How to spend all day in Allapattah

You may only know Allapattah as home to Miami’s healthcare hub, the former home of Miami Stadium, or perhaps you have the neighborhood confused for the west end of Wynwood. There’s so much more to understand, see, and do, and I hope today’s newsletter serves as a good starting point. Let’s dive in!

☕️ Start your day…

…with a coffee and a savory or sweet pastry from Nitin Bakery. The Dominican panadería sits along NW 17 Avenue, one of the main drags in the part of Allapattah known as Little Santo Domingo, and has served the neighborhood since 2001.

🎨 Dive into art galleries

With the days of gallery-strolling in Wynwood long behind us, Allapattah is the new canvas for galleries big and small.

Superblue is home to large-scale installations —  immersive wall-to-wall exhibits that sit at the intersection of art and technology. Whether it’s your first take or you want to make a second visit more meaningful, I would highly recommend upgrading your admission to a guided visit. I got so much more out of my second visit having our guide Andrea provide context and additional detail about the installations and being able to pepper her with questions.

Across the street is the Rubell Museum, home to one of the country’s biggest private contemporary art collections. As I’ve said before, this is my favorite collection in Miami, with so much diversity in the artists, subjects, and media on display throughout the 36 different gallery rooms.

Another private collection housed in Allapattah is El Espacio 23, founded by Jorge Pérez — yes, the same Pérez who has donated hundreds of pieces and many millions of dollars to support PAMM, the museum which, as a result, bears his name. The collection is free to visit by appointment only, which can be scheduled online.

There are differing views on the impact of these grander institutions on the neighborhood. If you are more keen to support smaller-scale, more community-centered art spaces, read on.

Mindy Solomon Gallery has called Allapattah home for the last 13 years and specializes in contemporary emerging and mid-career artists and art advisory services… Edge Zones is an artist and volunteer-run contemporary arts non-profit with a 23 year history in Miami; their art center has three individual galleries and opened in the neighborhood in 2016… Esquina de Abuela has served as a multi-use space for artists, makers, and doers to create, connect and collaborate since 2015… husband-wife team Grant and Christina Bonnier opened The Bonnier Gallery in 2018 to give minimalist and conceptual art a permanent, accessible home in Miami… Open since 2012, The Gesamtkunstwerk building “was designed to give a curated group of businesses and individuals, who were influential in the development of Wynwood as an arts community, with the long-term stability needed to continue their efforts”; two of their on-site exhibition spaces are Spinello Projects and the Projektraum.

🥪 It’s lunch time

You’ve worked up an appetite roaming the galleries — let’s eat! As a melting pot of a neighborhood, there’s quite the diversity of cuisines.

Fabian Martinez, founder of the aforementioned Esquina de Abuela, names Don Toston, México1810 Taquería and Ranchito Mi Perú II as his local gems and swears by the latter’s leche de tigre to stave off illness.

Since 1980, Miamians have headed to Plaza Seafood Market for a fresh local catch. Get in line for a platter of fresh, fried fish with salad, rice and beans, or plantains, park yourself at one of the patio tables, and dig in. Another decades-old, super casual seafood option is Conch Town USA — get the mollusk fried by the pound, in a salad, stewed, frittered, you name it.

Good luck deciding on just one of the dozens of options at Subs on the Run. If you want your decision made for you, pick up a pan con lechón from Papo Llega y Pon, which has served more than 500 a day since 1978. If you like your sandwiches Italian style, try Casa Roma for paninis, or their Roman-style pizza.

🛍 Time to go shopping

Allapattah has a serious mix of stores to shop at, including second-hand and wholesale options. Take a cruise down NW 20th St between NW 27th Ave and NW 17th Ave and you’ll see clothing retailers for adults and children, women and men, plus swimwear, sunglasses, perfume, bridal, jewelry — the list goes on and on.

Just off NW 20th St is also where you’ll find the HQ for Goodwill South Florida and their accompanying thrift store. Lotus House, the organization supporting women and children experiencing homelessness, also houses their Thrift Chic Boutique in Allapattah.

Lastly, drop into Daily and Yesterday, a tandem hub to buy, sell, trade and consign new and used sneakers and streetwear.

🍽 Have room for dinner?

The neighborhood welcomed both Leku and Hometown BBQ in 2019. With the sun setting on your day, eating al fresco at either restaurant sounds inviting.

Hometown BBQ earned Michelin Bib Gourmand status last year, with the guide writing that the “warehouse-chic space amidst a sea of industry in the Miami Produce Center… is something to behold.” The guide adds that the “hulking beef rib crusted with salt and black pepper, as well as melting, charred slices of brisket are essential orders that have few equals outside of Texas.”

Michelin calls Leku one of the best options for outdoor dining in Miami, noting its “tall, handsome garage doors that open out onto the lush, forest-like patio” next to the Rubell Museum. Invite them to roll the cart bearing a leg of jamón Ibérico over to your table before you dive into their menu of Basque dishes. If you order nothing else, get a slice of their Basque cheesecake and pair it with a carajillo.

🍸 Don’t call it a day just yet!

If you want to put on your dancing shoes, head to Club Tipico Dominicano, a neighborhood institution, or Studio 60 Nightclub. If you’re feeling lucky, think about dropping in Casino Miami. And if you need liquid courage before dancing or gambling, or just want to spend the evening somewhere more low key, pay a visit to Tropical Distillers. They distill mango, citrus, and espresso liqueurs in addition to whiskey, vodka, gin, rum and tequila-like agave — and serve cocktails made with all of them on site.