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Taste GASTROPUB HUBS With so many gastropub-inspired places popping up all over town, it’s hard to distinguish the fly-by-nights from the here-to- stays. Read on to discover a few places you should add to your culinary itinerary. T E X T BY R O NY M O 148 R ipley himself wouldn’t have believed the gastropub concept started in the UK, a country of cruel jokers where smoked herring and scrambled eggs complement a side of beans for breakfast. But just 10 years ago, there were basically 2 types of indigenous eating establishments: family restaurants and fine dining. Casual eateries didn’t boast much variety, and enjoying a bite at a jacket-only joint meant boa-constricting clothes. Then the gastropub stole the show by taking the casual vibe of the former fused with the techniques and tastes of the latter. With their emergence, Miami left its past as a dining desert behind and became flooded with celebrity chefs looking to make their mark. OTC’s Executive Chef, Jacob Anaya, has a resume packed with brand names including the Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and Mandarin Oriental, but he’s never let success get to his head…or his food. Over The Counter offers approachable fare with flair such as smoky Charred Eggplant Dip spiced w/ French Espelette Peppers over Grilled Rustic Bread. His take on tartar, Tuna Poke, combines the Hawaiian recipe for sashimi-grade fish, Haas avocados and finely chopped macadamia with a chili, sesame oil and white soy sauce dressing. Don’t miss the trio of freshly fried Brioche Beignets oozing either chocolate ganache or dulce de leche paired with strawberry milk, or better yet a creamy chocolate stout; Traveling to West Miami could be considered culinary tourism if FINKA Table & Tap is the destination. It does to your mouth what an expertly mixed mash-up does to your ears. You didn’t know that combinations like Vaca Frita vs. Wood Fired Pizza, Calentado vs. Korean Bibimbop, and Carne Asada vs. Mac & Cheese could go so well together. Most gastropubs would offer you a craft beer to round out the experience but these folks throw a full liquor bar at you. Try the classic Moscow Mule with vodka, paper-thin slices of lime and fiery ginger beer in a copper mug. If Eddie Fuentes is tending bar, ask him for the experimental Monkey-Negro No. 5 with Monkey Shoulder Scotch and a bunch of liquors staring with the letter A: Absintine, Amaro Montenegro Liqueur and Angostura Orange Bitters; Kush Wynwood shares something with the Design District it represents; you can pluck rare art pieces right off the walls for a price. Except instead of friezes or frescoes, this pinnacle of plates and pints trades in limited releases from the world’s most revered breweries. For those who like to sip and swirl with their meal, 8 expertly curated wines from Monterey County to Mendoza stock the shelves. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, devour the Kush & Hash Burger blanketed by American cheese, local bacon, diner- approved hash-browns, and a fried egg stuffed between Belgian waffles…it’s brunch in every bite. The Spanish have their taperías that serve wine and bocaditos, the Japanese have Izakayas pouring Sapporo drafts and rolling sushi, and now we have a world of homegrown comfort foods fusing on our plates and in our bellies.