Cancun Grill

Real tequila mixed with organic juices make up margaritas to go with just about every dish at the Cancun Grill in Miramar. Here, is carne asada topped with roasted onions and poblano peppers and served with a cheese enchilada and rice.

Dining at the Cancun Grill, we had to wonder: Is everyone in Miramar here celebrating a birthday? Big, happy groups are in abundance at the city’s new Mexican restaurant, feasting on sizzling fajitas and oversize margaritas served by young, accommodating staffers who can belt out a bilingual birthday tune. Open since July, the 200-seat offshoot of Miami Lakes’ two-decade-old Cancun Grill is relentlessly cheerful. Chef and co-owner Martin Cardenas, a native of the small Mexican town of San Jose, even has the motto “We Cook With Love” scrawled above the colorful bar. Cancun offers a huge, reasonably priced menu (food tabs average $15 at dinner). There’s much to like … and disappoint. The food doesn’t always match the lively atmosphere.

Ambiance: The decor is festive yet tasteful, with an elegant blue Dale Chihuly Venetian glass chandelier at the entrance and Guadalajara-made pottery and stained glass throughout. Even the mariachis are a cut above … the three guys can sing, and they’re not intrusive.

What Worked

  • Delicious Vuelve a La Vida Cocktail de Mariscos – a bracing sea-salty medley of shrimp, octopus and scallops served in a large cocktail glass and “returned to life” with a splash of lime and Clamato juice, red onions, cilantro, cucumber and jalapenos
  • Homey sopa Azteca chock-full of shredded chicken, Oaxaca cheese, avocado and tortilla chips
  • Enchiladas filled with chicken and shredded barbacoa-style beef (slow-cooked in a banana leaf with chipotle peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic)
  • Pork tamales made from fresh ground corn and refried beans and rice
  • Light, house-made soft tacos filled with tender pork carnita seasoned with ginger, garlic and citrus
  • Plump, perfectly cooked shrimp
  • Moist pan-seared mahi mahi topped with a perky mango chutney and served with jicama spiked with jalapenos and cilantro
  • Saucy, flavorful charro beans
  • Impressive mole sauce – a rich combination of roasted chiles, tomatoes, sesame seeds, peanuts, garlic, unsweetened chocolate and other seasonings
  • Silky flan
  • Puffy sopapillas (fried dough dusted with cinnamon sugar)
  • Custard-like crème brule with sliced bananas and a hint of Mexican chocolate

What Didn’t Work

  • Just mashed, but bland guacamole
  • Flavor-lacking wine-spiked jalapeno-mushroom cream sauce
  • Chewy Angus skirt steak Marinero marinated in Dos Equis Amber, lime juice and seasonings
  • Fresh, but overcooked julienne veggies
  • Overcooked grilled chicken



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