OLA, the Miami Beach mainstay that served creative latin cuisine at the Sanctuary Hotel for fourteen years, until it was damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017, has just reopened at the Gates Hotel after moving around for a few years. Always a happening place at the Sanctuary, the restaurant hopes to continue its success with a new executive chef, Chris Castro.
OLA was created by Douglas Rodriguez, one of the chefs of the ‘mango gang’ era of Miami cookery, when a uniquely Miamian cuisine was emerging. The ‘mango gang’ was a group of Miami chefs that invented a creative local and modern cuisine in the 1980s and 1990s. The food is based on the ingredients and flavors of the many, mostly latin, cultures that have permeated Miami. Still true to its mango gang roots, OLA is known for dishes like seared ahi tuna skewered like popsicles on sugar cane sticks and fish tacos with malanga shells.
Remember when the restaurant Yuca, on Lincoln Road, was really hot? That was the mango gang. That was actually because of Rodriguez, who helmed Yuca before starting up OLA. Other mango gang members included chefs like Norman Van Aken, and Mark Militello.