Having been to Brickell’s Cantina La Veinte only for drinks, we were pretty excited about being invited in for dinner. The restaurant, located on the ground floor of The Icon Brickell, is helmed by Executive Chef Santiago Gomez, whose resume includes stints at Nobu (both in Miami and Mexico City) as well as multiple outposts of Cantina La Veinte throughout Mexico.
Knowing that this was our first true Cantina La Veinte experience, Chef Gomez brought out an assortment of classics and favorites for the perfect first impression. Here’s a rundown of what we had (and what you should order).
No visit to a Mexican restaurant is complete without a margarita, and the one at Cantina La Veinte did not disappoint. Fun fact: There are over 100 tequila and mezcals to choose from. Not a tequila person? Choose from the restaurant’s extensive bottled Mexican beers to wash down chef’s delicious cuisine.
A shrimp soup starter whet our palates for the meal to come. And what a meal came. First up: the dobladitas de jaiba suave. Soft shell crab served in flour tortillas with a jalapeño sauce. Crispity, crunchity crab paired well with the jalapeno sauce, which wasn’t as spicy as expected. In fact, it was more sweet since it’s made without the seeds. Regardless, it tasted great and looked gorgeous. The presentation — the bites were laid out in shot glasses surrounded by black beans — made for a fun photo.
Staying on the crab train, the tostadas de stone crab made us think, “Hot damn.” Crazy fresh crab made for a crazy awesome dish, and the habanero ashes and cream not only looked cool, but complemented the dish perfectly. Switching things up with some shrimp, the sope con camaron made us fall deeper in love with shellfish and all things corn masa. The queso fresco was the icing on top — what a treat.
Scallop lovers will find paradise in the callos de hacha sellados con arroz poblano. Yes, the name is a mouthful and so is the dish. Seared beautifully, the scallops tasted magical alongside Cantina’s take on risotto: creamy Poblano rice with sauteed mushrooms and truffle oil. The savory part of our meal ended with the evening’s highlight: the short rib braseada. Oooooooooooof. To this day, we still think about that agave glazed short rib and how it was so tender. We would order it over and over (and over) again.
As for the desserts, there’s no lack of sweets to cap an eventful evening at the restaurant. We had our taste of three — a mango sorbet, a guava sphere and a chocolate ganace topped with quinoa. Each offered a different level of richness, so it’s a matter of personal preference. Those seeking a light option should go with the sorbet, which is served with some tasty pink spiced salt. Diners looking for something decadent should go with the chocolate ganache, which is incredibly creamy. And as you probably guessed, the guava sphere is the middle-of-the-road when it comes to diet damage. Our personal fave was the ganache, FYI.
Overall, our first Cantina La Veinte dining experience was a memorable one. Since it’s buried away on the ground level of The Icon, it can be easy to miss. But curious diners who make the effort to visit will be handsomely rewarded with some delectable Mexican cuisine — and some great margaritas.