One of Miami’s Most iconic historical districts, MiMo, now has a new gem by the Mandolin Group inside the landmark Vagabond hotel. For those familiar with Mandolin Aegean Bistro, you’ll agree that the Mediterranean oasis is easily one of Miami’s most solid and welcoming eateries, every bit as great as when it first opened. When Mrs Mandolin followed suit, we weren’t surprised by its equally charming location, and now you’ll get the same feeling at their newest endeavor: Gregory’s Diner. Stepping inside any of their establishments, you’ll understand that the hospitality group is about creating soulful experiences, weaving their personal stories into the energy of the space.
Ten years ago, owners Ahmet Erkaya and Anastasia Koutsioukis settled in the MiMo District as they worked to open their first Miami outpost. Over the years, Mandolin became the home for expanding their community, with members part of the team since the beginning. At Gregory’s, they have given their long-time neighborhood a home for connection, where food is the catalyst for bringing family together. A vintage photograph of the eatery’s namesake, Anastasia’s own grandfather who emigrated from Greece to start a business of his own, welcomes you as you walk in. Gregory’s is a culmination of a whole team’s idea of the “American Dream.” The phrase, “it takes a village” surely comes to mind.
The restaurant lets everything we love about Old Florida shine. Oranges and tchotchkes collected by Anastasia herself line the walls, preserving the all-American diner feel inside, with a European bistro ambiance outside. The dining room is flooded with light and bustling with the sounds of an open kitchen. A communal table and a divisional planter box by Plant the Future serve as focal points to this elevated-style diner. The consistency of Mandolin is definitely there: a warm and welcoming approach to hospitality, the indoor/outdoor nature of the space, and a charming and low-key vibe with simple yet comforting food.
The Vagabond Hotel originally opened in the 50s where classic characters like Frank Sinatra were regulars when they came to town. Start your visit to Gregory’s with a cocktail at the pool bar, an extension of Miami’s Golden Era from the Mandolin Group. The entire space is a smooth, tropical transition from the bistro-fueled energy of the restaurant with a limited, more pool-friendly menu. Both bars feature a mixology collaboration with Chris Hudnall of Downtown’s Lost Boy, plus local beers on tap. Regulars and even staff are from the direct area, each person experiencing the neighborhood’s change together and Gregory’s now being the perfect watering hole for those mutual discussions.
From the matching polos to the roomy booths, the diner energy is definitely there, while the menu itself pulls from the different styles that diners come in: Greek, American, Polish diners, and even the Jewish deli. Here, it’s the food you crave and if we know anything, Miami craves community and Gregory’s Diner has it in droves. You can have everything from a cheeseburger and a milkshake to oysters and champagne without sacrificing comfort or a dent in your bank account. At Gregory’s they’re bridging the gap between big diners and intimate, everyday bistros. Both of these restaurant styles are usually something that hits the spot, comforting items that haven’t really changed since they first began.
The menu is as versatile as the space itself, with an all-day breakfast; a selection of sandwiches, pasta, and European-inspired mains; and incorporates today’s lighter eating habits featuring a more veggie-centric way of life. It’s a highly researched menu based on what they felt would be right for the space and the area. While it features items that are classic and traditional, it’s nowhere near literal. No twists and tricks, just thoughtful, personal, high-level cuisine–something that Miami is nostalgic for. They’re making the menu relevant again, and reconnecting to the food on your plate. It’s the mindful dining experience we all need.
We started with, you guessed it, a selection of cocktails like the refreshing Watermelon Paloma, the mouth-watering Oaxacan Daisy, and the soothing Sassafras Manhattan. And while we dug into starters like tuna-stuffed piquillo peppers, crudités, and a beff tartar, we realized that they’re preserving more than just a dining tradition or a historical hotel restaurant, they’re preserving the eating culture in general. A towering turkey club with Proper Bacon, a colorful crab salad, and a chicken cutlet sandwich with refreshing homemade slaw all followed close behind. We had the succulent pork shoulder with glazed carrots and green beans next, finishing off with an assortment of pies we all agreed we’d be happy to come back solely for.
If there’s anything other than a full belly you should leave Gregory’s with it’s the reminder that you don’t have to eat at a white glove establishment to experience what true hospitality feels like.
Photos by Kevin Arrieta for VACO Studio.