Amara at Paraiso

Michael Schwartz, James Beard award-winning chef, created Amara at Paraiso with Miami’s eclectic and vibrant culture in mind. Schwartz masterfully crafted a menu that manages to intertwine Miami’s Latin American flavor with coastal ingredients and South Florida favorites. Even the atmosphere is exactly what you would expect and desire from a Miami restaurant: a superb waterfront view that overlooks Biscayne Bay, tall, proud palm trees that make you feel right at home, light Spanish music humming through the speakers, intimate lighting with candles on every table, and a bubble chandelier that works as a playful and elegant centerpiece.

The deck is lovely for a seat by the water, but even sitting inside provides a fantastic view thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows, as my guest and I soon found out when we took our seats. As I glanced at the menu to order a drink, I was delightfully surprised to discover that they offered something most restaurants don’t: fresh juice and agua frescas (beverages made from fruits, seeds, flowers, & more). I ordered the Hibiscus Agua Fresca, which had pink peppercorn, agave, and lime that gave it a powerful, tangy taste with quite the punch. Purple Corn and Tamarind Agua Frescas, as well as fresh sugarcane, limeade, pineapple, or grapefruit juices, are also on the menu, for additional juicy temptations!

Deciding to start off with Amara’s “Snacks” section turned out to be a great idea…The Yuca Cheese Puffs were everything I hoped for and more, as I bit into the crunchy, salty, parmesan cheese coated exterior to reveal a soft and warm interior of yuca goodness. My boyfriend decided to ask for a side of chimichurri sauce, which only enhanced the flavor of the delectable bites as we dipped them in; a recommended move. The Corn & Leek Empanada was an additional mouthwatering choice; I don’t eat beef or pork so the Short Rib Empanada wasn’t an option for me, but this more than made up for the meat’s absence. The crispy empanada was fried to perfection, and the roasted poblano, mozzarella, smoked paprika aioli, and corn all contributed with their own unique flavors, amounting to a slightly spicy, soft, and scrumptious appetizer.

As much as I wanted to keep trying out Amara’s exquisite snacking menu, I decided it was time to go big or go home. I ordered the Grilled Atlantic Shrimp, which came with four huge prawns, covered in spicy fresno chile paste, cilantro, and lime. I was clearly addicted to the salty, juicy meat of the prawns, as I kept going back for more even though the spice was almost too much to handle! I also went for the Banana Leaf Wrapped Cobia as my main course, which came with pickled vegetables, mashed yuca, coconut pesto, and grilled lime. I squeezed the blackened lime all over the fish, unwrapped it from the banana leaf, and dug in! The mashed yuca, combined with the fresh, delicate fish sent me into a state of bliss as sweet and salty combined. With so many bold flavors at Amara, your taste buds are in for a journey! Schwartz couldn’t have embodied Miami through his cuisine any better. The 305 should be proud!

3101 N.E. 7TH AVE., MIAMI |

By Aaliyah Pasols