When Señora Martinez opened in 2008, the Design District tapas and cocktail lounge helmed by Michelle Bernstein was well ahead of its time. The catalyst for now cocktail legend Julio Cabrera, it was a place to not just imbibe but to witness the dawn of what we’ll one day refer to as Miami’s cocktail culture. (It doesn’t hurt that Esquire also named it one of America’s best new restaurants the same year it opened.)
Needless to say that when Señora Martinez suddenly shuttered its door after four years, cocktail cries were heard all over town. Fast-forward three years later and Bernstein, along with Señora Martinez, has made a bracing comeback with yet another food and beverage outpost at the retro-chic Thompson Hotel: 1930s House.
What was once a fitness center for the community has been retrofitted into a 30s cocktail den pouring Señora Martinez classics and dishing out revamped creations. Guys: if you’re looking for a date spot, this is it. Not only will she be impressed by the fact that you’re in the know, or the low-key yet refined vibe, but mood-setting live entertainment will replace any awkwardness with romance. During our visit, the soulful and eclectic Red Monkey took the stage, but programming we’re told is going to be constantly rotating with Cuban jazz and old school hip-hop nights on the agenda.
To whet her whistle, order either one of the Señora Martinez favorites. The Buena Vista mixes Plymouth Gin, St. Germain, cucumber, lemon, and mint while the Belmonte shakes it up with Absolut Elyx, strawberry, basil, jalapeno syrup, and lime. Novel Señora Martinez cocktails include a Jalisco Mule with jalapeño syrup and a Ceviche Sour with aji amarillo syrup, grapefruit, and cilantro.
Of course it wouldn’t be the return of Señora Martinez without Spanish tapas, and 1930s offers plenty. From Shishito Peppers crowned with bonito flakes and the always-fun furikake to three types of Croquetas (try the paella variety), dishes boast some type of unexpected twist. Take the Chocolate y Chorizo, which smears toasted Spanish bread with chocolate and tops it with a slice of chorizo cantimpalo and dash of chili. It was the undisputed favorite dish of the night. As was the ultra-refreshing Hamachi Carpaccio with candied jalapenos and avocado pomegranate. If you want something classic, there’s a small selection of meats (jamon serrano, prosciutto, and cantimpalo) and Spanish cheeses (manchego, tetilla, and Murcia al vino). And of course tortilla de patata, pan con tomate, and piquillo peppers all make an experience. After all, it wouldn’t be Señora Martinez without them.