Here are two words Miamians haven’t heard in a long time: Art Basel. The mega-week of art fairs, concerts, parties, and excessive use of the word “installations” is coming back to Miami on the first week of December. 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 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 Art Basel. And (at the time of this writing) they all have open tables during Basel week. So hurry up and book.
Hopefully you got a chance to experience Jaguar Sun’s wonderful pandemic pop-up at Lot 6, which eventually turned into Sunny’s Steakhouse. But if you didn’t, good news: the team is bringing back the concept just in time for Basel. The outdoor steakhouse returns on November 30. And even though Lot 6 isn’t in the center of South Beach or Wynwood, it’s still going to be a fun dinner full of steak, Parker House rolls, and martinis. But even if you plan on staying home and hiding from traffic during Basel, Sunny’s will thankfully be sticking around after the tourists leave.
L’atelier De Joël Robuchon
L’Atelier in the Design District is a really great restaurant in general, but feels especially fitting for Art Basel since dinner here feels like such a grand event. The fine dining French spot has a cool, futuristic interior and counter seating with a great view of the open kitchen. The food is rich and decadent (prepare for lots of foie gras) but also fun, interesting, and gorgeously plated. They have some pricey tasting menu options that won’t disappoint, but if you’re going a la carte, make sure to get the kampachi sashimi and le foie gras au torchon, a little puck of the best foie gras you’ll ever have with slices of buttery grilled brioche so you can assemble your own toast.
Orilla Bar & Grill
South Beach during Art Basel is...a lot. Most locals prefer to stay away from the area, for fear of spending the next decade on the MacArthur Causeway. If, however, you’re trying to jump headfirst into the chaos, Orilla provides a brief respite from the clout-chasing traffic tsunami going on outside. We really like this Argentinian restaurant because it’s just South Beach enough without being annoyingly South Beach. You can dress up without feeling stupid, enjoy some great steak and martinis, and not have to be harassed by party promoters on your way out.
If you’ve got plans to be in the Design District for Basel, make sure Itamae is part of those plans. There’s no dish on their frequently-changing Nikkei menu that hasn’t made us want to kick our chair aside and dance like Oscar Isaac in Ex Machina. The seating here is mostly outdoor, which is good because Art Basel weather tends to be delightful. And the beautifully plated tiradito, sushi, and tuna tartare will be much more interesting than the NFTs you’ll pretend to be interested in at various after parties.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro
Tables at Mandolin are going fast, which makes sense since every vacationing New Yorker we’ve ever met seems to be obsessed with this lovely outdoor Mediterranean restaurant. However, if you’re cool with eating at 11pm, there are still a few open tables. The restaurant is walking distance from the Design District - and it’s a very beautiful, relaxing place to end (or start) the night with some wine, grilled haloumi, and manti dumplings.
If you’re brave (or stupid) enough to venture into Wynwood during Art Basel, you deserve some very good food. You can find just that at Uchi. This Japanese restaurant is making some of the best sushi in Miami, along with other great small plates. Order the hama chili, halibut, karaage chicken, and enough cocktails to forget about how much finding an Uber home is going to suck.
27 is a classic spot, and one of the few reliably great restaurants in Mid-Beach, an area infested with incredibly expensive and mostly underwhelming hotel restaurants. Let the unsavvy Art Basel crowd throw their credit cards down at those places while you enjoy crudo, 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.
Mr. Omakase in Downtown is good for a Basel dinner for a few reasons. First, there are only nine seats at the sushi counter, and chances are you’ll be sick of crowds by Tuesday. It’s also a fancy dinner that’s a lot more reasonably priced than most omakase spots around town, with dinner options ranging from $69 to $120 per person. And, last but not least, the sushi is outstanding. Every course just gets better and better, and by dessert, you’ll want to become a rich and famous artist only so you can eat here on a weekly basis.
Maybe you don’t want a reasonably priced omakase. Maybe you have international art collectors to impress or maybe you’re the person who bought the $120,000 wall banana two years ago and your credit score is just the thumb’s up emoji. Well, there are a few seatings left at Hiden for Basel week. The Wynwood omakase speakeasy, which is located in the back of a taco shop, is a ridiculously lavish dining experience. For Basel week, Hiden will be taken over by the head chef of Copenhagen’s Kødbyens Fiskebar for $500 per person. And, yes, even writing that sentence made our credit card cry. There are no details about the specific menu yet, but if it’s anything like our last visit to Hiden, we assume it’ll involve raw fish and be absolutely incredible.
Macchialina is another 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 good ol’ neighborhood restaurant. Come here for lots of pasta, negronis, and a bread pudding we want to marry. Their somewhat new outdoor seating is going to be perfect for a (hopefully) chilly December night, too.
Fancy plating, South Beach location, and a reservation you can brag about in front of well-dressed strangers. What more could you want from an Art Basel dinner? Stubborn Seed is always reliable for an impressive meal. You can order a la carte here, but it’s Art Basel, baby - a week that makes you question the very concept of money on a philosophical level. So get the $150 per person eight-course tasting menu. Dishes change often here, but you can usually depend on some really excellent crudos, impressive vegetables, and something involving wagyu.
Joe's Stone Crab
Did you know that Joe’s started accepting reservations last year? How this was not front-page news in every newspaper in the country, we’re not sure. But their Resy page is still up, so take advantage while you can. They only accept reservations six days in advance, so set an alarm for November 23, and keep refreshing that page until you get the table you’re looking for. It’ll be easier than awkwardly slipping the maître d’ $60.
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 and Arson are always top of mind. The two restaurants merged into one during the pandemic, combining both Catalan menus like a salty, delicious Transformer. This is a great place to eat steak, seafood, and drink multiple bottles of natural wine. Just please don’t leave without ordering the Ous, a bowl of runny poached eggs, truffled potato foam, black truffle, and crispy bits of jamón ibérico.
Right now, Boia De only has availability on the Monday of Basel. However, (at the time of this writing) they haven’t started taking reservations for Saturday and Sunday yet. Those will become available in the next 24 to 48 hours, so start chugging energy drinks and don’t get up from your computer if you want to have one of the best meals in Miami inside one of the cutest dining rooms in Miami. If you’re lucky enough to snag a table, order every pasta on the menu as well as the outstanding chopped salad.