A trip to the Miami Outboard Club, with its funky decor and 1970s-era prices, is a pleasant time warp. The nautical-themed restaurant with Latin fare is open to the public for lunch and dinner, with views of Biscayne Bay. Chef Roberto Morales turns out dishes for the first-, second- and third-generation Cuban-Americans who make up much of the club’s membership. There are soups, snacks, sandwiches, burgers, steaks and seafood plus daily specials.
The club was founded in 1938 by outboard racing enthusiasts who started out meeting in garages and gas stations. It evolved into a family-friendly group of boaters who, in 1946, bought 31/2 acres of beach on Watson Island from the city of Miami where they could trailer and launch their boats. They turned an abandoned elementary school on the site into a clubhouse. The club has a long history of community service beginning with members who helped patrol the coast for German U-boats during World War II. Today they take inner-city children fishing, host holiday parties for seniors and are involved in ocean conservation.
Only members and their guests can drink at the bar, but newcomers are often sent complimentary drinks. Meals begin with a basket of Cuban toast, good with the smoked mahi dip. Yuca fries come with cilantro salsa, and crispy tostones are stuffed with a shrimp mixture.
Mains include arroz con pollo and arroz con marsicos (rice with seafood) for two, grilled or fried grouper fillet, shrimp creole, and smoked pork “wings” made from foreshanks trimmed to leave a single bone surrounded by tender meat that tastes like barbecued ham and resembles large chicken wings. Sides include sweet plantains, congri (rice and red beans) and black beans. End old-school with guava shells in syrup paired with a slab of cream cheese and a Cuban coffee.