The Who: Celeb chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten partnered with hotelier Ian Schrager at the swanky Miami Beach Edition hotel with Matador Room, his ode to Latin cooking. Chef Jeremy Ford (15 Steps) heads the kitchen.
The Space: The dining room has been restored to its Mad Men-esque glamour with a sunken seating space and a striking white-washed 1952 chandelier. The scene buzzes with mavens, nightlife impresarios and the food-obsessed, all basking in the dim lighting and affable service (this is a Marriott, after all).
The Dishes: Casual-yet-upscale takes on Spanish cooking. JG borrows dishes from his N.Y.-based ABC Cocina while also sourcing local produce and fish for Miami-centric dishes. Prices are wallet-friendly given plush setting, with most small plates $10-$16 and larger mains $16 – $37.
Dinner stars with homemade focaccia, then it’s on to the house guacamole minced with sweet peas, blowtorched jalapeños and sunflower seeds. There are four kinds of tacos, including an organic mushroom with mole, kale and lime, and a pulled-pork classic with pickled onions and fresh cilantro. Avocados show up again on a bright pizza layered with caramelized onions.
The lemony arroz con pollo brings a heaping bowl of chicken and rice folded with bits of cracklings (allow 20 minutes for its prep), while the red snapper is served with tamarind and lime. Jean-Georges explained the secret to the arroz con pollo: “I add kombu to the chicken stock, and it changes everything. You don’t taste it, but you taste it.”
The Bottom Line: Tacos and arroz con pollo get the Jean-Georges treatment at the handsome Matador Room.