Party Like a Salsa: Venezuelan Import, Salsa Fiesta, Opens on Biscayne Corridor
|Service with a sonrisa|
So when we first heard that young entrepreneurs and husband-wife pair Cesar Olivo and Adriana Perez Benatar were taking Benatar's family business stateside from its Venezuelan courtesan roots, we were mostly curious. We were also somewhat hopeful that Salsa Fiesta's foreign cache might distinguish it from somewhat bland local competitors Lime Fresh Mexican Grill and Chipotle Mexican Grill.
While the restaurant's full name, Salsa Fiesta Urban Mexican Grill, doesn't offer much in the area of differentiation, things quickly change when it comes to the menu design. We were pleasantly surprised with our first dip.
"We have lots of product combinations to create a different experience," explains Benatar. "Customers can try at the same time a bunch of different things."
|Service with a sonrisa!|
|The Tostada Fiesta, under "Clasicos," for $8.99.|
For a restaurant with salsa in its name, options are limited in the condiment section, but do not disappoint. On the red side, the fire-roasted tomato salsa imparts a subtle heat on finish and is impeccably fresh -- house-made and with charred skins left to our delight. Go green, and enjoy a cooling tomatillo blend without the fire. It's also nice to see creative salads on the menu that aren't only regular menu items with the tortilla removed, like the Fresca 29th Street Salad of cabbage, carrot, mango relish, tortilla strips and special salsa on a bed of lettuce with a choice of meat for $7-9.
|Love the red salsa's rustic look and taste with chunks of fire-roasted tomato and charred peel, and freshly-chopped cilantro.|
Benatar's family has been in the restuarant business for 15 years in Venezuela, six of which have been with Salsa Fiesta. The company is fully corporate-owned, with no franchisees, and has grown to be the leader in the Mexican fast food category, with six stores in Venezuelan malls which Benatar's brother Samuel is overseeing. The idea to expand to Miami was hatched two years ago.
The chicken, Olivo says, is marinated in lemon juice, orange juice, and chipotle in adobo for at least 12 hours. "The tortillas are not Venezuelan of course," he adds.
|All in the family: Benatar's mother, Nadia, is an artist working in plastics and created this work, "Biscayne," inspired by the restaurant's neigborhood.|
2929 Biscayne Blvd
Miami (Biscayne Corridor)