There’s no denying it: Wynwood is 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. The chef also serves dishes that please vegans, such as a plant-based pastrami. 223 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-573-5996; altermiami.com.
Norman Van Aken returns to Miami
Photo by Laine Doss
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. 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 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.
Courtesy of KYU
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. Ono Poke. This small Wynwood shop, resplendent in bright pinks and greens, serves a small menu of food that’s delectable and well priced. Ono offers basically one thing — a poke bowl ($13 to $16). But that bowl, customized to your liking, is filled with only really good stuff. The fish — the prize ingredient of a good poke bowl — is made with high-quality sushi-grade fish that’s never frozen. In fact, the shop closes when it runs out of seafood for the day. Customize your bowl with rice, greens, ginger, pickled cucumbers, or other delicious toppings until your container looks as colorful as a Hawaiian garden after a rain. The result is the most heavenly lunch that also happens to be nutritious. 2320 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 786-618-5366; onopokeshop.com
Paint Palette Pizza at R House
Courtesy of RHouse
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. Saturdays and Sundays, join Carulli for a sassy drag brunch. 2727 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-576-0201; rhousewynwood.com.
Courtesy of Beaker & Gray
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.
Bien / Sh?wa Hospitality
8. Hiden. Inside the Taco Stand in Wynwood, a small silver keypad hangs next to a bare copper wall. Enter a secret code, and the wall becomes a sliding door. It opens slowly and carefully, revealing a covert room fit for no more than ten people. This is Hiden, a mysterious omakase restaurant without menus. Your meal will be in the hands of Brazilian-Japanese executive chef Tadashi Shiraishi, who will decide what to serve only hours before your arrival. Traditionally, he offers two cold appetizers, a soup, seven to eight sushi courses, a hot item, and dessert. The two-hour experience is limited to eight diners and requires reservations. 313 NW 25th St.
Courtesy of Joey’s
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 caprese with assorted salami, mista salad, rigatoni in meat sauce topped with shaved truffles, and branzino with asparagus. With ever-changing specials such as veal shank and the always-available pizza (noticed by Food & Wine), Joey’s allows you to eat like a star. Wynwood’s first foodie destination still has it. 2506 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-438-0488; joeyswynwood.com.
Photo by Andrew Meade
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.