MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Chef Michael Beltran is living out his childhood dream at his newly opened diner and inside, he’s whipping up Cuban inspired dishes with a delicious twist.

With seating inside and out, Coconut Grove’s “Chug’s” is a quaint eatery serving up Cuban inspired dishes that cover breakfast, like these homemade pastelitos by ‘Pastelito Papi,’ to lunch and dinner.

Homemade Pastelito from Chug’s Cuban diner. (CBS4)

Even the name dates back to his childhood.

“Chug’s is my nickname. It came from my second day of high school and I was drinking a chocolate milk chug and I was late to class,” Beltran said.

Throughout his career, Beltran has worked with some of the best chefs in the business and in 2016, he opened up his own charming restaurant called “Ariete.”

It was named Best Restaurant in Coconut Grove by the Miami New Times.

With Chug’s, he wanted a neighborhood spot where people could come and get anything at any time.

“A big part of our motto here is really good, honest food, done with a small twist, that people could visit daily for their coffee, pastelito, sandwich and come back for dinner,” he said.

Beltran said Chug’s is a neighborhood spot located in just the right neighborhood.

“I feel like the Grove has a small town vibe in a big city,” said Beltran “The community here is super strong.”

While piling on salami back in the kitchen, chef prepared CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo a tasting menu which begins with his take on a Cuban sandwich.

Chug’s take on the Cuban sandwich. (CBS4)

“There’s a Cuban sandwich and there is our version of the Cuban sandwich, that way there’s no controversy,” Beltran said. “Lots of Miami Cubans will fight you on the fact we are putting salami and not roasted pork.”

It also has cornichons, Gouda cheese and house-made country pate, all inside a sour dough bread bowl that’s pressed warm.

“The cheese has the perfect texture with the creamy feel. This is dangerously good,” said Petrillo.

“I’m all about dangerously good, that should be my middle name,” said Beltran.

They taste a ‘Frita,’ a Cuban hamburger made with a 50/50 blend of beef and chorizo, with top secret ingredients and topped with crispy potatoes.

The Chug’s ‘Frita’ is a hamburger made from a 50/50 blend of beef and chorizo. (CBS4)

“It’s a harmonious bite,” said Beltran.

Finally, there’s ‘Abuela’s Plate.’

It changes daily. This time, it’s braised oxtail, black beans, rice and a banana!

Abuela’s Plate from Chug’s changes every day, but this time, it was braised oxtail, rice, black beans and a banana. (CBS4)

“My grandmother always served everything with a banana,” he said.

Chug’s is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Learn more about Chug’s and check out its menu here.

Lisa Petrillo

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