Not so long ago, the South Beach dining scene was one big tourist trap of overpriced and overhyped restaurants. But then came the enterprising team of chefs Jose Mendin and Sergio Navarro and managing partner Andreas Schreiner, a crew that has been single-handedly filling the trendy zip code with value-fueled, local-friendly establishments.
In the fall of 2010, they opened Pubbelly on 20th Street, and a year later they premiered Pubbelly Sushi next door. Both offered quality, chef-driven cuisine and cool, craft drinks in a casual bistro. Both also proved very popular. Then, right on the heels of Pubbelly Sushi came Barceloneta Spanish Bistro & Mercat, located on the far corner of the same street. Judging from our experiences, as well as from the consistently crowded room, it looks like the talented trio has hit the trifecta.
A combination of wood, brick, storefront windows, an open kitchen, and oversize, chalked-in blackboard menus lend the same welcoming ambiance as the Pubbellies. A lengthy 22-seat communal table running through the center of the space adds to the convivial vibe.
Although Mendin and Navarro have serious Spanish culinary experience from working on the Iberian Peninsula, they have brought a fresh trio into their new joint: Juliana Gonzalez helms the Barceloneta kitchen with Daniella Rezai and Manuel Suarez-Inclan serving as managers (Juliana is the wife of Sergio, a James Beard semifinalist this year for Best Chef in the South). The cuisine here is worlds apart from the other spots' Asian fare, but it shares important traits: creativity, tremendous flavor, and -- key to the team's success -- value.
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Read the review of Barceloneta here.
View photos of Barceloneta here.