Finka Table & Tap Takes Bold Flavors to Miami's Hinterland
Far beyond Miami International Airport and that tangle of Dolphin Expressway construction traffic, a rising stretch of asphalt threatens to launch you into the sawgrass abyss. Only it doesn't. The road narrows and curves south, spitting you onto SW 137th Avenue and into a maze of low-slung auburn stucco houses and jam-packed strip malls.
billwisserphoto.com Finka owner Eileen Andrade, Cuban bibimbap.
Head west on Coral Way and you'll arrive at a bank and a pharmacy. There, in the corner of the parking lot, stands a rust-colored brick-and-wrought-iron building with the faint twinkle of Edison light bulbs crisscrossing a glassed-in patio.
Finka Table & Tap owner Eileen Andrade didn't want to open a restaurant way out here. But her parents (who are also investors and own two West Kendall places) had the good sense to force her into this space once occupied by a Kentucky Fried Chicken and Long John Silver's. Andrade, age 25, who owns Finka along with her brother Jonathan, age 27, wanted to be on the east side of town -- Wynwood, downtown, or Miami Beach. "[But] after thinking about it business-wise, it made perfect sense," she says. "There are people who just won't go out because there's nothing to do here."
billwisserphoto.com Finka's tiradito rocoto with Corvina.
The western reaches of Miami-Dade County, where civilization ends and the Everglades begin, has a booming population in search of affordable eats. Yet, so far, the area hasn't become a magnet for creative chefs and restaurateurs.
So Finka -- a funky spelling of the Spanish word for "farm" -- made a splash when it opened in early July as a stylish gastropub with an Asian and South American flair. There's a ten-drink cocktail list created by Bar Lab, the duo behind hipster hideaway Broken Shaker, alongside a barrage of eclectic-sounding dishes pulled from a pantry filled with homemade kimchee, ají amarillo, and vaca frita. Now the place buzzes at all hours. During a recent Saturday afternoon, as sunset approached, people sat on wrought-iron benches outside waiting for a table to open. Inside, nearly all of Finka's 230 seats were filled.
Waiters wearing canvas aprons and carrying cast-iron dishes squeezed through the crowd. Older couples sporting guayaberas and colorful sweatsuits sat quietly munching ham and codfish croquetas. Young families gathered at light-beige banquettes while screaming children downed bowls of macaroni and cheese peppered with juicy shredded carne asada.