One of the best things about Miami is the Cuban food! An addictive mix of Spanish, African, and Caribbean cuisines — fresh & flavorful, yet homey. Marvin Graaf’s “Miami Nights” menu hits all the highlights this July 22nd. With Jess’s magical tropical concoctions…

Alden Park’s “Miami Days & Nights” party is actually two parties on one day — with two entirely different food situations. Daytime offers a mini local food fest, with small bites from neighborhood restaurants & caterers. Then when the sun goes down, a Cuban feast comes out before us!

Marvin Graaf and his wife Jess (the duo behind Falls Taproom) have a whole menu of tempting party foods along with fruity drinks to keep the good vibes going:

MIAMI NIGHTS: THE MENU

Sandwich Cubano — Pulled pork, ham, swiss, mustard, pickle, club roll
Croquetas De Gambas
— Shrimp croquettes with smoked paprika & Bechamel
Platano Maduros con Queso — Sweet fried plantain with cheese
Maiz a la Parrilla — Grilled corn on the cob, lime, cilantro, mayo, paprika

COCKTAILS

Mojito — Miami’s famous mix of muddled mint and white rum
Havana Punch — Jess’ secret recipe of spicy rum and assorted fruit juices
Tropical Sangria — Just like regular sangria but made with ripe tropical fruit and real sunshine

We tracked Jess down on Facebook (where she advocates for animal rescue) for more details about this fabulous Cuban spread, which seems such a departure from the American/Italian specialties they serve in their restaurants. “We did have a Cuban sandwich on the Taproom menu at one point,” Jess reminded us, “And Marvin loves exploring different culinary styles, especially Cuban.”

Jess and Marvin really like Cuban food — in fact, Tierra Columbiana in North Philadelphia has been a favorite date night spot for them for almost 8 years! It’s Marvin’s favorite restaurant in the city. They’re serious about bringing authentic Cuban flavor to Miami Nights.

Jess & Marvin at Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange (Germantown) Photo Michael Klein/Philly.com

Favorite thing about Cuban food? For Marvin, it’s a comfort food. “Growing up in Hazelton, there were a lot of homestyle Latin American restaurants in my town,” he explained.

Jess added:  “Fried sweet plantains, fried sweet plantains, fried sweet plantains!”

While Marvin’s the food dude, Jess mixes up complementary cocktails that play off his flavors and add to the fun of the evening. Along with Miami’s traditional mojito and sangria, Jess has created a special rum-based “Havana Punch” just for the event.

An original recipe, Jess’ punch reflects traditional Caribbean and Cuban influences with a mix of tropical fruits plus spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

FYI, Jess has been designing yummy cocktails at Falls Taproom — where she & Marvin met back in 2010 — and later in their second restaurant, Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange, where her concoctions harmonize with a menu of country cuisine. She’s psyched to celebrate vibrant island flavors with her own South Beach spin.

With a menu so authentic, we had to ask: Any chance we’ll see you guys at the event in Miami Vice -wear?

“If you’re lucky,” Jess laughed, “But come out for the food & drink, and you’ll have a great time either way.”

SATURDAY JULY 22nd: Miami Days & Nights at Alden Park
FREE ADMISSION (pay as you go)
Noon – 5ish: Outdoor swim, vendors, classic cars, local bites
Evening: Music, cigar & rum pairings, and Cuban menu by a grand Art Deco pool (21+)
RSVP now to jump the check-in lines!

For more food/cocktails from Marv & Jess, check out their popular local restaurants:

Falls Taproom (3749 Midvale Ave, East Falls)
Pizzeria Nonna (5301 Germantown Ave, Germantown)
Grain Exchange (7152 Germantown Ave, Mt. Airy)
Gracie’s (17 Limekiln Pike, Glenside)