Miami Café offers authentic Caribbean cuisine

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

For years, Luis Delgado’s friends and family members continually pushed him to exit the automotive industry and share his culinary skills with those in the Birmingham metropolitan area.

Through his part-time catering business, Delgado, an Alabaster resident, gave a select few a taste of his authentic Caribbean cooking, and heard nothing but rave reviews of his edible offerings, he said.

“My friends kept on saying ‘Man, you really need to open up a restaurant,’” he said.

As the years went on, Delgado began thinking more seriously about making cooking a full-time pursuit, and began attending Jefferson State Community College, where he later graduated with a degree in culinary arts.

And about eight weeks ago, Delgado began putting his degree to work in a small restaurant in Alabaster.

Tucked away inside the BP gas station near the intersection of Alabama 119 and Butler Road, the Miami Café offers a one-of-a-kind eating experience Delgado said can’t be found anywhere else in the state.

“We really just got going. Everything we have been doing up to this point has been word-of-mouth,” Delgado said. “Everything we do is all home-cooking. I’m a chef, and I cook everything right here.”

Despite its relatively small location, the Miami Café offers everything from chicken wings to Cuban sandwiches and empanadas. Nearly everything on the menu is prepared with a Cuban or Caribbean flair.

“Without a doubt, we have the best chicken salad in the state,” Delgado said, noting the restaurant recently began local delivery of orders more than $25.

Delgado said his word-of-mouth advertising strategy has brought many new faces into the restaurant, but he said he is hoping to overcome the “stigma” of sharing a building with a convenience store.

“We try to be really active with our customers on Facebook. Some of them have even said ‘I was kind of hesitant to come eat in a gas station, but once I walked in and met you and tasted the food, I was amazed,’” Delgado said. “I just need an opportunity to meet people and let them try my food.

“I kind of feel like we are in the same boat as Fox Valley,” Delgado added, noting the Fox Valley restaurant in Maylene also adjoins a gas station.

Delgado said business has been steady since he opened the restaurant, but he is looking for more regular customers to help him support and eventually expand the restaurant.

“If it gets better, we will definitely be moving into a bigger building,” he said, noting he would like to stay in Alabaster.

The Miami Café is located at 8079 Alabama 119 in Alabaster, and is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and is open from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Fridays. For more information about the restaurant, visit Facebook.com and search for “Miami Cafe.”