Restaurant Reviews

The Only Thing Better Than the Food at Tap Tap -- the Music

taptapband.jpg

Tap Tap's house band.

It’s sort of a shame that the most popular Haitian restaurant in Miami is in South Beach rather than, say, Little Haiti. But Moped Whitey’s fear of an unknown ‘hood isn’t the only reason -- although it probably helps -- for Tap Tap’s (819 Fifth Street, Miami Beach; 305-672-2898) claim to that title. It’s gotta be one of the tastiest, most unique establishments in Miami.

Every wall is covered with a colorful, sometimes eerie, mural -- the type you’d expect to see painted on an alleyway in Haiti. And embedded throughout the restaurant are little artful Santeria shrines, adorned with strangely personal items like a woman’s ballet slippers. It’s not something you’d expect in a restaurant -- and neither is the giant painting of Black Baby Jesus.

And the food is damn good -- reasonably priced, large-portioned, simple dishes prepared to perfection. Among the winners were the grouper in lime sauce and the fried pork chunks, which confirmed that high-falutin’ dish names are for chefs with something to hide.

The kicker is the Tap Tap Band, which played a mix of jazz and Haitian folk. A guitarist and bassist were led by a saxophonist, and the latter, as a friend aptly pointed out, didn’t go for that mournful-wailing-on-a-bridge-during-sunset sound that’s plagued his instrument ever since Kenny G laid his hands on one. His funky, short-note playing was more James Brown back-up band than Bill Clinton. Stuffed into a small space among tables, and playing lively, jam-heavy songs, Tap Tap easily transcends the “background music” vibe that your average house band lends itself too.

If you’re planning a trip to Tap Tap, aim for Thursday or Saturday night, when the band plays.

-- Gus Garcia-Roberts

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Jose D. Duran has been the associate web editor of Miami New Times since 2008. He's the voice and strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's music, entertainment, and cultural scenes since 2006, previously through sites such as MiamiNights.com and OnBeat.com. He earned his BS in journalism with a minor in art history from the University of Florida. He's a South Florida native and will be a Miami resident as long as climate change permits and the temperature doesn't drop below 60 degrees.
Contact: Jose D. Duran