Saturday, January 31, 2015

Chonga Hot

Lines around the block are the norm at Chonga Cafe in Hialeah


Here's something you've probably never heard before: Miami's hottest restaurant is in Hialeah.

Every foodie and restaurant blogger seems to have been spotted standing in lines that snake down the street from Chonga Cafe

The place is the creation of first-time restaurateur Cortadita (no last name, apparently), who opened it in the garage of her mom's Hialeah ranch home while going part-time to FIU. 

Forget Edison bulbs and reclaimed wood. The decor here consists of exposed fluorescents illuminating plastic folding tables with chairs that always seem full of girls putting on lip liner with Sharpies

Cortadita reinterprets the return-to-your-roots fare of gastropubs. The frita is simply hot sauce and fried potato strings between buns. The "Mexican special" plate consists of two Cheesaritos that come in a Taco Bell wrapper, quite possibly because they were actually bought there.

The best bet is to arrive when Cortadita's mom has made ropa vieja, the best this side of Doral. Then it's a serve-yourself affair from a large pot in the kitchen. Best to bring your own bowl, or you'll be washing one at the end.

Late night, the girls of Chonga Cafe test the bounds of their spandex dresses while DJs manning iPods crunk along to the latest reggaeton. 

By the time Cortadita's mom breaks up the party, hopefully you've found a chonga of your own.

Chonga Cafe
651 E 4th Ave., Hialeah

Price: 1 (out of 4)
Noise: 4 (out of 4)
Parking: Street; lawn
Hot seat: At the folding tables when a fight breaks out between Vanessa and her mom.
Best bets: Cheesaritos; yesterday's ropa vieja; free Pepto handed out afterward
Nearby: No, this is Hialeah
Is this a joke? Yes, Happy April Fools'.

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