Eat here: Shaka Jons

Skewers of shrimp sizzle on a bed of seasalt on a "lava" rock at Shaka Jon's.

Shaka Jons is a surfer-themed restaurant in a former tiki bar and club in downtown Miami. Owner Robert Cvetkovski named the place for the Hawaiian hand gesture with pinky and thumb up and middle fingers curled down. The shaka salute means “hang loose” in surf culture, but has come to mean “hey” or “right on” and is used as a greeting by islanders.

Cvetkovski fell in love with Hawaii on a honeymoon trip to Maui and developed the Shaka Jons concept for a time-share development that didn’t happen. When he found the tiki-themed space downtown, he decided the time had come to roll it out.

Shaka Jons (the Jon is for everyman) is the only sit-down eatery in the Flagler Food Court, so diners don’t feel rushed. There are wings, ribs, burgers, salads, sandwiches and a smattering of Mexican items (nachos, fajitas, quesadillas). More novel are the cook-it-yourself meals on hot black lava rocks and the salmon and chicken in lightly spicy mango barbecue sauce.

Cruise ship day-trippers have already discovered his island retreat among high rises. The
lava rocks are fun for folks who like cooking their own sliced chicken or steak or skewers of shrimp. The rocks (actually river stones from North Carolina that resemble lava) are heated in the oven to 500 degrees. The raw ingredients are brought to the table with utensils. The shrimp arrives on a bed of citrus sea salts, herbs and spices. Watch carefully so the crustaceans don’t dry out — the rocks stay hot for 45 minutes.

A good accompaniment would be the Kapalua Salad (named for a Maui beach), composed of greens, Mandarin orange segments and apples in vinaigrette. Or go with the crispy Island Salad topped with chicken tenders, bleu cheese crumbles and pecans with ranch dressing. End with Aztec chocolate cake or Key lime pie. Rum Runners are two-for-one all day. Aloha Miami!

Shaka Jons, 48 E. Flagler St., Miami (mezzanine level at front of food court); 305-371-4304. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, happy hour 3-7 p.m. Lunch specials $5.99, lava rock dishes $8-$10, ribs $10-$14, barbecued salmon $12

Published: 1/09


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