I live in South Florida and only about an hour’s drive from Miami. But, somehow, I don’t get down there much. For some reason, the hassle with traffic to get there always seems to stop me. But, there are always great events going on and my friends convinced us to join them for this Art and Chocolate show last week that was taking place in the Wynwood Arts District.
We decided to stay overnight and make the most of our trip. I’m so glad we did. We found a terrific place to stay just 4 blocks from the venue for the show. Check in time was 3PM but we got there at 1PM. Since we were told we’d be charged an additional $39 if we wanted to check in early we left our luggage and went off to find a place to eat.
How fortunate that just across the street was Beaker and Gray, a place I had actually read about as one of the neighborhood’s best. It’s situated in an old factory and although there are outside tables, the Florida steaminess lured us in to the cool inside. The décor is basic and rustic with exposed brick walls, concrete floors and old wood beams on the ceiling but it is still quite cozy. Although they are known for amazing cocktails, it was a bit early in the day so I chose a refreshing glass of rose wine to start. The server explained the popularity of their “bowls” that can be interchanged with different proteins (octopus, skirt steak, chicken, shrimp.) I needed to eat light so chose the house salad with avocado, hearts of palm, queso fresco and the most delicious dressing (cilantro lime.) My husband and two friends each had a bowl, one with octopus that is prepared sous vide prior to grilling. Amazing. While we ate, the heavens opened up and we were happy to be inside after all.
We quickly made it back across the street to the hotel and while we hoped to spend some time at their rooftop pool, instead we sat in one of our suites and shared a couple of bottles of wine that we each had brought with us.
We had a couple of hours to relax before heading to the show and hoped that the relentless rain would stop. Thankfully, it did for the walk there. But, as we waited for the late opening of the gate, the rain began again and we had to yell to get in. Once inside, we were surprised to find that there really wasn’t much happening. There was a long bar where you could buy drinks and then a hallway that led to one large room and one smaller room that had the artwork on the walls. As far as the chocolate, there were displays being set up as we walked around and a chocolate fondue fountain that wouldn’t be ready for another half hour. It took us about 15 minutes to look at the paintings so once the rain had stopped (not too much longer), we left. It wasn’t the type of show we expected but we figured we’d make the most out of being in the area.
Being hungry again and wanting a drink we came to Wynwood Kitchen and Bar. This is another one of the neighborhood’s gems. Our server explained the Latin influenced small plate theme and gave us some pointers for what to choose. My friend and I had their super tasty “Shot of Love” cocktail, a blend of Peruvian Pisco, Lychee, lime juice, mint and hibiscus and we ordered a whole bunch of different dishes to share. Each one was better than the one before. We had roasted beets with blue cheese, valencia orange and an incredible vinaigrette, grilled pork belly skewers with a brown sugar/soy glaze and baby octopus skewers with lemon and garlic, braised short ribs with a boniato mash, crispy pork with white cheddar chipotle grits and the pan seared fish with a corn salsa. Hungry yet? This really was a fantastic restaurant and will be worth making a return trip.
The next day we had one final delicious meal sitting on the porch at Morgan’s where I had an incredible breakfast burrito filled with pork, cheddar cheese, rice, black beans, avocado, fried eggs and salsa. Good thing I shared this one with my husband or I don’t think I would have been able to move. Great fresh and natural ingredients are used here so I don’t feel that guilty.
I have to admit that even though we made the trip for an art show that was quite a disappointment, we certainly made up for it with the great food and company. I now can’t wait to go back to Wynwood.
Cheers and all the best,