Monica "Mika" Leon
The Chef behind the Magic
Many will say Miami Native Monica “Mika” Leon and founder of Caja Caliente, was born to be in the culinary world! Leon began her journey with food in 2012 in her early 20’s.. Soon after graduating with a degree in Public Relations from Gainesville, she sought out to commence her career in the big apple. New York City surprisingly brought her back to her family roots. Surrounded by so many different cultures and immense food scene, she was instantly inspired to soul search and dive into exploring her family history in the culinary world.
After migrating to Spain from Cuba in the ’60s, Leon’s grandfather opened a chain of Cuban restaurants ran by him and their family in the ’70s. As they sometimes say history repeats itself, and Monica “Mika” Leon did not fight the want imbedded in her bloodline.
Shortly after gaining knowledge on her family’s past, and moving back to Miami, she began dabbling into cooking. Leon, began her first business at 21, Mika Bites, a catering company where she baked empanada and pastries. Fast forward 5 years Leon, went full throttle and merged her passion for food, cooking, and family, creating the perfect career for herself, this was the inception of Caja Caliente, as Leon opened with her first restaurant via food truck in April of 2016.
The first Caja Caliente Truck
A tiny little truck serving up tacos on a 2-foot grill. Mika slowly expanded to opening right next door in a larger food truck with an outdoor seating setup ready to serve the masses. Creating The Original Cuban Tacos ™, all tacos are made with the freshest ingredients, where quality and quantity go hand in hand. It’s safe to say it’s not your average taco with over 4 oz of protein in each serving. In addition to their signature tacos, the eatery features reinvented family recipes, passed down over four decades. All the dishes are made with love by Leon and her mother, surrounded by cousins, uncles, and friends that work with her at Caja Caliente. It’s a family-run business and Leon wouldn’t have it any other way. In 2019, Leon brought her Cuban tacos and fan favorites dishes to Coral Gables, now her second location and first brick and mortar establishment. Caja Caliente Coral Gables has quickly become a local favorite serving up for lunch, happy hour, dinner and late-night bites.
The success of Caja Caliente has shined local and nationwide limelight for the young entrepreneur currently 29 years old. Caja Caliente and Leon, have been featured on Miami Magazine, Miami New Times, Thrillist, Eater as America’s Young Guns semi-finalist, The Food Network’s, Guy’s Grocery Store Games, and most recently on Beat Bobby Flay launching Sept 2019. Monica “Mika” Leon’s passion for the culinary world is just beginning to come to fruition with plans to continue to open new concepts in the near future!