First Bites

Cantina La Veinte Offers a Gourmet Mexican Experience With Inventive Dishes

For chef Santiago Gomez, there’s more to cooking than creating tasty food. He says it’s about fusing one culture with another by making dishes that represent both origin and destination. This is something Gomez likes to do at Brickell restaurant Cantina La Veinte.

The new-wave Mexican eatery, helmed by Gomez, offers upscale Latin American favorites with a splash of Miami flair. When crafting new dishes, Gomez adapts his cooking style to Miami’s gastronomic scene, evident in a handful of recently added menu items.

The menu, which offers more than 25 dishes, is daunting at first glance and lacks Mexican favorites like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. For first-timers, Gomez recommends the following plates for a traditional yet playful and inventive approach to his take on Mexican cuisine.

Begin with a medley of small appetizers to share. Gomez suggests the caldo de camaron, a Mexican-style shrimp and tangy chile guajillo soup. Then order the dobladitas de jaiba suave, a deep-fried soft-shell crab taco, served in a flour tortilla pooled in a green jalapeno sauce. Consider the tostadas de stone crab to finish; they're made with habanero mayo, green apple, and cilantro. It might seem like a lot of crab, but Gomez’s use of Mexican flavors masks the briny taste.

Not into crab? Try tuna instead. The tostadas de atun are made with fresh tuna marinated in a yellow pepper-lime-soy sauce. The fish is served on a crisp wonton with guacamole and crunchy leeks.

For entrées, Gomez recommends the callos de hacha sellados con arroz poblano. The dish looks small but is big on flavor. It’s served with one seared scallop on a bed of creamy risotto, which is made with poblano rice in a red truffle oil sauce. He suggests pairing the plate with an agave-glazed short rib braseada. It’s cooked so tender it nearly melts in your mouth.

For dessert, start with a guava sphere. It's similar to Gushers candy, where it feels gooey but quickly bursts inside your mouth. It's the perfect way to cleanse your palate. Then try chocolate ganache topped with quinoa or traditional churros drizzled with dulce de leche.  

Order a few margaritas for the table as you dine. The restaurant has more than 100 tequilas and mezcals to choose from, along with a variety of Mexican beers. 

Be warned: Dinner won't be cheap. Dishes range from $15 to upward of $100, depending upon what kind of experience you want.

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Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor, with her work appearing in print and digital titles worldwide.
Contact: Clarissa Buch