Already one of our favorite neighborhoods in town, Wynwood just got a whole lot better.
Once a largely-industrial blank space on the wrong side of the causeway linking Miami's mainland with its world-famous beaches, Wynwood was always far from the obvious choice to become one of North America's capitals of cutting-edge cool.
Then again, this is Miami we're talking about, where it's always best to expect the unexpected. And so, here we are today—where visitors (and most locals) once tread mostly by accident, they now flock for the art scene, the nightlife, breweries, bars, top restaurants and a slew of other diversions that make Miami Beach (at least a lot of Miami Beach) seem downright basic, by comparison.
Lately, too, because there weren't enough reasons to go hang around Wynwood, the neighborhood has become something of a hub of terrific cheap eating, offering smart and fun alternatives to some of the pricier fare that has helped rocket Miami on to the national dining map. Hungry? Here are some of the recent additions worth considering.
Zak Stern's knockout bakery—to say this is South Florida's most sought-after bread isn't so much a stretch—has expanded into a larger retail space, creating an opportunity for a properly modern Jewish deli, a welcome addition after years of genre decline. They're open six days a week for pastrami sandwiches, whitefish salad, Cel-Ray sodas and the like, plus gorgeous vegetable sides like you never saw at the likes of Wolfie Cohen's, may he and the deli that bore his name rest in peace. Combos, which consist of a half-sandwich, salad and soup, start at a reasonable $10. Closed on the Sabbath. (Obviously.)
Is it a restaurant, a food truck park, an urban farm, a place for yoga, a bar, or an event space? A wee bit of all the above, really—come and join the vaguely informal fun. Many people seem to head straight for the World Famous House of Mac, one of the city's most popular food trucks. Can you go wrong with jerk chicken macaroni and cheese? You could, but not here ($14).
One's for hummus, salatim and freshly-baked pita, the other for donuts and fried chicken—the twin casual concepts from James Beard Award winner Michael Solomonov (Zahav) that originated in Philadelphia have been making the ground floor of a new residential building a very popular place for neighborhood types looking to grab a snack. Go the healthy route (hummus and pita, $10) or grab a three piece with a honey donut (also $10). Or do both.
Jose Mendín's creative buns are a mainstay at the neighborhood's new Veza Sur Brewery—taking inspiration from both sides of the Pacific Ocean (Korean BBQ Steak, Chicken Mole), these elevated snacks (starting at $4, with a minimum order of 2) are served up from a stationary truck-type setup. They're a great compliment to the beer, brewed up in a partnership between Colombian craft fave Bogota Beer Company and Oregon's innovative 10 Barrel Brewing. (Both are now Anheuser-Busch brands.)
Conveniently situated right next door to one of the neighborhood's best and most famous hangouts—the so-cool-you-might-get-frostbite Panther Coffee—this smart with housemade tortillas, quality grilled meats and proper sides at good-value prices (two tacos from $7.50, elotes for $5, burrito bowls for $12) has become a mainstay, from lunch to late night. (They stay open until 3 a.m., six days a week.)
Once famous for creating the most expensive pizza available in the world, master pizzaiolo Renato Viola now runs a chain of of pizza shops in Miami where an 8-inch margherita pie will run you just $4.99. Don't feel too bad for him—he sells a lot of them, along with a long list of other top-quality pies, including a signature, star-shaped pie called the Star Luca, filled with ricotta, spicy salami, mozzarella and San Marzano tomato sauce ($15.90).
More donuts? Damn right, more donuts—go and try their guava and cream cheese brioche donut ($3.50), a thoroughly modern spin on the classic pastry that's a Miami morning staple. You'll see. Or what about the blissfully simple, brown butter and salt cake donut, topped with Maldon sea salt ($3). Or, if you haven't been sugared up enough just yet, your choice of breakfast cereal-flavored lattes. For the best donut selection, get there on the early side.