Nestled on Calle Ocho there is an Ernest Hemingway themed restaurant that successfully fuses Cuban and Caribbean fare for authentic traditional Cuban fare. Sala’o Bar and Pescadería is decked out in polished dark wood, tables draped in white cloth and a huge mural of Hemingway. The eatery has an open-air setup and there is a live band that plays most nights.
The name Sala’o comes from The Old Man and the Sea and Hemingway’s presence can be felt throughout space. The restaurant’s decor is decidedly very masculine and refined. Hemingway lived for many years in Cuba and wrote seven books there. He loved Cuba so much he came to consider himself a “Cubano Sato” aka a garden variety Cuban. If he was around today this would be pleased by their offerings.
When I was in Havana, Cuba I went to the two bars Hemingway frequented and tried his favorite cocktails there. I took the servers advice and opted for their classic Daiquiri. After one sip I was transported back to Havana. It was refreshing, not too sweet and made me want a second one. I appreciated that their signature cocktails were simple and well executed. Not everyone can take a simple thing and do it well. Sala’o managed to do that throughout the whole meal.
I’ve my fair share of Cuban food but in Miami but I had never been to a Pescadería. One of the perks of living in Miami is having access to fresh fish year around. For our starter, we tried the Tirai’to. The dish is comprised of Mahi Mahi, Compressed Pineapple, Coconut Lime, Puffed Sasona’o Rice, Herbal Oil. The flavor is delicate, slightly sweet but still manages to be refreshing. It leaves you satisfied but not stuffed.
I don’t eat fried fish often but I had seen the whole fried fish on several foodies Instagram’s and had to see what the fuss was all about. The fried yellowtail snapper was a real highlight. It was incredibly fresh, well seasoned, and crispy on the outside. Once you dug in the flesh was moist and flaky. The presentation of the fish was also incredible. It came out on a banana leaf with a grilled lemon and covered in a colorful drizzle. I had the steamed veggies to atone for my fried selection but it was so good I couldn’t feel bad about it for very long.
Dessert was a Fanguito. It is comprised of Burnt Milk Mousse, Dark Chocolate, Bread Crumbs. While it looks like a simple dessert the textures and flavors end up being very complex. The smoothness of the mousse is heightened by the crispy bread crumbs and the dark chocolate shavings give the dessert that special umphh. I had to practice some serious self-control in order to not order a second one.
Sala’O Bar and Pescadería serves traditional Cuban fare and does simple food really well. Every single item I tasted was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The service was attentive but didn’t feel overbearing. I’d highly suggest making a stop here for dinner and then heading to Ball & Chain to dance off your meal.
The Aspiring Gentleman was hosted by Sala’o Bar and Pescadería. All opinions are my own.