South Beach’s Cuban Vibe at Moreno’s Café and Bar

18
Jul
2014
Miami Bites

Tucked in a courtyard behind The Riviera South Beach boutique hotel and a few blocks inland from The Setai, one can be transported back to an “Old World” Cuban café by stumbling upon Moreno’s Cuba Café and Bar. By Ellen Bowen.

Tucked in a courtyard behind The Riviera South Beach boutique hotel and a few blocks inland from The Setai, one can be transported back to an “Old World” Cuban café by stumbling upon Moreno’s Cuba Café and Bar.

Owned and operated by Latin Grammy Award winning artist, Jorge Moreno, and South Beach Group hotelier, Nathan Lieberman, the outdoor café is a welcome destination for local young musicians, music lovers and those in search of traditional Cuban drinks and light fare. Moreno’s offers live music every night until 10 pm, featuring Cuban music, showcasing new artists and bands, and with an appearance by Jorge himself most nights.

I stopped by on a humid afternoon and was greeted by Jorge, who was in the midst of repositioning the canvas overhang and arranging the overstuffed and comfortable chairs.  The World Cup was on…of course, as all of Miami seemed obsessed with the matches, and the bar was crowded with patrons sipping classic drinks like mojitos, caipirinhas, and Moreno’s signature drink, “DesPEARtare”, a refreshing combination of pear vodka, fresh strawberries, mint, lime juice, St Germaine, and a splash of Champagne.

Jorge Moreno, grew up influenced by family experienced in Cuban hospitality, including an uncle who managed the famous Hotel Nacional in Havana and a grandfather who was GM at a top restaurant in Cuba. But his first love and passion was music, and with a father who was a top Miami music producer, Jorge taught himself the guitar at age 16, and began touring professionally at age 19.

His Latin Grammy Award as “Best New Artist” came in 2002 at the tender age of 27, and he went on to record two albums, partner with Madonna’s record label, Maverick, and perform with Usher during the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at the Fontainebleau in 2008.

Moreno’s Café and Bar is a unique spot and a testament to Jorge’s creativity. In speaking with him, he pointed out the traditional Cuban tile floor, the collections of authentic family and Cuban memorabilia behind the bar he has accumulated over the years including an old movie camera, his Dad’s army helmet, Cuban cigar boxes, and leather bound journals. A sort of Cuban “Speakeasy” was his vision in creating the space in the courtyard.

Over 12 signature cocktails are available and the menu, while limited, covers many traditional Cuban comfort dishes, including Tostones Habaneros, fried plantains topped with shredded pork, Lechon Asado, slow cooked marinated beef served with plantains, and Pollo a la Brasa, a marinated chicken dish.

Also open and exceedingly popular for breakfast, Moreno’s caters not only to guests of The Riviera, but also local residents looking for a different spot for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and Live Music. A nice alternative to Lincoln Rd and Collins Ave in the northern spot of South Beach.

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