The Miami Design District is all business by day, but glamorous by night. Originally populated by trade-only furniture showrooms, the district now welcomes hordes of interested art and design fans to its fashion, home furnishings, and beauty salons and tempts local foodies with some of the town’s best restaurants.
On the second Saturday of every month, Art + Design night attracts the who’s who of local hipsters who trek from showroom to gallery, sipping, snacking and celebrating Miami’s emerging contemporary art scene. Here is a quick primer to the top toques.
Celebrating their third anniversary, one of the best restaurants in Miami, Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink (130 NE 40 Street), will roll out a steel hot dog cart at 7 p.m. that’s stocked with gourmet riffs on the popular street food. Chef Michael Schwartz and his James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, Hedy Goldsmith, craft upscale knishes, thick-cut potato chips, homemade sausage rolls, and — wait for it — buttered popcorn flavored ice cream. Nothing on the cart tops $6, so bring cash and arrive early as Michael’s fans will be there in force.
Grass Restaurant (28 NE 40 Street) got turbo-charged recently when Top Chef Micah Edelstein revamped the menu and brought her innovative touch to the trendy Design District Lounge, treating local produce with an international flair. Her “Sexy Nibbles” — vegan-friendly cucumber cups filled with crunchy chick peas; sweet potato crisps to dip in papaya ketchup; elk meatballs; Tuscan sushi rolls with prosciutto, gorgonzola and figs; tender South African lamb skewers marinated two days in a tamarind vinaigrette — pair perfectly with Art Crawl cocktails.
One of the most popular al fresco lounges, the newly reopened MaiTardi (163 East 39th Street) — “a place where time is not of the essence” – is the perfect spot to rest your Jimmy Choos between galleries. Serving brick oven pizzas, homemade pastas, and a tempting variety of Italian tapas, the sprawling terrace is a Design District see- and-be-scene. Shaded by enormous oak trees and populated by unusually well-dressed townsfolk, the cocktail crowd enjoys flash-fried baby artichokes, wood-baked flatbreads, and platters of cured meats and cheeses. Wines served by the bottle are grouped simply by price — $20, $25, $30, $35 — so guests can avoid the sticker shock that sometimes follows an ill-considered order.