There will be zero doubt about the sort of food you’ll find inside José Mendín’s new restaurant in Miami’s MiMo district.
A massive Puerto Rican flag mural will cover the former Balans building at 6789 Biscayne Blvd. to introduce La Placita. Miami mayor Francis Suarez will attend an event Dec. 27 at 1 p.m. as Mendín and his business partner, the actor Julian Gil, watch urban artist Hector Collazo Hernandez cover the three-story building with his painting.
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The tile of the mural, “Plantando Bandera,” is Spanish for what Mendín hopes to do here, planting his flag on this section of Biscayne Boulevard. Mendín has said he wants La Placita to be a gathering place for Miami’s Puerto Rican diaspora, which has grown since hurricane evacuees left the island and permanently settled in South Florida.
The mural is the final touch as the restaurant is scheduled to open Dec. 28 and later host a New Year’s Eve bash to recall the parties held at Puerto Rico’s Mercado de Santurce, simply known as La Placita by islanders.
Among the anticipated dishes are Mendín’s lechón asado, the roasted pork which is among his hallmarks (and one of the dishes of which he’s the most proud as a Puerto Rican).
There’s a mofongo, another Puerto Rican classic, mashed green plantains, seasoned with garlic and onions, oh, and topped with more crispy roast pork.
Puerto Rico’s take on croquetas are bacalaitos, and Mendín does his traditionally, perfectly round cod balls, adding his twist with a coconut aioli.
Of course, Mendín — five times nominated as a James Beard award semifinalist — put his own spin on the cuisine of his youth. Just consider the plantain and yucca alcapurrias jueyes, topped with crab meat.
The entire menu is an homage to Mendín’s birthplace and a gift to Puerto Ricans in South Florida.
Here are more looks at the inside the restaurant: