Kukaramakara: Great Band, Good Food, Arrogant Doormen
As a Colombian-American born and raised in Miami who lived in Bogota at the age of 15, I developed an early appreciation for aguardiente, the Colombian liquor which translates to firewater.
Colombians are not as uptight as Americans, so I was allowed to drink it with uncles and cousins during weekend parties as my aunts attempted to teach me how to dance cumbia.
And it made sense considering my family would always take care of me when I got so drunk that I would pass out in my own vomit.
So when I celebrated my 43rd birthday last September at Kukaramakara, a Colombian restaurant/nightclub in Brickell, I wasted no time in ordering a bottle of aguardiente.
After all, my days of throwing up are long gone. And my cumbia moves? Well, they get better when I drink aguardiente.
However, Kukaramakera is not about the cumbia. It’s all about the Rock en Espanol. Rock sung in Spanish, which is very popular in Colombia and other Latin American countries. Just think Shakira before she went mainstream.
And they opened one up in downtown Miami a few years ago, only for them to shut it down and reopen again this year in Brickell.
Before it was just a nightclub. Now it is a nightclub with restaurant that is open for lunch and dinner with the band taking the stage after midnight.
If you like Latin music, culture or people, you will enjoy this place. You’ll especially like it if you like hot Latin women. This place is filled with them.
But you might to endure a wait at the door from arrogant doormen.
On my birthday, they treated us excellent. I had a party of about 40 people and I couldn’t have asked for better service and treatment.
They made my birthday memorable and enjoyable and I’ll always be grateful for that.
But they knew I was going to write an article about the place and that, of course, can change the way they treat you.
I also went to Kuka a second time to join a birthday party of a friend who works at Kuka and I also had a great time.
It’s a shame because Kuka has great potential to be a lasting establishment for Miami’s Latin American population, especially the surging South American population in Brickell.
The house band is excellent. They can liven up any crowd, whether the crowd indulges in aguardiente or not. They are that good.
And the food is good. They serve a mixture of Italian and Colombian and I’ve only tried the Colombian and it was solid Colombian fare, especially la picada, which is a sampler plate of different Colombian meats, chicken and sausages. The perfect complement to a bottle of aguardiente.
And the crowd, mostly South Americans in their 20s, are all having a great time – once they get past the velvet ropes.
I just wonder how long the crowd will continue to put up with the arrogant attitude, which is worse than you get on South Beach.
South Beach at least allows the sexy girls in while treating groups of men as peons. The goal of South Beach clubs is to pack the place with sexy, single females, which will entail the men to pay exorbitant prices for bottle service.
Besides, nobody really wants that South Beach attitude on Brickell. It’s one reason why many locals are flocking to Brickell over South Beach to live and to play.
Kuka is obviously attempting to emulate that notorious South Beach attitude because the Kuka clubs in Colombia treat their customers much better. In fact, customer service is general is much in Colombia than in Miami, so maybe it’s to be expected.
However, Colombians have a tendency to take things to the extreme. My people are very passionate and proud. It runs through my blood too, so I get it. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it all the way.
So maybe that’s their thinking in creating such a snobbish, arrogant atmosphere at the door, which if you read Yelp, also transcends to the bartenders.
But having grown up in a Colombian family and having many Colombian American friends, I know they won’t put up with that attitude for long.
My friend, Kathy Villalba, who was born and raised in Miami to Colombian parents and who visits Colombia on a regular basis, really enjoys the atmosphere at Kuka but can’t stand the attitude at the door.
“The food is great and the band is awesome,” said Villalba, who was featured in my female fantasy football article.
“I think the rudeness from the door guys is unnecessary though.”
Villalba likes Kuka enough to go back, but now she knows that the secret is to get there before 10 p.m. before they turn arrogant at the door. They also start charging a $10 cover at around 10:30 p.m., which is reasonable because you’re paying for the band.
“After 10 p.m., the guy at the door turns into a jerk and makes people wait outside so a crowd is formed to garner attention.
“Twice I waited about 20 minutes, got frustrated and left.”
Photos and video by Carlos Miller
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"Kukaramakara: Great Band, Good Food, Arrogant Doormen"