Fish fry fanatics, we have some fantastic news. Three weeks ago, La Camaronera, the acclaimed West Flagler refuge for tostones, breaded shrimp, and fried fish roe, expanded its space and launched its inaugural table service.
In the past, patrons seeking a taste of Miami's freshest, local sea creatures had to indulge while crouching over high counters. Now, La Camaronera has something apart from delectable seafood. It also has chairs, waiters, and menus.
But some things remain the same. Prices and menu offerings have not changed.
David Garcia, whose family has owned this Magic City institution for over forty years, says the expansion was motivated by a desire to offer loyal patrons and recent converts a more complete dining experience. And, in the future, he plans to implement a less manual, more digital point-of-sale system. For the time being, the restaurant will continue to be cash-only.
There aren't plans to expand the menu though. "A year ago, we added non-fried items to the menu, like the fish fillet with rice and the shrimp tacos. Still only 10 percent of sales come from these healthy options," says Garcia.
In the upcoming month, he does plan to extend opening hours. Presently, closing time is 5:30 p.m. everyday (except Sunday when La Camaronera closes at 4 p.m.). Now, a dinner service is in the works.
In the medium term, Garcia and the crew are adjusting to the challenges of serving tables. "We are still dealing with growing pains. Good growing pains, though," he says.
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On a recent visit, service was leisurely, casual, and a bit clumsy. An order of tostones was forgotten, and it was difficult to catch a server's attention. But that's understandable. It will take a while for the eatery to smooth out these minor kinks.
Miamians -- lovers of pan con minuta and fried shrimp -- should know that this recent expansion is not just about added healthy options or flawless wait service. La Camaronera is a seafood staple, the kind that this city could use more of. So head on over to West Flagler, grab a chair, and show support for a place that makes us proud. The Magic City's little shrimp shack is all grown up.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.