Only a few things can compel us to visit West Kendall during weekday rush hour. One of those things is Eileen Andrade’s food. The chef, of Finka Table & Tap fame, has opened a new restaurant just a few blocks away from her original eatery.
Unlike the monstrous Finka, Amelia’s 1931 is a much more intimate affair. But just like its larger sibling, this new Cuban diner is a culinary force to be reckoned with.
The restaurant gets its name from Chef Andrade’s grandmother, who was known for her counter service and cafecitos. Counter service is the first thing you notice here, as the staff warmly greets every person who walks in. One look at the menu, and it screams “comfort” — just like you’d expect from a diner. Practically every item description had us salivating.
Begin your meal with the Chipotle Corn and kiss your diet goodbye. Every single calorie of this ooey gooey creation is worth it. Two words: CRUMBLED CHICHARRON. Mixed with delicious spicy mayo and mozzarella, the corn lasted approximately 10 seconds before we devoured it and fought over the last bite. We could have eaten the dish at least two more times — it was that good.
Another starter — Peruvian Arroz con Pollo Fritters — lasted just as long. We can’t tell you what we loved more: the Huacatay mayo or the mozzarella. Together, though, the duo had our taste buds dancing up a storm. Other starters like the Korean BBQ Churrasco Bun and Fried Pork Belly continued the flavorful assault on our palates. It’s hard to pick your favorite when you enjoyed everything so much.
All the dishes we had were sizable, and the mains were no exception. The Korean-Style Frita, for instance, is a beast with fried maduros, shoestring fries, two types of mayo and a side of truffled potato wedges; we split it between two people. The same happened with the Camerones Enchilado Jambalaya, a huge bowl of wild boar sausage, peppers, rice and maduros. We particularly enjoyed the addition of the maduros, which gave the dish a touch of sweetness to cut the spice.
No matter the entree, get a side of tots. There are three to choose from, including yuca and sweet potato, but for the perfect Instagram photo and a restful food coma, opt for the Malanga Tots. These balls of joy come topped with succulent vaca frita that we would have gladly eaten by itself. Combining it with the tots, however, enhanced the meat and turned the dish into a must-order — especially if you like malanga.
If you order all of the above, you probably won’t have room for dessert. But if it’s your cheat day or you somehow developed a second stomach, there’s Lucuma Cheesecake with pistachio and a nutella drizzle that has your name on it. Your call.
The restaurant’s motto is “Barriga llena. Corazón contento.” Translation: “Full stomach. Happy heart.” Amelia’s 1931 is a warm, inviting place that takes that saying … to heart. You can’t help but leave the place with a smile on your face. And by the looks of the crowded dining room day in and day out, neither can anyone else.