Vandalo and its street-art theme burst onto the scene in mid-September. The Wynwood restaurant and lounge, created by the team behind the party spot the Dirty Rabbit, calls itself "a gangsta-sophisticate experience" that "demonstrates that the destruction of something, including one’s self, is also the creation of something new. Something better."
What, exactly, does that mean?
Co-owner Andres San Martin says vandalo (Spanish for "vandal") refers to someone who destroys or damages property. Through his restaurant's menu of street-fare staples, he wants to address the debate about whether graffiti elevates the ordinary or constitutes vandalism.
San Martin adds that his new spot combines food, drinks, and street art in one place — in Miami's neighborhood now famous for its edgy vibe and murals. "Ten years ago, there was hardly anywhere in Wynwood to go to. Now it's all about what's the best place to spend time at," he says. "Vandalo is a good spot to get in touch with this community because you can eat, dance, and enjoy and talk about art without having to leave to walk around or visit a gallery."
Vandalo offers a vibe similar to San Martin's Dirty Rabbit, but "they are two different worlds," he says. While the Dirty Rabbit — which is undergoing an expansion to include a new concept, Dirty Burgers — is known for throwing wild parties, Vandalo seeks an older, more sophisticated crowd looking to dine and lounge. The food at Vandalo includes crab dip with mustard caviar and taro root chips ($17), grouper fish and chips ($18), Maine lobster with crispy bacon on a potato bun ($21), and shrimp ceviche ($14).
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Before hitting the dance floor, guests can fuel up on substantial bites such as arepas filled with braised oxtail and fontina cheese ($13) and pork belly chicharrón drizzled with onion mojo and sweet chili sauce ($13).
At Vandalo's indoor and outdoor bars, bartenders whip up concoctions such as the Gin-nie in the Lamp — a blend of gin, apricot liqueur, blue pea syrup, and a hint of rosemary — and the signature Cold Ass Ice, made with Santa Teresa 1796 rum, Angostura bitters, lime juice, a cherry, and raspberries ($13 each). There's also bottled ($6) and craft ($7) beer.
In the works for the restaurant/lounge is a calendar of artsy events and an area where guests can display their own creations. Unsurprisingly, Vandalo's graffiti-clad walls are becoming popular among social media users hoping to inject a jolt of color into their feeds.
Vandalo Wynwood. 218 NW 25th St, Miami; vandalowynwood.com. Monday through Sunday noon to 3 a.m. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.