Monday, April 2, 2012

The Grind Miami

The excitement was brewing for weeks. A new event was hitting Miami, one brought by the same group that brought us Grovetoberfest in 2011; and this one promised to be "smokin", sort of speak. It was The Grind Miami, a burger showdown where 30 restaurants in the 305 and 954 area would compete for the coveted prize: the golden grinder award! The judges included well-known names in the food industry, like the Burger Beast, Chef Norman Van Aken  and Steven Hass as well as popular TV personalities in our community:  Jeff Berardelli and Belkys Nerey. Guests who attended the event were also a part of the voting process by deciding the "Fan Fave" category; selecting their favorite burger by dropping a chip given to them upon arrival in a box located at their choice's table.

The Grind Miami was held on Saturday, March 31st at the Miami Entertainment Complex, located in the Media and Entertainment District, right off Interstate 395. I arrived full of anticipation. I mean, did you see the line up? It was amazing! Besides the burgers, there was beer, Mojitos, Matervas, and desserts; what else can anyone ask for? I walked into the building and thought "Holy Smoke"! No pun intended but that's exactly what I saw all around me - a whole lot of smoke. Then I realized all 30 restaurants were grilling the burgers inside the building. Windows along the top of all the walls and a couple of open doors weren't cutting it. It was a smoke fest in there. And it was hot! The air conditioners didn't appear to be working. Besides, who the heck cooks burgers inside a warehouse? I tried doing it once on my 15th floor balcony and thought I'd set the place on fire... but once I stepped inside and felt my way to the first table through teary eyes, I could care less that I was sweating bullets and would probably need an oxygen mask before the night was out.

Giraffas' Brutus Burger
Latin House's Mad  Love
I gotta tell you, I've tried the food at Latin House Burger and Taco Bar's food truck and I was looking forward to sampling it again here. I wasn't disappointed. They competed with their American Mad Love, a strategic blend of Brisket Chuck and Sirloin, with aged Cheddar and Swiss cheese, Applewood smoked maple glazed bacon, grilled onions, mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, Hass avocado, avocado lime, and crema Mexicana. The seasoning is to die for (and as the smoke grew, I wondered if I would). They offered some of their Mango Habanero sauce, which I took, and then bit into the little morsel of heaven. It was that good! I don't know if I'd have the spicy sauce again, since it was so strong it pretty much cleared my nasal passages, but I absolutely adore their burgers. Can't wait until they open their location on Sunset Drive. I chugged down some beer to refresh my palate and walked a few steps down to my next stop: Giraffas. I read about their featured burger, the Brutus, on The Grind Miami's website, and they were on my list as a must try.  Close your eyes and imagine this. Lean nuggets of ground sirloin seasoned and grilled Brazilian style, served with Chipotle sauce, a perfectly fried egg, bacon, ham, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and Gouda cheese. Wow! What a combination. I simply adored the flavor and texture of their burger, and the egg gave it a delicious, finishing touch. With the burger, they served a side of Quinoa Salad which was fabulous and I actually went back and got seconds (ok maybe thirds but who's counting?)

8 oz Burger Bar's Pete Rose
B&B Joint's Midnight Rider
Next up for me was the Pete Rose (Head First Slider) from the 8 Oz. Burger Bar. I loved the way they put together all the fixings,  and totally relished the taste. It was a thick patty, with organic arugula, tomato confit, onions, Beecher's flagship, bacon, black sesame mayo on a toasted Challah. Lick your fingers good I tell you! By now, I had to hydrate some more so after making the line for a Mojito, I skipped around the room like a kid in a candy store, wondering which burger to try next. I finally stopped at the Burger & Beer Joint's table and had their Midnight Rider. This yuminess consisted of a short rib burger with red onion marmalade, tantalizing goat cheese, and pork belly bacon on a brioche bun. It was so incredibly juicy and tender that my mouth watered with every bite. Oh and the side dish was amazing also: Duck fat fries. Mmm Mmm good!

Sweet & Tipsy
Fireman Derek's Pies
I sampled a few more burgers before I had to take a break. I was disappointed that I couldn't try The Joint Bar and Grill's burger, which I had been looking forward to trying, because they had a problem with their grill and were never able to start cooking. I promised them a visit soon since their Croqueta Preparada Burger sounds so tempting.  Needing a minute to regroup, I went outside to breathe some fresh air. By the time I came back in, the fire marshalls had shut down all the grilling and there were no more burgers to be had. That was OK with me because I don't think I could've put another one down, but I'm sure many people who got there late weren't too happy with that. It was one of those cases where the early birds got the worm! After shaking to some really good music, and downing a couple more drinks, I sampled some of the fabulous desserts that were beckoning me. I loved Sweet & Tipsy's cupcakes, with the Nutty Guinness being my favorite. They create a fun cupcake for adults, combining cocktail favorites with a variety of cupcake flavors. The result? A sweet treat that will make you tipsy. I also enjoyed Fireman Derek's World Famous Pies. Their Key Lime Pie was incredible, with the perfect balance of creamy tartness and sweetness.

At the end of the night, the "Fan Fave" award went to the Shake Shack, and the rest of the awards were not given due to the issues that ensued. I know there were some people that probably walked away upset, and the choice of venue with the unanticipated smoke problem was not ideal, but at the end of the day, this was the event's first year and the concept was brilliant. I'm sure there were lessons learned and next year's The Grind Miami will run much smoother. I know I look forward to another run and I had one heck of an amazing Saturday night full of great food, drinks and fun I will never forget!

Islas Canarias' CubanCube
Burger Bar by Chef Allen
Getting some fresh air outside


  1. great blog & tx for the shoutout! glad u enjoyed our cupcakes!!! :)

  2. I was an early worm!!! My favorite of the night was Georgie’s Alibi, in Wilton Manors!!! The Grind did it's job... I intend to go to several of the restaurants... to try their fare while breathing air!

  3. Thanks! I loved your cupcakes and can't wait to have them again. Looking forward to trying Lazy Nina Colada and Ay Mi Amorcito Mojito. They sound amazing!

  4. Hi Tim! Thankfully I was an early worm too, so I had my burger fix! LOL Didn't get to try George's Alibi in Wilton Manors but now that you say how good it was, I'm going there when I head up that way. I had a great time at The Grind myself and I know the next one will be out of this world.