There's no denying it: Wynwood is becoming a food mecca. Turn back the clock a decade, though, and there was virtually nowhere to grab a bite. Joey's changed that fact in 2008, when Tony Goldman saw a gourmet future for the neighborhood. Today Wynwood is the place to go for the city's most creative restaurants. Slowly but surely, Miami's arts district is putting as much emphasis on food and drinks as it does on graffiti. And there are no signs of slowing.
1. Alter. Miami's buzz-worthiest restaurant just happens to be in Wynwood thanks to chef Brad Kilgore. The ambiance is unfussy — concrete walls and floors, with a hint of neon. This plain industrial space is the perfect canvas for Kilgore's culinary art. A simple chicken dish sees the bird stuffed with thigh meat and foie gras ($24), and a soft-cooked egg is enhanced by Gruyère cheese espuma ($15). The chef also serves dishes that please vegans, such as a plant-based pastrami. 223 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-573-5996; altermiami.com.
2. Three. To venerable chef Norman Van Aken, the number 3 has much meaning, and his new venture in Wynwood is all about trinity. Three, located in the Wynwood Arcade, encompasses a restaurant, a culinary school, and an upstairs lounge (No. 3 Social). The number also acknowledges Susan Buckley and Candace Walsh, who make up the three partners with Van Aken. Three serves the chef's New World cuisine that's been refined into something gorgeous and fresh. The restaurant offers only three- and four-course prix fixes ($60 and $75) and a chef's tasting menu ($125), but during Art Basel, à la carte dishes will be available. Diners wishing a less formal experience can order small plates such as pulled-pork bao buns and corn dogs at No. 3 Social upstairs while enjoying the fresh air and view at Wynwood's first rooftop lounge. 50 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-748-4540; threewynwood.com.
3. 1-800-Lucky. Walk through a tiny record store/bodega to find 1-800-Lucky, Miami's first Asian food market. Discover a 10,000-square-foot space that comprises seven food concepts, two bars, and a karaoke bar. Choices include Les Banh Amis, serving charcoal Vietnamese; Lotus + Cleaver, a new concept offering Chinese barbecue, wok dishes, and Peking duck; Hayato Miami, a concept from Japan's Shimuja that serves traditional ramen; New York City's Myumi, offering a variety of sushi hand rolls; Yip, a concept by Gold Marquis Fine Chinese Cuisine that offers dim sum; Poke OG, from Anaheim, California, serving poke bowls, and New York's Taiyaki, known for its Japanese fish-shaped ice-cream cones. Dishes range from $5 to $55 for a whole Peking duck and average about $15. Grab a frozen beer from one of two machines in the entire state (the other is at Disney's Epcot) for the most refreshing treat in Wynwood. 143 NW 23rd St., Miami; 1-800-lucky.com.
4. Kyu. Former Zuma chef Michael Lewis and former Zuma general manager Steven Haigh are the brains behind Kyu, an Asian-inspired restaurant. Kyu (pronounced like the letter q), uses a wood-fired grill as its focal point, where diners can watch their food being cooked via yakinku, the Japanese barbecue grilling method. The menu, designed for sharing, is broken into the categories "Fresh and Bright," which are vegetable plates; "Chilled and Refreshing," mostly seafoods; and "Wood Fired and Smoked," which includes many of the eatery's meats. To get the best bang for your buck, order the beef short ribs ($28), a generous portion served with lettuce so you can make your own wraps. 251 NW 25th St., Miami; 786-577-0150; kyumiami.com.
5. Zak the Baker Deli. No one quite breaks (or bakes) bread like Zak the Baker. For years, Miami was eating Zak Stern's sourdough at top restaurants all over town without knowing who he was. But today it's impossible for the Jewish baker with the impressive beard to go unnoticed. The bakery has moved down the block, and Stern has opened his own deli. Daily food items are listed on a chalkboard. There's a soup of the day, several sandwiches — served open-faced and listed as "toasts" — a salad, and some other bites. Everything is based on what's freshly available. What you won't find is meat: Zak the Baker is strictly kosher, so the menu is composed of dairy, vegetable, fish, and egg dishes. 405 NW 26th St., Miami; 786-347-7100; zakthebaker.com.
6. R House. R House chef and owner Rocco Carulli has had a long-standing love affair with Wynwood dating back to before the neighborhood became a hot spot. His restaurant is a hip place that's half restaurant and half art gallery. Abstract oil paintings hang on slabs that can be moved to change the space's layout. The menu is a trip around the globe, reflective of time spent in Brazil and Carulli's Italian heritage. Try the corvina ceviche, a fresh, peppy mixture of fish, avocado, and corn relish. The braised lamb shank is cooked until practically melting and doused in a fragrant wine reduction accompanied by an herby Israeli couscous. Sundays, join Carulli for a sassy drag brunch. 2727 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-576-0201; rhousewynwood.com.
7. Beaker & Gray. Beaker & Gray is a lively eatery that places equal importance on its cocktail and food menus thanks to partners Brian Nasajon and Ben Potts. Nasajon serves as executive chef, while Potts creates the bar program. Cocktails come fruity and fizzy (shaken) or bold and boozy (stirred), and the food is elevated from the usual pub grub, though an adult version of chicken nuggets ($12) can be found on the menu. Visit during the weekday happy hour, when a variety of cocktails and small plates are offered for $5 each from 5 to 7 p.m., and check out the bonus late-night happy hour Monday through Thursday from midnight to 2 a.m. 2637 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-699-2637; beakerandgray.com.
8. Dizengoff. James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov brings his Philadelphia-based Dizengoff to Miami. Named for Tel Aviv's main promenade, the intimate fast-casual restaurant is molded after an Israeli hummusiya, which Solomonov describes as "the place where you wander into and you know you can get a great bowl of hummus." The menu is simple and affordable. For $10 (tax included), you can get a bowl of freshly made hummus served with a side of bright, crisp cucumbers, tomatoes, and pickles alongside a whole fluffy pita still warm from the oven. The meal is tangy and satisfying. Invest a few bucks more for hummus with corn ($12), roasted onion ($12), lamb merguez ($13), or a hummus of the day (price varies with topping). The restaurant is kosher-style, which means vegans can find multiple dairy-free items as long as they steer clear of the meat offerings. 250 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-573-9292; dizengoffhummus.com.
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9. Joey's. If Jay Z and Beyoncé like Joey's, so should the rest of Miami. When the music world's power couple had a romantic lunch at the Italian restaurant, they ordered burrata
10. Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. For a place to nosh on small plates while taking in art, head to Wynwood Kitchen & Bar (WKB). Since Art Basel 2010, the restaurant's vibrant setting next to Wynwood Walls has made WKB a mecca for eating, drinking, and people-watching. You might even spot a celebrity subtly browsing the works in the street-art museum. While you're waiting for the next star sighting, order some chicken ropa vieja empanadas. 2550 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-772-8959; wynwoodkitchenandbar.com.