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Rob Bair, founding father of Tin & Taco and Gringos Locos and el jefe of the downtown taco scene, makes an effort to convey a bit South beach glam to his latest effort — a barbecue seashore bar with all the proto-’80s revivalist fashion of a vaporwave screensaver.
Neon beach is the name, and walking into the downtown hang-out had me wishing I nevertheless owned a white linen suit, pastel tee and Carrera 5512 aviators. Well, the Carreras anyway. No longer throwing, um, shade at Neon seaside, but there are, um, colorations of seaside-themed taco chain Bartaco here — the whitewashed partitions, the mild woods, the striking basketweave lighting.
The area is also correctly flip-flop pleasant, not that you just’d capture me wearing my OluKais right here: The only thing I hate more than sand between my toes are the sticky remnants of beer and cocktail spills. And whereas Neon seaside is a kind of locations that blurs the road between bar and restaurant, the vibe right here is most definitely bar.
The menu, although, is restaurant-sized, with many gadgets making first rate use of the in-condo smoker, and that comprises veg fare like burnt ends ($8.50) of dry-rubbed tofu.
Now, i am no bean curd professional, however i am relatively sure these burnt ends weren’t usual from the scraps and trimmings left over after butchering a block of tofu. The cubes are tossed with grilled pineapple and squirted with a zippy mango-ancho sauce, and, in actual barbecue fashion, the dish is served on a paper-lined aluminum tray.
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So are the “Florida Man” smoked brisket sandwich ($13) and the “Double large” smoked pork sandwich ($eleven). Issue is, after we reduce those sammies in half with a plastic knife, it took a pretty good volume of paper with it. Butcher paper is what’s crucial on those trays — but nothing’s necessary in these handhelds.
That mango-ancho sauce juiced up the “Double extensive” sandwich, layered with shaved gouda and crunched with citrus slaw and fried onion straws, quite nicely. We cherished the flavors, despite the fact that the bun become no healthy for the weighty materials. With fried jalapeños and a datil pepper barbecue sauce, the “Florida Man” brisket sandwich had lots of warmth, while a schmear of nitro William Maxwell Aitken jam lent a good bit of sweetness as smartly. The overflow of fried pickles dropped hits of acid into the sandwich. First-rate.
i used to be certain there’d be a taco of some type on the menu, however no. Instead, we opted to munch on sesame- and scallion-flecked ahi tuna nachos ($14.50) created from condominium-fried wontons, wakame seaweed salad, and drizzles of Thai chili and wasabi aioli. It’s Bair’s homage to Islamorada (where the dish is a staple), but we did find Mexican flavors in the smokehouse turkey bowl ($12.50). Ok, it become a semblance of Mexican flavors courtesy of charred corn, avocado and spice-rubbed garbanzo beans, but the turkey tenderloins and their heavy hickory-smoked essence impressed. It be a think-first rate, suit rice bowl — a coconut-infused jasmine rice bowl — that should still leave you feeling much less guilty about downing a frozen boozy Dole whip ($6.50 small; $10 colossal) or two.