By Santi Cardona
When I think of Matador Room (2901 Collins Avenue), I think of Caribbean/Latin/Spanish influenced meals in a somewhat elegant setting designated to special occasions. That’s why it was so much of a surprise to realize that the brunch is just as much a must here as their dinner is. If you’ve ever been here for any dinner, you’d know that every dish Jeremy Ford (Top Chef champion, by the way) throws your way is going to be absolutely drool-worthy. Normally, brunch in some of the bigger South Beach restaurants is an afterthought, and that’s what makes brunch at Matador Room so special. Chef Jeremy Ford and his team have put just as much effort into their brunch menu as their lunch and dinner, and that makes anything here a winner in my book.
Menu highlights: Only Jeremy Ford can make Huevos Rancheros into a somewhat refined dish. The fire-roasted salsa adds a smoky element that you normally don’t get with eggs, which makes this a very interesting and unexpected option.
I’m not the biggest pancake person, but these are definitely contenders for some of the best in Miami. If you’re sitting at the Matador Terrace by the sea, this is the perfect tropical breakfast dish to make your experience come full circle.
Standout dish: Cargill Ranch Cheeseburger with Mole and Pickled Chili. I’m an absolute sucker for a well-made burger for brunch. Normally I just consume burgers as an excuse to nurse a hangover, but this burger doesn’t need an excuse to be ordered. The mole and pickled chili add some character to a burger that would be delicious on its own, but these additions take it to another level of execution. Order this, now!
Are we boozing? It’s hard to judge any cocktail program in the area when you have The Broken Shaker as a neighbor, but Matador Room definitely stands on its own. The drinks here follow suit to the food, grabbing influence from Spain, the Caribbean, and Latin American countries, making the outcome absolutely flavorful and delicious. Standouts include the Basil Jalepeño Maragarita (Altos Reposado Tequila, Cointreau Liqueur, Jalepeño, Lime Juice, Basil) and the Melisandre (Reposado Tequila, Hibiscus Cordial, Passion Fruit, Lime, Grapefruit, Hellfire Bitters, Pinch of Salt).
Check this place out if you like: EDGE Steak & Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Miami offers a similar style of Latin-inspired brunch dishes. Every Sunday, Chef Aaron Brooks and team serves up a full lechón (with all the fixin’s), grilled-to-order meat and ribs, a taco station, raw bar, and a spread of desserts like cortadito crème brûlée and rum tres leches cake.
Santi’s take: This isn’t just another restaurant that relies on its newfound celebrity chef fame to draw diners. Matador Room is firing on all cylinders and would be worthy of checking out regardless of said fame. The dishes are inventive and satisfying without being pretentious, which makes this restaurant a great option in South Beach.