Sell Restaurants. "Everett is well connected in this industry and we were sitting down and he said maybe we should do a taco event." Massolo then added a spirits component. "I hold a torch for tequila and mezcal, mostly because there are so many brands that should be known out there."
Massolo says that when it came time to curate the list of chefs, a range was chosen. "We're not including every taco restaurant in town. We wanted to keep this a relatively small event, but still have many different restaurants represented, from Ramiro Ramirez at Taqueria Morelia in Homestead to Bradley Kilgore at Alter in Wynwood. It was wonderful that within a week or two of launching this, that all the chefs we wanted were on board."
Besides Ramirez and Kilgore, participating chefs include Chef Bee (Oishi Thai and NaiYaRa), Aaron Brooks (Edge Steak and Bar), Jeremiah Bullfrog (GastroPod), Todd Erickson (HuaHua's Taqueria), Richard Hales (Centro Taco), Niven Patel (Michael's Genuine Food & Drink), Giorgio Rapicavoli (Eating House), Steve Santana (Taquiza), and Alex Chang (Vagabond). In addition, BC Tacos food truck will be parked outside the Vagabond to round out the evening.
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Each chef will be paired with a bartender, who is tasked to make a cocktail pairing using a unique tequila or mezcal specifically assigned by Massolo. All guests will be able to vote on their favorite cocktail and taco.
Best of all? Twenty percent of ticket sales will benefit Urban Oasis Project, a local nonprofit that operates a group of farmers markets in South Florida including Upper Eastside farmers market, Adrienne Arsht Farmers market, and Las Olas farmers market.
Tickets for the TNT Showdown are $65 in advance, $70 at the door and can be purchased at Eventbrite.com. The TNT Showdown, by the way, is a 21-and-over event.