Little Havana’s Calle Ocho has its share of Cuban spots, from the classic bakery to the comforting cafecito window and the diner doling out pan con bistec and croquetas. There’s even a top-rated restaurant owned by an award-winning chef and a decorated bartender. A supper club is exactly what was missing.
Calle Dragones makes a case for ‘more is more’ as far as Cuban restaurants are concerned in the culturally saturated neighborhood. This is the Salvaje Hospitality Group’s third outpost of its popular Asian-influenced Cuban restaurant, and the first in the U.S.—its first two locations are in Bogotá and Cartagena, Colombia. In Miami, the group partnered with Cuban-born Chef Luis Pous to create an experience as if plucked from Havana’s Chinatown, offering the best of both cuisines.
Dumplings proliferate the menu and every single one is worth trying, including the Maripositas Chinas with Lechón Cubano served over sweet-and-sour sauce; the Crispy Gyozas filled with grilled eggplant and mushrooms plus an Asian black garlic aioli and naranja agria ponzu for dipping; and the Lechón Dumplings, which are basically the standard Cuban sandwich as bite-size little purses. From the wok, the Chino Latino Fried Rice with chunks of mojo roasted pork and platanos maduros is a delicious harmony of Chinese and Cuban favorites. For a break from the carbs, try the Black Angus NY Steak that’s been cured in coffee beans and Sichuan pepper.
There are nightly performances at Calle Dragones, from salsa to flamenco to global live music. On this particular Friday night, a live band had the whole room dancing, including an adorable couple of Abuelos who got down in the middle of the dance floor.
For cocktail enthusiasts, however, the real show is the beverage program by Borja Goikoetxea. Every cocktail is an experience from start to finish: Take the Ave Fenix, their take on a dirty martini, that’s made tableside in a coffee siphon and served with a medley of pickled veggies. The Guajiro is a spirit-forward, smokey mezcal sipper served in a small kettle alongside a tamarind-rimmed, ceramic shot glass.
Dessert is equally creative—think Crema Catalana that blends arroz con leche with a crème brulée finish and is served inside a hollowed orange. Or the Piña Colada Pavlova or the Cuban Rum Hot Cheesecake with Guava Ice Cream and Chocolate Szechuan with Cookie Crumble… you get the idea. Calle Dragones doesn’t do ordinary.