Over-the-top culinary theatrics
The Bazaar by José Andrés is equal parts culinary ingenuity, theatrical flair and flavor adventure. Located inside the chic art deco SLS South Beach on Collins Avenue, the whole affair is sophisticated yet surreal, from the small-plates menu to the imaginative décor.
Helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef José Andrés, the menu takes its cue from the cuisines of the world: Spain, Singapore, Japan, Latin America and Miami, of course. And when paired with mega designer Philippe Starke’s eye for high design and the SLS hotel’s gracious service, it’s a playful, tantalizing feast for all the senses.
Our Inspector’s Highlights
• The Bazaar offers two main dining spaces, allowing you to curate your own experience, depending on your mood. For a more drama, head for the 50-seat Rojo room, presided over by a Spanish bull’s head covered in a Mexican wrestler’s mask. It’s outfitted with sleek black tables, tall white walls and floor-to-ceiling red curtains, plus an open kitchen and bar.
• A hallway connects the dining areas and takes you to the more formal 60-seat Blanca room. The cream-colored space is inspired by Starck’s grandmother’s home, hence the mismatched picture frames, quaint knickknacks and strings of pearls strewn about. It’s all softly lit by a massive seashell-encrusted chandelier overhead.
• The highly knowledgeable staff is happy to help guide you through the extensive tapas menu and can even tailor a dining experience to your tastes, complete with wine pairings.
• One of our favorite dishes is the shrimp-studded black rossejat, a Catalan version of paella that swaps in squid ink pasta for rice.
Things to Know
• We suggest making reservations in advance. Hotel guests get priority, so when you plan your stay, book your dinner at Bazaar.
• A meal typically lasts two hours to fully savor, so come prepared to stay for a while and linger. There are three kitchens manned by a team of more than 40 staff members, if that tells you something about the seemingly endless turnout of dish after tempting dish.
• Chef Andrés’ ingenuity comes through in his attempt to highlight the Miami-Singapore art deco architectural connection with staple dishes from the two cultures, such as the bao con lechon (pork belly steam bun) and the Cubano sandwich (a tribute to Calle Ocho’s Versailles Restaurant).
• Time travel to old Spain by ordering off the Spanish menu, which pays homage to the traditional practice of canning, serving Mediterranean mussels, king crab and stuffed olives in tin cans. It also has a smattering of Spanish Iberico hams and Manchego cheeses.
• The food has a playful attitude yet still makes sense. Case in point: the most popular items are among the most unusual, like the dragon fruit ceviche made of fresh tuna topped with pecans and hibiscus foam, served in a hollowed-out fuchsia dragon fruit.
• More good picks: baby Japanese peaches and fresh burrata, a cone of membrillo (quince paste) and La Serena cheese, and the foie gras PB&J.
• The South Beach restaurant serves an outstanding buffet/à la carte brunch on the weekends. Order the olive oil mini pancakes with fresh berries or the signature eggs Benedict plate and be sure to save room for dessert — we like the freshly made s’mores. There’s also bottomless cava mimosas for an extra charge.
• The cocktail menu is just as innovative and experimental as the cuisine. Magic meets mad science tableside with the liquid nitrogen caipirinha, which is out of this world. The salt air margarita is also a must.
• Like the rest of the staff, the sommeliers are extremely helpful. They’ll gladly take you through the robust 10-page wine menu and suggest pairings that complement your food.
• Enjoy pre- or post-dinner drinks at the outdoor Bar Centro. You can sip and savor your Cuba Libre and nibble on a selection of caviar and small bites.
• On Wednesdays, starting at 9 p.m., Bar Centro goes unplugged featuring local bands, a roaming liquid nitrogen caipirinha cart and complimentary specialty tapas.