By Santiago Cardona
Welcome to Barley, the newest focal point of Downtown Dadeland. Some of you may be saying that this restaurant has existed in Miami for a few years now, and that is true. But the thing is, it just moved to a new location, and this joint has received a major upgrade that is in line with any Kardashian facelift.
Helmed by the mind of Jorgie Ramos, Barley is a no frills Cuban-American-Asian fusion restaurant located in Kendall. Yes, I said Kendall. There is no reason why good restaurants should be restricted to Midtown, Brickell, or the Beach, and that is exactly why Jorgie decided to open up this joint in the area a few years back. The new restaurant manages to evoke the same essence of the original Barley, with décor from the old location making it over to the new one and most of the staff staying intact. It’s not uncommon to see the servers and management greet patrons with genuine hugs and kisses, showing how much of a locals’ hangout this is.
Jorgie and Barley have had every odd imaginable stacked against them within the past few years. Whether it be lawsuits involving names, unforeseen venue construction, or similar issues, Jorgie has had to redefine his concept numerous times. His old location held his food back from reaching the potential that it could reach. But this is the version of Barley that is here to stay. After months of remodeling, Jorgie is finally at a place where he has free reign on what to do.
The owner/chef is extremely humble and laid back, but he has every right to be getting all the attention he is finally receiving. He’s done it all, from local Burger Beast events, to the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. His ability to evolve with constant change in the face of adversity is nothing short of inspiring and worthy of praise. His unpretentious take on comfort food eludes trends and differentiates Barley from other restaurants in Miami. For those who have been following Jorgie from the beginning, you can see the progression that has come from his time in the industry.
When it comes to the menu, you’ll find a lot of your old Barley favorites are still there, just kicked up a notch or two: from Ceviche and Charred Octopus to Avocado Toast to Pork Belly.
Of course, I would also recommend any of the rotating Mac n Cheese dishes. Essentially, Jorgie has a variety of Mac n Cheeses that changes depending on the day of the week. Here’s a Barley pro-tip, go on Carbonara Mac n Cheese day.
Jorgie also makes what some believe to be the best croquetas in town. These spherical croquetas may look different compared to the cylindrical counterparts that us Miamians grew up with, but don’t discriminate based on shape alone. For those wondering, these Manchego and Serrano Croquetas can give the mighty Islas Canarias a run for their money.
Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the cocktails. The new addition of craft cocktails to the Barley experience offers up flavors that are complex and exotic, making for some of the best drinks I’ve had all year. There are rotating draft cocktails like the Catena Catrina (Milagros Tequila infused with rosemary, grapefruit, lime, and agave), shaken creations like the One Night Stand (Banyan Vodka, mixed with passion fruit, peach liqueur, lemon, simple syrup, peach bitters, and Champagne), and classics like the Side Car (Cognac, Cointreau, and Lemon).
Santi’s take: Barley is quickly becoming one of favorite hangouts in Kendall. For those that live in the area, this should be an obvious choice as a local restaurant to get your foodie fill. The unpretentious atmosphere and great food make it a place we appreciate and enjoy. Here’s to their continued success.
Standout dishes: My personal favorite dish is the impossibly light housemade Gnocchi, which is studded with gorgonzola and pistachios. Personally, I’m not even a huge fan of blue cheese, but Jorgie converted me in believing that my taste buds have been failing me my whole life. On the drink side, you can’t go wrong with the Smoker’s Delight if you’re into mezcal and tequila. Roasted pineapple, fresh lime juice, pink peppercorns, mezcal, and hell fire bitters. Enough said.