Tucked alongside a strip of Ocean Drive in Miami’s South Beach sits a hidden gem. A longtime mecca for locals and tourists alike seeking out authentic Latin-style dance and entertainment, strong drinks, good music and some fun Caribbean flair, Mango’s Tropical Café’s extensive and gourmet menu has remained slightly more of a well-kept secret.
Manned by Executive Chef Angel Ramirez, the kitchen at Mango’s Tropical Cafe serves up fare ranging from Caribbean Creole and Masitas de Puerco to wood-fired pizzas and its famous Churrasco steak.
For guests, it’s a bit of a surprise finding such high quality food in a nightclub. “They never expect to have such a great meal,” says Ramirez. “It’s not your typical bar food. You can have an appetizer, you can have a full entrée. The food is great, and we take a lot of pride in that.”
Ramirez grew up in the restaurant business from an early age, hanging around uncles who worked in restaurants around New York City, picking up tips and tricks of the trade as he went along. In 1978, he started at Valenti’s in Miami, where he worked for 13 years.
His background working with various cuisines make him the perfect fit for Mango’s Tropical Café’s diverse menu. “My forte is Italian food,” says Ramirez. “Over the years I’ve worked with different varieties of food – Latin food, Asian food, good old steak and potatoes.” Having so many options is a challenge, he says, but it’s also what makes being the executive chef at Mango’s Tropical Cafe so exciting.
Ramirez works hand-in-hand with Mango’s Tropical Cafe owner, David Wallack, to plan the menu. “He has good ideas, I have good ideas and we bounce them off each other,” remarks Ramirez. “He is very hands-on when it comes to the food.”
Ramirez looks at the current trends to see what’s happening in the world, incorporating them into the menu while keeping traditional favorites like braised short ribs and pasta primavera, adding his own personal twist or touch.
What is that special touch? “Working with fresh foods and fresh quality ingredients,” says Ramirez. “Trying not to use any frozen products, no frozen fish, no frozen meats. That’s something we pride ourselves on here at Mango’s Tropical Cafe.”
Mango’s Tropical Cafe draws guests from all over the world who come to enjoy an authentic Latin-style show and an incredible, one-of-a-kind South Beach experience. But what makes this the heart and soul of Mango’s Tropical Cafe eclectic, colorful energy can also be a challenge at times.
“You’re dealing with people from all over the world, different palates, different types of food,” says Ramirez. But for him, it’s a challenge well worth the effort. Serving happy customers is reward enough for Ramirez. “Seeing how much they enjoy their meals – and that you can tell by the empty plates!”
Asked what he would recommend to a guest visiting Mango’s Tropical Cafe for the first time, Ramirez says it all depends on what the customer likes. “If they enjoy beef, I would suggest the Churrasco, if they enjoy seafood, then I would suggest the Creole,” he says. Regardless, there is something to please everyone when it comes to dinner at Mango’s Tropical Cafe.