With its balmy coastal breeze and year-round sunshine, Miami’s a fertile breeding ground for Mediterranean restaurants. In the last couple of years alone we’ve gained swoon-worthy new spots like Doya in Wynwood, the Drexel and Layla in Miami Beach, Motek in Downtown, El Turco in Buena Vista and Neya in Surfside, among others.
Perhaps none has been more highly anticipated than Aba, which opens today inside the Bal Harbour Shops. The original Aba hails from Chicago’s trendy Fulton Market neighborhood, where crowds flock to the dreamy rooftop terrace to indulge in a variety of herbaceous cocktails, sustainable wines and small plates like short rib hummus, whipped feta and black garlic shrimp scampi.
After a repeat success in Austin’s SoCo district, prolific Chicago-based restaurateurs Lettuce Entertain You chose Miami to open its third Aba restaurant. Located on the ground floor and mezzanine level of the upscale Bal Harbour Shops, Aba Miami is the group’s first South Florida location.
“It means a lot to me to open our first location in Florida in a place like Bal Harbour Shops that was special to me growing up," says Lettuce Entertain You Presidenct R.J. Melman, who will also open a new RPM Italian in West Palm Beach later this year. "The energy of the South Florida dining scene is incredible and we look forward to being a part of it with Aba.”
Known for presenting a lighter style of Mediterranean cooking with influences from Israel, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece, Aba’s Miami menu will include dishes like a carrot and sunflower dip prepared with sunflower tahini; the Everything Jerusalem Bagel topped with smoked salmon spread, hamachi and charred avocado; and a shawarma spiced skirt steak in a black garlic mushroom jus.
But just as important to Aba’s success as the food has been each of the restaurants’ impeccable design, which so far has managed to effortlessly evoke lavish, laidback summers on the Med. For the 250-seat Miami location, Aba incorporates natural textures and warm, luxurious patinas throughout, from mature olive trees and climbing vines to Parisian street lamps, gold Moroccan fixtures and arched doorways.
French-style windows invite the breeze to flow indoors from the outdoor terrace, and a mezzanine-level bar upstairs makes for the perfect outdoor perch to enjoy Aba’s bright, refreshing drinks like the Aloe? It’s Me (a spicy mezcal cocktail made with green juice and aloe) or the Watermelon G&T.
Aba is located at the Bal Harbour Shops at 9700 Collins Ave, Suite 101, Bal Harbour 33154. The restaurant will be open daily for dinner from 4–11 pm, with weekday lunch and weekend brunch coming later this month. Reserve via exploretok.com.