Why Wynwood Is Miami's Best Dining Neighborhood
Photo by Carla Torres
Wynwood, why you so cool? Even in this scorching summer heat, you keep us refreshed with all of your laid-back bars that don't overcharge for drinks. When I've gone over my limit and need something to sober me up on the weekends, you stay up late like a doting mom and comfort me with shroom buns and pillows of corn bursting with chicken salad and avocado. And on weekday morning, just the aroma of your freshly roasted coffee beans gets my creative juices flowing.
Sure, you're still growing and developing, but I think you've come a pretty long way. You have a vibrant personality, you are prolific in art, you are particular about what you eat, and you are a beer snob. You even make your own bread. One might say you're the ultimate hipster. But you know better than to label yourself anything, which is why you've got all of these great nicknames -- the Arts District, Wynwood, Midtown, Edgewater.
All of which together make up the best dining neighborhood in Miami. Here are more than ten reasons why.
Prices are spot on
How nice is it to go somewhere and not walk out doing the math on how many pan con bistecs you could have gotten from Enriqueta's instead? At $6.75, Miami's best pan con pistec is a steal. For breakfast, $5 goes a long way at this little Cuban diner that could -- two eggs cooked to your liking with ham, bacon or sausage, toast, OJ, and a cafecito. And the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. At S&S Diner, located just a couple of minutes down the street, you can make it rain with $10. I'm pretty sure prices haven't changed all that much since the diner opened in 1938.
Photo by Emily Codik
Cakes, pies, and bread
I'm sick and tired of hearing the phrase "Miami doesn't have any good bakers." There are three of them within a two-mile radius, and they all have badass stories. Let's start with Bunnie Cakes owner Mariana Cortez, who began baking her vegan and gluten-and-guilt-free love cakes out of necessity for her son's dietary restrictions. Or Derek Kaplan, who has the best caramel salted pie in town and is whipping up a fury of pies at his new Fireman Derek's Bake Shop & Café when he's not putting out fires and saving lives. And let's not forget Miami's favorite baker, Zak Stern, better known as Zak the Baker. Stern was able to gather $30,000 through pledges on Kickstarter to open his shrine to sourdough in Miami's most bustling neighborhood, which means you no longer have to go to the Design District or cross the bridge to enjoy his slices of bread.
In Wynwood, you can have your cake, pies, and bread all freshly baked and eat them too.
Buttermilk waffles from Sugarcane.
Photo by Carla Torres
Brunch every damn day
Did you know Morgan's recently began serving brunch seven days a week? That's seven days of chicken 'n' waffles, beet 'n' goat cheese tacos, and mascarpone 'n' raspberry-stuffed French toast. And OK, maybe brunch every day isn't your thing, but weekend options are equally solid. Hit up Sugarcane, Gigi, or Blackbrick, where dim sum Sunday is a thing. Speaking of Gigi and Blackbrick brings me to my next point.
Asian fusion and real Chinese
Asian fusion might be a thing now, but let's turn the clock back to 2010, when Gigi and Sakaya Kitchen pioneered the wave with their inventive take on Brussels sprouts and tender buns, now found on menus all over town. Last year, Sakaya Kitchen's Richard Hales took his craft to the next level and opened Blackbrick, serving traditional Chinese fare with a modern spin -- specifically, General Tso-style Florida alligator and Hong Kong-style soup made from rabbit bones. The restaurant's efforts garnered recent praise from Bon Appétit, which nominated Blackbrick as one of thetop 50 best new restaurants for 2014. Good luck finding wonton soup that warms your soul in any other local neighborhood.
Awesome date spots
I still remember my first date at Sugarcane. The bacon-wrapped Manchego made me a believer in cheese and was far more interesting than my actual date. Still as popular as when it opened, Sugarcane is the ultimate date spot. It's chic but relaxed, intimate yet platonic. There's also Joey's and Salumeria 104, both great Italian spots and sure to turn any rendezvous into an all-nighter. Even if it's just walking around Wynwood Walls and then grabbing a small bite at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, the neighborhood exudes a sense of effortless charm both in its food and environment that's simply irresistible.
Sweet plantain arepa from La Latina.
Photo by Emily Codik
After dinner comes the afterparty
In what other neighborhood can you eat a great meal and then walk to a live music spot to dance the night away? Brickell? Try again. South of Fifth? If money is no object and standing in lines for half the night is your thing, sure. Maybe the only competition in this area is the Design District -- it boasts the Stage after all. But Wynwood has Bardot, with its zero-photography clause, and Electric Pickle, with its shiny disco ball. And let's talk late-night eats after you stumble out of either: La Latina and Gigi are open for business.
Until foodstuff options pop up around Space (with all due respect to the Corner's fantastic croque-madame), Wynwood wins in this category.
Photo by Laine Doss
Beer and food go hand in hand, and this neighborhood is beer geek central, from the Brignonis of Wynwood Brewing Company (Miami's first production microbrewery) to the guys at Wood and Kush. Kush, whose motto is "Cheap beer ain't good. Good beer ain't cheap," is always tapping rare kegs or rebelling against mass-produced swill that pretends to be beer. Like this past Wednesday, when they outfitted the restaurant's front sidewalk with a working toilet to flush away cheap macrobeer. Wynwood is a beer snob, rebel, and activist.
Need I say more? Wood Tavern's Taco Tuesday gets you free tacos from Pancho Tacos during a three-hour window (5 to 8 p.m.) and just a dollar after that. Choose from carnitas, chicken, or mushroom. Perhaps I should clarify: The carnitas come from Andres Tovar -- owner of Viva Mexico.
Joel and Leticia Pollock of Panther Coffee.
3:05 cafecito and coffee
These two polar opposites are alike in so many ways. Local roaster Panther Coffee is run by the lovely and in-love Joel and Leticia Pollock, who have given Miami the gift of great java. Then there's Enriqueta's ventanita, which happens to be the headquarters for 3:05 cafecito -- Miami's official cafecito time. Take your pick.
We all know that putting on clothes and leaving our caves can be such a pain sometimes. That's why there's delivery. And midtown/Wynwood/Edgewater residents get the best of both worlds. Not only can you have pabellon empanadas from La Latina, ceviche from Sabor a Peru, and mofongo from Jimmy'z Kitchen delivered while you watch Game of Thrones, but you can also cross the Design District border and have Lemoni brought to your humble abode.
Bey and Jay chow down in Wynwood.
Photo by Liz Tracy
Beyoncé and Jay Z eat here
No one is really sure what's happening with music's power couple right now -- we're hoping these divorce rumors are their cute idea of a cruel joke, considering their current tour where the two act hopelessly in love and pretty much laugh in our face. Regardless, when they hit up the Magic City, where did they go to eat? Yep, Wynwood. Joey's to be specific. Remember that earlier comment about awesome date spots? Point proven.
JugoFresh Wynwood -- another spot graced by Queen B.
Courtesy Gesi Schilling
Locally sourced produce
Quite possibly the best thing about the neighborhood are all the locals who've been part of Miami's resurgence and movement toward supporting the community. Miami's first craft beer is brewed right here, for God's sakes. JugoFresh is 100 percent organic and produced locally, and it doesn't get any more mom-and-pop than Panther Coffee. But perhaps the biggest locally sourced feat came with the opening of Kush. Owner Matt Kuscher sources his beef for his burgers from Cowart Ranch in Sumterville, Florida. Same goes for the key limes used to make homemade key lime pie, and the alligator for the alligator bites. These people care about what they're putting into your body, and that's admirable.
It's only getting better
Two words: Michael Shikany. The Miami native has a resumé that speaks volumes -- Tao, Gramercy Tavern, Le Bernardin. And now he's opened Shikany smack in the middle of the neighborhood he says was an obvious choice because of its potential and the fact that "the Beach is done in terms of cuisine." At Shikany, the chef's imagination takes guests to far-away places -- off the menu for an 18-course degustation menu.
Photo by Carla Torres
Today, Mignonette opens in the neighborhood. It's the city's first oyster bar and collaboration between Danny Serfer from Blue Collar and Ryan Roman from the blog MiamiRankings.com. Serfer refers to the concept as "fucking fancy," a juxtaposition of upscale yet modest food in an unassuming setting. The same can be said for Shikany. Together, the duo is pushing boundaries and going forth with a fresh concept for not only the area but also Miami as a whole. And they chose this neighborhood. That says something.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha
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