Outside the Box: Charcoal, Miami’s First Shipping Container Restaurant

Photo Courtesy of Pinzur Communications

The Wynwood Yard continues to serve as a billowing hub for culinary exploration and inventive restaurateurs. Charcoal, the Yard’s newest addition, represents a shift from their transient, food truck dining style to a full-service experience. However, true to form, the Yard has incorporated its ingenuity in the form of shipping containers — that’s right, Miami’s first and only full-functioning eatery made solely from modified metal boxes.

Upon entering, rich smoke greets you from the Josper grill while the clang of bar spoons readies your palate for one of Charcoal’s piquant cocktails like the Pimm’s Cup. One of the more distinct features are their wines on tap, French and Italian varietals that rotate frequently. For beer lovers, Charcoal offers large format, rare craft beers served in growlers. Can I get a hallelujah?

If the wine on tap and growlers didn’t sell you, the ambiance will. The three-sided bar overlooks a lush courtyard where you can dine al fresco to the sounds of Bill Withers or opt for intimate indoor seating adorned with candle lit tables and chic artwork. Start your meal with a myriad of charcuterie options including unique items such as wild boar prosciutto (Hint: Any Cowgirl Creamery cheese is a must!) or opt for freshly shucked oysters on the half shell. Each meal is served with a Charcoal house salad crafted with the Yard’s own harvest and topped with sherry-shallot-thyme vinaigrette; tasty and herbaceous AF.

The menu, which rotates twice per season, centers around the Spanish style Josper grill. I’ll admit, the term “Josper” was foreign to me; if like me you were raised on the good ol’ American barbecue, a “Josper grill” resembles and functions similar to a brick oven. The restaurant is a globally-inspired medley of locally sourced meats, in-house butchered fowl, wild caught fish, and fresh produce from Miami’s Little River Cooperative.

In addition to its consciously procured ingredients, the menu also collaborates with Miami natives like Proper Sausage and Miami Smoker’s, which further evidences Charcoal’s sense of community. The menu mirrors it’s unique setting; the perfect marriage between rustic comfort and modern novelty.

Charcoal is the brainchild of Ken Lyon. Lyon, who has been at the Yard since its onset in 2015, was challenged to create an orthodox restaurant in an unorthodox space, forcing him to think outside the box (or inside the box) to generate the formalities of a full service restaurant into a non-permanent space.

The veteran caterer and former owner of Fratelli Lyon wants Charcoal to be a place where you can “dial things back” and enjoy the present — a place where you can enjoy a “simple but elegant meal.” Lyon emphasizes the lost art of dining by hosting “Analog Tuesdays,” where guests receive comped dessert when they enjoy their dinner sans smartphone.

The restaurant has launched a promising brunch and daily happy hour specials. Follow them  for updates and menu specials.