Monday, May 22, 2017

#ThankYouMiami for New Food Finds - Meraki Greek Bistro

Last week Celeste ventured to downtown Miami to Meraki Greek Bistro, where co-owner and executive chef Giannis Kotsos introduced her to the restaurant's new menu of one-of-a-kind, authentic Mediterranean dishes. Based on the 400+ likes that her photo from the evening garnered on Instagram, we'll venture to say you're intrigued by this new food find. Read below to hear what Celeste thought of its location, the ambiance and, of course, the food.

Meraki is located in Miami's best kept secret and—believe it or not—it's been there for years. It's tucked away inside a narrow alley on SE 1st Ave between 1st Street and 2nd Street in Downtown Miami. My favorite restaurant as a child was a family-owned Italian spot in that very same, mesmerizing restaurant village. (Think a less crowded Española Way.) I'm pretty sure my eyes lit up when I re-encountered the traditional red roofs on the romantic boutique buildings and brick floors, a true anomaly within the heart of downtown. 

My Italian Restaurant closed down years ago so I couldn't have been happier to find Meraki, a restaurant just as traditional and true to its origins as my long-lost love. I've never been to Greece, but somehow I felt so connected with their culture the minute I stepped foot inside Meraki.

A couple sangrias and Blue Maks (traditional greek beer) in, we found ourselves in the midst of a full house, anxiously anticipating what Chef Kotsos had in store for us. First up was the Meraki cheese platter which consisted of warm pita and an assortment of cheeses. I savoured every bite of spicy feta and warm pita on that plate. In fact, I would have been happy eating that and only that for the rest of the night. 

Every dish that followed was more unique to my tastebuds than the last. How could you not enjoy Mousaka after you watch Chef Kotsos himself laying out the veggies, zucchini, potatoes, ground beef, bechamel cream sauce and topping it off with a layer of fresh parmesan before your eyes? As he tucked it into the oven, my mouth began to water.

We chatted with his wife throughout the night and learned all about their journey, their passion in building the business starting from the moment they first met. Their story makes it clear why they chose Meraki as the name for the restaurant. It's an untranslatable word that means "to do something out of pure love and passion"—a word we should seriously consider adopting in the English language.

Between the location, the ambiance, and the delicious food, I was in a state of pure delight. The only thing dreamier than the restaurant's story was the galaktoboureko, a custard filled, fluffy pastry, which brought us to the end of the night. As we walked out, we paused and looked around absorbing the sights, sounds, and warm feeling of fullness before heading back out into the concrete jungle.


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