By Lisa Petrillo

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s a place where many come to gas up their cars and fuel up their bodies, a hidden gem that has long been the talk of the town is now the Taste of the Town.

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Yes, inside the Mobil Station on 17th Avenue and U.S. 1 is where CBS4’s Rick Folbaum and Lisa Petrillo discovered “El Carajo.”

“Well, anytime you move to a new place you meet new friends they want to tell you about their favorite restaurant and I’ve been hearing about El Carajo for last three years since we moved to South Florida.  I’m so glad to finally be here,” Rick said.

It’s a family owned business that began as a gas station when Carlos Fonseca’s dad bought it in 1981. In the early 90s, he started selling fine wines at the spot. In 2006, it became a full-fledged restaurant with Spanish inspired dishes.

The name El Carajo has inspired some controversy.

“The name actually means the crow’s nest of the ship. I know people have heard other things but those are second, third and fourth definition. The first definition is the ship,” Fonseca said.

“Let’s stick with ship,” Petrillo joked.

Inside you can buy motor oil, cigars and goodies from the bakery as well as wines from all over the world.

“I like it! I like it’s light,” said Rick after sipping the wine.

“It’s light and smooth – fill her up!” said Petrillo, joking.

The look and feel is a world away.

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“We wanted to transport people as they walked in. So outside it’s a gas station, as soon as you walk in it’s nice and people wind up forgetting they are in Miami. The wines and woods make them feel like there are in a Tosca in Spain,” Fonseca said.

Lisa and Rick begin with tapas – a sharing plate called “Tableau de Carne” or meat plate. It’s filled with ribs, chicken pork chops and churrasco.

“It’s amazing,” said Rick.

“Really nice flavor and so tender” Lisa said.

When it was time to describe the sausage, Lisa asked for the camera to cut so she could chew her food, but Rick called her out.

“No cutting!  Every time I watch Lisa on Taste of the Town she is so delicate and she’s such a lady-like when she’s tasting food,” Rick joked.

“Yeah well, you haven’t seen the outtakes,” Petrillo said laughing

There were no outtakes for Lisa as she enjoyed the tender, delicious boiled and sautéed sliced octopus, or for Rick while he enjoyed his shrimp sautéed in garlic and butter.

“I love the garlic and oil and the fresh red pepper gives it heat. I like it. It’s great,” Rick said.

Their delicious lunch ended with a flaky puff pastry cake with layers of dulce de leche and a coffee with caramel that melts your heart.

El Carajo is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and brunch on weekends. The wine shop is opened 24 hours.

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For more info, visit www.el-carajo.com.

Lisa Petrillo