PREVIEW: The Classic Diner reinvented at Wynwood Diner

Wowza! Hello there, and welcome to the neighborhood Wynwood Diner. No this isn’t a joke, after many close calls it’s finally here folks, and it was worth the wait.

Two Fridays ago, a new light spilled onto the corner of 26th street on Northwest Second Avenue as curious and well informed patrons walked through the doors of the new addition of the bustling Wynwood neighborhood. What they’ve done with the place leaves us short of words, and it’s a good thing they close at 3 a.m. because once you step through the gateway of what we’ll call “hospitality’s comforting wonderland” you’ll forget the rest of the neighborhood’s staples.

You might be asking yourself “what  is this hospitality comforting wonderland you speak of?” Well, close your eyes for a second and imagine your favorite restos and joints, ever. We bet some of those memories include a childhood favorite, some form of mom-and-pop eatery where you indulged on stacks of pancakes and slurped down milkshakes with innocent glee. How about that cafe you frequented during that trip to whichever old-world country, where you sipped on bitter afternoon aperitifs, daydreaming of the greats that might have sat on that same upholstered antique couch you are reclining on whilst admiring the trinkets on the fireplace mantel--did that one make the cut? Then definitely one of the many outdoor oases that have sprung around town in the recent decade, the ones with plush outdoor seating softly lit with string lights, that remind us that we do, after all, live in paradise. But can you check “all of the above” at just one spot?

Behold Wynwood Diner. The experience gives exponentially as you walk through each of the rooms of this huge lofty space that feels like an early 1900s movie set. It begins in the front of the house, where busy chefs sweat in the subway-tiled open kitchen of the diner area, decorated with antique red leather booths that line up on top of checkered floors. The walls are purposely worn down; concrete blocks revealed through chipped teal plaster. This is where you’ll eventually find yourself having breakfast at any given point of the day.

You read that right. Even though it was well into the evening, we couldn’t resist ordering the chicken and waffles from the Waffles, Toast & Cakes section of the menu. And then we took it all over the place with some crunchy buffalo chicharrones (yes, we’re still in Miami), heirloom tomato and peach salad tossed with red onions, parsley, sea salt and a delightfully creamy barrel aged feta (ridic!),  and lastly, an order of smoked sea-salt roasted marrow bones--which I have to admit, left us all a bit unsatisfied and perplexed, due to the side of raw parsley that accompanied the two emaciated pieces. At this point, we fancied it was time for a proper libation, which they seem to be more successful at nailing.

Walk past it all, down the corridor lined by the seating arrangement and you’ll step into the European cafe level, The Lounge, where a fully decked bar lines a wall decorated with bookshelves stacked with old volumes. The floor in this room is made of worn-down wooden planks, decked with mismatched sets of retro 50’s tables and chairs. The lighting is eclectic as well, ranging from red iron dome pendant fixtures, candle sticks, even a chandelier composed of hanging glass lanterns. The later hangs on top of the living room area found all the way in the back by the palm frond wallpapered that nestles a faux fireplace in between two tall Golden Pothos--which of course strategically set the tone, leading way to the outdoor patio. Which is a good idea, because by now you’re probably forgetting that the outside world exists.

Except the outdoor area is just as magical as the inside, and you find yourself in a secret garden where green-iron patio furniture is softly lit by speckled colorful candles and hanging white birdcage lanterns.

Our dream-like state was leveled for a minute when perusing the menu, when we noticed that Wynwood Diner doesn’t carry any of the beers brewed in Wynwood, and not because it doesn’t cater to craft--out of the 12 “capped”, “canned” and “tapped” choices, only two (maybe three, depending on whose opining) are considered mainstream.  Trust us, we’re not the only ones who’ve noticed.

Cocktails it is then, and you can’t go wrong here since their menu is curated by none other than bar manager Vanessa Hulsey (formerly of Broken Shaker and 27). On the eight-drink menu you can find gems that include a peach-pie Old Fashioned, and Tiki inspired spicy and fruity pisco drink, West Side Swizzle. I personally found my kindred spirit in the Nightly Muse--Manzanilla sherry and Del Maguey Vida mezcal stirred with a tea reduction, and Angostura. They must have known I lived in the neighborhood. Welcome to Wynwood.

Wynwood Diner

2601 NW 2nd Ave

Miami, FL

305 747 7888