A graffitied warehouse sits across the street. A 24-hour nightclub is just around the corner. But keep walking down North Miami Avenue, and you just might stumble into New York City — for the length of a meal, anyway.
From its odd name to its New York vibe, Downtown Miami’s Persian/French bistro Fooq’s is wholly inspired by David Foulquier, the restaurant’s owner and founder.
“I’m Persian and French, so my whole life, Americans would butcher my last name,” he laughed. “Growing up, people would just call me ‘Fooqs,’ It was really catchy and easy so the name just kind of stuck. Now to me, it just feels really homey.”
Despite opening on a Friday the 13th, Fooq’s had nothing but good luck. With a focus on using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, the restaurant has had a steady stream of customers since it opened eight months ago.
The menu changes every four to six weeks, based on whichever ingredients are fresh and available locally. This philosophy is inspired by Foulquier’s summers in France. “I was introduced to food by my grandmother, who would take me to the market with her. Every morning, we’d go to the butcher shop, the cheese guy, etc. I learned to buy food that way — to really look for the best,” he added.
While some items remain a staple on the menu, like the Fooq’s burger, the fish of the day changes every day based on the freshest catch. Currently, Foulquier’s favorite menu item is the bouillabaisse, a traditional Provencal seafood stew including delicate clams, daily fish, saffron, fennel, potatoes, and aioli.
Foulquier is also trying to introduce more Persian items into the menu. “We have this amazing Persian lamb, which is whole roasted and braised with a harissa hummus on the bottom. It also comes with tzatziki and garbanzo beans,” he said.
But this restaurant is more than just about food for Foulquier. “I’ve always been a bit of a social butterfly, so this restaurant has really been a vehicle for me to meet new people and make new friends. The best part is that the people I work with, my servers and my cooks, we’re one big family,” he said.
With a thriving restaurant in a unique Downtown location, Foulquier is also interested in reframing the narrative surrounding the neighborhood.
“There’s something real and blue collar going down in this neighborhood, and that’s really cool,” he sad. “My community is very special. This neighborhood reminds me a little bit of what the Bowery or Meatpacking district in New York was.”
With The Corner, always a late night favorite, just next door, Foulquier is hoping to “clean up the block a little bit,” while still embracing the historic feel of Downtown. “The owner of The Corner is one of my best friends. We have a symbiotic relationship, and are hoping to bring an underground feel to the neighborhood.”
From using locally grown products to partnering with neighboring businesses, cultivating community has been important to Foulquier since opening the restaurant.
“This whole restaurant is rooted in making food that tastes good more than anything. … But I also want to be a positive force to make food that benefits the community,” he said.
Fooq’s is located at 1035 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33136