Babe’s Meat & Counter, located south on US1 in the Palmetto Bay neighborhood of Miami, has been a not-so-secret neighborhood treasure almost since it opened in 2018. While it is a full service butcher shop with fresh cuts of meat, sausages, and deli goods, their fame grew because of their sandwiches; more specifically Babe’s Burger, which is a fresh ground Prime and wagyu beef burger with American cheese, sriracha mayo, and in-house pickles. Yes, it’s one of the great burgers in Miami and you should have one.
They also have croquetas.
There are usually two kinds of Croquetas in Miami: the humble snack in every ventanita and Cuban restaurant in the city, and the fancy versions in bars and upscale restaurants with some kind of citrus mayo drizzled on top and a leafy herb that hopefully isn’t cilantro.
Then there’s the Babe’s Meat & Counter croqueta. It’s meaty, confrontational, and unconcerned with your approval. It’s the coolest person in the room and it does not care what you think. You just have to accept it for what it is.
But like all cool people, they act like they don’t care but they still like attention.
Babe’s croquetas get your attention first with their shape. Round croquetas aren’t unusual but they’re a statement. It’s like killing the most famous person in the movie 15 minutes in. You perk up in your seat and you know it won’t be the only surprise.
Among the surprises is the pungent tendrils of smoke that burrow into your nose as soon as you cut into it. Croquetas aren’t smokey but Babe’s has a blend of ham and bacon that’s been smoked in-house for the filling. This croqueta is a tempestuous lover that slaps you in the face before they seduce you.
Then you taste it.
The experience is much like nosing and drinking a peaty Scotch whisky, such as Laphroaig. It’s intense and dares you. Its delicious secrets are earned and revealed only to the curious and brave.
It’s almost too much. The perfect crunch gives way to an extended phenolic experience as you bite through the creamy filling with chewy bits of ham and bacon. It’s salty, mildly sweet, and you think the bacon overpowers it until you get a few bites in and the ham reasserts itself. The flavors linger and evolve as you swallow, never letting you forget its ashy origins.
You’ll need a sip of water.
You’ll also need a napkin for your tears and someone’s hand to hold. Sometimes you just need to be surprised. You need to be shaken from the ordinary and reminded that you are indeed alive.
It’s not for everybody but the best things aren’t.
Go to Babe’s Meat & Counter and rediscover your will to live.
Also, have the burger. It’s pretty good.