Chicken fingers and heat-lamp burgers don’t cut it anymore.
Hard Rock Stadium added six new restaurants to its roster — most of them local — and brought in even more varieties of locally brewed craft beer that will be available during Miami Dolphins and University of Miami games. The new options debut Thursday at the Dolphins’ 7 p.m. home exhibition opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross clearly is serious about good food.
Late last year, he bought a stake in chef/restaurateur David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant empire (Ko, Noodle Bar, Milk Bar), and Chang was at the stadium Tuesday to introduce his new Fuku fried chicken stand. Chang hinted that thanks to his new partnership with Ross’ RSE Ventures, a future Miami restaurant is in his sights.
For now, Chang adds to a stadium starting lineup that includes several Miami and South Florida favorites.
Coyo Taco (Sections 214, 313)
The best-loved name in Miami hipster tacos dons the aqua and orange. Scott Linquist has doubled down on his Coyo Taco, expanding from the Wynwood spot with the not-so-secret club in the back to Brickell to two locations at Hard Rock Stadium. Four kinds of tacos (grilled chicken, carne asada, cochinita pibil and mushroom) will be available, along with burritos and elote corn on the cob. Linquist’s tacos hit the spot with bold, bright flavors that are also easy to eat during the game.
Fuku (Sections 116, 319)
This is how you take chicken sandwiches to the next level. Chang’s extra-crispy buttermilk fried chicken shows his roots growing up in Virginia. The chicken, a habanero-brined thigh, has a touch of sweetness with a mild, spicy bite, especially when you add his Korean chili sauce. Pro tip: Chang says he prefers the sandwiches that have been prepared for about 20 minutes. Also available: Fuku’s version of chicken fingers, fries with jalapeño seasoning and a peach margarita.
Jackson Soul Food (Section 134)
“No other soul food can say they’re at the stadium,” boasted Jackson’s executive chef, Garmaine Samuels, reminding DJ Khaled and his popular Finga Licking restaurant down the street from the stadium that Jackson’s is the OG soul-food spot in Miami. (Actually, now there are two, one in the original Overtown location and a second less than two miles south of Finga Licking.) To borrow Khaled’s phrase, they don’t want you to know about Jackson’s Southern fried wings (with honey barbecue or buffalo sauce), smoked barbecue ribs, lightly breaded fried conch, or collard greens and baked mac and cheese.
Los Ranchos (Section 350)
Say its name to anyone in Miami, and Los Ranchos immediately conjures the image of charbroiled tenderloin steak served with chimichurri sauce. So that’s what the restaurant is serving, atop a bed of gallo pinto (red beans and rice) with a side of sweet maduros. A lighter marinated chicken and queso frito bites with fresh cabbage slaw are also on the menu.
O-B House (Section 146)
Fort Lauderdale’s longtime favorite brunch spot should do killer service during early games. Pair the eight-inch oven-baked buttermilk pancakes (plain or with andouille sausage and corn or fresh blueberry) or a breakfast sandwich such as the Technical Knock Out (organic eggs, sharp cheddar, thick-cut bacon) with a mango Bellini or bloody Mary, and it should make for a hearty ramp up to three hours of cheering.
Shorty’s Bar-B-Q (Available on 100, 200 and 300 levels)
Expect to find what you would at the original location on U.S. 1 that has made the BBQ joint a Miami staple. The Texas-style 12-hour, hickory-smoked brisket still sings here, as does the pulled pork and creamy coleslaw. (Customers still ask for the recipe. No chance.)
More craft beer options (North and south side of 100 level)
If there’s one thing craft beer nerds love, it’s limited-release seasonal beers, and apparently Hard Rock Stadium knows this. The stadium has added three rotating tap handles that will offer some of the most sought-after locally brewed beer. Doral’s Biscayne Bay Brewing, Wynwood’s J. Wakefield Brewing and Wynwood Brewing and Oakland Park’s Funky Buddha will be among the local breweries featured.
The first rotation includes J. Wakefield’s sought-after tart and refreshing Miami Madness and Wynwood Brewing’s Father Francisco strong ale from Aug. 10 to Sept. 23. The next rotation (Oct. 8-Nov. 18) will include Funky Buddha’s Last Snow coconut-coffee porter and the tart Cuvee de Wakefield (so-called sour beers are their specialty), and Biscayne Bay Brewing’s Buenas Noches stout. The final rotation (Dec. 3-31) includes J. Wakefield’s Key Lime Slime (a bright green, refreshing tart ale), Biscayne Bay’s The Puro and Cigar City (Tampa) Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.