Gone are the days of elbowing fellow shoppers at the Sbarro buffet line. The Aventura Mall is now a fancy dining destination. And with their glitzy new Treats food hall occupying a three-story new wing expansion, there are now plenty of options.
We explored some of the new spots occupying the outdoor courtyard that flanks the The Aventura Slide Tower, a 93-foot tall sculpture by Carsten Höller that visitors are able to slide down, along with “Gorillas in the Mist,” a whimsical fountain by The Haas Brothers that is comprised of three large-scale bronze gorillas and four massive bronze trees. It all makes for a great backdrop to ceviche, sushi or the best avocado toast in Miami-Dade (blasphemy, we know!).
Industrious chef and owner Juan Chipoco opens the third outpost of his popular downtown Peruvian spot on the ground level of Aventura Mall’s new wing. The indoor-outdoor restaurant in a stone’s throw from the three-story slide tower and the fountain/splash pad giving it a fun, family-friendly feel. Inside the modern, airy dining room with white booths, colorful Peruvian fabrics and a striking porcelain fish chandelier is a busy sushi bar, as well as a semi-open kitchen for plenty of culinary theater.
Be prepared to eat: Peruvian staples like ceviche, tiraditos, and anticuchos, plus sushi and traditional Peruvian-spiced meat and seafood entrees. Prices are reasonable with small plates $7 -$14 and mains in the $20’s.
Ceviche platters bear four different varieties with colorful sauces and causas – mashed potato cones – are topped with crab or fish and dressed with colorful rocoto pepper sauce.
Peruvian home cooking is also available with dishes like the Lomo Saltado, sliced beef sauteed with onions, peppers and french fries or Arroz con pollo, baked chicken over cilantro rice. The ‘hot’ mains are large, so plan to share or take home leftovers – the Pargo Entero brings an entire deep whole deboned fish with a choice of Peruvian sauces and white rice – and the Jalea Real bring crispy pieces of fish accompanied by golden yuca, tartar sauce and topped with salsa criolla – onions, cilantro, lime and tomatoes.
Desserts includes dulce de leche layer cake and a trio of mousses in flavors of lucuma, maracuya and Suspiro Limeno.
Bottom line: Now North Dade folks can get their ceviche fix at this wildly popular Peruvian restaurant.
The eclectic sushi spot from chef/restaurateur Jose Mendin with locations in South Florida as well as Casa de Campo, has opened its fifth US restaurant at Aventura Mall’s new indoor/outdoor expansion wing. Also located within view of the three-story slide and next to the splash pad, this spot features high-top tables on an outdoor patio and a spacious indoor dining room.
Be prepared to eat: Mendin’s Latin-inspired “sushi tavern” dishes with popular dishes like the tuna pizza – a crispy tortilla topped with tuna, garlic aioli and truffle oil and the tostones con ceviche – hamachi, ginger soy, cilantro and red onion – making an appearance. Prices can add up when considering that portions don’t run big: starters are $7-$19 rolls $12-$16 and robata dishes are $10-$27.
Poke bowls are available here, with cubed tuna, edamame and rice while skewers from the robata grill include octopus with spicy lemongrass and crispy garlic, miso black cod with charred spring onions or pork belly with orange peel & tobanjan. The butter krab roll is a crowd pleaser as is the bigeye tuna or wagyu beef tartare, as well as sashimi specialties, sushi and sashimi by the piece, snacks, vegetables and a daily selection of raw oysters.
Pastry chef Maria Orantes brings her chocolate miso bread pudding to this location of course, as well as treats like coco loco – compressed pineapple, spiced blondie, brown butter streusel and textures of coconut, and mason jar – dulce de leche mousse, streusel, fresh strawberries and matcha brulee foam.
Bottom line: A post-shopping sushi and cocktail break is always a good idea.
Le Pain Quotidien
For something lighter and more bistro-like there’s this Belgian bakery-restaurant. The Aventura outpost marks the second Florida location for the international restaurant group, following their opening in Coconut Grove last fall. The indoor/outdoor restaurant flanks the “Gorillas in the Mist” fountain and provides plenty of patio seating as well as a cozy indoor dining room. The Aventura location also features one of Le Pain Quotidien’s signature communal tables, made of reclaimed wood.
Be prepared to eat: Baked good, pastries and savory dishes as well as granola bowls and organic coffee and teas. Prices are reasonable with baked goods averaging $4 and heartier dishes in the $14 range.
Breakfast and brunch offerings such as handmade organic breads, artisanal pastries and organic eggs, go with the restaurant’s signature open-faced sandwiches called tartines, made from organic whole wheat sourdough bread – including their Instagram-worthy Avocado Toast which guests can customize to include an organic egg or smoked salmon.
Come evening, guests can linger over a glass of organic wine or a beer and in addition to hot dishes exclusive to Miami, including Roasted Wild Salmon, Slow-Cooked Short Ribs and Chicken Ratatouille.
Bottom line: A welcome casual option for easy lunches or wallet-friendly dinners.