Lorena Garcia is taking over the Soyka space.
The chef will open a second location of her restaurant, Chica, on the corner of Biscayne and NE Fourth Court in Miami. The original, at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, debuted in May 2017. Conde Nast Traveler said of the menu: "Think of your imaginary, indulgent Venezuelan grandmother and how she might push comfort food on you; then give her a sexy, feminist spin."
The same could be said of chef/partner Garcia, who is regarded as the first Latina chef to run a restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip. At the Venetian, Garcia shares valuable casino real estate with Thomas Keller, David Chang, and Miami's Timon Balloo. 50 Eggs, the company that owns and operates Chica, also has an outpost of Yardbird Southern Table & Bar on the Venetian's restaurant row, which has earned the nickname "Little Miami" for hosting three Magic City-centric establishments.
At Chica, Garcia allows her Venezuelan roots to shine in dishes prepared on a wood-fired grill, while diners enjoy a Latin soundtrack and a wine list that leans toward Latin American varietals. The 10,000-square-foot space will be given a refresh through colors and textiles with a Latin American vibe, including handmade tiles, bright accents, and colonial-style ironwork.
Garcia, who lives in Miami and runs a test kitchen in the Edgewater neighborhood, is looking forward to bringing Chica to the 305. "The city truly represents the melting pot of Latin culture and cuisine in America," she says.
That melting pot of culture can be found in Garcia's food, which takes influences from Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, and other countries. “I am passionate about sharing the fresh, seasonal produce from different regions, the vibrant ingredients and authentic recipes of this style of elevated yet approachable Latin American food, and I am ecstatic to share it with a community where I believe it will resonate so strongly.”
The menu will be similar to the one at the Chica flagship but with some revamps to cater to Miami's taste and style. One dish making it across the country is the chef's half rotisserie chicken with a Meyer lemon marinade, served with Peruvian purple potato salad. Other dishes that might turn up on the Miami menu include slow-roasted suckling pig porchetta with spiced plantains and pickled onions.
Chica. 5556 NE Fourth Ct., Miami; chicarestaurant.com/miami. Opening fall 2019 for lunch, dinner, late night, and weekend brunch.