Food News

Michelle Bernstein Will Bring Back Sra. Martinez — and a New Fast-Casual Concept

Chef Michelle Bernstein runs Cafe La Trova along with mixologist Julio Cabrera.
Chef Michelle Bernstein runs Cafe La Trova along with mixologist Julio Cabrera. Photo by World Red Eye
A Miami favorite will soon be back in business, and its creators, the husband-and-wife team of David Martinez and Michelle Bernstein, couldn't be happier.

Bernstein announced on Instagram that Sra. Martinez, the chef's Miami Design District restaurant that closed in 2012, will be returning. The small but lively space was beloved for its fun vibe and creative tapas served alongside a list of regional Spanish sherries and wines and some of the best cocktails in town created by Julio Cabrera.

Sra. Martinez opened in November 2008, quickly nabbing a spot as one of the best restaurants in America, according to Esquire in 2009. That same year, Bernstein became the first woman to win the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast.

Bernstein and Martinez will bring their rendition of Spanish-meets-Mediterranean tapas to Coral Gables at 2325 Galiano St., a 4,000-square-foot space formerly home to Open Stage, a live-music venue and bar that closed during the pandemic. Martinez says the restaurant will open sometime in 2023, adding that the exact date and menu have not been finalized. He did note that this will be the "2023 version of Sra. Martinez."

In addition to Sra. Martinez's relaunch, the couple is set to open a new fast-casual chain of restaurants, Michy's Kitchen Shack. According to Martinez, Miami will see the first Michy's Kitchen Shack in 2022.

As the name suggests, the menu will focus on Bernstein's fried chicken, made famous at her celebrated Upper Eastside restaurant Michy's, which closed in 2014. Marinated overnight in buttermilk spiked with fresh tarragon, Dijon mustard, celery seed, and black pepper and then fried to order, it is one of the chef's most craveable — and requested — dishes. (Diners can still find Bernstein's fried chicken at Sweet Liberty, the Miami Beach bar whose menu she helped to craft.)

A Miami native, Bernstein is best known for Café La Trova, her modern Cuban restaurant on Calle Ocho in the heart of Miami's Little Havana neighborhood. In addition to Michy's, her past ventures include her scone- and sandwich-peddling bakery Crumb on Parchment; and Azul, a fine-dining restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Brickell.

Bernstein is also the host of Check, Please! South Florida on PBS, as well as SoFlo Taste on WPLG-TV.
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna