Earlier this month, restaurateurs Julian Medina and Meghan Manzi announced they will be opening their first restaurant in Florida. The two, who also worked together to open their Mexico City-style taqueria, La Chula, in Manhattan, say they chose Codina Partners’ 250-acre mixed-use development in Doral to bring their latest endeavor to Miami.
Slated for mid-2023, the as-yet-unnamed restaurant will add to the space’s growing roster of establishments that includes Bachour Doral, Bulla Gastrobar, Dragonfly Izakaya & Fish Market, Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar, and Barbakoa by Finka at the Doral Yard.
Medina says the move to Miami came after Codina Partners founders Armando Codina and Ana-Marie Codina Barwick dined in his New York City establishment when it reopened after a pandemic-induced hiatus.
“They invited me to come to Doral and see their project, and it was a no-brainer,” Medina says. “I never thought I would come to Florida, but the more we talked, it made me feel this was the right move. It already feels like home.”
The restaurant will be located in the heart of Codina Partners’ Downtown Doral project, a large-scale mixed-use development that, when complete, will be home to 70 shops and restaurants, a bustling business district, and more than 5,000 residential units.
“We have been selecting top chefs from around the country, as well as locally, to curate the most authentic culinary experiences for our patrons at Downtown Doral,” Codina Partners CEO Ana-Marie Codina Barlick tells New Times. “Julian’s cuisine meshes perfectly with our vision of culture and commerce.”
The menu at Medina’s tenth establishment will present the chef’s take on coastal Mexican cuisine and pay homage to his family’s recipes.
Best known as the chef-owner of NYC establishments Toloache, Coppelia, Tacuba Mexican Cantina, La Chula Taqueria, El Fish Shack, and Kuxé, Medina has been creating refined Mexican cuisine for more than 20 years.
Raised in Mexico City, the chef first found inspiration in his father’s and grandfather’s authentic home cooking. After training professionally in Mexico City, Medina arrived in New York City to take on the role of chef de cuisine at chef Richard Sandoval’s Maya.
While maintaining his position at Maya, Medina enrolled in the French Culinary Institute — but he never forgot his roots.
“When I was growing up in Mexico, the holidays were the best time of year, when I’d take a trip to the beach in Acapulco with my father and grandfather. My grandfather loved this seafood shack where you’d go in the back, pick your own fish, and they’d butterfly it, barbecue it, and serve it with salsa and corn tortillas to make your own fish tacos. From the moment I stepped into the space in Doral, I knew immediately I wanted to re-create that experience in Florida.”
In August 2007, Medina opened his first solo venture, Toloache Bistro Mexicano, offering his take on modern Mexican cruising. The restaurant is famed for its guacamole bar, where the chef prepares his father’s recipe.
Medina went on to launch additional concepts including his 24-hour Cuban diner, Coppelia, in 2011; several locations for Tacuba Mexican Cantina, his authentic Mexican bar and restaurant; La Chula, his take on the taqueria; El Fish Shack, serving New England-style seafood; and Kuxé, offering Mexican fare.
With his first-ever restaurant outside New York City, Medina says, he hopes to offer a refined take on cocina de pueblo — homestyle Mexican cooking. Many dishes will be his take on his forebears’ recipes.
The indoor dining space will be adorned with live palm trees, while an indoor/outdoor bar takes advantage of a generous patio area that will have access to the project’s parklike courtyard.
Expect to find a curated selection of the chef’s signature NYC staples served alongside coastal dishes, tacos, and family meals inspired by his childhood. The restaurant will also feature a dedicated ceviche and guacamole bar.
“Think fried snapper flavored with an adobo chili rub, and a relaxed environment meant to transport you to the shores of Acapulco, just like my childhood memories,” Medina promises.