BJ's Brewhouse Opens in Palmetto Bay: A Root Beer Brewpub (Photos)

BJ's Brewhouse, a pizza and brewpub-style restaurant chain from Santa Ana, California, opened at the Falls Shopping Center yesterday.

The location is the second in the Miami market for the casual-dining restaurant, having first opened in Doral on October 16. The latest restaurant opening is part of an expansion at the Falls, which included several other restaurants and shops, such as the highly anticipated American Girl store.

Construction began last summer and finished in October; then came a month of crew training to prepare for the grand opening, which was a low-key event.

BJ's is like a beacon at the mall entrance. And by the looks of the new location, it will have a relaxed atmosphere and sports bar potential.

In a high-traffic mall with a movie theater, an Apple Store, and no food court, BJ's gives patrons not only more dining options but also something new and different.

The brewpub concept is a little misleading. Yes, BJ's does brew its own beer, but not on-site. There are ten styles on tap, plus a seasonal and a cider: Pook's Pilsner, Lightswitch Lager, Brewhouse Blonde, Harvest Hefeweizen, Piranha Pale Ale, Hopstorm IPA, Jeremiah Red, Nutty Brewnette, P.M. Porter, Tatonka Stout, and Pumpkin Ale. The beer is brewed in Texas and shipped to locations around the country.

They do, however, brew their own root beer. The vats can be seen through a window on the right side of the bar. Along with root beer, BJ's also makes three other soda flavors: cream, orange cream, and black cherry.

The menu is vast -- from pizza to burgers, wraps, steaks, salads, soups, sandwiches, desserts, pasta, appetizers, cocktails, and a lunch menu. There is also a kids' menu, a gluten-free menu, the option to order online, curbside take-out, and catering. An "enlightened" menu includes reduced-calorie fare such as creole tilapia, chicken a la fresca, and Hawaiian mahi-mahi.

Twelve TV sets strategically adorn the interior, as well as the patio, good for catching a ball game on the weekends.

Besides in-house brews, BJ's carries a guest tap list that includes rotating craft beers from several regions of the world: Arrogant Bastard, Cigar City, etc. And the bartending and wait staffs are up-to-date on their beer knowledge, having been trained by BJ's brewmaster Michael 'Mufasa' Ferguson, one of the notable members of the brewing team.

Aside from tap beers, BJ's carries an extensive bottle list.

For a well-maintained outdoor mall without a food court such as the Falls, BJ's is a welcome addition to a venue without many dining options. The prices are reasonable: in-house brews range from $5.25 to 5.75 per pint, and you won't pay more than $17 for a steak.

BJ's Brewhouse is many things: a family restaurant, a sports bar, and a brewpub, which will surely attract its share of curious Miami beer geeks. If anything, this place is good for grabbing a burger and a beer while catching a game or two.

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