If you're jonesing for nachos, seek out the friendly mermaid waving to you at Melinda's, located on the bottom floor of the Electric Pickle.
A partnership between chef Matt McKean and Pickle owner Will Renuart, the brasserie opened in December and specializes in artisanal mezcals and nachos.
Melinda's serves three handcrafted spirits by El Tinieblo, a small-batch mezcal producer in Tamaulipas, Mexico. The joven, an unaged mezcal that drinks like a vodka with smoky overtones, is served as a shot with blood oranges dipped in a Mexican salt containing pulverized grasshoppers and ginger. A reposado is aged in bourbon barrels for six to nine months to impart depth and sweetness. The final offering is an añejo, aged for up to two years.
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Once you've tackled the mezcal, nachos are offered with a myriad of toppings, such as candied jalapeños, ancho peppers, and a selection of seasonal and locally sourced vegetables. Top it all off with velvety cheese and your choice of protein — smoked brisket, pulled pork, or chicken. McKean also incorporates fresh fish into the menu via house-made ceviche. Items are priced from $10 to $15.
Another interesting feature is Melinda's metal chopsticks, the restaurant's only cutlery. Despite the menu's Latin American influence, McKean credits the novelty to his travels abroad. "It's the funnest way to eat," he says. The Canadian-American gypsy has a resumé that spans from Thailand, Costa Rica, and Mexico. He has coined the term "Quebexican" as a valid representation of his fusion-style cooking.
Melinda's formal grand opening will be held this Saturday, January 13, from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Expect crafted drinks, quick bites, and late-night dancing with Renuart.
Melinda's. 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-456-5613. Monday through Saturday 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. Happy hour is Thursday through Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. with half-priced cocktails and $5 nachos.