If you yearn for the vibe and excitement of Miami, there’s no need to drive 90 miles south. Simply pay a visit to Casa Caña in Tequesta’s Gallery Square North, a new concept by Seamus and Dennis O’Brien. “The restaurant is designed as a throwback to 1960s Miami, during a time in history that was less complicated and more relaxed,” says Seamus. “It recalls an era when people would drive down from the Northeast for a winter vacation. The atmosphere will evoke nostalgia for some of our older guests, while our younger clientele should enjoy the retro feel.”
The decor features pastel hues and Art Deco touches, with comfortable couches, a pink concrete bar, and graffiti on the walls. Male servers wear Hawaiian shirts, while females don Cuban skirts. A massive wood-burning brick oven dominates the room, providing an interactive experience for diners. For many visitors, the restaurant will bring back the glory days of Miami Beach, when Muhammad Ali trained at the 5th St. Gym and Jackie Gleason broadcasted his Christmas special live from the Miami Beach Auditorium (now known as the Fillmore Miami Beach).
If the O’Brien brothers sound familiar, you probably know them for their popular Bagel Boyz restaurant in Jupiter. In fact, the new Tequesta location is two concepts in one: It functions as a Bagel Boyz shop for breakfast and lunch, with the bagels first boiled and then finished in the brick oven; at night, the space turns into Casa Caña, and the oven is used for cooking ribs, crusted fish, and steaks. Dennis supervises the kitchen, while Seamus handles the marketing and management.
The menu is underscored by a blend of traditional Florida dishes augmented with a Latin flair. Appetizers include a trio of ceviche, fish dip made from smoked grouper cheeks, wood-fired rum pineapple wings, and a pork belly tostada. The brick oven functions as an Argentine asado, roasting chicken, fish, and a churrasco-style filet mignon, and the chef turns out an authentic version of New Orleans gumbo. The cocktail list contains Latin-inspired riffs on classic cocktails (think a paloma made with mezcal, a Dulce Maria with Brugal 1888 Dominican rum, or an El Presidente with a base of Havana Club añejo).
The O’Briens take pride in using local purveyors in every phase of the operation, starting with the kitchen (Kai-Kai Farm, Bush Brothers, and New England Wholesale Fish & Lobster) and continuing to the dining room (Barista Creamery) and behind the bar (Steel Tie Spirits, Lost Harbour Spirits, and Black Coral Rum).
Casa Caña features live music on the weekends and is focused on what Seamus calls a “fun-centered” approach. “We felt that Tequesta didn’t really have an upscale lounge where people could come after work or go out on a date night,” he says. “Hopefully, we’ll be a laid-back gathering spot for locals.” 377 Tequesta Drive, Jupiter