In a bohemian South Beach space named for Simón Bolivár, the South American liberator who dreamed of uniting the continent, Jairo Hurtado has brought together the flavors of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil.
A native of Cartagena, Jairo studied industrial design, and then went to New York, where he met his Lebanese-Venezuelan wife. They relocated 10 years ago to Miami, and previously ran a Colombian café.
Hurtado applied his designers eye to Bolivárs distressed walls, colorful paintings and skylights, and has a hand in the kitchen. Theres a full bar where you can put together a platter of tapas, from garlic shrimp to fried artichokes, to accompany wine.
Whet your appetite with mazorca (grilled corn on the cob with spicy butter and crumbly cotija cheese) or the Ecuadoran crab cake with spicy aioli thats good with a glass of citrusy lulo juice or sangria spiked with aguardiente.
A variety of traditional and fusion-style ceviches in passion fruit, mango and lulo purees come in shot glasses with cinnamon-laced sweet potato chunks and choclo (Andean corn).
Main plates include salmon in Creole sauce with cilantro rice and fried green plantains, pan-seared fish fillet (swai) in mango herb salsa and Bolivian grilled chicken in mushroom sauce with mashed potatoes. Theres also churrasco, picanha and chanchito (pork chops with passion fruit sauce).
Find the dessert menu in a Cuban cigar box, and end with the torta negra wine cake.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.