Bored Cuban may be Miami’s first NFT-inspired fast-casual restaurant, but you don’t need to know what an NFT is to line up for its playful and creative Latin cuisine.
Which is a plus, since most of us still don’t understand what an NFT is.
The new Cuban bakery and café is the creation of owner Eric Castellanos, who with his wife Kali also owns the popular Latin Cafe 2000 brand. Latin Cafe 2000 has three locations, one in Brickell, another in Hialeah and one right next to Bored Cuban on 42nd Avenue south of Miami International Airport.
Castellanos wanted to create a fresh, fun concept that was different from Latin Cafe, one that would serve a new audience yet still blend in elements of his Cuban background.
“Latin Cafe is traditional,” he says. “This place is more outside the box, a casual, fun concept.”
He also wanted to share his passion for NFT digital art through the brand. Inspired by the Bored Ape NFT collection, a series of digital artwork of an extremely bored-looking ape in various guises, Castellanos came up with the name Bored Cuban for the restaurant, envisioning the bored ape NFT he owns as a kind of mascot for the business.
Thus you will see images of Manolo, an ape wearing a guayabera and smoking a cigar, above the restaurant’s entrance and on the merchandise inside. Manolo is the NFT, a Non-Fungible Token that represents a one-of-a-kind digital asset or unique piece of artwork.
In keeping with the light-hearted nature of the concept, Castellanos enlisted Kali, who put together the famous and colorful Cafetera Sky at the Brickell Latin Cafe 2000, and his children Ale, 14, and Nico, 13, to test the menu and help design the merchandise. Creating the details of the brand was a real family affair, he said.
“We actually developed a junior advisory council, and they’re the leads,” he says of his kids. “They’ve been in on every tasting, every design of the plush toys, the socks, the tumblers and water bottles. Their cousins and friends came for tastings, too, and they’ve given their approval. It’s really been a fun project for the whole family to do.”
For the menu, Castellanos wanted food that diners couldn’t find at Latin Cafe 2000, which features more traditional Cuban fare like ropa vieja, vaca frita, lechon asado and a variety of pressed and grilled sandwiches.
You can find the brand’s famous croquetas at Bored Cuban, but just about everything else is different. Bored Cuban focuses on a grab-and-go style, although you can eat in the colorful dining room, too. It’s the sort of place you eat when you want a quick cafecito or are pressed for time. Castellanos expects a robust delivery service, too.
The empanadas are baked at Bored Cuban, not fried as they are at Latin Cafe. There are coffee and baked goods, including monkey bread and banana nut bread (both in keeping with the ape theme). One of the highlights is a Cuban-style pop tart made with guava, cream cheese and topped with a condensed milk icing that will simultaneously trigger nostalgia and remind you how much better homemade is.
Another highlight are the pixas, a play on the word “pizza” as spoken in the Miami accent. (Miami has an accent. We will not argue about this.) The Cuban-inspired flatbreads offer traditional flavors with a twist: the Cubano features the ingredients of a Cuban sandwich with ham, roasted pork, cheese, pickles and a homemade mustard sauce, while the Lechon features grilled shredded pork in mojo sauce atop chimichurri sauce with diced sweet plantains and mozzarella cheese.
There’s also a delicious vaca frita pixa with grilled shredded beef, onion mojo and sweet plantains on cilantro aoili. You can even build your own pixa if you want to get creative. And if you want to make your co-workers happy, stop in and pick up the Bored Combo in a box, a sort of Happy Meal for grown ups with a sandwich, plantain chips and a soft drink.
Because of the location, Castellanos expects a fair amount of traffic from curious tourists heading to and from the airport. Latin Cafe 2000 is already a destination for many travelers, and he’s hoping Bored Cuban lures them as well with easy to-go food and last-minute gifts (branded espresso cups, coffee beans, T shirts, hoodies among them).
“That’s why we put it by the airport,” Kali Castellanos says. “The NFT thing is so huge in Asia and the Middle East.”
Of course, Castellanos understands most customers will be lured by food, not because they’re obsessed with NFTs. Those immersed in the world of cryptocurrency will get it; everybody else can relish the pixas and the pop tarts.
“A lot of people won’t get it,” he admits. “But they’ll think the ape is super fun and cute and that he’s just our mascot.”
Where: 831 NW 42nd Ave., Miami
Opening: Feb. 15
Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily