Marabu will join restaurants like Pubbelly Sushi, Tacology, and the pair of food halls inside the billion-dollar Brickell City Centre.
Marabu will join restaurants like Pubbelly Sushi, Tacology, and the pair of food halls inside the billion-dollar Brickell City Centre.
Courtesy of Brickell City Centre

Alberto Cabrera to Open Lincoln Road Ventanita and Brickell City Centre Restaurant

For nearly two decades, David's Cafe II was one of Lincoln Road's most beloved gathering spots. Even as the once-sleepy thoroughfare became a big brand-laden tourist attraction, the small window blossomed into a larger operation that was a magnet for locals and visitors alike. All of that ended back in 2012 when the place shuttered due to rising rents. The original David's on Collins Avenue closed in 2014 after nearly 40 years in business, before reopening on Alton Road in 2015.

Now, Vida & Estilo Restaurant Group and Alberto Cabrera, who ran the excellent but short-lived Little Bread in Little Havana, will reopen the small window and café at the former David's Lincoln Road location toward the end of 2018, serving classic Cuban fare done right.

"It'll be just a corner spot with a great coffee menu, great pastelitos, empanadas, and a selection of five sandwiches," Cabrera says. "We'll have really good shakes with fresh fruit and croquetas and pastelitos made in-house."

While V&E Restaurant Group runs some more-upscale places like Tapas & Tintos and Española Way's Mercato Della Pesceria, La Ventanita Cuban Coffee will be a laid-back place. "‘We’re going to sell cigarettes and lottery tickets; it's going to be a true ventanita," Cabrera says.
At the same time V&E and Cabrera, who left Miami in 2016 to work in Las Vegas, plan to open a Cuban restaurant called Marabu in Brickell City Centre early next year.

The concept will orbit around the restaurant's name, taken from an invasive plant now found widely throughout the island and which happens to be the base material for a highly sought-after artisanal charcoal that was among the first products the U.S. imported from Cuba after the decades-old trade embargo was relaxed under President Barack Obama.

"This is going to be coal-fired Cuban cuisine," Cabrera says. "It's taking a different approach to the Cuban cuisine we all know and it's kind of going back to the countryside, to places like Camagüey and Oriente where they cook everything on charcoal."

The charcoal will be deployed in Josper ovens, the popular charcoal-burning Spanish hot boxes that have begun cropping up in Miami primarily in Spanish restaurants like Deme Lomas' Arson in downtown Miami. Cabrera says the menu will focus on large-format meats, rices finished in the Josper, and lots of vegetables.

"We'll hopefully change the perception of Cuban cuisine as one of just heavy, greasy food," Cabrera says.

La Ventanita Cuban Coffee. 1656-A Meridian Ave., Miami Beach. Opening late 2018.

Marabu at Brickell City Centre.701 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 786-465-6534; brickellcitycentre.com. Opening early 2019.

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