Smorgasburg, the outdoor food hall that got its start in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, opened in Wynwood two weekends ago.
The first week, a sudden storm swooped into the Saturday-afternoon-only food festival, blowing over some of the food tents. The second Saturday, the skies were blue but the mercury climbed to 85 degrees, leading visitors to seek shade wherever they could find it — namely, the black umbrellas that topped the double row of picnic tables and the meager shadow cast by a large shipping container painted with a Smorgasburg Miami mural.
Despite the impressive variety of food options, the longest lines were for ice cream and cold beverages. JoJo Tea, for instance, hit it out of the park with a hibiscus tea served over frozen lemonade.
Smorgasburg Miami's Gaston Becherano Cohen admits Miami's unforgiving sun is a concern.
"There's no shade at the NYC one and it gets really hot — but it's not the same as Miami," Cohen says. "I get the threat that is the heat."
While he can't control the weather, Cohen is considering ways to cool people off on hot Miami afternoons as spring gives way to summer.
"For sure, we definitely want to have as much of a hospitable environment as possible," he says, citing possibilities such as erecting a tent, installing giant fans, and changing Smorgasburg's hours. "There's a whole host of things that we're thinking of. Anything we do has to make sense for the market and the city has to sign off on it."
Local favorites Drinking Pig BBQ, the Lazy Oyster, and Tran An joined New York vendors like D'Abruzzo, which offered lamb and chicken skewers, and California, represented by Broad Street Oyster Co. with oversize lobster rolls and Trap Kitchen, who came equipped with an exquisite mac and cheese.
New vendors continue to sign up, with Fort Lauderdale's Temple Street Eatery launching a Chino-Latino brand and ViceBurger coming aboard as well.
Tran An's Jon Nguyen decided to rent a tent at Smorgasburg to reach an audience beyond the clientele that has discovered his Vietnamese restaurant on 82nd Street in Little River. "It's a good experiment to try out the brand and how we can communicate better with a different demographic."
"Our first day, the tent nearly blew away during a 25 mph wind gust," Nguyen said. "Those are the risks we have to take, but who cares? It's so busy, it's a great vibe, and the quality of the vendors is amazing."
Those willing to brave Miami's afternoon heat index will be treated to a sensory overload of food not usually seen locally: duck fat poutine, raclette cheese melted onto a crisp French baguette, and quail egg tempura can be found alongside freshly shucked oysters, steamed dumplings, doughnuts, and vegan burgers.
Smorgasburg is nirvana (tinged by a bit of humidity) for adventurous eaters, and it's a near guarantee that everyone in your party, from vegans to junk-food junkies, will discover something they like.
Arrive early, drink plenty of water, and then treat yourself to a cold beer and air conditioning at one of Wynwood's many breweries as a reward at the end of your Smorgasburg safari.
Smorgasburg Miami. 2600 NW Second Ave., Miami; 954-399-1583; smorgasburgmiami.com. Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.