MIAReview

Some restaurants' entire fame revolves around childhood nostalgia. For those who grew up in South Miami, Swensen’s was one of those places. It was the sole Florida outpost of a San Francisco chain of old timey ice cream parlors. Besides the gargantuan sundaes, the most memorable thing about the old Swensen’s was that very ‘80s interior that reminded us of the set of Cheers—but filled with little leaguers, nervous high schoolers on dates, and the tenth birthday party crowd. But after a long run, Swensen’s finally closed—joining other bygone Miami childhood institutions like the good Parrot Jungle in Pinecrest and that really cool playground on Douglas Road that looked like a fort.

But Miami is the “Magic City,” and we never know when something will come back from the dead. So, we’re not too surprised that the old Swensen’s reopened under new ownership and a new name. We are surprised, though, that it not only retained all of its original character but is actually a lot better than ever.

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For starters—and before we get sued by the real Swensen’s—the new restaurant is called The One on Sunset. The new owners kept almost all the original design features from the old restaurant: the wood paneling and bar, the worn bentwood chairs, the tiffany lamps, and the gorgeous mosaic tile floor. But they also spruced things up by reupholstering the banquettes, covering the walls with botanical wallpaper, and implementing a very techy tablet ordering system that travels from table to table. They also refreshed the menu so that the food and drinks are now just as memorable as the ambiance.

Case in point: you can get a local craft beer, a pineapple cider, or a Mexican Fanta with your meal. You can share a plate of queso frito sticks with guava dipping sauce worthy of becoming Miami’s official appetizer. The burger section of the menu is where you should focus your attention, though. Even the most basic burger here is up there with Miami’s best—a thick chargrilled patty perfectly cooked to order. 

Finishing with ice cream is just as much a requirement as it was at Swensen’s. Especially because the ice cream is just a little bit better now and features some locally-inspired flavors, like coquito and guava cheesecake (both really good options). The massive sundaes are gone, which is just another sign that this place has grown up. But you can still get a more manageable one-person sundae or a proper banana split. 

For those who grew up on Swensen’s, visiting The One on Sunset feels like going back to a place as nostalgic as Chuck-E-Cheese—but with craft cocktails and Neapolitan pizza. The One on Sunset still delivers that lived-in charm that made its predecessor such a local institution. It’s just that now you’ll want to visit not just for nostalgia, but because the food is actually pretty damn good.


Food Rundown

Guava Cheese Sticks

This is basically queso frito fingers: deep-fried batons of fresh white chees with a sweet guava dipping sauce. The cheese is crispy, squeaky, salty, and creamy, and the guava dipping sauce is a perfect compliment. This is already an iconic Miami dish in our eyes.

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Latin Burger AKA Nica

This is the best burger to get here. It features a grilled patty (order it medium) topped with queso frito, fried sweet plantains, cabbage slaw, jalapeño cream, and a garlicky chimichurri. It may seem like overkill, but everything works together perfectly. The patty gives us the same smoky char as carne asada, so this burger is basically all the things we love about a fritanga between two buns.

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Ironman Burger

This burger is surprisingly delicious and not as much of a mess as it sounds like, although it is a knife-and-fork affair. In addition to the eight-ounce patty, it includes a puck of fried mac n’ cheese, bacon, cheese whiz, barbecue sauce, and another scoop of macaroni and cheese. The barbecue sauce really cuts through all the richness, and all together, this burger reminds us of a meatloaf TV dinner.

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305 Burger

This is the most Miami burger: two tostones, two croquetas, onion rings, and 305 Sauce (kind of like a spicy mayo). It’s a lot, but we’re pretty sure there’s a law against calling anything “305” that’s not super extra. But for something so over the top, it somehow avoids being too over the top (seriously, even an extra a fried egg would have killed this). It can get a little starchy and dense, so ask for extra 305 sauce.

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