In 2017, Miami can expect one eatery wildly different from anything seen this past year. Edukos describes itself as "an exuberant tavern for the adventurous." Inspired to name his restaurant for the Latin word educo, which means “to lead, to draw out," founder/owner John Guilarte wants to encourage diners to try new foods and build new experiences.
"When you're introduced to our belief system, we want you to change and grow together with us," Guilarte says. "We are a new American contemporary tavern with glimpses of Venezuelan flavors fused with American pub favorites."
After five years as a brand manager for an international rum company, Guilarte, a Venezuelan who grew up in Orlando, wanted to blend his love for drinks with homestyle food. He began in 2014, spending more than a year just on Edukos' branding. Afterward, he concentrated on small-scale, food-and-drink pop-ups. Now he's ready to debut his concept to the public.
"I came into this with a beverage approach," he says. "I also grew up socially as an American, but I always ate Venezuelan food. I have that fusion inside of me that I want to put into a restaurant."
Guilarte's gastropub will serve a blend of Venezuelan and American dishes and drinks, offering inventive and quirky pairings not often seen in Miami restaurants.
Though Edukos' menu has not yet been finalized, guests can expect pairings like a rosemary-and-thyme-infused guava sparkling cocktail served alongside a portion of poutine — French fries topped with cheese curd and asado negro gravy — or a cold beer with "duck duck booze," a duck slider topped with red-wine-infused onions and smoked Muenster cheese. Most beers will be brewed in-house, and many of the dishes are meant to be shared.
"I want to showcase plates I remember having at my table," he says. "Venezuelan food is not so known, so people think it's adventurous."
One of Guilarte's most daring offerings is a "hobby taco," which stuffs shredded rabbit inside a tortilla-and-tostada mashup.
"Through our pop-ups, I've learned that if you put people in a comfortable environment where they feel welcome, they're more inclined to try something really different," he says.
Slated to open in early to mid-2017, Edukos will be located in an intimate space in downtown Miami. Guilarte, who created a Kickstarter campaign to help with opening costs, is mum on the address but describes the space as "small with soul."
"This is more to me than just serving food and drinks," he says. "It's about building a legacy for my family and rebranding Venezuelan culture and food."
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