Late-night Miami Beach partygoers love Bernie Matz and don’t even know it.
Stagger famished out of one of South Beach’s clubs at unspeakable hours, and you’re sure to find one of the restaurants under his direction — tasty destinations during the day that cater to the most basic needs with foodie flair late at night.
His most recent addition as culinary director for the Menin Hospitality, set to open Aug. 18, is Halves & Wholes, a fast-casual sandwich shop that will stay open until 5 a.m. at Alton Road and 16th Street. It will be one of four Matz-led restaurants on that block.
The 36-seat restaurant will use fresh-baked bread from Delray Beach’s Old School bakery. Sandwiches will include what Matz is calling his “12 best,” his interpretation of iconic sandwiches such as a cheese steak of shaved ribeye with jalapeno jack “whiz,” provolone, sofrito, crispy onions; and a “frita loaf” chorizo meatloaf sandwich with habañero jack, arugula, potato sticks and garlic-Parmesan aioli.
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Matz, the son of Cuban exiles and one of the innovators of South Beach cuisine dating back to Wet Paint Cafe on Lincoln Road in the 1990s, is bringing the party to that particular corner of South Beach — with food beyond what an inebriated palate would expect.
“That’s not by accident. Everything’s made from scratch. Whole food,” Matz said.
Halves & Wholes will be across the street from his Bodega Taqueria y Tequila, the taco bar with handmade tortillas, guajillo-braised short-rib tacos and a not-so-hidden club in the back.
One block over, Menin is transforming the 1939 Art Deco Firestone service station into the 24-hour Al’s Diner, “outrageous diner food,” Matz said. It will be complete with a takeout window for those who need to stay on their feet.
And next to Bodega will be Ricky’s, South Beach’s version of a “beercade” — a bar with an arcade and a music venue — although Menin is specifically trying not to call it a beercade.
On the east side, there’s Pizza Bar, the hangover-prevention pizza spot at Collins and 16th. The alcohol-soaking grilled cheeses at Radio Bar in South of Fifth district are under his direction, and so is the fare at neighboring Red Ginger, which is also getting a renovation and menu change — directly next door to his upcoming French restaurant Bakehouse.
All of the spots have an elevated touch, thanks to Matz, who was the first to help original Mango Gang member Doug Rodriguez make a name for himself at Wet Paint Cafe.
“The fact people enjoy our food at all hours of the day, that’s cool, man,” Matz said.