photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
If you fancy yourself the kind of person who can make an accurate snap judgment of a restaurant from the passenger seat of a moving car simply based on the color and font choice of the restaurant’s sign, you’re going to have a tough time with QP Tapas.
To start, it doesn’t have a sign. Or at least, the sign is for MKT Kitchen, the casual grab-and-go lunch spot where QP pops up Thursday through Saturday. But also, the concept is a Spanish tapas/izakaya menu. And doesn’t that sound like the kind of ambitious idea that could easily go very wrong? Like that time you tried to fit a turkey and a ham in the oven for Thanksgiving and ended up ordering pizza.
Thankfully things don’t go horribly wrong at QP Tapas. They go beautifully right. And their excellent, unique dishes make this place one of the most welcome surprises in Miami right now.
The menu leans towards the Spanish side a bit more than the izakaya. Some of the best things here will make a lover of traditional tapas want to high five an anchovy. The pan con tomate is simple and delicious, especially with the optional boquerones laid overtop. There are plates of cheese and jamón ibérico you can eat with your fingers, as well as outstanding paellas that take up 80% of your table’s surface area.
On the izakaya side of the spectrum, there are Cool Ranch-dusted shishitos and charred lamb belly skewers glazed with fish sauce and a sweet date teriyaki. But, as much as we enjoy the creative small plates, to do this place right your meal should include one of QP’s two more straightforward large entrees: the okonomiyaki or paella, both of which are impressive enough to make even the most talkative table shut up for a moment of appreciation.
What’s going on at QP is not nonsense fusion either. The ingredients on the plate aren’t reluctant guests that’ve been dragged to a party they never wanted to go to. The flavors in the uni risotto, for example, are all in service of the same goal: to taste so good you want to laminate your receipt and sleep with it under your pillow.
Though QP is a bit limited in what they can do in a space that’s not technically theirs, this place is starting to feel more and more like a permanent restaurant. With each visit, the lights get a little dimmer, and the music a bit more optimally calibrated. Even the food, which started off great, is now somewhere north of great, in a land where adjectives get replaced with thankful grunts and little happy dances in between bites. Go ahead and see for yourself. But not from the window of a moving car. Put it in park, go inside, and don’t you dare skip the uni risotto.
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Pan Con Tomate
We probably don’t have to explain the joy a perfectly executed pan con tomate will bring to you. We will, however, urge you to go for the optional anchovy and boquerones add-ons with QP’s version of this dish.
This is one of our favorite dishes in the entire city, and it just makes sense too. It’s a bowl of creamy risotto with little pockets of uni scattered about. Some smoked trout roe and chopped scallions sprinkled overtop add texture. It’s not only stunningly delicious, but a perfect example of the kind of unique dishes that make eating here so exciting.
Charred Lamb Belly
We sometimes get a little nervous when we read the word “belly” on a menu, because it’s a cut of meat that can sometimes be overwhelmingly fatty. But not with these skewers. The salty fish sauce and sweet date teriyaki glaze balances out the richness of the lamb belly.
This savory pancake is filled up like a clown car with sour cabbage, eggs, and your choice of mushroom escabeche or chorizo (or, if you really want to go wild, both). Cut it up like a pie and it’s perfect to share with a couple friends or a pretty hungry date. Just know that the best bites are the crispy, caramelized edges. Share this information with your hungry date—or don’t, and have them all to yourself.