After playing taxi for relatives going on a cruise last Sunday, we decided on a whim to take a detour on the way back to Fort Lauderdale and explore the Wynwood Arts District. It had been a while since we had been in the area and we were impressed by the changes. We could have spent hours just walking the blocks taking in the murals covering almost every space. Unfortunately, we had limited time and had to narrow down the jaunt to drinks and lunch. These are just two of the many places we could have chosen to go but that is just another reason for us to take the quick 25 minute drive back down!
It’s no secret that the craft beer industry is growing exponentially across the country. Once lagging behind, Florida is finally getting its feet wet and diving headlong into unchartered territory. Closer to home, Wynwood Brewing Company, Miami’s first craft production brewery, took the leap and began its brewing operation back in 2011. Located in the heart of Wynwood Art District, Wynwood Brewing is a family owned and operated facility that is chugging out some remarkable craft beers in and around South Florida, both to locals and tourists alike. Their 15-barrel brewhouse is surrounded by former clothing and shoe warehouses, but are now the canvas for local artists who have painted some truly amazing graffiti art.
The taproom is small, but comfortable and well lit, and offers craft beer lovers an opportunity to see the brewing operation first-hand behind large glass windows in the back of the bar. There is some eclectic art on the wall at Wynwood Brewing, and it definitely has a laid back, do as you want feel. The staff is very friendly, and on this particular day they were dealing with having to tell everyone that it was cash only since the network was temporarily down. Lucky for us, we had cash in hand. Now, on to the beers…The Wynwood IPA (7.2% ABV) is just what you’d expect: Bitter on the open and middle with strong hints of pine, grapefruit and floral notes, followed by a nice mellow finish. La Pantera (The Panther 6.5% ABV) Coffee Stout is a collaboration of sorts, between friends, using Panther Coffee as the base for an amazingly complex brew. Yes, Panther Coffee. Like most stouts, La Pantera hits your palate like a strong jolt of Cuban Coffee (Que Bola!), then throws in some malty cocoa notes just to bring your tastebuds back to earth. Of the two beers we tasted this Sunday, La Pantera clearly was the favorite.
Spray painted in bright red on a brick wall in Kush Wynwood is a simple, yet prophetic adage every craft beer lover lives by: “Cheap beer ain’t good, good beer ain’t cheap.” Fresh from our craft beer tasting at Wynwood Brewing Company, it was time for a bite to eat. Checking for nearby restaurants, we found ourselves heading a few blocks over to Kush by Lokal, a funky little eatery and craft beer establishment that boasts some of the best burgers in the area along with an impressive draft and bottle beer selection. The bar/restaurant is very small, with only a few tables situated along the walls and a modest bar. There are tables outside, but on this 90+-degree South Florida day, we decided indoors was a better dining option. Seating at Kush is first come, first served, so as soon as you walk through the door, be sure to get a staff member’s attention so they can offer you a place to sit when it becomes available. We got lucky when a couple at a counter near the bar had just finished and were paying their check.
Kush’s beer menu walks a fine line between the beers you know, the beers you’d like to know and the beers you simply have to try. We ordered the Victory Dirtwolf Double IPA (8.7% ABV), a one-two punch of strong hoppiness that assaults the palate, and the Mikkeller George Imperial Stout (12% ABV), a chocolaty, malty complex stout that is rich and deep in dark flavors without being cloyingly sweet.
Kush’s menu has plenty of options to satisfy any palate: from the South you can nosh on alligator bites (fried and served with creamy garlic and spicy mayo) to pork sausages and fried pickles. But Kush is known for its burgers, so we decided to split Kush’s award-winning Johnny Utah (I am an FBI AGENT!), which was recently voted best burger in Miami by New Times weekly. Johnny Utah, the burger, not Keanu’s free spirited, surf obsessed federal agent character from “Point Break,” is a quarter pound of beef cooked to order and topped with hot pastrami, LoKal Sauce (don’t ask), sliced tomato, diced white onions and cheddar cheese. One bite and you can taste why the Johnny Utah burger won the award (yet, despite his duty, wouldn’t bring Bodhi in). Flavorful and juicy, savory and spicy – whatever adjective describes awesome – the Johnny Utah is without a doubt one of the best burgers we’ve had in some time. With food of this quality and a beer menu that will satisfy even the most discriminating of craft beer drinkers, Kush by Lokal is perfecting its art in Wynwood.