As with the group's previous concepts — the Dirty Rabbit Bar, Dirty Burgers, Vandalo, and La Tiendita Taqueria — Andres San Martin Mesa and Johnathon Taborda's new restaurant is an offbeat hangout with an eclectic menu and a soundscape to match.
The restaurant's name and décor are inspired by a fictitious character, Toki, the "Back Door Monkey" soldier, who, Taborda explains, escaped World War II to come to Miami "in search of peace and fun times." Though most people don't equate a World War with dining and music, Taborda and company double down on the primate war escapee scenario with a military tank that serves as a DJ booth.
Guests enter the eatery through its back door to find a dimly lit interior outfitted with sleek booth seatings and a bar wrapping around from indoor to the outdoor covered patio.
"We wanted to create a sexy yet intimate experience, a place that makes everyone feel as if they stepped into an oasis with jungle characteristics, with a happening vibe and delectable food," said San Martin Mesa.
Complementing the thematic setting: a menu, created by Dirty Rabbit Group corporate chef Nicolas Caicedo, that fuses Asian flavors with a hint of Latin influence.
"As a young chef, you go to different places and write all these recipes, and then comes the day when you have to create a menu and it all comes together," says 33-year-old Caicedo, a Colombian who grew up in Miami and worked under Michelin-starred chef Martin Berasategui in Spain and at Morimoto in New York City before moving back to lead the group's culinary operations.
The restaurant's March debut was delayed by COVID-19 but Back Door Monkey opened May 29. For the time being, Calcedo has been offering an abbreviated version of the original 40-item menu, incorporating two new dishes every week.
Entrées include roasted salmon teriyaki accompanied by jasmine coconut rice, sauteed bok choy, and lemongrass-ginger teriyaki ($24); and "Angry 'Curry' Chicken," served with a shiitake mushroom and caramelized onion stew, baby spinach, and a ginger-hoisin sauce ($18). “BDM 'Wok' Fried Rice” is made with 12-hour-braised pork belly, shrimp, scallions, shiitakes, and fried egg, and seasoned with togarashi ($25).
Among the desserts: vanilla-infused caramelized roasted pineapple with ginger, vanilla ice cream, and a coconut crumble ($13); and "The Baking Lab Chocolate Chip Cookie," which packs Nutella, white chocolate, and an Oreo cookie crumble, and is served with vanilla ice cream ($13).
Back Door Monkey offers four drinks, all priced at $14. "A Pear of Drunken Monkeys" combines Ketel One vodka with, pear, apple juice, lemon, and a syrup of cinnamon, cardamom, basil, and honey ($14). "On the Ru" is a sake-based concoction that adds gin, lime, and mint syrup ($14). Happy hour is Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.
Back Door Monkey. 2328 N. Miami Ave., 305-951-6143; backdoormonkey.com. Open 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday; 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday; and 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday. (Hours subject to COVID-19 curfew; call to confirm.)