Chef Luis Moreno grew up enjoying tostones, the double-fried smashed green plantain popular in his native Venezuela. As an adult, he took the dish a step further.
“We used to have a food truck,” his wife Jessica Moreno explains. “We saw the success the tostones specifically were having for parties and events, so we decided to focus just on them and opened up this store.”
The Crazy Toston (12039 SW 117th Ave., Miami) is located in a faded strip mall next to a car rental and an old arcade. The official sign isn’t even up yet, but that hasn’t stopped fans from coming to try the unique creations of the Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef.
Three hundred people arrived for the March 17 grand opening. “We’ve been blessed. It’s been crazy. Our Yelp has blown up, our reviews are all five stars and amazing. We have great support from our friends and everyone that used to follow the food truck,” Jessica says.
“Luis loves making sauces,” Jessica says. “He does a very special guajillo glaze, which is a reduction from a Mexican pepper that our customers go crazy over.”
Aside from the guajillo reduction, notably used in the brisket, there is a lot of Mexican influence in the pork Megaton with red onions and jalapeño escabeche ($7.85) and the shrimp
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“My mentor was Mexican,” Luis explains. “When I bought my food truck, I didn’t want to make it just Mexican, but I wanted Mexican influence. I kept wondering what to do, what to do. One night in bed the idea came to me: I’ll make tostones!”
Everything is made in-house and the restaurant has found a big following with gluten-free consumers.“It’s a very good replacement for a flour tortilla or something that a gluten-free person can’t have. So we’re seeing the trend that more and more gluten-free customers come in.”
“People walk in and ask, 'Is it Mexican? Is it Nicaraguan? Is it Venezuelan? What is it?' That’s why I tell them, ‘It’s a mashup restaurant,’” Jessica says, pointing at the tagline on the front door. “It’s South Florida, it has to be!”