2.5 stars for Mexican classics at South Miami's MexZican Gourmet

Food trucks were slow to arrive but quick to take off in Miami, with dozens cramming the streets for roundups and art walks. Most produce little more than fast, fried food, frankly, but chef Zé Carlos Jiménez and his black and green MexZican truck stand out with authentic flavors, visual appeal and spicy zing. Now Jiménez has gone all bricks and mortar on us with a little hideaway off U.S. 1. The somewhat seedy entrance is through the parking lot it shares with a “gentleman’s club” and a pizza joint where there always seems to be a hookah pipe on the table.

Jiménez, who is always visible in the open kitchen, hails from Cuautia Morelos, south of Mexico City, and it is there that he learned to cook from his beloved grandmother. He leans heavily on such tradition, but also creates modern dishes.

Ambiebce: The look is clean and the scene is mellow. Lime-accented white walls are covered in framed Mexican movie posters, and black mica tables are set with sturdy red cotton napkins.

What Worked

  • A basket of rough-cut tortilla chips as warm and golden as a Oaxaca beach
  • Bright, deep flavors of the roasted tomatillo and jalapeño salsas
  • Sub-like “tortas” – soft baguettes filled with refried beans, carne asada (or chicken or pork), crumbled Oaxaca cheese, chopped tomato, onions, avocado, mayonnaise and sweet sautéed onions and chiles
  • Subtle and bold traditional flavors
  • Chiles rellenos
  • Sopa de tortilla
  • Chunky guacamole with just enough jalapeño kick
  • Punchy ceviche – a mélange of tender corvina chunks licked by a limey brine and peppered with red onion and tomatillo
  • Tacos — on softly griddled corn tortillas as big as a bread plate — piled high with beef, chicken or tender & juicy slow-cooked pork
  • Enchiladas de pollo – four perfectly rolled corn tortillas enveloping soft, shredded white-meat chicken with a dusting of white cheese, onions and lettuce, a dollop of crema and a vibrant roasted tomatillo sauce
  • Puffy, beer-battered shrimp with creamy, chile-spiked dressing and a crunchy confetti of chopped lettuce and cabbage
  • Refreshing cactus salad with tomato, cilantro and a light and tangy dressing
  • Molcajete – a volcanic-rock mortar filled with a deeply flavored roasted tomato sauce loaded with shrimp, steak, fiery chorizo and melted queso fresco
  • A rudimentary wine selection including a decent tempranillo and half-dozen Mexican cervezas.
  • Delicious, sweet & refreshing house-made aqua de horchata (rice water)
  • Sweet, super-cloying jarritas


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