Medialunas Calentitas: Uruguayan Crescents, Milongas, and Empanadas in Brickell

Medialunas Calentitas debuted quietly in Brickell nearly three months ago. The fledgling restaurant chain from Punta del Este, Uruguay has locations in its founding city, as well as Montevideo and José Ignacio. It has a presence in Paraguay and Brazil, too. Its Brickell outpost, located at 919 Brickell Avenue adjacent to YoBlendz and Sushi Siam, is the chain's first restaurant in the United States.

Its specialty is the medialuna, a sort of miniature, croissant-like pastry that is smothered in a yellow, simple syrup. When I asked manager Ricardo Gauto what makes Uruguayan medialunas different from other varieties, he responded: "It's just a completely different recipe." Initially, Gauto said the medialuna's syrup topping was made only with sugar and water, but this duo of ingredients did not explain their vibrant golden hue.

The restaurant's chef then popped his head out of the kitchen. Holding a bulky thermos and sipping on some mate from a silver bombilla, he said, "It's food coloring. That's why the syrup is yellow."

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Emily Codik