Fine dining connoisseurs who truly know and love traditional Spanish cuisine, know and love La Taberna de Ignacio – the two go together like seafood and sangria.
If the name rings a bell, it’s the same name of the original restaurant in Hialeah, yet part-owners Zunay Rabelo, Luis Velasco, and Mitchel Sabina are quick to note they are not trying to mimic what that first venue offers.
“Well, of course we want to claim the same resounding success here as we’ve seen in Hialeah for the last 21 years,” says Velasco, “and we also want to be known here for quality cuisine and outstanding service. But the South Miami Taberna de Ignacio is a totally different genre, cuisine-wise, by focusing on traditional dishes of Southern Spain.
Here, he says they are also leaning in a more sophistication direction, “in keeping with the upscale demographic of this area,” he says.
Rabelo added, “It’s a new city and a new day for us – and for the people of South Miami.”
In the Beginning
The restaurant opened in early August at the corner of Sunset Drive and Dorn Ave., the brick-paved iconic entrance to South Miami’s shopping and dining district. After almost a year and a half of pre-construction prep and a significant repair and build out of the space, one of the most enviable addresses in South Miami is now home to La Taberna de Ignacio.
“To be honest, when we first opened in this totally new market, we were unsure if we’d have a following. But people are coming in, they are finding us. In fact, it’s safe to say we’ve have become instant success,” said Rabelo.
The restaurant presently has a capacity of 80 guests inside and another 40 for al fresco dining on the ample sidewalk. Those seats are often entirely full Thursdays through Sundays when live entertainment – Flamenco Rumba music, of course – takes the stage.
The team is experiencing such a success, they are now laying plans to expand into adjoining restaurant space fronting Dorn Street, in the former pizzeria known as Blu, at 7201 SW 59th Ave.
Named after its founder, the original Taberna de Ignacio in Hialeah has become something of an institution there since opening in 1998 – to the extent that there is one customer who actually comes in to dine seven days a week!
Says Velasco, “We are definitely set on replicating that same enthusiasm here in South Miami.” While Rabelo focuses primarily on the accounting end of the operation, Velasco brings the experience of long-term restaurant management. Prior to operating the Hialeah restaurant, he owned and operated a French restaurant in Venezuela for more than 20 years.
Spanish Culinary Tradition
Rich in Spanish culinary tradition, the menu offerings at the South Miami Taberna are straight out of the cookbooks of Grenada and Sevilla in the Southern-most region of Spain known as Andalucía.
Even the restaurant’s upscale décor captures the essence the Alhambra Palace in Grenada, a stunning example of Moorish architecture known for cloistered courtyards and elegant fountains – a perfect thematic backdrop for the sangria that flows abundantly at La Taberna de Ignacio.
In fact, with such an extensive wine selection, customers are sure to find a perfect pairing for such classic dishes as paella, tapas, gazpacho, and other traditional meat and seafood dishes typical of Andalucía.
“Our cuisine is prepared with the freshest seafood and meat by authentic Spanish chefs who are committed to offering our customers a piece of Spain in every dish,” said Velasco.
They also offer a robust menu of lunch specials that change from week to week. There is even a discount offered to City of South Miami employees and for any South Miami medical personnel.
Where in the World is Andalucía
Andalucía is the region located in the southern part of Spain that was inhabited over the centuries by Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Berbers, and Arabs before being conquered by the Spanish crown. This diverse cultural heritage has greatly impacted the dishes of this region.
But it wasn’t until Spain’s cuisine was completely revolutionized by the Moors who occupied the country for more than seven centuries, leaving a great culinary mark. They brought almonds, rice, sugar cane, eggplant, citrus fruits, and spices, which are all very important to Spain’s cuisine.
And being surrounded by both the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, fresh-caught seafood has long been a mainstay of the people of Andalucía.
Paella is number one at the restaurant in terms of popularity, but is closely followed by the Salt Baked Sea Bass – with its dramatic presentation. An ancient cooking technique that has been practiced in southern Spain for centuries, the fish is cooked inside a hard shell made of salt that the waiter cracks open tableside.
In this way, the fish is perfectly cooked, flavorsome, and super healthy – because the fish cooks itself in its own juices while inside the shell.
“Despite what you might think, covering the fish with salt does not make it salty. On the contrary, because the salt does not actually penetrate the fish, this will come out with the perfect point of saltiness,” says Velasco.
For information, and to book dinner reservations or special events, call 305-820-1091 (10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday). Call or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit http://www.latabernadeignacio.com. La Taberna de Ignacio is located at 5894 Sunset Dr., South Miami, FL 33143.