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Miami Design District and Wynwood neighborhood guide

Get to know the Miami Design District and Wynwood with our neighborhood guide to the area’s best blocks and attractions

Photograph: Dan Forer
Miami Light Project at the Light Box Theatre in Wynwood, Miami

The Miami Design District
While South Beach is still a destination with a capital D, coolhunters are now also venturing into once-forbidden neighborhoods across the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Formerly best avoided, the Design District and Wynwood (along with Little Haiti and now the Upper East Side) have been enjoying a renaissance in recent years.

Filling a grid of a mere five streets (NE 36th to NE 41st Street) by two (NE 2nd Avenue to N Miami Avenue), the Design District is vastly out of proportion with its influence on the arts and culture scene.

The area started as a pineapple grove, and evolved into what became known as Decorators’ Row during the building boom of the early 1920s, when home-design stores lined its streets. The neighborhood fell on hard times in the late ’80s, when crime drove many businesses north, but it’s the top Wynwood restaurants, designer boutiques and artsy pedestrian spaces that have resurrected this once-unpolished part of Miami.

Where there’s design, there’s usually art, and galleries occupy many premises here. Thanks to developer and art collector Craig Robins, a South Beach pioneer who also owns about 40 percent of the Design District’s property, a good deal of public art (most of it created by locals) is also on display. You can also see Robins’s recently acquired 24-foot prototype of Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome, which the inventor dubbed an  “autonomous dwelling machine,” in the heart of Palm Court.

The majestic 1921 Moore Building (4040 NE 2nd Avenue, at NE 40th Street) is the historical heart of the district. Originally a furniture showroom, it's now the retail home to interior designer and potter extraordinaire Jonathan Adler(305-576-0200) and a rentable space for special events and parties (many of which happen during Art Basel Miami Beach). Complementing the art and design are food and drink. Pick of the bunch are sleek foodie favorites Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and Harry’s Pizzeria

South of the Design District is Wynwood (which is more clunkily known as the Wynwood Arts District). Running all the way to the northern fringes of Downtown, it’s an area roughly bounded by NE 2nd Avenue to the east, I-95 to the west, I-395 to the south and NE 36th to the north.

Formerly a working-class area with a large Puerto Rican population, Wynwood is one of the city’s newest trendy neighborhoods. Many of its erstwhile factories and warehouses are now inhabited by creative types—more than 50 galleries, artist’s studios, art complexes, private collections and museums call the district home. The proximity of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts has enhanced the area further. Hip hangouts include Wood Tavern and Panther Coffee.

Area pioneers include the Rubell Family Collection and the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, home to photography, video, sculpture and installations. But for many, the area’s centerpiece is the stunning Wynwood Walls, the city’s only outdoor street art park. Located on NW 2nd Avenue between NW 25th and 26th Streets, the Walls are home to more than 40 murals from a roster of world-renowned artists, including Shepard Fairey, Ryan McGuinness, Kenny Scharf, How and Nosm, Faile, Retna, the Date Farmers and Liqen.

For a private Wynwood Street Art and Gallery Tour, click here

Restaurants and bars in the Design District and Wynwood

GK Bistronomie

In the culinary world, sleek and modern don’t always denote sparse and insipid. At GK Bistronomie, in Wynwood, the spacious dining room is punctuated with white pine tables and the kitchen is serving artfully plated, Peruvian-inspired dishes: It all translates to warm, inviting and authentic. While the indoor-outdoor bar and walls lined with various works of art serve as reminders of the burgeoning artsy neighborhood, the menu reads skilled and established. Try the Parmesan tiradito—a bold fish-and-cheese pairing that won’t disappoint—one of various types of ceviche, and any of the entrees—a sampling of dishes representative of land, air and sea.

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Wynwood Kitchen & Bar

Opened during Art Basel 2010, this neighborhood tavern fits in perfectly with its arty surroundings. Executive chef Miguel Aguilar has assembled a series of small plates that are straightforward but elegant; a collection of food on a stick includes skewered chicken with spring onion and chipotle aioli, and baby octopus with oregano purée. Mains have a pan-Latin flair, sauced and sided with piquillo pepper purée and corn salsa. Art is around every corner, too; sip on a Shepard Fairey—pisco with St Germain, simple syrup, pineapple juice and fresh mint—while gazing at the famed graffiti artist’s floor-to-ceiling mural, which features in the bar and lounge area.

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Design District

Beaker and Gray

A craft cocktail bar that stays open into the wee hours of the night may not bode well for serious foodies, but Beaker and Gray, Wynwood’s newest watering hole with a solid, globally inspired menu, is the exception. In part, it’s the auspicious pairing of co-owners Brian Nasajon and Ben Potts, whose years of experience as a chef and a mixologist, respectively, is reflected in dishes such as the pillowy pumpkin gnocchi with pork rib, lemon and red shiso, as well as cocktails like the Lavagave, a velvety concoction of Don Julio Blanco, Fidencio mezcal, lavender, egg white, grapefruit and vanilla bitters. More than a restaurant, Beaker and Gray is where to go in Wynwood for a dinner-and-a-drinks combo done right.

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Wynwood Art District
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