December 2, 2010

The Design District – An Outside Room, Tapas, and Miami Cool

I had heard a bit about an emerging neighborhood north of downtown. Design, art, and style – that is is what I read about the Miami Design District. And that it is cool.

We first arrived in the Design District the late afternoon on Friday. The streets were quiet, customers were browsing the shops and galleries, and there was an air of calm. We walked down streets past shops, cafes, courtyards with trees, and an outdoor room. Yes, that is correct an outdoor room. At the intersection of North Miami Avenue and 40th Street NE there is the corner of a room. Furnished with a couch and two lamps, decorated in pink, and exposed to the elements, the two walls and partial ceiling stand still in stark contrast to the busy traffic of the streets. So uniquely Miami.

We spent the afternoon traversing the streets of this neighborhood and discovered a red coffee table in a modern furniture shop, an intriguing eye glasses store, and some tempting restaurant menus.

We returned the following evening, Saturday. It was dark when we arrived and found that the neighborhood was a transformed place. The streets were alive with energy and excitement; the restaurants and bars were abuzz. Music filled the air and crowds of people drifted through open art galleries and congregated on the sidewalks. It was a hip, local scene.

We had a dinner reservation at Sra Martinez, a tapas restaurant located in an old post office building at the corner of 2nd Avenue NE and 40th Street NE. The restaurant has a large patio dining area that abuts the sidewalk. When we arrived several groups of people were sitting at these outdoor tables enjoying food and drinks in the mild Miami evening air. Inside the main part of the restaurant has high ceilings with a bar and open dining room. Towards the back of the restaurant there is a balcony with another bar and a few tables overlooking the main dining floor. The lights in the whole restaurant are dim and the atmosphere is vibrant and energetic.

Upon arrival we checked in with the hostess and were delighted to be seated at a table on the balcony. This spot - perched above the majority of the crowd - awarded us with a perfect view of the scene at the restaurant. And this is a place where fashion, food, and fun come together. It is a place were people come to socialize, be out in a hip energetic neighborhood, and eat some great food.

So, on to the subject of food... I ordered some cheeses, crispy artichokes, mushrooms, and wine. Jonathan got butifarra (a white bean and sausage stew), chorizo, and wine. Everything was just perfect. The cheese was very good and the artichokes were wonderfully crispy and served with a creamy lemon sauce. The mushrooms were cooked in truffle butter and were delivered to the table wrapped like a present in aluminum foil. Jonathan was completely enchanted with his carnivorous dishes. It was a great meal.

Of course, every great meal ends with dessert. We shared excellent churros served with chocolate dipping sauce. The churros were so good - warm and chewy with with cinnamon and sugar. The rich and silky chocolate sauce was served cool - making it a perfect companion for the warm churros.

Our dinner at Sra Martinez was fabulous. The service was great - and the food was delicious. Dining here reminded me that I miss the wonderful Spanish tapas restaurants we used to frequent when we lived in San Francisco. Washington DC has a few tapas restaurants that are good, but not outstanding. Sra Martinez - like Alegrias and Zarzuela in San Francisco - is an outstanding place to go for tapas.

I am glad we veered off the standard tourist path and discovered the Design District. This neighborhood is definitely Miami cool.

1 comment:

Victoria (The District Chocoholic) said...

That room corner is too cool for words.