If your idea of divine dining includes great ceviche, a flight of tequila and the best queso fundido this side of the border, I have good news: Cantina Beach, the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne’s mega-popular Mexican restaurant, is reopening next month. Ocean view included!
Since being damaged by a fire, Cantina Beach has been closed for rebuilding, and will reopen with a fresh look on November 19. But some things haven’t changed—Andres Parlange is still chef, and his food remains a mix of sophisticated Mexican with rustic touches inspired by his native Chiapas. Some of the longstanding favorites are still on the menu: queso fundido, mini crab crispy tacos, cazuela de mariscos (the Mexican version of cioppino—sort of), ceviche flights and guac prepared tableside. Some of the new items to try: the guacamole fruit flight, carnitas de cerdo, huachinango (yellowtail snapper, and the vegetable salsa with roasted peppers and charred tomato.
One of my favorite aspects of the Cantina experience: the resident tequilier. Heriberto Oviedo (above) knows his 100-percent agave, and he is there to make tequila sipping (yes, sipping) enjoyable even for the most squeamish. Cantina offers 85 quality tequilas, the biggest selection in South Florida. The top hotels and restaurants in Mexico offers tequiliers, and tequila is treated as a fine liqueur, not something to suck down with salt and lime (we’ll chase ours with a sangrita, thanks). It’s nice to see a tequila program this extensive being offered locally.
Though I haven’t seen the new decor yet, I am told by my friends at the Ritz-Carlton that the thatched roof palapa concept remains. Other elements include a fire pit, plush lounge furniture in chocolate brown, red and orange table decor, and tiki torches. And, of course, the poolside location with the sea as backdrop adds to the overall experience. It’s on my list to check out next month; see you down there.
Chef Andres Parlange with some of his creations
Pork carnitas … mmm.
Cantina Beach is located pool- and beachside.