He turned this former ‘vaquita’ Farm Store into a ‘not quite Cuban’ restaurant

A former Farm Store has become NQC, a “not quite Cuban” drive through restaurant in Miami Lakes
A former Farm Store has become NQC, a “not quite Cuban” drive through restaurant in Miami Lakes

NQC Craft Beer & Grub stands for “No Quiero Cocinar” meaning “I don’t want to cook,” in Spanish. In English the initials stand for “Not Quite Cuban,” but both describe the only-in-Miami gourmet drive through where you order by app.

Located in a former Farm Store — colloquially called “la vaquita” by Cubans — NQC has a retro look, and orders are picked up on both sides in eco-friendly containers. There are two menus, one healthful and the other Cuban comfort fare. There are also daily specials like duck hash, pork belly and raisin empanadas. A beer garden in back opens for beer tastings and events.

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Here’s the place to drop off an empty growler on the way to work and pick it up on the way home filled with any of 10 craft beers on tap. Try the Hawaiian Lion coconut porter from Big Top Brewery in Sarasota or American pale ale Pixel Dust.

Owner Mylo Gonzalez is Spanish-Cuban-American and grew up in the restaurant business. He studied recording arts in Orlando and won awards for songs he recorded for Enrique Iglesias and Juanes for the top 100 Billboard Charts then left the industry. After agreeing to sell the store for the owner, he ended up buying it.

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Quick bites

NQC energy burrito with banana

Keep in mind you’ll be eating in your vehicle or taking the grub to work or home. Morning dishes include avocado toast on multi grain with scoops of mashed avocado (you can also add a pair of hardboiled or fried eggs). The Energy Burrito is a whole wheat wrap with crunchy peanut butter, banana, honey, raisins and chia seeds.

Roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with tuna salad at NQC copyram47

Small bites include piquillo peppers stuffed with albacore tuna salad drizzled in balsamic and roasted red pepper hummus with white corn tortilla chips. The Crafty Sampler comes with Cuban corn cakes, chunks of Spanish chorizo, grilled onions and two ham croquetas with house chipotle aioli.

Heartier orders

NQC waffle sandwich

Trendy bowls feature pops of flavors from Cuban to Asian. The turkey vaca frita (pulled and crispy fried turkey breast) bowl comes with black beans, peppers, onions and mojo aioli. A grilled shrimp bowl includes spinach, avocado, sliced almonds and cilantro lime dressing. And a bowl of teriyaki pork tips includes plantains and grilled chicken with black beans, grilled onions, roasted corn, plantain chips and cilantro aioli. Each is served over white rice or substitute brown rice or quinoa for $2.

Knowing you’ll be on the run, NQC offers what it calls “handhelds,” presumably easier to eat with one hand while driving.

The unorthodox frita with pork loin, chorizo, and palomilla steak with skinny fries and maple bacon aioli at NQC copyram47

Try the slow-roasted pork loin with avocado and piquillo peppers. The smoked salmon and cream cheese comes with cucumber and capers. The pan con tortilla is an omelet with ham, Swiss cheese and julienne potatoes in sandwich form. And the pan con bistec (Cuban Palomilla steak, potato sticks, house mojo) come pressed between slices of Cuban bread, baked by a family friend. All other breads are baked in-house.

You can also order classic Cuban or media noche sandwiches, but if you’re feeling adventurous you can have that Cuban pressed between Belgian waffles with ham croquetas and maple syrup.

And there’s an unorthodox frita on rustic Galician bread with pork loin, chorizo.

Save Room For Dessert

NQC outdoor
The beer garden at NQC in Miami Lakes

Freshly fried churro twists dusted in super fine sugar are made from dough imported from Spain, enriched with bonaito (Caribbean white sweet potato). They’re perfect when dunked in Ghiradelli hot chocolate.

Hidden Gems highlights out-of-the-way restaurants in Miami-Dade County. It is not intended to be an anonymous, critical review.

NQC Craft Beer & Grub

Address: 6189 Miami Lakes Drive, Miami Lakes

Contact: 305-556-4838

Hours: Monday-Friday 6:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m.-2 p.m.

Prices: Breakfast $6-$8, small bites $2-$10, bowls $8-$11, handhelds $5-$14

F.Y.I. To order download the app NQCgrub

6189 Miami Lakes Drive, Miami Lakes