Loba chef and owner Jessica Sanchez turned 29 yesterday, and to celebrate, she's giving herself more work -- Saturday brunch. "It's been two months since we launched brunch and I feel like we have a pretty solid menu," she says. "Saturday brunch is popular in other cities and we don't do lunch, so we thought why not?"
When the MiMo neighborhood joint launched Sunday brunch in October, Sanchez reveled in the occasion by treating all those who joined her during that first service to a free mimosa. To uphold tradition, she'll be offering Loba's version of a michelada tomorrow for free. All you have to do is show up and eat. Oh, and wish her a happy birthday while you're at it.
See also: Loba in MiMo Draws a Pack of Admirers
The michelada ($9) you'll be drinking mixes Cigar City's Jai Alai beer with chilled Clamato, Worcestershire, kosher salt, and lime. "We also throw in some of my mom's sriracha."
While many chefs avoid serving brunch, Sanchez ran right into it. "When I first started thinking about brunch, people thought I was running a little too quick towards it. I had just dipped my feet in the water with dinner, but I knew I had to rip off the Band-Aid and do brunch."
Her impulsiveness has worked. On a recent Sunday, Loba had a packed house. "I felt like I was behind on the curve, and even though I didn't know what I was doing, I know what I like to eat for brunch." Sanchez developed a menu and has been tweaking it to get it to exactly where she wants it.
There are a couple of items she feels rather passionate about, and it's mainly the vegetarian dishes. "I have a lot of vegetarian friends so I'm always conscious of that, especially because I don't think enough places in Miami cater to that community."
Try the lentil croquettes ($10). The fried golden spheres are crave-worthy on their own, but coupled with the beet tzatziki and it will have you thinking about these anytime the topic of brunch comes up.
Another simple-yet-flavorful item is the avocado toast ($7). Zak the Baker bread acts as the canvas for local mashed and sliced avocado. Sprinkled red pepper flakes and sea salt bring out the oomph in the dish.
Want something sweet? You've got options: ricotta pancakes with berries, banana, crunchy oats, and honeycomb butter; banana bread French toast with Nutella, peanut butter, and candies bacon; or a housemade blackberry waffle with Greek yogurt, raspberries, blueberries, and crunchy oats.
If you want to keep it savory, we recommend going with the ring of fire ($18). A sweet potato waffle is topped with a colossal piece of Spanish fried chicken wrapped in jamon Serrano and served with chipotle butter and Vermont maple syrup. What's great about Loba's brunch -- besides the food -- are the prices. A party of two will be more than sated with this, the lentil croquettes and avocado toast. Add those three things up and you're looking at a $35 brunch bill. Granted, that's without booze, but at $7 per mimosa, Loba's brunch is still leading the wolf pack in terms of getting your money's worth.
And if you go with more people (or are just curing a nasty hangover), the huevos rancheros ($16) will do the trick. Fried eggs share a skillet with salsa roja, black bean, spicy Mexican chorizo, caramelized onion, avocado, pico de gallo, cotija cheese, cilantro, crème fraiche, and tortilla.
Perhaps part of Loba's brunch appeal is that she also plays old-school films on a projector screen. On our visit, we were reminded of how great a film The Graduate is (and how good looking Dustin Hoffman was 30 years ago).
"I've had a lot of MiMo community neighbors asking me for Saturday brunch." A people-pleaser, Sanchez listened and acted. Matter of fact, that's all she does. It's how the off-menu lentil benedict brunch dish came about.
"My vegetarian friend came in who usually gets huevos rancheros without meat, but she wanted to try something different besides the avocado toast and lentil croquettes." Like must brunch-goers, she wanted eggs benedict, only Loba's Southern benedict includes brisket. "I was running late on prep for lentil croquettes and had the idea to replace the brisket with a lentil patty." Loba reposted her picture on Instagram. "Now we get people coming in and asking for the off-menu lentil benedict." A request she happily grants.
"I just want to feed people and make them happy. Brunch is for the customer," she says. "What margin are you going to make on an egg?"
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha
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