Home Food How Bad Bunny Does Bad Bunny’s Miami Restaurant Really Feel?

How Bad Bunny Does Bad Bunny’s Miami Restaurant Really Feel?

by TopBusinessView

I realized the moment I stepped up to Gekko’s velvet rope that I was not dressed the part. I would describe my outfit as work-from-home schlubby, pieced together to brave weeknight Miami traffic. The patrons lingering outside Gekko were sleek, chic, ring light-ready, and likely on their first stop of a full night out. As I waited under the siren-red awning, I heard someone talking to their friend as they walked by: “Oh, that’s Bad Bunny’s restaurant.” The draw of experiencing incontestable, international superstar musician Bad Bunny’s first restaurant was, admittedly, the reason I’d made a 9 p.m. reservation and driven 45 miles across town on a Thursday night. My friend, a Miami Beach resident and more appropriately dressed dining companion, had time to throw me one judgy once-over before we were ushered inside.

For a late reservation on a weeknight, the restaurant was loud and bustling. Gekko’s decor features an eight-foot-long mural of a dragon over the bar, an overabundance of gold motif throughout the space, mood lighting in an ambient red glow, and a menu that, when I visited, included a bone-in ribeye steak for $1,200. Located in Brickell City Centre, the area surrounding Gekko is known to many South Floridians as after-school loitering grounds for bougie private-school-attending teenagers and a shopping haunt for even bougier tourists.   

As a self-identified super-fan, I needed to know: Would I feel connected to Bad Bunny as I dined at Gekko? Would his cheeky playfulness and personality somehow shine through on this menu? As a business venture, restaurants make plenty of sense as a partnership for the rich and famous. But what do we—as customers and fans—get out of flashy, celebrity-backed restaurants?

The dishes at Gekko are flashy and eye-catching.Photograph by Libby Volgyes

The plush, jewel-toned, velvet-enveloped Japanese steakhouse, was opened in mid-2022 by Groot Hospitality—the Miami-based restaurant group known for big-name clubs like LIV and Story, and other celebrity-backed restaurants like Strawberry Moon (a collaboration with Pharrel Williams). The draw of restaurants like Gekko is, at least in part, the pursuit of celebrity-crafted menus. The idea that by eating, say, Wagyu dumplings and octopus tacos, you’re growing closer to the vision of your favorite artist. I hoped to have at least a taste of that feeling.

We started the night with saccharine $19 cocktails—the “Summer Without You” (an English translation of a Bad Bunny album) for me and the “Truk Lagoon” for my friend. A $120 steak was lit aflame tableside in a blazing plea to be posted on our Instagram stories, and lobster fried rice with just a whisper of funky XO sauce ($42) was good but as my friend quipped, “I could get better at Yummy House.” As a generally meat-reluctant person, I insisted on ordering at least one veggie side, but the sticky-sweet eggplant just didn’t do it for us. We ended the meal with a dulce de leche lava cake that our jovial server recommended. The “lava” in question made a beige, buttery, tooth-rottingly sweet puddle on the plate. We were too stuffed and overindulged to sop it up. 

While Bad Bunny has publicly declared his love of the Wagyu crispy rice and A5 Tomahawk at Gekko, his impact was otherwise hard to pin down as we ate our way through the menu. The dishes were definitely flashy and made us do a double-take as they were brought out. Whole fried snapper, coiled and perched on its belly ($72), butter-doused milk bread with crackly nori ($16), and minimalist platters of sushi were on heavy rotation at the surrounding tables, crammed so close together that we were almost shoulder-to-shoulder with other diners. The food at Gekko was dramatic—and listen, we had a good time!—but ultimately, in the context of all the exciting, innovative, food that Miami has to offer, mostly just fine. Plus, the bill we racked up had me sweating as it quickly exceeded the budget I’d discussed with my editor.

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