MIAGuide

The Art Basel Reservations You Should Make Right Now

Because these places are going to fill up very, very soon.
The Art Basel Reservations You Should Make Right Now image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

The mega-week of art fairs, concerts, parties, and excessive use of the word “installations” starts in Miami on December 4. And while many of the week’s events haven’t been announced yet, there is something you can do right now to ensure a successful Art Basel: make a reservation. If you don’t do that, like, today, then you’re going to be spending that week eating pizza at home, which honestly sounds kind of nice. But if you’re one of those people who want to be in the thick of the Basel madness, you’ll need that reservation fast. This guide has some great restaurants in the epicenters of Miami Art Week.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Vietnamese

Downtown

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightSpecial OccasionsOutdoor/Patio Situation

Tam Tam is one of the most fun restaurants in Miami at any time of year. But we imagine it'll be particularly alive during Art Basel, when word spreads about the fact that they have a karaoke bathroom. That's definitely part of the reason this place is great, but the food is also incredible. The sticky fish sauce caramel wings and tamarind-glazed ribs are both great reasons to get messy (and pay another visit to that bathroom). This Downtown spot is small though, so grab that reservation as soon as you can. And please don't call the bathroom "immersive."

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Maty's is one of the year's hottest new restaurants because it makes food that makes you want to charge into the kitchen and start hurling compliments at every living creature. It's centrally near (but not quite in) Wynwood, so you can sidestep some of the week's most awful traffic. But you're mostly coming here to ensure your Art Basel experience consists of some of the most delicious food in Miami right now. And if you order the chicken milanesa, whole roasted dorade, or oxtail saltado, it most definitely will.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

RESERVE A TABLE

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It is an act of bravery to venture into Wynwood during Art Basel week. But if you’re willing to put up with the crowds or just know you’re going to be there for some sort of event, Doya is where you want to eat. This place is so reliable—from the service to the food to the beautiful, roomy space that will help you relax after weaving through jammed sidewalks like a salmon swimming upstream. We have yet to try a plate here we didn’t love, especially the grilled tiger prawns and lamb kebab. 


We recommend Downtown's Jaguar Sun for almost every occasion imaginable, including Art Basel. Because not only will you encounter outstanding pasta and perfect cocktails here, but this place is always a blast. You don’t have to be at the right table or order very specifically to enjoy yourself. Everything (both in liquid and solid form) is delicious, and the staff is a small team of extroverts hell-bent on making sure your glass is never empty. You're coming here for outstanding pasta, oysters, a cold martini, and because you need a dinner that'll make you forget that you just spent $97 to get here thanks to surge pricing. 

Macchialina is a great spot to hide from South Beach, while still being inside South Beach. The Italian restaurant on Alton Road is super popular, but still somehow manages to feel like a familiar neighborhood restaurant where everyone is friends. Or, at least, everyone is too distracted by the perfect pasta to be anything but nice. Come here for said perfect pasta, negronis, and desserts that are always worth ordering.

If you're interested in drinking excellent gin and cutting into a wonderful duck confit paella after a long day of pretending to "get" art, then go to Tropezón. The Andalusian gin and tapas bar on Española Way is one of our favorite places for a boozy South Beach dinner that tastes good too. The space—a 50/50 split between a bar and dining room—has a snug interior featuring lots of wood and legs of jamón hanging from the ceiling. They also have a really lovely outdoor courtyard, so ask to sit out there if the weather’s nice. 

If you're looking for a big, fun restaurant that'll satisfy a tourist's craving for a night of Cuban Miami culture (and still be so much fun for any local too), get a table at this Little Havana spot. The food is good, there’s always live music, and the team of spiffy bartenders not only make the world’s best daiquiri but also occasionally start dancing and playing instruments. Just don't come if you're trying to have a conversation because it gets loud in the dining room.

27 is a Miami Beach classic, and one of the few reliably great restaurants in Mid-Beach, an area infested with incredibly expensive and mostly underwhelming hotel restaurants. Let the rich masses of Art Basel throw their credit cards down at those places while you enjoy ceviche, griot, and kimchi fried rice from this great restaurant, which never fails to make us feel cooler than we actually are. Another great thing about 27 is that it’s connected to Broken Shaker, a fantastic cocktail bar that’s going to be crowded pretty much 24/7 during Basel.

