No restaurant scene in America has exploded quite like Miami has. From the sustained popularity of favorites like Joe’s Stone Crab to the entry of famous chefs like Upland’s Justin Smillie, there’s a lot to get excited about in the Miami restaurant scene — case in point: Zagat named it as one of 2017’s best restaurant cities. And that momentum extends over to Miami catering. Take a look at the new trends taking hold in the Miami restaurant scene and the best places to chow down for your next catered event.
We all know Mediterranean food is having a moment in catering. But in Miami catering, restaurants are experimenting with the light, bright, easy-to-love flavors of the cuisine, from harissa-spiked grain bowls to gyro-wrap platters. Alexander Karavias of Freshko Gourmet says that modern Mediterranean food’s rise is thanks to the number of people visiting Miami from bigger cities, as well as consumers’ increasing demand for healthy food. “Diners are ditching typical fast-food joints and turning to more fresh alternatives,” he says. “This allows us small-business owners to provide these alternatives, and Mediterranean food then provides a variety so needed in a predominantly Latin centered demographic.”
Taula Fresh offers a short, simple menu of portable-friendly Mediterranean meals: order a boxed lunch, and get a choice of chicken or eggplant, plus tabbouleh, pickled cabbage, hummus, and excellent sauces like cilantro beet and harissa. It’s the perfect choice for a complete, healthy meal that doesn’t skimp on flavor. And Taula Fresh prides itself in making everything from scratch — that means that even your pita bread will arrive freshly baked from the oven.
Freshko Gourmet leans into the fresh, light ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine to inspire its menu of healthful sandwiches, salads, and platter. Get a mash-up of everything with the combo platter, which comes with chicken, gyro meat, tzatziki, pita, and Greek salad — for guests to build their own creation. Or keep it light with Freshko’s take on a Greek salad bowl, which adds in tangy capers and balsamic vinegar to the classic greens.
As a coastal city, Miami catering has no shortage of excellent seafood. That’s why sushi, meant to highlight the freshness of the ingredients, is one of the most popular cuisines. These days, though, chefs are going beyond the standard California rolls and tuna sashimi and offering up rolls that entice and delight with innovative, unexpected ingredient combinations.
Hannya offers high-quality sushi — much of which is flown in from Ecuador, Nova Scotia, and even California — in both traditional and modern preparations. Purists can get yellowtail temaki and salmon rolls, while the more adventurous can opt for the Bagel Roll, made with salmon, cream cheese, and sesame seeds, or the Night & Dal Roll, with tuna, eel, avocado, asparagus, and the salty roe variety, masago.
Sukhothai Sushi & Asian Fusion catering mantra is “turning a thousand-year-old gastronomic culture into a fast and easy way to eat.” That means taking traditional rolls and turning them into big group-friendly meals with something for everyone. Try the Matsumoto Tray, one of a few large-format options that includes crowd-pleasers like the California roll and salmon-avocado roll, as well as a kamasutra roll (shrimp tempura, cream cheese, and avocado) and a dragon roll (eel roll topped with sliced avocado and eel sauce).
One of Spanish cuisine’s best contributions to communal dining is paella — a large rice dish filled with various types of seafood. In the Miami restaurant scene, already filled with excellent spots for Spanish tapas, paella is taking on a life of its own, with the rising number of paella-only catering outfits and restaurants opening up. “Paella has been a hit for the past few years in Miami, especially for weddings,” says Giovanni Fernandez of El Rey de la Paella. “The high quality of the products that go into a paella and the simplicity of it — it’s something simple and people love it.”
Paellas by Saul has been perfecting the art of perfect, crispy-bottomed paella for over 20 years. They offer five different kinds of paellas using traditional short-grain Valencia rice — and no matter which you choose (though we’d recommend the Paella de Mariscos with lobster, shrimp, calamari, crab, clams, and more), these paella platters will serve as excellent showstoppers at any catered party.
El Rey de la Paella is a family-run company that’s served paella to the very best — that includes folks like Martha Stewart and Bobby Flay. The Miami catering operation has even served paella at the ever-popular South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Their paellas don’t skimp on flavor, with a saffron rice base, and toppings like pork, Spanish sausage, and shrimp. And to round out the meal, each paella comes with salad and rolls — the latter for swiping up all that saucy goodness after you finish your rice.
It’s hard to find Indian food that moves beyond the goopy, overly rich gravies typical of most takeout joints. But in the Miami restaurant scene, Indian restaurants serving regional specialties having become a wildly popular option for catering.
Copper Chimney is a go-to in Miami for high-end events, due to its elegant presentations and deft use of spices and chilies. Here, you’ll find the kinds of dishes you don’t always see on Indian restaurant menus, like Gujarati Bhajia — spinach, potato, and onion fritters; or Murgh Tulsi — chicken with basil, all made fresh to order.
A family-owned Indian restaurant and a perennial favorite in Miami catering, Ashoka Indian cuisine offers up traditional Indian dishes at an affordable price point. Enjoy excellent versions of classics like Tandoori Chicken and Lamb Rogan Josh alongside southern Indian specialities like coconut rice or a spicy Kottayam fish curry. Ashoka also offers a wide selection of desserts, including the popular Gulab Jamun (fried milk balls dipped in rosewater syrup), as well as Gajar Ka Halwa, a comforting carrot pudding.
Given the perpetually tropical climate of Miami, it’s no surprise that frozen treats are everywhere within the Miami restaurant scene. But in keeping with the wave of health trends that has recently hit the city (according to the Miami New Times), one of the hottest new trends in Miami catering is healthy takes on frozen treats, from coconut-based vegan ice creams to fruity (but sugar-free) sorbets.
How do you come up with healthy ice cream that doesn’t sacrifice on that fluffy, silky texture? The solution, as Cocowhip has discovered, is a precise combination of coconut water and coconut powder, which, when combined with flavors like matcha and cacao, makes for an ice cream alternative that still tastes decadent. Try the cocowhips on their own, or as part of a larger bowl — like the Sweet & Salty Bowl topped with brownie bites, sugar-free caramel syrup, and sea salt.
Since 2013, Vegallia has been fine-tuning their gluten-free, vegan take on Italian gelato. Their version, which uses coconut oil and coconut milk, manages to recreate the smooth texture of gelato, with flavors like banana and French vanilla, dark chocolate, and lime. Order it in small batches, for a mini luncheon, or you can get any flavor by the gallon for a guilt-free ice cream social.
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