David and I spent a restful five days in Miami during early March. We stayed at the brand new St. Regis hotel in Bal Harbor, enjoying his accumulation of hotel points in the past year. We had the best time, relaxing, reading, and eating. Always my perfect trip. The folks at the St. Regis of course accommodated my GF diet and even had GF bread in one of their restaurants that they toasted for me for breakfast. (Unfortunately I didn’t learn about this until the last day.) One of my favorite meals was the quinoa salad at the pool restaurant. I ordered it with chicken in order to get some extra protein.
One night, David and I went to a Miami Heat game to see LeBron and Dwayne Wade in action. And of course, Duke alum, Shane Battier. We wanted to explore dining options closer to the arena so the concierge recommended Ola Restaurant. We called ahead to make reservations and they said that they could accommodate a gluten-free diner. Well, let me just say that this was an understatement. Ola had many delicious options for me and I didn’t feel restricted at all.
This Latin American cuisine restaurant, located in the Sanctuary Hotel in Miami Beach, is run by the internationally acclaimed Latin chef, Douglas Rodriguez. The restaurant is cozy and we received amazing service. Our waiter knew immediately what gluten was and he was well informed about what items on the menu are gluten free. Regardless of what you order, you should inquire about whether any items in the dish are fried because they do only use one fryer for both gluten and gluten-free items.
The meal started off with some of the most amazing bread I’ve ever eaten. It is called pan de bono and it is made with tapioca flour, sugar, eggs, and cheese. There might be some other ingredients but no gluten, at least not at Ola. It was incredible! The texture and the flavor were like nothing I’ve ever eaten before. I couldn’t stop at just one piece.
For my main course, I ordered the popular Panella Salmon, which is cured and seared, and is served with creamy quinoa, broken black olive vinaigrette, and jicama salad. The salmon has a nice sweetness to it that goes surprisingly well with the quinoa and black olives. The flavor combination was pretty amazing. I also couldn’t resist a side of the mashed plantains with bits of bacon. So good! David’s dish, Puerca Asado (braised pork), was also gluten free as long as you ask them to not serve it with the piece of fried pork. This slow cooked pork, served with steam yucca, was also packed with flavor, and tasted so different from my order. (David’s beer braised short rib empanadas, sadly, were not GF.)
Overall, we had a great gluten-free experience at Ola and had some of the best service I’ve ever received at a restaurant. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to splurge on a Latin-inspired dinner while vacationing in Miami. It is truly worth the price. Enjoy!