I'll be the first to admit that I was feeling a bit of trepidation when our Miami friends steered us to Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grille for lunch. Why? Because I've never managed to acquire the ability to gag down raw seafood (this includes sushi and oysters) although God knows I've tried. It's been kind of like trying to learn to ski...epic FAIL. And, NO..."marinating" does not equal "cooking". That's nothing but a load of horse shiznit (and don't even THINK about sassing me on the matter). Since the ceviche offerings are coming out the wazoo at Jaguar, they were pretty much all that jumped out at me as I glimpsed the outdoor menu on the way in. Inwardly cringing, I assured my dining companions that I was certain there would something on the menu to please me...even if that something was only wine and Captain's Wafers.
As it turned out, my fear was completely unjustified. Jaguar offers an extensive menu of bona fide Latin American cuisine and the eventuality was that I found myself torn in so many directions by the tempting offerings that I found it difficult to settle on one thing. I gave it due consideration over a round of mojitos and a delightful complimentary offering of tortilla and plantain chips along with spicy, cheesy crackers and a zesty chipotle dipping sauce. Yummmzzz.
I should mention that we were seated on the shady and charming sidewalk dining area which was great for people-watching in Coconut Grove and surprisingly cool and comfy for early September in south Florida. Service was professional, albeit authentically slow-paced. Having nowhere to go and all day to get there, it worked well for us as we nibbled and sipped away a couple of hours.
Debski and I both zeroed right in on the Crispy Blue Corn Chicken Tacos with roasted salsa verde, guacamole and sour cream...realizing only after the fact that we should've split an order. Considering the venue and locale, I thought I might get three dainty tacos for the $15.00 charge. Instead, this queso-encrusted Lumberjack Special showed up for each of us.
The blue corn tortillas were perfectly nutty and crunchy while the shredded chicken filling was moist and zesty. Loved the fresh-tasting accoutrements as well. Win-Win. Win-Win-Win. Neither gurl could finish half, however.
My better half quickly lapsed into knuckle-dragging Neanderthal mode and fell with carnivorous delight upon his Taqueria Mixta en Cazuela (a sizzling skillet filled with shrimp, grilled chicken, grilled skirt steak, grilled cheese, beans, chipotle and chorizo) along with freshly made tortillas, and I can't say I blamed him. It was beautiful thing for any non-PETA member to behold.
Steve's $8.00 tender Arepa "La Gloria" slathered in juicy pulled pork, queso fresco, pickled red onion and roasted tomato sauce was muy rico and pretty much the deal of the century. My fork particularly liked our proximity to Steve and his arepa.
Although we were all ready to roll onto the sidewalk for a nap, no one could resist the lure of Tres Leches Bread Pudding with its decadent sugared carrot topping (you really have to taste this to understand the wonderfulness of truly "candied" carrot) and richly aromatic redolence of cinnamon was reminiscent of a pudding-soaked Cinnabon awash in tres leches sauce with a splash of Grand Marnier thrown in for good measure...which could never, ever, under any circumstances be a bad thing. Even if you're dieting.
This was an amazing lunch and a relative bargain based on location as well as quality and quantity of food. A must-do in "The Grove".
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.