One of Puerto Rico’s most famous restaurants over the last 50 years has come to the mainland.
Metropol, which has served a fusion of Cuban and classic Puerto Rican dishes on the island since 1965, has opened a location in the Dolphin Mall. The restaurant, which opened June 22, was founded by Cuban exile Jose Canosa in San Juan.
Now, his grandchildren, the third generation running this family owned restaurant, have brought those recipes to Miami.
“We’ve been thinking about hopping across the water to open here for a long time,” said Alex Ravelo, whose maternal grandfather started the business.
Metropol is just one of the newest Puerto Rican-owned businesses started in Miami since displaced locals sought a new start after hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the island. Puerto Rican-born chef José Mendín opened an instant-hit in La Placita in MiMo. Ravelo said the influx of Puerto Ricans made the decision easier to bring Metropol to Miami.
The original Puerto Rican Metropol focused on Cuban dishes like tasajo and vaca frita and added traditional Puerto Rican items like mofongo and gallinita rellena, stuffed Cornish game hen, and eventually fused the menu. In Miami, Ravelo said Metropol’s menu will skew toward more Puerto Rican cuisine.
“We have a lot of well-established Cuban restaurants here, so we’re going to focus on the Puerto Rican niche in Miami,” he said.
Stuffed mofongo, a mash of green and ripe plantains with garlic and pork, are the house specialty. The options range from pork and churrasco cuts of steak to shrimp and seafood. But the gallinita — the restaurant’s signature dish on the island — is also front-and-center on the menu.
“We have a really robust menu,” he said.
Ravelo and his brother, Christian, partnered with Rey Vega to expand the family’s Metropol empire, from their late grandfather’s two locations to nine, counting the Dolphin Mall spot. The brothers agreed with Dolphin Mall’s ownership — which also owns the high-end Mall of San Juan — to open a 10th location on the island in August.
In a week’s time, Miami’s Metropol has been embraced by local Puerto Ricans, Ravelo said.
“We have the same dishes, the same prices, the same menu,” he said. “A lot of Puerto Ricans who have moved here have come in to be reminded of Puerto Rico.”