A Miami Taco Place is Crowned Number One
Uptown 66 in Miami's MiMo neighborhood wins Good Morning America's nationwide search for the best taco
After a lengthy search throughout the United States, a tiny Miami restaurant has been found to have the best tacos in the country.
Uptown 66, a Mexican restaurant in Miami’s MiMo neighborhood won the Good Morning America (GMA) “Ultimate Taco Spot” competition last Friday. The competition visited Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, and Miami. The winners from each city were flown to GMA’s New York City studios for a final showdown last Friday, September 1.
Uptown 66’s chef/partner, Nuno Grullon aced the on-air competition, winning a cool $20,000 in the process.
Grullon confides he almost didn’t even know about the competition since a GMA producer reached out to an old email address. “I normally don’t even check that email, but every once in a while I go through it.” Grullon, who usually declines reality shows, decided to call the producer back. “I had a conversation and it seemed like a fun competition and they decided to have me compete,” he adds. Grullon easily won the first local round, held in Miami Beach, and was flown to New York City for the finals.
Grullon says that he was ready for a tough competition, so he came prepared with his recipe for birria tacos, a rich taco made with a blend of short rib, beef cheek, and oxtail. Grullon braises the meat with Mexican chilies for 16-20 hours before adding to a homemade tortilla with a cheese blend. He then sears the taco on the grill with the chili oil fat rendered from the cooking process. The tacos are served with the rich broth from the slow-cooked meat.
And, although Grullon says he was confident in his tacos, winning was still a shock. “I was a little confused. Your mind goes a little blank. Everyone is telling you to smile and I just thought, oh my God, this is amazing. I didn’t have many words to say.
Grullon says Uptown 66’s birria tacos are a top seller, and that he doesn’t skimp on the quality of the ingredients. “I use beef cheek because it’s a delicious piece of meat and it cooks down well. Oxtail is something I grew up eating — it’s fatty, it’s soft, and it falls right off the bone.”
I’ve been to Uptown 66 several times and it’s one of Miami’s best deals. To say the menu is concise would be an understatement — Uptown 66 offers a single-page menu of tacos, elote, nachos, burritos, and a few other items. Take your tacos and a cold beer out back, where an old tree provides shade for your meal. The restaurant is solid proof that you can get a delicious and authentic meal for under twenty bucks in Miami.
Grullon plans to open a second restaurant about a mile up the road from Uptown 66.
Grand Central will open in late September, focusing on burgers. The restaurant opens in a small but charmed location. It was home to Cake Thai — a small 30-seat restaurant that was home to some of the best Thai food in Miami before the chef decided to move back to Thailand to further his culinary education. Grullon says he’s looking forward to his burgers in a city he says is ripe with potential. “Michelin is in Miami, [Lionel] Messi is in Miami and I’m happy to be part of the city’s growth.”