Spike Mendelsohn's Sunny's
Is Always Sunny
Photograph courtesy The Hall
For restaurateur and chef Spike Mendelsohn, when the opportunity to come to open a new restaurant in Miami, a casual cafe with beach-eats was a natural choice. The Montreal-born chef was raised in Clearwater Beach, Florida and is an avid surfer who has extensively traveled to notable surf towns across the globe, “I always loved eating beachside with a snack vibe,” he says. The resulting eatery is Sunny’s – located in recently-opened hotel The Hall along a stretch of bustling Collins Avenue in South Beach.
Here, the influence of the relaxed beach bar is felt throughout the space as diners order at the bar, food is served in red baskets, and seating is mostly outdoors. The menu is heavily influenced by flavors from famous surf towns in places like Mexico, Hawaii and Florida and is ideal for breakfast or lunch, though it is served all-day.
In between his busy schedule, we managed to ask Chef Spike a few questions about his newest spot.
Spike Mendelsohn, Chef
You named the restaurant after you grandfather Sunny - what was his influence on you?
My grandfather was the patriarch of our restaurant family in Montreal. He was always my role model and my everything.
You are an avid surfer, where was your best pre or post-surf beach eats?
Definitely has to be Uluwatu in Bali and the meal is chicken in a bag.
What are some of the beach towns that served as inspiration and what dishes are inspired by them?
Three towns that come to mind first are Paia, Hawaii, Narragansett, Rhode Island, and Clearwater Beach in Florida. They all have beaches in common and a food reference. The grouper reuben is from inspired from Florida, Poke from Hawaii, chicken in a bag from [the aforementioned] Bali, and the lobster roll from Rhode Island.
You had some fun with names for dishes, what was that process of coming up with the menu for Sunny’s?
Really it's a trial and error kinda thing but mostly it was sitting around with the crew having some drinks and coming up with names that people could have fun with.
There is a large section of the menu dedicated to fresh juices, do you have one you particularly like - with or without booze?
I like the tropical storm carrot juice!! Depending on my mood I'll spike it or not.
Have you ever done a juice cleanse?
Yes I have done a juice cleanse, the experience left me starving but it's nice to detox the body every once in a while.
What is the best Miami souvenir?
For some, I would say a hangover that leaves you forgetting what your whole weekend entailed – sometimes for the best. For me, since I don't drink much, I'll settle for a coffee mug.
When Chef is not cooking at Sunny's, he eats at these local spots.
Roasters & Toasters - Breakfast
Lure Fishbar - Bites
Puerto Sagua - Cuban Food
Alongside dishes like Aloha Tacos and Sunny’s Smokehouse Burger, there is a full-service squeezed-to-order juice bar where $6 extra will add a little booze to your juice. In addition to Sunny's, Chef Spike has collaborated with The Hall to serve up cocktails at Holiday's and backyard bites at Campton Yard, opening soon.
Sunny's at The Hall
1500 Collins Avenue