On the weekend, it is a safe bet to assume that something delicious is happening behind Boxelder. Your options differ with the time and day. Come on a Saturday morning and you’ll find a swarm of hungry people pairing a morning beer with the hands-down best bagel in the city. The Friday happy hour crowd will probably be queuing up for an insanely tasty fried chicken sandwich. Still hungry? Stick around for the dessert tricycle serving cafe con leche pie on a stick. It’s all been a happy accident, really, but this Wynwood beer bar has become an unlikely incubator for some of the city’s most exciting new food concepts.
“These last few months have really kind of snowballed,” Boxelder co-owner Adam Darnell says. It happened slowly. When the bar first opened in 2014, they used food trucks. But a lot of those proved unreliable and underwhelming. Then last March, for the bar’s anniversary party, Darnell’s close friend Steve Santana (the culinary mind behind Taquiza) wanted to serve fried chicken sandwiches. They sold like crazy and eventually turned into a permanent concept called Super Good Chicken. “We were kind of caught off guard by how successful it was,” Darnell remembers.
Next, friend Matteson Koche approached with a concept he’d been fine-tuning: El Bagel. Darnell liked that one so much he decided to open the bar three hours earlier on Saturday so they could start serving at 10am. El Bagel’s smash-success residency has been going on for over a year now and shows no signs of slowing down.
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Recently two more exciting new concepts have won spots in the Boxelder backyard—one is Tricycle. The pop-up dessert cart is run by Devin Braddock and Danny Serfer. Braddock is the pastry chef at popular Miami spots Mignonette and Blue Collar, and Serfer is the chef. It took almost no time for their dessert cart—with its rainbow cake, stuffed cookies and impaled pie—to gain the kind of buzz most brick-and-mortar places pay very good money to try and attain.
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The newest member of the Boxelder food family is Michael Ombia’s United States Burger Service. Ombia is serving—in case you couldn’t guess—burgers. “Mikey approached us two weeks ago,” Darnell says. “He came by and was like, ‘Are you into this?’”
The response? “Hell yeah.”
“He grinds his meat the day of. He bakes his potato rolls the morning of. It’s all super high-quality and if someone approaches us with that sort of mindset, we’re all for it.”
For Boxelder, the unforeseen role of Miami culinary incubator has no doubt been symbiotic. When people have good food, they stay longer, drink more beer and come back the next week to do it again. That’s part of the reason Darnell charges none of them any sort of fee. It’s also just plain nice to watch creative friends try out new, interesting things. There are hardly any places in Miami where fresh culinary talent can do that without needing to take out a second mortgage on their home.
“It’s weird, because normally when you think of an incubator, you think of a kitchen. But we don’t have a kitchen,” Darnell says. “We love good food and we have a lot of younger chef friends. We need food and we have this group of people who want to try out concepts and take a shot at it.”
- Super Good Chicken, Friday at 5pm
- El Bagel, Saturday at 10am
- Tricycle, Friday at 8pm
- United States Burger Service, Saturday in the evening (specific hours to come)
- Masa Craft, last Sunday of the month
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