Don’t let the name throw you. Though it bears repeating, Jamon, Jamon, Jamon is not all about the pig. Yes, you can get at least three varieties of fantastic Spanish ham here, including the rare Pata Negra from black-hoofed hogs fattened on acorns, but this sleeper does fantastic seafood, too, as well as exceptional rice dishes. With its hard-to-find location, it ought to. On the other side of the Miami River from Garcia’s and Casablanca, it’s tucked under the Neo Lofts condominium just west of I-95.
A meal here can be many things, but for me, it is all about the arroz. Finding a plate of authentic Spanish rice can be a real trick in this town, especially at a good price. So while you wait the requisite 45 or so minutes for those luscious grains of Calasparra rice to absorb their delightful flavors, indulge in some fine tapas along with wine from the tiny all-Spanish list. Maitre’d Miguel Quintero, who came from the famed Casa Juancho, is happy to pour tastes.
Ambience: Though the dark space resembles nothing so much as the basement of a college dorm, it is welcoming and comfortable. Walk to the back to see a paella pan wider than the span of my arms.
- A truly delightful 2005 Mas Codina Catalan cabernet ($27 a bottle with only 7,000 produced)
- A nice Estrella Damm beer
- Well-executed fried snacks
- Hot, crusty, just-baked bread (imported, parbaked and frozen, from Spain)
- Gambas (shrimp) a la plancha with an oily, garlicky sauce and earthy mushrooms
- Smoky piquillo peppers stuffed with codfish and ensalada rusa thick with mayonnaise and peas
- A snappy, smoky and spicy platter of tiny chistorras (thin, chorizo-like sausages)
- Tangy & briny swollen, silvery boquerones (anchovies) in vinegar
- Crispy & oozingly rich golden, béchamel-bound croquetas
- Succulent roast suckling pig
- Rack of lamb
- Beef steak stuffed with apples and onions
- Tender local red snapper in a garlic parsley sauce with white wine
- A perfect classic paella Valenciana – saffron-steeped grains of rice the color of farm egg yolks maintain a toothsome texture, and the well-worn black pan is loaded with clams, shrimp, mussels and tender hunks of chicken and rabbit
- Stellar arroz negro –a dramatic display of inky black rice chock-full of tender & tasty calamari ringlets
- Sweet and milky leche de arroz and soupy crema Catalan
What Didn’t Work
A plate of razor clams that smelled as old as the restaurant was less appealing.
Cafeteria quality glassware and plates