Coconut Grove is the oldest modern continuously inhabited neighborhood of Miami in Miami-Dade County, settled in 1825 and annexed to the city in 1925; with its rich history, lush vegetation, spectacular bay views and sense of community, the \”Grove\” has seen many ups and downs when it comes to its culinary scene and popularity with locals and tourists alike.
Through the years, Coconut Grove has been the \”place to be\” as well as \” a dead zone\”; during the cocaine frenzy of the 80\’s the Grove was notorious for being the neighborhood to go to, but all that debauchery made the area decline until CocoWalk and the Mayfair opened spots such as Planet Hollywood and Baja Beach Club, not precisely culinary meccas, but most definitely party spots and tourist traps. After that was said and done, the local club scene took a hit when legislation ordered to stop serving alcohol after 3 am, the neighborhood then became a quiet place and long forgotten were those horrible traffic blocks in the corner of Main Highway and Grand Avenue.
In the last 10-15 years, the Grove has remained a low key area with an island feel, the \”Grovites\” love their neighborhood and little by little it is starting to pick up again. It is now home to art galleries, independent shops and yoga studios which add to the overall laid back feel. Local restaurants like Jaguar, Peacock Garden, Lokal, Greenstreet and Bouchon in the Grove (to name a few) are always busy and have gained the trust and love of the local community.
Luxury condo developments such as Grove at Grand Bay and Park Grove are the buzz of the real estate world and have brought a massive wave of change to this bay side community. The old convention center was demolished to give way to more green areas, Dinner Key Marina is also undergoing a face-lift and the plan is to revamp the waterfront lot with more high scale restaurants and shops. Both Chef Thomas Keller and Alain Ducasse have shown interest in Coconut Grove.
More concise plans are for Chef Michael Schwartz, who is opening the new Harry\’s Pizzeria and will have a restaurant inside the posh Park Grove condominium -currently under construction-. He feels that locals are ready for more upscale food choices and most can agree with this statement. Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli from Eating House will also open a new restaurant in Peacock Park called Glass House which is part of the redevelopment of the area.
With this said, it only takes a quick drive around Coconut Grove to witness the changes that are happening. Needless to say this is very exciting for Grovites and Miamians alike. It\’s time.