Downtown Miami and the Brickell financial district are full of traditional power lunch spots like Capital Grille, Morton’s and Perricone’s, where the power elite have been congregating for decades.
Now some fresh and more casual eateries are springing up to appeal to the next generation of power lunchers. One such place is OTC, which opened a year ago at 1250 S. Miami Ave.
You will see young professionals in suits, but you won’t see a white tablecloth or a steak on the lunch menu.
Designed by chef Jacob Anaya, formerly of Azul, the menu is modern American featuring inventive dishes like frito pie with chipotle chicken thigh, cheddar cheese and tomato-avocado salsa served atop a Frito’s bag, craft beer fish and chips, lamb belly sliders and a truffle steak frite wrap. The menu changes frequently to keep it fresh.
The ambience, too, is anything but “stuffed shirt,” with mason jar napkin holders atop the outdoor wooden tables, a chalkboard displaying the extensive craft beer selection, sleek wooden floors and brick walls.
Owner Michael Sullivan first looked around Wynwood when he decided to open his first Miami restaurant but ultimately decided on the Brickell corridor “for the crowd we wanted to go for,” explained manager Vincent Cubillas.
“There are a lot of young professionals,” he said. “It’s a very up-and-coming neighborhood. With all these big buildings being completed, we wanted to be here.”
The place started as an over-the-counter joint—hence the acronym—at first, with diners placing orders at the counter, getting numbers and picking up their food when called.
But then Anaya—who was recently asked to cook for the James Beard Foundation—came aboard, and it was clear the place was destined to be more. However, the name OTC stuck.
Weekend brunches and happy hour are the busiest time at OTC (look for Miami Heat players Dwyane Wade and Shane Battier, two regulars), but power lunch is definitely on the upswing. On a recent Tuesday, I saw nearly a dozen lawyers, bankers and real estate developers, including four associates from Lydecker Diaz. One was Brett Schlacter, who lunches at OTC several times a week.
“The owner constantly keeps innovating and creating great selections on the menu,” he said. “The gourmet food, fresh seafood and vast beer selection is what has led to OTC’s success.”
Schlacter lunched with associates Daniel Smith, Alex Tirado and Geoff Cowen. Their selections included the truffle steak wrap, which is prepared with carmelized shallots and grilled radicchio and served with fries and truffle mayonnaise.
The steak wrap was a hit with Eric Amat, senior adviser at Sperry Van Ness. He was lunching at OTC with Craig Thompson, an associate at Berger Singerman.
“I go there because it makes sense to meet with bankers and lawyers in the area whether from downtown or Brickell,” Amat said. “It’s very convenient. I go there about once a week.”
In addition to the steak wrap, Amat also enjoys the beer-batter fish sandwich prepared with cod, Asian pear cabbage salad, pickled cucumber and spicy mayo.
“There is a younger vibe that is definitely there,” he said. “The more established vibe is Perricone’s.”
Thompson, for his part, is at OTC about once a week.
“The menu is great, they’re always changing things and trying out new things. It’s relatively quick. There’s a good price point, and the food’s always good,” he said.
At another outdoor table sat J. Christian LaCapra, vice president of wealth management at Northern Trust, and Eli Stiers, a partner at the Aronovitz Law Firm.
LaCapra was celebrating Hurricanes and Dolphins wins with an orange tie, orange socks and a craft beer while he waited for his lunch partner to arrive. Later, he ordered the OTC signature burger made with fontina cheese, tempura beef cheeks and tomato jam. He pronounced the burger “excellent.”
“When I’m closing a really big deal, I go to the Capital Grille,” he said. “But for a more casual atmosphere, it’s OTC. Especially at this time of year in Miami, it’s nice to sit outside. Plus they have some tasty food.”
The young, hip vibe appeals to foodie Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, a partner at Duane Morris, who encouraged her law firm to throw its annual Christmas party there. They took over the restaurant, putting all the tables together. Office manager Francisco Maldonado, who is from Puerto Rico, ordered Puerto Rican cookies from Carla’s Sweets in San Juan and put them in red Chinese boxes to hand to guests as they departed.
“Our staff and lawyers love a really good holiday party,” Rodriguez-Taseff said. “We refuse to do the run-of-the-mill desiccated chicken dinner in the office conference room. The challenge is to keep to our budget and do something really special. That’s why we chose OTC—great food, great ambience and reasonable prices. Plus, we love the idea of supporting young local chefs who love what they do and use local ingredients creatively.”
They ended their meal with the chef’s noteworthy beignets filled with dulce de leche and served with strawberry milk.