How far would you go for a change of pace? Hernan Rodriguez traveled 4,408 miles from Buenos Aires to downtown Miami to take over Doma Polo Bistro and work with fellow Argentinean, Doma Polo owner Diego Verzino.
Six months after moving his wife and child here, Hernan approached Verzino about a drastic menu change. He had noticed a lot of down time between noon and 5:30 p.m. and again between early dinner and late dinner service. His solution: He shifted the menu concept from traditional Argentine steak house to tapas.
"It's a great experience sharing with your friends as you eat," Rodriguez says. "These days when you go to a restaurant, everyone has their phones out texting away. In [Argentina] when it's time to eat, all phones are off."
The duo retained steak-house staples such as rib eye and skirt steak but also added a wide range of affordable small dishes for $1.50 to $7. Dishes can be purchased separately or together on a breathtaking tower like the one pictured above.
Rodriguez and Verzino are happy with both the service and quality of the food they serve but think some misconceptions and a location with very little foot traffic are preventing Doma Polo from reaching its true potential.
The classy setting in a nice downtown apartment building across the way from the American Airlines Arena leads people to assume prices at the restaurant are expensive. Most folks don't know they can order a plate of delicious crab meatballs for less than the price of a hamburger at a Heat game.
The beef tapas tabla ($52) is one of five types of tapas towers that feed up to three people. Beef selections include grilled skirt steak with homemade chimichurri, grilled Argentine sausage, skewered flank steak, chicken and beef empanadas, and meatballs marinara.
Rodriguez's favorite is the elixir tapas tabla ($50), which features imported cured meats and cheeses such as mortadella, salami, reggianito cheese, and buffalo mozzarella.
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"Customers always say wow when we serve them the tablas," Rodriguez says. "They are very impressed with the presentation and quality of the food."
I was wowed by some of the tapas tablas offered on the extensive menu. My favorite was the fish and seafood version ($45), an array of fried calamari, shrimp with provençal sauce, crab meatballs, tuna empanadas, mixed diced fish, mussels with garlic, skewered salmon, and ceviche.
Most dishes are served with different types of sauces. I liked the one made with ground eggplant with lime and garlic, which went well with just about every dish on the menu.