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November 27, 2013

A Tour of Wynwood Restaurants And Art Galleries

wynwood tour

My mom and I were beyond excited for the Wynwood Food Tour for different reasons. I love coming to the area to hang out at a few bars and I was dying to finally try some food here. Whereas she, on the other hand, had not visited Wynwood since before it transformed to the Wynwood it is now which she's heard so much about.

Our first stop, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, was phenomenal. As soon as we sat, our plates arrived which were quickly followed by the introduction of Miguel Aguilar, the restaurant's head chef. Our plates held a chicken ropa vieja empanada with a cilantro sauce accompanied by a few maduros (fried plantains) that were topped with cheese. Chef Miguel began describing the process of making these dishes - his voice soon became the soundtrack to the nostalgic flavors I was biting into. The maduros reminded me of home. They were just as crispy on the outside and sweet as the one's my grandma makes (they may be even better but don't tell her!) and the cheese was a great touch. The empanada was just as beautiful in flavor as it was aesthetically. I dipped it into the creamy cilantro sauce then bit into the juicy meat - and just like that, I had devoured my entire plate!

We then walked off our first tasting by checking out the Wynwood Walls which are composed of a variety of huge murals right along the side of Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. Although I had already visited the walls before, I never knew who made these murals or how they were made. Our tour guide was filled with facts, everyone walked out having learned something new!

On the way to our second stop, our tour guide pointed out countless galleries in the area, sharing a bit of what they're all about. My mom was completely thrilled, "We need to come back and visit those galleries!" she told me as we approached The Butcher Shop.

The Butcher Shop was a very intriguing place. Although its a restaurant, they have meat behind a glass like a butcher shop! We sat down at these beautiful wooden tables and were treated to these cones full of different meats. There was so much variety in the meats that I can barely remember their names but I can assure you they were all tasty. We were told that all the meat here is grass fed and it comes from a farm in West Palm Beach run by the same people who own The Butcher Shop (there's no middle-man) - cool! We washed down the meat with a dark beer that had hints of coffee and chocolate...can you say "heaven"?

On our way to the next restaurant, our tour guide pointed out several thrift and bargain stores in the area. My mom learned how to thrift in her days living in New York and she passed the same passion down to me. She didn't even need to peep a word, the look in her eyes when she glanced at me screamed "We're coming back here!".

If you're looking for street art, Wynwood is the destination in Miami. Our tour guide walked with purpose and every time we'd reach a different mural, I understood her sense of urgency. I would be just as excited if I was about to show a group of people these jaw-dropping creations!

At Jimmyz Kitchen, our third stop, I got to try a dish I had heard a lot about but never tried. As a child, my family was constantly trying to get me to eat mofongo but the name completely put me off...boy, was I missing out! The chicken mofongo is made of mashed, fried green plantains, garlic, olive oil, crunchy pork rinds, and chicken soaked in a rich tomato sauce. It was so savory I thought my mother would have to wipe away tears of joy from my face. Each bite had an array of flavors - from the sweet plantain to salty pork rinds.

We then walked just down the street to Pride & Joy, the next restaurant. I was immediately taken aback when I entered. The entire place was a work of art that gave off a very southern feel. The walls were covered in vintage beer cans, modern spins on taxidermy pieces - the lighting was even made from old bourbon bottles! Once I took all of this in, deviled eggs topped with pulled pork were presented. Not only did they look like they belonged on a Food Network special, but these babies were delectable! The yolk was seasoned to perfection and the pulled pork was exquisitely tender.

Miami Culinary Tours must have saved the best for last (or I might be a little biased because I have a HUGE sweet tooth). Our last location was so obscure that it had no sign outside the door. Derek's Pies are made by a local fireman and the shop is a tiny kitchen in the middle of Wynwood! Completely charmed by the idea of this small business, I never stopped to prepare myself for the bite that changed my life. Derek himself served us each a slice of his famous (and deliciously cold) key lime pie and topped them off with whipped cream. The ideal combination of tangy and sweet, this key lime pie surpassed the pie expectations that were instilled in me by a pie shop in the Florida Keys.

The Wynwood Food Tour was a great experience that can be enjoyed by travelers and locals alike. The area is rich in art, design and best of all, food! I can't wait to come back and explore even deeper into this up-and-coming neighborhood.

By Miami Food Blogger, Samantha Castellanos

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