By Lisa Petrillo

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — In the mood for Mexican food? Not just any Mexican food. Upscale and delicious Mexican food can be found at Cantina La Veinte, a sprawling vibrant space on Brickell Avenue that seats 450 people.

It is clear that this is no ordinary Mexican restaurant.  The design is a splash of Mexican Art Deco. Sophisticated, colorful, with a vibrant bar inside and waterside views.

At the helm in the kitchen is Chef Santiago Gomez. He is a Mexican born chef who formally worked alongside James Beard winning Chef Daniel Boulud.

Both the restaurant and food are upscale and described as ‘glammed up’ by CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo.

“It’s not street tacos, the food is fancy,” said Lisa as she sat down with Chef Santiago.

“We wanted to show people that have a concept of Mexican food that it’s only street food and Mexico has a lot more to offer,” said Chef Santiago. “It’s a really nice place. All the art crafts are from Mexico, we wanted to bring a little piece of Mexico to Miami,” he explained.

Set in the heart of Brickell at the Icon Brickell, Chef Santiago is thrilled with the response they are getting in the 3 years it’s been open.

Its sister restaurant, Tacology, is just down the street at the Brickell City Center. The most popular drink at Cantina is the Jalapeño Margarita.

“They love it. They love Mexican food. Latin people love Mexican food American people love Mexican food and in this concept, you have a nice place, music, and bar. We have Piscos, tequila, people really enjoy it,” he said.

Chef Santiago put together an amazing ceviche style dish for Lisa called Vuelve La Vida, which means ‘Back To Life.’ It has crab, oysters, octopus, scallops and so much more.  It is known as the dish that cures a hangover.

“It’s all fresh seafood, you can taste the lime juice and it’s a little spicy from the jalapeño,” said Chef Santiago after tasting the dish with Lisa.

The word is fresh and the fact that you said it cures a hangover, I can have my Margarita and eat it, so it sounds like a plan,” said Lisa joking.

Of course, there is guacamole.

Chef Santiago prepares it in a traditional Mexican mixing bowl, putting in all of the important ingredients like jalapeños, onions, cilantro, and lime juice while making sure to leave it to a chunky perfection.

“The texture is so good,” said Lisa after a taste.

“I think it’s important to get chunks of avocado and not over blend it. With guacamole you need the parts of the avocado,” he explained.

Finally, he whipped up a crab taco where fresh blue crab is topped with cilantro crema, pickled corn, and a Mexican aged cheese.

“Right away it’s the freshness of the crab and its warm and it’s soft and then the crunch,” described Lisa.

“Yes,” said Chef Santiago. “You taste the main ingredient, the crab first and then the cilantro. It gives it a nice flavor at the end.”

Cantina La Veinte is open 7 days a week from 12pm-12am. Brunch on Sundays and ladies night is on Wednesdays.

Click here for more information.

Lisa Petrillo

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