In 2023, Venezuelan-born executive chef Carlos Garcia entered the kitchen at Leku to discover that meat was king of the restaurant. Situated at the Rubell Museum in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood, it was inspired by the cuisine of Spain’s Basque region but heavily reliant on pork, steak, and other meats, serving diners specialties such as suckling pig.

Even though Leku was recommended by the Michelin Guide in 2022, the restaurant is transforming to reflect Basque cuisine better. A new focus on seafood, which is indicative of the Basque region, and an emphasis on fresh produce is reflected in the reworked name, Leku Fish & Garden.

While restaurants are known to change their menus regularly, overhauling your inventory is a significant challenge. At Leku, the shift fits Garcia’s skills. Before the executive chef opened his Caracas restaurant Alto, which remained on the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list for Latin America for multiple years, he worked at three of the most famous Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain: Mugaritz—a Basque restaurant in San Sebastian—El Celler de Can Roca, and El Bulli.

Garcia has been passionate about sourcing the best fish and produce, as seafood dishes have long been his favorite. “I’m very excited,” he stated. In Venezuela, I worked with a lot of producers. Knowing where everything is coming from is special to me. That’s the only way to have the best products. And chefs need to know because customers want to know.”

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According to China Grill Management restauranteur Jeffrey Chodorow, who works with his business partner Terry Zarikian and Garcia managing the restaurant, the evolution resulted from “a perfect storm.” Chodorow likened this storm to Garcia’s interests and skill, diners’ health-consciousness nowadays, and the fact that Miami needs a fine-dining seafood spot.

“I’ve always had this thing for fish. When you think about Miami, we don’t have a lot of great fish restaurants. When I go to San Sebastian in the Basque region, which I go to quite often, the number one thing I eat is seafood.” Chodorow continued, “Their seafood is so good and so fresh. You see the fishermen coming off the boat and walking up the hill to the restaurant with the fish. It’s all about fresh.”

Zarikian agrees, saying, “We’re going to give everybody a chance to eat healthier, which is the way Basque people do.”

From smaller plates to conserve (high-end canned seafood like sardines, scallops, squid, and more) to sophisticated vegetable plates, the new menu covers a lot of ground. Vegetable plates include the dazzling Coliflor de Colores, purple, green, and orange cauliflower, fresh and dehydrated tomatoes, pistachio pesto, spinach, mint, and basil.

Small plates include the striking tartar de Vieira, Hokkaido scallops tartar served with Tobiko caviar, creamy scallops topped with a salty bite, green apple, and crispy onions, and iridescent bites of uni. As for seafood dishes, Leku is set to include arroz de pescadores (fishermen’s rice with fish, clam, muscles, chive, and shrimp), cod confit, and turbot in garlic sauce.

Leku has kept some items on the menus, such as its suckling pig and wagyu picanha, but has also added an oxtail stew and chicken dish for diners who prefer meat. The renewed restaurant will also retain the Basque cheesecake.

“No restaurant in the world has survived without making changes,” Zarif Kan stated. Change is good. You can’t stand still. You always have to make positive changes. Otherwise, it gets boring.”