Named for the winding waterway that separates the neighborhood from El Portal to the north, Little River is emerging as Miami’s latest hub of art and design. Its historic roots — before the rebirth of the Ironside district and influx of modern galleries and trendy cafés — trace to being a settling ground for Haitian immigrants, who went to work in the area’s warehouses and bottling plants. Located just north of Little Haiti along the North Miami Avenue corridor, Little River today manages to strike a balance between industrial and impossibly cool. Cultural pioneers like MADE at the Citadel and Nina Johnson live harmoniously alongside old favorites like B&M Market and the quirky Football Sandwich Shop, making Little River an urban destination for the creatively inclined.
Meet our Guide: Anthony Spinello of Spinello Projects
Much of Anthony Spinello’s success in the art world can be credited to brutal honesty. The young gallerist’s career began in 2004, at the now-shuttered Liquid Blue gallery in Wynwood. At the time, Spinello had attended a show there, and the gallery’s owner, real estate titan Jeff Morr, asked for his opinion. “You want the truth?” Spinello remembers saying, a brazen reply for a 21-year-old graphic designer. Morr was impressed by his critique and offered Spinello the role of gallery director.
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Little River strikes a balance between industrial and impossibly cool.
From that position, he triaged the gallery’s aesthetic before founding Spinello Projects in his Midtown apartment in 2005. “I had a wall separating my tiny living quarters from the gallery,” he said. Twelve years and almost a dozen moves later, Spinello Projects remains a cornerstone of Miami’s arts community. Its latest home, in Little River, is a former auto-body shop that Spinello transformed into “a unique space where we’re able to house art and have a large audience.”
Here, his top 10 places to visit in Little River, Miami:
1. A coffee shop and bike garage
“This cool café, Imperial Moto, recently opened next door to my gallery. They’re in there working on vintage motorcycles, but they also sell Panther Coffee and pastries and sandwiches.”
7299 Northwest Second Avenue; 305-364-5083; imperialmoto.com.
2. For the dogs
“When my dog was a puppy I would take him to The Barkhaus so he could become acclimated with other dogs. You wouldn’t even know it’s there because it’s an old converted house.”
7153 Northwest First Court; 305-484-9038; thebarkhaus.com.
3. Freshly baked bread
“We love to order from The Bakery Boys. It’s a Haitian bakery, and we order pastries there for our all of our openings.”
145 Northwest 71st Street; 305-754-6371.
4. An art evolution
“I knew the next space for Spinello Projects needed to be somewhere we could continue to grow. I came across this space in Little River, and I asked the landlord if I could re-design it.”
7221 Northwest Second Avenue; 786-271-4223; spinelloprojects.com.
5. You want art? Little River’s got it
“More galleries are popping up, especially along Northwest Second Avenue. You have Emerson Dorsch, Nina Johnson, Pan-American Projects, &gallery and Bill Brady. If you cross to Northeast Second Avenue, you have Mindy Solomon and fu gallery.”
6. Top spot for vegetarian food
“I’m a vegetarian, and I love Naomi’s Garden Restaurant. It’s a great local spot serving Jamaican and Caribbean dishes. I love the walkup window, too.”
650 Northwest 71st Street; 305-456-4715; naomismiami.com.
7. Discover new artists
“I love visiting The Fountainhead Studios, especially when they host open houses and open studios. You get to see a lot of what local artists are producing.”
7338 Northwest Miami Court; 305-482-1299; fountainheadresidency.com.
8. Find a little of everything
“The Miami Ironside complex was designed by Rene Gonzalez, one of my favorite architects in Miami. I like to go for a pizza at Ironside Kitchen or peruse The Alchemist or shop for a gift at KRELwear by Miami artist Karelle Levy.”
7610 Northeast Fourth Court; miamiironside.com.
9. Hidden gem for furniture
“I collect mid-century modern pieces, and all of the furniture in my house is from Select Modern.”
7400 Northeast Second Avenue; 305-490-8984; midcenturymoderndesignfinds.blogspot.com.
10. Favorite local watering hole
“My go-to spot is Sherwood’s Bistro. The design is absolutely beautiful, the lighting is amazing, and the drinks are great. Plus, they have live music.”
8281 Northeast Second Avenue; 786-359-4030; sherwoodsbistro.com.