Who’s house is it, Miami?
It’s Bocas House.
The half-Venezuelan, half-Peruvian restaurant founded totally in Miami is the Miami Herald’s Munch Madness 2018 champion. They fought their way bravely through a basketball-style bracket of 64 restaurants that we chose, with readers voting for their favorites.
They now take home the brass trophy, the bragging rights, and they retire as the undefeated champion. Their virtual banner goes into the rafters next to last year’s inaugural winner, Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill, as they make room for a new champion next year.
From the beginning, Bocas House declared it would be a contender — even though they were a No. 15 seed. But, hey, we seed them; you voted them through week after week.
Patrons came to their seven restaurants, Bocas House and Bocas Grill, for their combination of thick cuts of steaks, Tomahawk chops, Peruvian ceviches and killer milkshakes that belong in an episode of “Man vs. Food.”
They were definitely a people’s favorite. Bocas, founded in Doral in 2014, had to overcome particularly tough matchups, first in the sweet sixteen against the quickly expanding Ceviche 105 and then against longtime Miami favorite Big Cheese to represent the Local Faves region. They defeated Dr. Limon, in the Hidden Gems category, in the final four.
Bocas had a formidable opponent, Tropical Chinese restaurant.
For more than 30 years, diners of all nationalities lined up for hot, fresh dim sum and an endless selection of shareable plates like Peking duck and Chinese buns. Those voters helped Tropical Chinese work its way through the World Cuisine region and defeat the upscale Asian barbecue spot with James Beard award clout, Kyu.
This being Miami, though, of course there was controversy.
We saw a surge in fake votes all across our bracket from automated bots, the consequence of running a contest (though it’s only for fun!) through online polls. So we had to activate some anti-bot voting features, and, in two rounds, we resorted to sifting through results and discounting votes we suspected were false.
In the end, we feel strongly the people’s voice was heard. There will be no Roger Maris-style asterisk next to Bocas. In the final round, they racked up 15,000 votes, an uptick from last year’s winner, Flanigan’s which racked up more than 11,000.
Miami restaurants have a new champion — at least until next year. Cue “One Shining Moment.” And give it up for our king for the year, Bocas House.