A friend from college was in Miami with his parents and brother for their cousin’s wedding. I was excited to see him and his family (though a bit bummed his wife and daughter weren’t able to join). I also was hoping to show off a little bit of my city. It worked out to take him, his mom, and his brother on a tour around Miami Saturday afternoon when they were here.
Unfortunately this was a day where it absolutely poured (not just the summer afternoon thunderstorm)… We made the best of it and it didn’t drastically change our plans. We probably wouldn’t have walked around that much anyways given the summer heat, but obviously Miami is best seen in the sun (even from a car). They were staying in Brickell and so we drove south down Bayshore Drive through Coconut Grove, stopped by Plymouth Congregational Church, and then continued down Old Main Highway and eventually to Old Cutler Road. When we hit Red Road we took that up to the Biltmore, which they were really impressed by. From there we went through Coral Way and its beautiful foliage, down Miracle Mile, and cut up to Calle Ocho past Azucar Ice Cream and Domino Park. We wound our way back through Brickell and Downtown and stopped briefly at PAMM to get out and walk around on the terrace. Then it was past the Bacardi building and a snack at La Latina, before going through Wynwood with all the murals and a quick drive through the Design District. It was quite an ambitious drive, but I think they really enjoyed the experience (despite the rain).
Afterwards we picked up his dad and went out to dinner. His dad’s mentee’s cousin (I think I got that right) is Evan Benn, the food report for the Herald, so they had some good recommendations on food. They decided to go with the recommendation of Coya in Brickell. I was excited to try it. I do really like Peruvian food, Coya is new and hip, and the building looks very cool from the outside.
The inside decor is similarly very cool. Lots of interesting designs, metal work, lights. The menu is a little bit different than the usual menu I’ve encountered at Pervuian restaurants in Miami. There were some similarities (certainly it has ceviche), but I didn’t see lomo saltado for example (though I did see this later on their brunch menu). Coya seems to be more of like an upscale tapas Peruvian restaurant and the waitress highlighted the small plate aspect in her introduction. There are also locations in London and Dubai. With a group of five it meant that we could order a lot of different things to sample. You can do a $90 per person tasting menu, but I think our tastes were too varied that we preferred to go al a carte.
My friend and his brother went for one of Coya’s signature drinks- their pisco sour. Pisco is a brandy made from distilling wine in Peru and Chile. We ended up going for some guacamole, tuna tacos, two sushi rolls (yellowtail and salmon), their corn salad, one order of ceviche, some Patatas Bravas,some arroz con Choclo (yellow rice with corn kernels), and some beef and then mushroom anticuchos (skewers) to start off.
Let’s start off with what I loved! The beef anticuchos come in a Peruvian red pepper sauce. This is probably one of the best pieces of beef I’ve had in my life. Not only was it tender and juicy, but that pepper marinade made it just incredible. It was so good (and I ended up getting another one as my “entree” and savoring every bite)! I was also really surprised at how much I loved the arroz con Choclo. I love rice, so I wasn’t surprised that I liked it. However it was extra fluffy and just had some great flavor from the corn and sweet garlic. It was crave-worthy. I was also impressed with their corn salad, which has Josper corn, crispy corn, and red chilies. I enjoy corn somewhat, but usually the idea of a cold corn salad wouldn’t appeal to me. The combination of different kinds of corn and the red chilies made for a very enjoyable dish though.
The sushi rolls were both good quality and I liked the flavor combinations (jalapeno with the yellowtail and cream cheese with the salmon). Similarly the Patatas Bravas (crispy potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce) were good, although slightly different from the Spanish tapas version. The Peruvian version (or at least the one at Coyo) had larger chunks of potatoes and had the sauces drizzled on top instead of covered in it. Those were all very solid. The guacamole and tuna tacos weren’t bad, but just quite small. The guacamole only came with a few slices of corn tortillas, which would be my only complaint. I didn’t try the ceviche or mushroom skewers, but others enjoyed it.
For entrees I got another order of beef skewers (was such a good decision- they are so delicious!), while my friend’s dad got the ribs, my brother and his friend split a rib eye steak, and his mom got the Chilean sea bass spring rolls. I don’t need to explain the beef skewers again, although I’m tempted to for how much I loved them. My friend’s dad liked the ribs immensely (as did my friend and his brother who tried a bite). The ribs are unfortunately not gluten-free given the tamarind glaze, so I couldn’t partake. I did however try a bite of my friends’ steak, which comes with chimichuri and a salsa on the side for dipping. It was definitely very good quality meat (tender, juicy) and I liked the dipping component. They were happy with it, although it could have been slightly larger. My mom’s friend enjoyed her spring rolls, although we had an interesting experience where the server dropped one on the table, picked it up (it probably would have still been okay to eat), and then never returned with a replacement or anything…
For dessert the group got the Caramelo con Chocolate y Sorbet de Frambuesa, which is a caramel salted ganache with some Pisco jello and some raspberry sorbet. Unfortunately the caramel salted ganace is not gluten-free, because it look pretty delicious. The rest of the group enjoyed the flavor combinations of the three items and it looked visually very exquisite.
Coya is definitely a very high-quality, top notch restaurant. They have some very delicious food and the space is quite beautiful. I would recommend it for an important client meeting, a special anniversary/birthday/Valentine’s Day dinner, or maybe a really nice meal when parents or family are in town. It is quite pricey though. I was immensely fortunate and grateful that I was treated to this dinner by my friend’s parents. You definitely get great quality and some unique/creative dishes. If the dishes were slightly larger I would say that price and quality match up with almost all the dishes. Most though were a little too much on the small side for me to find the price worth it, at least for just a regular dinner out. I don’t think the cost is prohibitive, but be aware of that going in (you probably won’t get that full unless you spend a good amount of money). It is probably really worth it though to check out their Miami Spice menu during August and September though. I was a big fan of many of their dishes- the beef skewers and arroz con Choclo I could eat for days! Pictures below of the beautiful food and space below.