miniBAR: Small Bites & Big Taste

From real estate to cars to implants, bigger is usually better in Miami. But at miniBAR in the Design District, all things small are standing their ground.

Identifiable by its arched black canopy and typewrite-font lettering, the restaurant was opened by owner and Chef Telma Villarreal in early January.

MiniBAR serves up a long list of miniature tapas. Yet not all of the bite-size options are Spanish-inspired. Menu items include chicken curry empanadas, turkey tomato and spinach sliders, chicken truffle pizza, and Parmesan fries. All entries are between $5 and $8, and while most are small enough to throw in a pocket, that's deceiving. They are all really filling. The small portions are packed with intense flavor profiles, so patrons do not need to order as many options as they might think. An eclectic beverage catalogue includes sake, sangria and beers like Arrogant Bastard and Raging Bitch. Desserts come in small packages like the Nutella and banana empanadas that are sprinkled with powdered sugar.

But the restaurant doesn't just live up to the "mini" reputation with food. The utensils on each table fit the tiny mold as well. Forks are small and three-pronged, and glasses and wine carafes are also fun-size. Mini crostinis served with a garlic hummus start each meal and foreshadow the small sizes yet impressive tastes to come.

​ MiniBAR's structure has been standing since 1937.  Today, Villarreal has set up the historic location to resemble the inside of a small home. In the entrance, chairs and couches are arranged to mimic a living room. The two-story building includes a narrow set of stairs, and each floor is decorated with small, white-clothed tables and vintage-style drapes. There are also areas with couches that are sectioned off for exclusivity. Local art for sale adorns the citrus-color walls, and slow-paced contemporary music fills the dimly lit space. The ambiance is calm and comfortable.


On a Friday night miniBAR was sparsely occupied by Miami standards, but patrons lounged for hours. Villarreal said she thinks her restaurant will also come be known as a popular local venue. Dedicated to showcasing local talent, she hosts monthly jazz nights and open mic/spoken word events.

"I am hoping to create familiarity and a no pretense environment," said Villarreal. "Come in...and leave feeling better."

3612 NE 2nd Ave., Miami

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