What was once a pesky weed growing in Cuba's countryside, marabu in recent years has become a major Cuban export for its use as artisanal charcoal in everything from hookahs to pizza ovens. In 2017, it became the first Cuban export to the United States in decades. And now Miami is making the proverbial lemonade out of it.
Vida & Estilo Restaurant Group has partnered with Cuban-American chef Alberto Cabrera to open a coal-fired Cuban restaurant in Miami using this unique approach, and the concept is aptly named Marabú. Opening in late January, the restaurant will be located on Brickell City Centre's fourth floor. The shopping complex also inlcudes eateries such as Quinto la Huella, Pubbelly Sushi, Tacology, Luna Park, and many others.
Paying homage to the island nation's culture and Cabrera's heritage, Marabú will boast a central bar serving Havana-inspired cocktails, as well as an outdoor pergola, drawing inspiration from cities such as Camagüey and Viñales. Cabrera earned his stripes at La Broche in Miami and has opened a variety of popular Cuban and comfort-food spots in Miami, including Bread + Butter, Little Bread Cuban Sandwich Co., the Local Craft Food + Drink, and, most recently, the Local Cuban, his outpost at Time Out Market Miami.
"Our approach to Cuban cuisine is centered around the concept of family," Cabrera says of creating the menu for Marabú. "A Cuban household is unified by its cuisine and Abuela's traditional dishes. Miami's soul is Cuban, and we aim to provide a space for older generations to reminisce while introducing younger generations to our passionate culture."
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The concept will lend itself to a menu that is served family-style for easy sharing and gathering around a table for lively conversation, great food, and cocktails. Expect traditional favorites such as lechón en caja china, roast pork shank with fried yuca and mojo sauce; frituras de bacalao, salt cod fritters with watercress salad, tartar sauce, and lemon; and arroz campesino, country rice with ribs, chicken, sausage, chorizo, and corn.
Featured dishes from the open grill using marabu charcoal for a rich, smoky flavor will include churrasco, skirt steak with charred cherry tomato ceviche; chuletón, a 20-ounce cowboy steak with sautéed onions and hand-cut fries; bistec de paleta, a Duroc pork shoulder steak with confit leeks; and filete de atun, local yellowfin tuna with charred pineapple, pomegranate, and celery salad. Menu prices have not been set yet.
Marabú will be open for lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Happy hour at the bar Monday through Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. will offer various drink specials.
Marabú at Brickell City Centre. 701 S. Miami Ave., Miami; maraburestaurant.com. Opening January 2020.