Story By: Erin Zollars
Photos By: Sol Tucker
I will be the first to admit, Bal Harbour has always been a favorite of mine to shop in Miami, but never really got into the dining vibe in this outdoor mall setting… that was until Aba Miami piqued my interest. We are no stranger to the Lettuce Group of restaurants, with RPM Italian just a short jaunt from our DC office, we were blown away with what they put into their other concepts such as Aba.
Aba Miami was created by Top Chef alum and chef-partner CJ Jacobson and executive partner Marc Jacobs, Aba’s menu showcases flavors from across the Mediterranean with influences from Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece. If you are looking for flavor this is your place. While I had never considered trying their other two locations in Chicago or Austin before this most recent trip to Miami, there may be plans to do so very soon after this dining experience.
The 250-seat restaurant keeps it smaller and intimate with the Mediterranean theme that includes olive trees, climbing ivy, and vintage lighting, including original Parisian streetlamps and gold Moroccan fixtures. An arched hallway connects both ends of the space, with textured walls and furniture made from leather, wicker, and teak. The two-story space features outdoor dining on both floors, with a second-floor mezzanine with its own bar and additional seating.
While it is hard to choose from so many of the amazing entree options, some of the recommendations from our server were on point with flavor explosions with every bite.
Highlights from the menu that are a “must try” include the Spicy Lamb Ragu Hummus, which is more than enough to have as an entree for one.
The house made STRACCIATELLA which consists of marinated tomato, sesame, challah crouton, Meyer lemon, basil. For those true Italian cheese lovers out there, the consistency of this one can’t be beat. It’s so fresh you may just want to take one home.
One main item that could be one of their best entrees is their SHAWARMA SPICED SKIRT STEAK which comes with watercress, horseradish labneh, black garlic mushroom jus. Add their warm pita and you will be blown away with how packed with flavor this one is.
Lastly, there were so many great dessert options that we tried two different ones. The HALVA with roasted grapes, Marcona almond, wonderful little date bar is an authentic Mediterranean option, but what really steals the show is the BOUGATSA. It is phyllo pastry, vanilla custard, cinnamon sugar streusel, orange blossom. When it arrives at the table, you are going to wonder how to eat this monster looking thing… But wait, says the server, as he breaks down the amazing phyllo and just a few seconds later, the messy custard pop in your mouth becomes the main attraction. By now, you will know why this Orange Blossom dessert treat is the best way they can include authentic parts of Florida in a dessert menu item that doesn’t in the words “Key Lime.”.
We were impressed by not how amazing the bar looked, but the number of amazing cocktails and wine list options from across the Mediterranean and Southern California. They also offer a ‘reserve’ cocktail list with higher-end pours, and plenty of zero-proof options.
This marks the first of two restaurants the popular group will bring to South Florida, with its RPM Italian concept slated to debut in Palm Beach in 2023. Lettuce Entertain You has opened more than 130 restaurants since 1971, like RPM Italian, M Burger, Shaw’s Crab House, Mon Ami Gabi, Beatrix, and more.
Aba Miami is located inside of the Bal Harbour Shops on the lower level just outside of Saks. The good thing about Aba is that many of their options are available for Lunch and dinner.
Monday – Friday
11:30AM – 4:00PM
Monday – Friday
4:00PM – 11:00PM
Saturday & Sunday
3:00PM – 11:00PM
Saturday & Sunday
11:30AM – 3:00PM
9700 Collins Avenue, Suite 101
Bal Harbour Shops
Bal Harbour, Florida 33154