Cote, a great Korean steakhouse in the Design District, has become quite a difficult reservation. So try your luck now, before we’re flooded with art tourists looking to celebrate acquiring a piece of art that has a price tag with several commas. Dinner at the upscale Korean steakhouse is the kind of big, luxurious event that'd be fitting for that. But even if you're on more of a thrift store art budget, there's always the $68 per person Butcher’s Feast—a 90-minute performance dedicated to all things protein—is one of the best celebratory meals you can have in Miami.


Tables at Mandolin are sure to go fast, which makes sense since every vacationing New Yorker we’ve ever met seems to be obsessed with this lovely outdoor Mediterranean restaurant. However, you might get lucky (especially if you’re cool with eating at 11pm). The restaurant is walking distance from the Design District—and it’s such a beautiful, relaxing place to end (or start) the night with some wine, grilled haloumi, and manti dumplings. If dinner is already completely booked, try lunch.

If you’re trying to woo clients or have the corporate card of a Fortune 500 company in your pocket, grab a table at Klaw. It’s hard to do this opulent Edgewater steak and seafood palace right without spending at least $200 per person. But Klaw's food, service, and gorgeous dining room (which has a great waterfront view) warrant its colossal price point. You're coming here for dry-aged steaks and king crab legs so good you'll want to write a thank you letter to the ocean. But even if this place is out of your budget, you should still make a reservation for a cocktail on their rooftop bar, where there’s a menu of small plates and an even better view. 


Uchi is another Wynwood spot to prioritize during Art Basel. Because if you manage to get to this neighborhood without losing your mind, you deserve some very good food. Raw fish should be part of your meal here, but so should a couple hot dishes, which will help you get full without spending a lot of money on nigiri. Go for the excellent karaage chicken or the kinoko nabe, a hot bowl of crispy rice, seasonal mushrooms, an egg yolk, and your choice of foie gras or short rib. And drink enough cocktails to forget about how much finding an Uber home is going to suck.


This spot is Temporarily Closed.

By the time the weekend of Miami Art Week rolls around, you will almost certainly wake up exhausted, starving, and ready never to hear the name "Jeff Koons” ever again. When that happens, you’ll be thrilled you made that Saturday brunch reservation at Rosie’s. This Little River spot serves a phenomenal Southern American menu. The food here is pretty recognizable: fried chicken and waffles, biscuits, crispy fish and grits. But you will do a double take when you taste it, because it's so much better than any version you may remember from your own personal brunch history. 

No trip to Miami is complete without some quality time spent staring at large bodies of water. And you can’t eat much closer to Biscayne Bay than at Edgewater's Amara—unless you own a boat or are a manatee. But if you are not a herbivorous marine mammal, then this is a really good choice because both the view and food are very good. The menu is pretty much all seafood, with a small raw bar and a great grilled snapper you can share with a couple friends. Come during the day (or at sunset) if you really want to see the view in all its glory.

Miami is saturated with sceney steakhouses that are all sure to be sardine cans during Art Basel. But very few of those places do it better than the city’s original sceney steakhouse: Prime 112. And if you're looking for a see-and-be-seen spot, this is still one of South Beach's best. Fair warning: it'll probably be mayhem during Basel. But maybe that's what you like? Plus, if you do get sent to the bar to wait for your table, good news: there's complimentary bar bacon. Just know that reservations have to be made over the phone.

Downtown has increasingly become an Art Basel hotspot, so it’s a safe bet to assume you’ll be there at some point. And when discussing eating in Downtown, NIU Kitchen is always top of mind. This is a great place to drink multiple bottles of wine. Just please don’t leave without ordering the cold tomato soup and the ous, a bowl of runny poached eggs, truffled potato foam, black truffle, and crispy bits of jamón ibérico. It's one of the best dishes in the entire city.


Sorry, but the odds of you snagging a table at Boia De during Art Basel week are very low. It's hard enough to get in here on a random Wednesday during summer. Still, turn your Resy notifications on and try your best. It'll be worth it. This narrow Italian restaurant on the edge of Buena Vista has one of those menus that's like a perfect album, with not a single song you’d dare skip. And if you just can't find a table, look into Boia De's very good sister restaurant Walrus Rodeo, which is right next door (and easier to book).


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