Gambas y gulas al ajillo at Xixon.
Gambas y gulas al ajillo at Xixon.
All photos by Carla Torres

Xixon: Great Gulas, Gazpacho, and Beef Cheeks

Small plates have taken Miami by storm. It's a great way to eat. And there's no better place to tapear than Xixon. At this Spanish restaurant, you can find a selection of over 50 small plates.

See also: Best Tapas Restaurants in Miami

The family-owned restaurant has been around for nearly a decade. It had two incarnations before landing in their current space -- an airy corner on Coral Way.

They offer many Spanish classics: tortilla de patata, boquerones en vinagre, patatas bravas, pulpo a la gallega, croquetas de bacalao, and more. My recommendation? Start the meal with some gazpacho.

I'd love to find a gazpacho that's better than my mom's -- just to be able to rub it in her face as a joke. But that's never happened.

During a recent visit to Xixon, however, I found a good contender. Served with diced tomatoes and onions, the gazpacho ($6.50) was well balanced and boasted a perfect amount of acidity. Had there been some hard boiled eggs added, I would have been blown away.

Gambas al ajillo is a traditional Spanish dish -- and so are gulas (mock baby eels). They aren't the same thing as angulas -- fresh young eels. Gulas are the more affordable imitation, kind of like imitation crab.

Never tried them? Now's the time. At Xixon, you can order gambas y gulas al ajillo ($13.50). I like to stuff them in the middle of some bread like a little sandwich.

Xixon: Great Gulas, Gazpacho, and Beef Cheeks

The carrillera de buey al vino tinto ($12) were served on toast, alongside a crunchy mountain of shoestring potatoes. The combination was delectable, as was the red wine sauce.

Xixon: Great Gulas, Gazpacho, and Beef Cheeks

As a child, I always enjoyed eating mussels in salsa verde. At Xixon, the almejas tasted fresh, but the sauce did not. It was actually fishy and chunky in a bad way.

Vierias au gratin ($14) are broiled, then served with shrimp in marinara sauce. They were a bit burnt, but the inside was certainly tasty.

Xixon: Great Gulas, Gazpacho, and Beef Cheeks

We finished the meal with a fabada ($14). The hot-and-heavy bean stew is usually served as a main dish, leaving you wanting a siesta as soon as you're finished. In it, you'll find lacón gallego (pork shoulder), morcilla (blood sausage), and tocino (bacon).

At Xixon, there's a wine cellar and delicatessen where you can buy packaged goods imported from Spain. Before your nap, pick up ham and then add a gazpacho to go. Surprisingly, it was among the best I've ever had.

Well, after mom's.

Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha

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