Miami is a great home away from home for international imports like me because it welcomes and fosters our cultures. As a Mexican living in Miami, I regularly speak Spanish, can easily travel back to México, and can find real Mexican food (the good stuff, not Tex-Mex) when I crave the flavors of my home country. The birth place, the customs and the family I left behind are a big part of who I am so finding traces of them in my new home makes living away from them substantially easier.
I have lived in South Florida most of my life—17 years to be exact—and recently became a U.S. citizen. And, as much as I love and am grateful for my new country, I can't deny that a piece of me still considers herself Mexican. When I meet other Mexicans, I am overly excited to bond about Mexican things, letting slip mi acento de chilanga. When I butcher the pronunciation of a word, my favorite excuse is "I am not from this country". And, I comfortably slip into the role of the token Mexican friend when it comes to Cinco de Mayo celebrations (a 100% American holiday, by the way), tequila shots, Taco Tuesdays, etc. I show off my Mexican identity like a badge of honor.
After my family, the thing I miss most about México is hands down the food. Yes, we have a handful of authentic taquerias and a super clutch Mexican market in Homestead, but Mexican food is so much more than that. Mexican food, like American and other classes of cuisine, spans a wide range of flavors, regional influences, and price ranges that can't be and aren't all represented within our city. That said, every once in a while, a new restaurant comes along that expands the selection of foods that remind me of my Mexican childhood and, in doing so, makes me a very happy niña. The most recent arrival to fit the bill is Chef Scott Linquist's (of COYO Taco fame) OLLA, the November 2015 opening party of which was detailed by our contributor Belen.
There's a lot of deliciousness happening at OLLA's Lincoln Road outpost. For starters, the drink options are on point. They have a full bar, wine, beer, beer mixed with lime juice and sauces (cheladas) and other Mexican cocktails. Then there's the dinner menu, which to my surprise includes perfectly cooked fideos seco and esquites (my favorite dishes from childhood and favorite dishes on the menu) and to the dismay of my most recent OLLA companions does not include tacos. If you're in the mood for tacos, you have two options: 1) stop by during lunch when the menu includes tacos and bolillos; or, 2) order the rajas or huitlacoche ollas with a side of homemade tortillas and make your own. Other worthwhile options include the jar of remolachas, the jar of ahumado, the chicharrones, and the costilla enchiladas.
I am a huge fan of Chef Linquist for bringing real Mexican food to Miami and am grateful that he's chosen to introduce our community to less explored traditional dishes—not only so I can connect with what I miss from home, but also so you can see why I am so adamant to let go of it completely. I would love to hear what you think when you stop by. (P.S. They are running a giveaway to celebrate their recently launched lunch so, if you want complimentary guac, chips, salsa, and margarita pitchers delivered to your office on Friday, February 3, tweet or share on Instagram to @OllaMiami why you deserve a fiesta break using #GimmieGuac and #OfficeFiesta. The winner will be announced Friday, January 27. ¡Buena suerte!)