BAKAN’s queso fundido is served with freshly made tortillas | Courtesy of BAKAN
In Wynwood, Miami’s bona fide art district that is founded on work from the world’s most famous street artists, restaurants are teeming with new wave conceptualism. From an omakase restaurant in a taco shop to a Dutch-style rotisserie, these incredible places are worth a visit.
Alter’s neon lighting adds to the ambience | Courtesy of Alter
For Brad Kilgore, a repeated nominee of James Beard’s Best Chef South and Food & Wine’s 2016 Best New Chef, Alter is his ultimate favorite spot. Set in a former warehouse, Alter’s hip neon interior and casual feel encapsulates the essence of Wynwood. But it’s Kilgore’s experimental New Age menu and ingredient-driven plates – such as camouflage lasagnette with a trio of lamb ragout, parsnip de leche and pumpkin seed miso – that draw in diners. Choose one of three tasting menus, and don’t skimp on the beverage pairings. When you’re done, hop outside to Bar Alter for a post-dinner cocktail – the Diablito with Altos Reposado tequila, cassis, citrus, ginger beer and Hellfire Bitters is a highlight.
The brainchild of two long-time Zuma teammates – chef Michael Lewis and general manager Steven Haigh – KYU brought wood-fired Asian BBQ to Wynwood when it opened in 2016. The grilled plates here are excellent, with the duck breast “burnt ends” alongside yuzu pickles and sake-braised white beans with cilantro especially popular. It’s no surprise that KYU was nominated for Best New Restaurant at the 2017 James Beard Awards. In an unassuming setting that draws from its Wynwood surroundings (think concrete walls, wood and metal accents, local art and an open industrial kitchen), the grill is at the heart of both the restaurant and the menu. Pair it all with an Asian-influenced cocktail, such as the Raging Geisha with double-aged Toki Japanese whisky, and you will go home in a happy food coma.
At San Diego-born restaurant The Taco Stand, owners Julian Hakim and Aram Baloyan transport diners to their Tijuana roots, serving up Baja-style breakfast, lunch and dinner plates made with corn tortillas and guacamole and salsas. Recipes are handed down from the owners’ Tijuana family lineage, so expect authentic Mexican street food like carne asada tacos, al pastor burritos, pollo quesadillas, all-natural paletas and imported Mexican sodas. Ximena Estadella designed the restaurant to include hand-painted menu boards on corrugated aluminum. The space is colored with Mexican flag-inspired symbolism and even a custom mural by Cuban artist Rigo Leon. In the back of this fast-casual Mexican joint is an upscale gem: HIDEN, an omakase restaurant that you’ll only get into if you have both a password and a reservation weeks in advance.
In 2019, the owners of KYU hatched another Wynwood concept: LAID Fresh, an all-day eatery that’s all about eggs. Here, local farm-fresh eggs are prepared in a variety of ways, such as fried on a toasted potato brioche bun in a sausage and cheese sandwich. If you’re not craving eggs, order one of the fried chicken sandwiches, salads, baked potato brioche buns or made-to-order beignets. Mugs of mimosas, lounge seating and communal tables offer a homey feel. The space is decorated with a mural of the Miami skyline by street artist duo 2alas, and suspended headphones play everything from meditative music to heavy metal.
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Le Chick (pronounced “le chic”) is Wynwood’s take on Rotisserie Amsterdam – a Dutch hotspot that’s famous for its rotisserie chicken, burgers and cocktail bar. Designed by Mónica Salazar of Alternativa, a Madrid-based interior design firm, Le Chick employs an industrial, Amsterdam-esque look throughout, with a touch of Miami flair. Wood floors and hanging steelwork complement antique mirrors and custom art installations by Richard Guaty, while comfort foods such as fries served four ways – parmesan truffle, sweet potato, jalapeño cheese and “skin on” – are menu favorites. Smokey rotisserie chicken and Double Dirty burgers with two dry-aged brisket patties and a fried egg are also crowd-pleasers. Award-winning José ‘Yeye’ Ortega oversees the bar program, which includes craft cocktails named after different breeds of chicken.
This Wynwood-based gem is a South Florida favorite. Considered Miami’s first and most popular artisanal donut shop, The Salty Donut has been pushing pastry boundaries since it opened its doors in December 2015. Now, you’ll regularly see hordes of fans lining the block in hopes of tasting the shop’s 24-hour brioche maple and bacon donuts with sausage, candied bacon “cracklings” and a J Wakefield porter redux. The shop offers six year-round donuts, including the annual sticky bun donut collaboration with Knaus Berry Farm, where a cinnamon roll is stuffed inside a thick layer of The Salty Donut’s signature dough before being fried, baked and covered with a roasted pecan-toffee rum glaze.
Three sets the tone with blue and green accents | Courtesy of Three Wynwood
Three is a restaurant that embodies the vibe of Greater Miami. The 100-seat restaurant has a tropical-inspired interior with green and blue accents, bright satin seating and a Florida-centric menu. Sit at the 10-seat chef’s counter or in the main dining room, and feel right at home in this Wynwood hotspot.
A new Mexican concept has come to Wynwood in the form of BAKAN, an indoor-outdoor restaurant and mezcaleria known for its earthy and artistic design and authentic Huastecan cuisine. BAKAN actually translates to “tortilla,” and here, they’re handmade by chef Oscar del Rivero and his team, created with corn that’s grown at 6,000 feet above sea level. Before even looking at the menu, take in the interior (and exterior), which is filled with cone-like lights hanging from the ceiling and a massive display of cacti along the outside walls. There’s an outdoor bar and terrace and a green-tiled kitchen with rainbow-colored cacti made by the Huichol tribe. Almost everything on the menu is worth trying here, especially when it’s served a la plancha.
Since opening its doors in 2015, Beaker & Gray has become a Wynwood staple. Helmed by chef Brian Nasajon and bar director Ben Potts, this day-to-night restaurant and bar fuses globally inspired cuisine with Wynwood’s relaxed, art-driven spirit. Try menu favorites cheeseburger croquettes, reuben fried rice and pumpkin gnocchi. Or, go for the popular weekday happy hour and share appetizers such as pork fried rice with baby back rib and green papaya; grilled cheese on brioche with a tomato dip; and yucca fries with salt, vinegar and mojo. Ben Potts is Miami bartending royalty, so any of his cocktails are worth trying.
R House is part restaurant, part bar and part art gallery. A haven for diners, drinkers, art enthusiasts and musicians, the “R” in R House stands for chef and co-owner Rocco Carulli, and his menu is teeming with the same creativity as the art hanging on the restaurant’s walls. Go for happy hour, dinner or weekend drag brunch and indulge in dishes such as short-rib ricotta pizzetta with parmigiano-reggiano, shredded braised short rib with R House barbecue sauce, black truffle mac ’n’ cheese and polenta blueberry pancakes with whipped blueberry butter.