When French couple Jean and Carène Zaragoza moved to Miami and opened a restaurant it wasn’t just for the South Florida weather.
Their goal was to create something special that filled a need. Their 221 Café, located at 221 NW First Ave., specializes in natural and organic farm-to-table food that offers healthier choices for breakfast and lunch.
“We chose Miami not for the climate, but because this area doesn’t have many organic options for breakfast and lunch,” said Carène Zaragoza, who is excited about their location. “It’s an area that is booming. There is so much happening in this area, and a lot of construction, like the new train station. There are malls, hotels, businesses, everything.”
She said that creating the restaurant was a labor of love for them, as well as a great adventure. Jean, who was a chef in France, also fashioned intricate woodwork to cover the largest wall of the restaurant, creating a space for guests to relax and enjoy their meals. Carène makes all of the pastries, which are entirely homemade and are prepared daily at the restaurant.
“My husband and I have thought about every detail of its design,” Carène said. “Jean for decoration, with natural and authentic spirit, me for the choice to make an organic restaurant focused on fresh and natural, creating each menu item, each recipe, everything. Jean is very present in the kitchen for everyone to be well trained and he validated all the flavors.”
Their menu has an emphasis on healthy, nutrient rich cuisine and features 100 percent organic smoothies and juices, hormonefree and antibiotic-free meats along with allnatural and organic cheeses. Their coffee is the famed Panther Coffee brand.
Breakfast choices include omelets, pancakes, bagel sandwiches and other items. For lunch there are burgers such as The Farmer, made with breaded chicken topped with bacon, arugula, mild cheddar, creamy mustard sauce and served on a ciabatta artisanal bread from Zak the Baker; a roasted veggie burger and a classic organic grass-fed beef burger with lettuce, tomatoes and American cheese on a brioche bun. There are meatballs, cold sandwiches and “toasts” on multigrain bread served with a house salad or homemade soup of the day. They have a number of large salads such as Cobb and Greek Quinoa, and side dishes also are available.
There is a variety of beverages including organic teas and bottled waters, as well as regular soda fountain drinks, wines and beers. Homemade desserts also are available.
“What I enjoy most about 221 Cafe is having the pleasure of visiting all the local farms and farmers markets to find the best, and most fresh, products for my customers,” Carène said . “It’s the healthiest option and it really helps the local community.”
She said that they love the customers that come in for their lunch break from work, since they are interesting business-oriented people.
“We can learn something new every day from our customers,” she said. “221 Cafe is not only our history, it is also the story of our employees who accompany us every day in this adventure, learning as much as we are. Graydon, Edwin and Leighton are doing a fabulous job in the kitchen. Carlisa, Laura and Angel are establishing a warm and friendly atmosphere in the restaurant.”
221 Café is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information call 786-536-2268 or visit www.221cafe.us/.