Food halls are over, you say? Hold my cocktail, Shoma Bazaar answers.
The county’s newest food hall, on Northwest 41th Street in Doral, makes a different kind of proposition to South Florida diners: It wants to be destination for a night out.
Shoma does this by making this food hall more than a food court, which is what many others have devolved into, a place that tries to attract the daily, weekday lunch crowd with an approachable (often still too expensive) price point.
Shoma Bazaar doesn’t do that.
Gold chandeliers, marble counters, low-slung leather banquets and club-like Latin music come together with murals and architectural woodwork to make Shoma easily the sleekest looking food hall in South Florida. On weekend nights, there’s a DJ or live music.
It has a vibe. It has a lounging area. It has a curving, wraparound bar with backlit golden fixtures that exude a kind of style you don’t get at a quick-bite, daily food hall like Alton Food Hall, where Popeye’s is one of the options.
There’s no fast food here. And it’s not inexpensive.
With a handful of exceptions — such as an $11 personal pizza from Ash Pizza — most dishes will run in the $15-$18 range. You will pay $9 for boba tea at Poke MIA, and $30 for short rib ramen at In Ramen. But what you get in return is food that is done well, as good as you would expect at a sit-down restaurant at that price point. And you have plenty of options among 16 vendors, including decadent desserts and coffee that is roasted on site.
We tried a couple of the more interesting spots, including a pair of food hall offshoots of full-service restaurants.
Start with the sea
Opposite the sleek cocktail bar is Ella’s Oyster Bar, which started life as a full-service restaurant on Southwest Eighth Street in Little Havana.
Ella’s closed during the pandemic and reappeared in Doral, reimagined with a semicircular bar that serves everything from fresh oysters of the day to a clam bake for two.
Our half dozen briny oysters came ice cold with a side of tangy mignonette. Crab croquettes were fish-finger shaped but crisp and meaty. The conch fritters were padded with batter and light on meat. But the dish to order are the roasted oysters, ours the Miami-Orleans with Old Bay and “blackening sofrito.”
Ramen to share
We lamented Miami’s trend toward $20 ramen until we came across the $30 short rib ramen at In Ramen, an offshoot of the South Miami restaurant. The bowl is generous and the noodles, hand-pulled throughout the day, are meaty in a flavorful and rich broth. The mammoth hunks of short rib are tough to eat from the end of chopsticks like a Youth Fair turkey leg. The better and more affordable choice might be the $19 mushroom ramen, though any ramen choice is easily enough to share.
The pan-Asian menu includes “Asian tapas,” which span Hong Kong-style har gow steamed dumplings to Cantonese char siu buns. Our pork belly and short rib buns, served on lotus leaf style gua bao buns, were hearty servings worth ordering again.
Cuban-ish with a side of Mexican
Long established in Little Havana, Doce Provisions is a surprise on the west side of town. So too are the Mexican influences at the Shoma variety, which differentiate it from its Cuban-American influences on 12th Street.
El Gobernador de Miami is a generous order of shrimp tacos, served inside birria-like fried shells. The masa de puerco arroz chino is a spin on Latin-style Chinese fried rice with decadent amounts of pork.
And the vaca frita tostones are a misnomer, since it is served on half-ripe plantains with a meat that is less fried, shredded beef like vaca frita should be and more of a ropa vieja. The sweet-and-savory combination goes well even if the dish is confused.
Coffee and a sweet finish
The aroma of fresh roasted coffee isn’t your imagination.
Tintto by Trubutto roasts its direct-imported, single-origin Colombian coffee onsite. The owners beg you to try it without sugar, and if you’re a coffee aficionado, you should follow their advice.
Any sweet you need can come from the sweet-not-savory pandebono, which here are stuffed with key lime custard or Nutella. Order two. You’ll be fighting over the last bite of Key lime pandebono.
If we’re back to the days of sharing plates, Shoma is the place to do it. Many of the vendors’ dishes feel designed to share space with one another at the high tops or lower tables with comfortable rattan love seats.
Who is Shoma Bazaar for? I could see it as an upscale, after-work meeting place that’s equidistant from most places in Miami-Dade County.
Do people want to have a night out at a food hall in Doral? I’m not sure. But Shoma Bazaar is betting a lot on it.
Shoma Bazaar food hall
Address: 9420 NW 41st St., Doral
Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday; 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday; 7 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday. Bakery/Café opens at 6:30 a.m. daily for takeout
More information: shomabazaar.com
This story was originally published July 18, 2022 6:00 AM.