An Arts Crawl

MI

An Arts Crawl

The Wynwood Arts District has recently given Miami an edgy, trendy, artsy area that rivals the hippest neighborhoods of other international destinations. Featuring numerous local shops and restaurants, and art on almost every wall, Wynwood offers a cool, distinctive atmosphere in contrast with the more sleek (and expensive) vibe of the beach.

 

Set among skillful street art on almost every visible surface, Wynwood's unique galleries, pubs, cafés and eateries have become the places-to-be. Located just southwest of Miami's recently developed and much-talked-about Design District, Wynwood has provided an affordable cool factor to the area. The neighbourhood began its transition from manufacturing district to global destination in the mid-2000s, when developer Tony Goldman had a vision to bring attention to – rather than get rid of – the area's existing graffiti art. In 2009, he launched Wynwood Walls, a one-of-a-kind outdoor art installation and courtyard that set the stage for some of the world's top street artists to display their work.

Crowds flocked to view the project, which lent the nearby galleries a robust swell of attention and resulted in a wave of new openings. Retail stores, cafés, restaurants and bars soon followed suit – all aligning with a mixture of chic and grit that has fed into the area’s specific aesthetic. The space has, in turn, given birth to one of the most creative communities in the country.

J Wakefield Brewing

One of the most exciting developments to come out of Wynwood's growth has been an abundance of local breweries: you could easily do a ‘brew hop’ from block to block, should you desire. Among the neighbourhood brew-masters, John Wakefield is perhaps one of the most deserving of his success. After spending ten years learning his craft, including a stint at the well-respected Cigar City Brewing, Wakefield launched a crowdfunding campaign so he could open his own brewery. Thanks in part to his well-known and award-winning Dragonfruit Passion Fruit Berliner Weisse, he reached his goal within 30 hours of going live. In January 2015, J Wakefield Brewing opened to rave reviews. The tap or tasting room is small in size but large on character, and the Star Wars mural on the back wall works with the room's cosy atmosphere to evoke the iconic cantina where Luke Skywalker first meets Han Solo. Additional decor, including framed comic-book lithographs, an Avengers mural, a painting of a phoenix by artist Luis Valle, wine-barrel chandeliers, and particularly creative beer labels match the Wynwood aesthetic perfectly.

 

Behind the taproom sits a large brewery (which can be toured), pumping out a wide array of exceptional beers. At any one time, beer lovers can find a handful of mainstays including La Nada (The Nothing), and Hop For Teacher – a deep orange India Pale Ale with a malt backbone. Other seasonal offerings, such as the just-sweet-enough Blueberry Bliss Imperial Blonde Ale, are in constant rotation.

Wynwood Yard

At the same time as Wynwood filled a hole in the greater Miami market, Wynwood Yard filled a hole within the Wynwood community itself. The large, outdoor courtyard serves as a gathering place for food lovers, would-be yogis, musicians and creatives of all kinds. Founded by Harvard graduate Della Heiman, whose vegan food truck Della Test Kitchen serves as the food hall's anchor, Wynwood Yard hosts a rotating roster of food trucks from local restaurateurs and entrepreneurs, many of whom have been hindered by Miami's skyrocketing real estate costs.

 

The Yard offers visitors an introduction to new and innovative concepts and cuisines, often from established restaurateurs testing out their newest ideas. The trucks are situated around a centralised bar, so food is always served with drink. Current incubators include Dim Ssam a GoGo offering a twist on Asian cuisine, and Stanzione 87, wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas cooked in an Airstream trailer.

 

Yet Wynwood Yard is so much more than food: the space's popular live music events include a regular singer-songwriter series, ‘day-drinking’ parties and festivals and larger collaborations such as Olé! A Night of Flamenco, presented in partnership with the Adrienne Arsht Center. Additional fitness activities, cooking classes, crafts and a yoga series just add to the draw of this unique space.

O Cinema

The name O Cinema has become synonymous in Miami with independent film. The group has three locations across the city, but the Wynwood chapter, which opened in 2011, is the organisation's flagship.

 

O Cinema shows first-run independent, foreign and art films. Many of the films you'll find here simply cannot be seen anywhere else in Miami. The Wynwood branch is also well known for its special events, like throwback 1980s movie nights, the Dinner & a Movie co-op with local chefs, free outdoor screenings and midnight Rocky Horror Picture Show viewings.

 

Housed in an unassuming building across the street from the famed Rubell Family Collection art gallery, O Cinema Wynwood was an empty warehouse for years until it was converted into today's popular, 112-seat movie house. The back courtyard serves as the perfect place for outdoor screenings, post-film gatherings or private events.

 

O Cinema's untraditional concession stand offers beer and wine and creative snacks such as their famed guava cookies. Health-conscious visitors can breathe a (small) sigh of relief, as their classic popcorn is made with coconut oil. The area is flanked by a large chalkboard where theatre-goers can add their own messages or drawings when inspiration hits. At night, a fluorescent "O" on the side of the building lights up the whole block.

Coyo Taco

Did Miami really need another taco joint? As it turned out, the answer was yes. But Coyo Taco isn't just any taco stand; it's an indoor/outdoor hangout that happens to serve delicious, affordable (and quick) Mexican food. If the queues around the corner are any indication, this taco-shop-meets-lounge has certainly struck a chord with residents.

 

Using locally sourced produce, ethically sourced meats and an ‘everything fresh’ philosophy, executive chef Scott Linquist has brought authentic Mexican food to the (communal) table. In keeping with Wynwood's burgeoning bar scene, Coyo also has a speakeasy-style back room, tucked away behind the eatery. Serving over 50 tequilas and imported mezcals, and offering a rotation of renowned DJs and musicians, the lounge has generated a solid late-night following.

 

Don Julio margaritas aside, Coyo surely would not be the hit that it is without its innovative take on Mexican street food. The spot is home to an array of distinctive taco creations (done with handmade tortillas, of course), including Carnitas de Pato (crispy duck confit with salsa), the Quinoa and queso 'falafel' with citrus yogurt and Pastor de Pollo (chicken with roasted pineapple), as well as the classics Carne Asasa (chargrilled Angus steak with pico de gallo and cheese) and quesadillas. The hongos with huitlacoche (mushrooms and deliciously salty Cotija cheese) are excellent options for vegetarians. The "smashed to order" guacamole is a crave-worthy side or starter.

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