Thursday February 14, 2008

Canela Cafe

Late dinner at Canela Cafe yesterday, primarily because it was the only thing open at 10:30 pm on a weekday; and a very pleasant surprise. Great crusty sandwiches, yummy tapas, and just about the perfect atmosphere. You know places like Lime — chain restaurants where they take the Starbucks aesthetic and attempt to apply it to a homey restaurant setting? Well, Canela is no chain, and it splits the difference between that a genuine comforting/dive type mood.

The only real problem was that out of a list of about 10 beers only 4 were in stock (the restaurant also turned to be out of ketchup?!). This was for the best, though because the star of the evening was the Sangria — a humongous 15-glass (orange glazed ceramic) pitcher full of sweet delicious redness plus tall glasses with fruit and a small pail of ice. Yes, technically this is not how you do Sangria but trust me it works.

The food was all neo-rustic, with fresh quality ingredients. Came out fast, too, which is always nice. And the service was great. Oh: Cholula hot sauce right there on the table, which is not something you see every day. And the menu turned out to be a real treat — the entire first page is charming preamble and background explanation on the various foods. It’s obviously lovingly typed by the owner, and obviously subject to frequent revision, because the online PDF version is quite different, and ends with a 24-point note: “Please excuse me with Spanglish menu.” (The prices have substantially risen since the online version, but what can you do?)

Oh, and did I mention the live music? When we arrived a Gibson SG and amp were set up outside, and shortly arrived a dude, back to us, who proceeded to noodle casually for awhile and finally sang a few songs in a hushed mumbly voice. It was perfect near-empty-restaurant music, and I didn’t realize until later that it was none other then Jesse Jackson. There you are then — a perfect meal.

Canela Cafe
5132 Biscayne Boulevard

Update: An unfortunate habit of closing before the regularly scheduled 11:30 pm kind of sours me on the place.

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  1. Paula    Thu Feb 14, 09:58 AM #  

    I’ve been meaning to go back there since unfortunately my first experience wasn’t that great and I keep hearing good things about it. Sandwich looks great!

  2. Elad    Thu Feb 14, 04:47 PM #  

    same here. my first meal there was so over salted. but I’ve been meaning to go back and give it another shot.

  3. El Garzon    Thu Feb 14, 06:31 PM #  

    I’ve been there a few times and the food is always good, as well as the service. Also try OneNinety, on 54 St, just east of Miami Ave (yes, next to the coin laundry), great vibe, amazing food, the kitchen is open till 12 and Jesse Jackson plays there on Thursdays.
    Everything I’ve tried is good, but the duck is the best, and if you like beers, try Golden Pheasant.

  4. Biscayne Bystander    Thu Feb 14, 07:03 PM #  

    Since first opening, they’ve increased their menu and expanded into a second dining room. Walls in both are adorned with Lebo reprints and at last check, some local originals. I recommend their tostones rellenos with shrimp.

  5. Alex    Thu Feb 14, 08:27 PM #  

    Yeah, Canela is pretty good. I go for lunch a lot. Tortilla espaƱola and chorizo sandwiches. Also, they have San Miguel and Mahou beer.

  6. KidBass    Fri Feb 15, 09:01 AM #  

    I decided to check out Canela last night with a friend of mine. They barely had any drinks available on their menu. Oh yeah and an update on the ketchup, they still don’t have any. It sucks that this cozzy inviting place has horrible people working for them. The food came out pretty late while we saw everyone else getting theirs. What a shame.

  7. alesh    Fri Feb 15, 11:09 AM #  

    KB~ That is a bummer… I had slow to the point of being bizarre service at Last Call Saloon (which is targeted to a similar demographic as Canela). Not sure what that means.

    Yes, they don’t have that many of the beers in stock, which I understand because (1) they’re pretty obscure beers and (2) it’s really more of a wine bar. As for the ketchup, maybe they’re ALWAYS “out of ketchup.” You know, by design? They just don’t believe in ketchup?

  8. KidBass    Fri Feb 15, 11:52 AM #  

    It was just so many different things that made it uncomfortable. I can live without the ketchup but its funny how days after you went they still didn’t have any. That’s just too funny. The food was pretty good, they should focus now on their service. That would make the place pretty chill.

  9. Lolo    Fri Feb 15, 12:01 PM #  

    i second the props for their sangria! also, any place with an entire vegetarian tapas menu is right-on by me.

  10. caroline    Fri Feb 15, 02:17 PM #  

    One of my favorite hideouts!
    Great sangria with a kick of cinnamon =)

  11. Robert    Tue Feb 19, 03:09 PM #  

    don’t keep items in stock.

    it was good. but to be honest, they should knock down the prices.