The lease was signed in 2003, but tomorrow is the day your organic and gluten-free dreams come true. Short Order got the chance to tour the 41,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market in downtown. It has some distinct Miami flair, selling made-to-order churros, croquetas, and flan from Versailles, brew from Funky Buddha, and cold-pressed juices from Jugofresh.
The store opens to the public tomorrow at 8:45 a.m. with a bread-breaking ceremony featuring the mayor. The first 500 customers in line opening day will receive mystery gift cards, valued at $5, $10, $20, or $50, with one lucky shopper getting a gift card valued at $500.
Desserts from Versailles are a sweet treat you can enjoy with your cafecito at the bakery and café station.
As you make your way along the salad bar and the more than 20 soups, you may find yourself in the kitchen, where you will find sandwiches, pizzas, and much more.
The store offers some twists on iconic Miami sandwiches, including the Monsieur Cubano and the Ileana Ruz (as opposed to Elena Ruz), with guava instead of strawberry jam.
With a classic pizza oven, Whole Foods has changed its recipe to use only San Marzano tomatoes.
La Churrasqueria offers plenty of meaty options, from picanha to Portuguese pork sausage, but a nice veggie side is the rainforest salad, made with palm hearts and asparagus.
A favorite section is for specialty foods -- cheese, beer, wine, olives, and more. Cheese-monger Natasha said there's a current obsession with cheese dipped in Dijon mustard.
Funky Buddha is Whole Foods' best-selling local craft beer. Expect some beer or wine samples in this section.
A strange but delicious pairing is the Floridian beer with local caviar, which will be on sale the first few weeks.
Also, be sure to look for other grand-opening specials around the store.
The butcher is Jean-Pierre, and the fishmonger is Jason. There will be a series of events to meet these special employees in the next few weeks. One secret we learned is that at the fish market, they will happily season and steam your fish free of charge.
Beyond the local produce and specialty cuisine, in the "Whole Body Shop" you can find specialty items like Happy Hour candles from South Beach Candle company in Hialeah.
As you near the produce section, you will spot Jugofresh as a store within a store, and there are some new treats and a mash-up bar with yogurt and fruit along with your favorite juice blends.
How about them apples?
To save some money, head to the bulk section, where you aren't paying for packaging.
Some other Whole Foods fun facts: Anyone can get a tour free of charge, and it can be geared toward your dietary preferences. A healthy eating specialist, Genesis, hangs out near the produce section and can offer recipes, preparation, and advice free of charge.
Enjoy your new store, downtown Miami denizens, and remember to park in the garage below, where the first hour is free with any purchase.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst
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