Named after a pair of wooden gates that once stood as a gateway to its lush, green streets, El Portal today has been transformed into a quiet haven for art, design and creativity. Nestled along the winding Little River Canal, El Portal’s jungle foliage envelopes old Florida homes and midcentury dwellings. Iggy Pop and the late Anthony Bourdain have hung out in El Portal at the punk icon’s bohemian wood-paneled home; the funky enclave is reminiscent of Miami’s swinging heyday. Just north of this serene village lies an emerging district, where artists and creatives mingle over laptops; galleries and interior designers show off their wares; and new food halls and restaurants are popping up on the scene.
Meet Our El Portal Guide: Mindy Solomon
“The one thing I know is that I have really good taste,” Mindy Solomon said with a laugh.
Warm and inviting, Solomon’s demeanor strikes the perfect tone for her collector clients. With a roster of emerging and mid-career artists earning plenty of buzz, her El Portal gallery is difficult to walk out of without a delicate ceramic work or boundary-pushing painting.
Originally from a town outside of Philadelphia, Solomon’s interest in fine art spans decades of coursework in art history and studio art. She purchased her first piece — a ceramic sake vase — on her honeymoon.
“Ceramic was great to start collecting because it was more affordable,” she said. “I just kept accumulating and buying more stuff that I enjoyed having in my home.”
After her husband’s career relocated them to Florida, Solomon opened her first gallery in St. Petersburg, sticking mostly to ceramics and paintings.
“My premise has always been to show 2D and 3D works, and showcase how they can interact with one another,” she said.
In 2013, Solomon was ready to expand her horizons, opening Mindy Solomon Gallery in Wynwood. Two years later, she moved her eponymous gallery to Little River, a stone’s throw from El Portal, where she shows up-and-comers like Super Future Kid, Hiba Schabaz and Linda Lopez.
Solomon shared with INDULGE her favorite spots to unwind outside the gallery:
“I usually stop in to Panther Coffee just down the street. I always take my coffee to go, to get ready to tackle the day.” 5934 Northwest Second Avenue; 305-677-3952; panthercoffee.com.
Lunch on the Cheap
“This neighborhood is full of delightful Haitian businesses, like Pack Supermarket. They have the best food, and it’s only a few bucks for a heaping plate.” 8235 Northeast Second Avenue, 305-757-4777.
“Tile Blush, just down the street from my gallery, shows some really interesting work at the intersection of contemporary art and design.” 8375 Northeast Second Avenue; 305-812-6231; tileblush.com.
“I love exploring the Antiques & Design Mall. It’s very interesting to wander, and you never know what you will discover or what will inspire you.” 8650 Biscayne Boulevard; 305-458-7134; antiquesdesignmiami.com.
Blinded by Design
“Aldo Puschendorf, an interior designer specializing in blinds and shades, also just opened a location down the street from my gallery. I bought shades for my Buena Vista home from him.” 8363 Northeast Second Avenue; 305-751-0100; puschendorfinteriors.com.
“When I want to do something special for guests, I head over to Proper Sausages. They have an incredible selection of charcuterie.” 9722 Northeast Second Avenue; 786-334-5734; propersausages.com.
Unwind After Work
“I just love Sherwood’s Bistro. I go there whether I want to drink, eat or kick back. It’s such a cool, homey place, with truly enviable design.” 8281 Northeast Second Avenue; 786-359-4030; sherwoodsbistro.com.
Art Meets Fashion
“One of my favorite local artists, Pepe Mar, just opened a shop with a fashion designer friend. Much of the clothing features Mar’s work as a print motif; I recently got a blouse from there that I adore.” 6300 Northeast Fourth Court; 305-456-9632; artteca.com.
“My guilty pleasure is Cindy Lou’s Cookies. My favorite is her brownie with Nutella frosting, but I also love the coconut and guava cookies and the deep dish s’mores. She also makes an incredible lemon pound cake.” 7320 Northeast Second Avenue; 305-456-8585; cindylouscookies.com.
“I have a really cool pair of shoes from TenOverSix. They have great clothes — I’ve even purchased some fun ceramics there for my daughter!” 7338 Northwest Miami Court; 786-615-4700; shop.tenover6.com.
More Neighborhoods: Explore Coral Way, more than a cut-through between Brickell and Coral Gables.