Prism Tastes: EDUKOS
June 7, 2017Pola Bunster
Everything about Edukos evokes a sense of discovery. From its off-the-beaten path location, to the personalized decor on the walls, and its familiar yet exotic menu. Even the name means “learning or discovering together.” And togetherness is what the new Venezuelan-American tavern is all about. The whole idea behind being a true “neighborhood spot” means not only providing a welcoming atmosphere where everyone can enjoy the shared connection with food, but a platform for embarking on that journey of discovery together.
There’s an openness at Edukos that they’ve really indulged. Through their food and the friendship between staff, and their implicit move to not have a television in sight–promoting human to human connection at every turn. What makes the Little Havana tavern so friendly is that you can physically see the traces of the people who have helped it come to life. From owner John Guilarte’s odes to family members lost and loved, to the local collaborations with Miami brewers and Wynwood Sign Co. who painted the interactive stories and inspirational quotes on the walls.
But that’s really what Edukos is: a peep into Guilarte’s own life. Both as a Venezuelan immigrant moving through an American society, and one filled with love and connection for the people that surrounded him along the way. Edukos, its menu, and even its intimate atmosphere are all a physical manifestation of his story and he’s inviting us all to play a part along the ride. So you start at the bar, which is a recreation of his mother’s kitchen and taste intricately crafted cocktails or local drafts that teeter on the edge of adventurous.
As you stand at the bar, you take a look around at the bustling room that surrounds you. You notice a story unfolding on the walls, as a cartoon explorer makes its way around the restaurant and eventually onto the menu before you. The paired decor gives hints of Guilarte’s past experiences, from going to FSU, to old family photos, no one will feel like they’re dining alone there…because isn’t life a journey that everyone goes through together?
Everything about the place exudes thoughtfulness down to the very way they eliminate waste by recycling and shrinking their footprint by having a no printed receipts policy. Check the size of your glasses as you sip your suggested beer pairing, they’ve been chosen specifically for their drinkability and easy holding. Even the surrounding air temperature is a key player in making you feel constantly at ease. It feels like home away from home where everything is just right.
The menu, a selection of American-infused Venezuelan specialties, feels like a friend or family member made it with love specifically for you. Jump on the boat to familiarity and get introduced to new places and flavors at your soon-to-be pre or post baseball game spot. Like life, the menu constantly revolves so you never really know what you’re going to expect at Edukos, but know you’ll definitely love it.
We started with some bubbly cocktails on what Guilarte calls his “Middle School Mixology” style, another inclination as to how all-encompassing his menu is: no one gets left out and everyone has a place at the table. The light, earthy, and crisp “Maria Luisa” is named after his late aunt–it’s been a while since we experienced a place so simultaneously comforting and profound.
We then moved on to the arepitas and the bar was set high. Julio’s Dumplings, named after the chef leading the helm behind the counter, ooze with the flavors of pabellon and aji de gallina. The Seminole Stack alligator sliders, developed by the chef after eating the adventurous protein for the first time, are mini masterpieces–even if they are an ode to Guilarte’s garnet and gold alma mater. Rounding out the mains with their Hallaca, a twist on a holiday classic wrapped like the gift of a plate that it is, is an execution of his grandmother’s recipe with a side of family nostalgia. Hit up the Cafe Brulee for dessert, which is vegan by the way.
Although the spot has been open for nearly a month now, Guilarte’s understanding of his own heritage and story is what makes the place feel so veteran and experienced. Some people go for the things that they want, and others are born poised to execute them to perfection. If you want to know what it looks like to see a dream developed into charming reality, head there for your next dinner. You’re in for a happy discovery and you’ll leave feeling as though you’ve made a few friends along the way.
Photos by: FujiFilm Girl.