The MiMo neighborhood is seeing a real resurgence, with vintage motels getting facelifts and restaurants opening weekly. One of the new places is the tiny MiMo Art Café. The coffee shop, tucked behind an artist's studio at 592 NE 77th St., is easy to miss -- hence, the sandwich board on busy Biscayne Boulevard that touts "breakfast all day."
The coffee shop, opened just weeks ago, reflects the eclectic neighborhood. Pop icon Marilyn Monroe and a Chanel bottle dominate the walls, and sea creatures swim on the booth's upholstery in the 20-seat café. Co-owner Houria Beckner, who also does double duty as hostess and server, asks if I'm from the neighborhood and then proceeds to introduce me to everyone else in the room -- a local artist, some workers from down the block, a designer. Beckner, who on a hot summer afternoon keeps my glass filled with ice water, brings out the chef when I ask for ordering recommendations.
Chef Javier Oitana says everything on the menu, including the prominently featured croissants, are "homemade, the old-fashioned way." The menu consists of reasonably priced breakfast items (two eggs with toast or a plain order of pancakes is $3.99), salads, and signature croissants ($3 to $8.99). Oitana explains he wanted to try something different with the simple menu, so he decided to work with croissants. "Some of them are crazy. Have you ever had a croissant topped with Alfredo sauce?"
The croissant sandwiches range from a traditional turkey ($7.99) and croissant dog ($4.99) to the above-mentioned Alfredo croissant, topped with creamy sauce and cremini mushrooms ($6.99). The pantesca croissant, topped with sautéed red onions, green and kalamata olives, fresh diced tomatoes, prosciutto di parma, and melted mozzarella ($8.99) was a lot to eat for lunch, especially when ordered with a small MiMo salad (mixed greens, tomatoes, red onions, celery, cucumbers, olives, sliced onions, and mozzarella, $6.50). Either one would have been sufficient for a midday meal priced under ten bucks.
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The little café also offers dessert croissants, fruit smoothies ($3.99), and espresso drinks. But what it offers more than anything else is a sense of community -- something that traditional coffee shops have served with a hot cup of joe for years.
MiMo Art Café is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.