Happier pigs lead to better bacon, at least that's what the duo behind Miami Smokers believes and practices. Miami natives Andres Barrientos and James Bowers cure and smoke Heritage Breed pasture-raised pigs that are allowed to walk and eat as they please. Chances are you've had a taste of their no antibiotic and hormone-free candied bacon or high-quality charcuterie in a burger at Kush, in the chicken and waffles at Eating House, or in some ice cream at Azucar.
Bowers and Barrientos are now expanding their bread and butter, or pork business, to include all types of charcuterie. On Monday, October 13, they'll soft-open the doors to their hand-built but state-of-the-art smoking, aging and curing facility in the heart of Little Havana.
"We're saying soft-opening because a big part of what we want to do won't be ready nor available on Monday," says Barrientos. That means: Don't expect to walk into their humble abode and get a leg of prosciutto to take home -- that's going to take six months at the very least. The boys make all their own products and have to abide by their timeline. Salami takes 45 to 60 days, hams take at least six months, and some prosciuttos can take up to a year. If you count pigs every night, we promise the time will go by faster.
What will be available Monday are fresh sausages and the trademark candied bacon, as well as bacon jerky and toasted crispy treats. The eventual plan is to expand from just a deli selling charcuterie to a deli & sandwich shop. As a tease, you can have the BLT sandwich ($12) with steak cut bacon, avocado puree and lettuce and heirloom tomatoes on Zak sourdough.
The lettuce and tomatoes come from their in-house towering garden aeroponic system. You can't miss this when walking in. Don't be misled by the somewhat compact size. These babies hold a total of 72 tomato plants, as well as swiss chard, cilantro, basil and wild arugula, which will eventually make for more sandwiches. Think croque madame, pork churrasco sandwiches and weekly grinders served on potato rolls with mustard, pickled onions, pepper relish, mango barbecue sauce, and kraut.
A dry-aged pork program will be the first of its kind in the city. Similar to what Prime 112, Red, the Fontainebleau, and other steakhouses do with their meat, the pork will eventually be offered as chops, loins and ribs to take home and cook or as part of the daily specials. No tables at Miami Smokers make it difficult to sit down and have a meal, but its location on 27th Avenue makes it the perfect curbside for all your pork needs, including a future breakfast in the works.
"We wanted to be in Little Havana because we wanted to be within the Miami city limits and it's what we're all about," says Barrientos. "We love Miami and want to promote local artistry. Our logo is a play on the seal of Miami."
Besides their own artisanal production, you'll find recycled art from local artist Krave on most walls. Whether it's the shipwreck with a Miami Smoker porthole that holds and showcases merchandising, the North Star pointing North for good luck and even the bathroom door, which sports a pig tushy. Overhead, you'll notice the lit up beer sign up from their past beer garden pop-ups is pointing to the back of the shop. "The eventual plan is to have a beer garden out back," says Bowers. "For now it just makes a really good beer chandelier."
Another plan is to eventually offer beer to go with the pork. "We want to do growlers or some sort of bottle beer," says Barrientos.
A tentative grand opening is set for November 3, but all depends on whether the product is ready. Something to look forward to in the short term is the pre-marinated cochinillos (or suckling pig) to be offered for Thanksgiving. "We get them from an old-school Spanish dude that raises them the traditional way in a farm in Morrison not too far North," says Barrientos. While they vary in size, they are all compact enough to roast so you don't have to worry about bringing out the caja china. Price varies on weight, from $9.99 (for the larger pigs) to $13.99 per pound for the little guys.
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"We've created the perfect environment to make the best pork in the city," says Barrientos.
Miami Smokers soft-opens Monday, October 13. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha