Motek in Coral Gables offers mouth-watering Mediterranean cuisine

Hummus and Pita, served with tahini, pine nuts and olive oil at Motek in Coral Gables.

When freshly baked pita bread with cracked sea salt arrived to my table accompanied by creamy hummus decorated with olive oil, tahini and pine nuts, I knew I was in for a treat. This meal is one of the many Mediterranean dishes that Motek offers at its new Coral Gables location.

Motek officially opened on Thursday, March 23. With its Downtown Miami and Aventura locations already teeming with customers, it’s no surprise that this new location would be full of foodies eager to try the kosher-style cuisine. Motek’s food is a testament to the outpouring of love and support for the chain.

When I popped in for Sunday brunch, the new spot was bustling with eager customers. Located right on Miracle Mile, I was instantly drawn to the bright decor. The outdoor seating was perfectly staged beneath a vibrant yellow and white striped awning. A beautiful arch of white, purple and yellow flowers decorated the entrance, inviting me into the dining room.

I was seated at a table next to the open windows, making it a hybrid indoor-outdoor experience. The yellow decor and greenery from outside carried right into the indoor dining room. At the center of it all was a 360 degree wrap-around bar dressed with golden glass holders and accent pieces.

All of these elements, along with the open kitchen in the back, made for an extremely pleasant atmosphere. Those looking for a more private dining experience, however, might be bothered by the close proximity to surrounding tables and conversations.

Glancing at the menus, my friend and I became overwhelmed with all of the unfamiliar Mediterranean offerings. I asked what our waiter would recommend, to which he suggested their Shakshuka ($18) and Israeli Breakfast ($20) for brunch.

Though I ended up googling what mezzes, or “appetizers,” were because I was unfamiliar with the language, I would have appreciated more opportunities to ask questions and better understand all of their offerings.

My friend and I decided to order the Hummus Tahina ($13), which is served with tahini, olive oil, pine nuts and s’chug (a middle eastern spicy condiment). I was stunned at the large size of the pita bread served with it. Between two people, we couldn’t finish all of it, so it was definitely worth the price.

The Shakshuka with eggs served in a spicy tomato sauce and a loaf of challah at Motek in Coral Gables.
The Shakshuka with eggs served in a spicy tomato sauce and a loaf of challah at Motek in Coral Gables.

The hummus had a nice nutty flavor from the pine nuts, earthiness from the olive oil and tahini and a bit of spice from the herby s’chug. It was delicious, and we ended up spreading it on our main courses when they were brought out.

For my main meal, I decided to try the Shakshuka recommended by our server. The meal consisted of three eggs served in a spicy tomato sauce with tahini and a whole loaf of challah bread on the side. I feared for my stomach’s capacity. I had never tried anything like this before, but I can say that it was divine.

The tomato sauce wasn’t too spicy and reminded me of an Italian pasta sauce. Somehow, the beautifully cooked eggs paired well with everything, creating mouth watering bites over the chewy challah. I highly recommend this dish.

My friend ordered the Salmon Skewers ($16). She let me try a bite of salmon, which had a nice crispy outside and fluffy inside. Though served over a bed of greens with a charred lemon, it would have been bland without the hummus we spread on it. I would recommend ordering this over other dishes, though it wasn’t a highlight of their offerings.

At this point, I was so full that I couldn’t stand to eat another bite. The desserts that I saw looked incredible, with Babka Bread Pudding ($14), Pistachio Cream Baklava ($8) and Chocolate Rugelach ($3) being a few in the lineup. Next time I visit, I’ll save room to taste them.

I can’t recommend the food here enough. Motek is a brunch, lunch and dinner restaurant suitable for all ages. I don’t think there is a bad menu item, and I want to come back and try options like the Shish Kebabs, Shawarma and Tzatziki. My only concern is the slow service, which hopefully will improve as it settles into the Gables.

Motek Coral Gables is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Reservations are accepted through OpenTable or over the phone.