20 Restaurants You Can (Probably) Get Into Without A Reservation During Art Basel
Forgot to make that reservation for Art Basel? Try one of these great walk-in spots.
There are two unshakable truths about Art Basel week in Miami. Someone will go viral for doing something remarkably stupid, and restaurants will be absolutely slammed. We did try and tell you to make a reservation weeks ago. But we know you’ve been busy. So this guide is here to give you some walk-in-friendly options in and around Art Basel’s busiest neighborhoods. Can we guarantee they’ll all have an open table waiting for you? We can’t. But, at this point, they’re your best bet.
There aren’t a ton of places in South Beach where you can 1) walk in without a reservation, and 2) expect to have a lovely meal every single time. This is why you should always keep Taquiza in mind. The restaurant is casual, and good for both a post-beach snack or a quick dinner before a night out. But the best part about this place is the food. The great Mexican spot (which has an equally good North Beach location) serves solid tacos and margaritas—but the best things to eat here are the totopos and squash blossom quesadilla.
At first glance, Off Site looks like a small, chill bar perfect for a beer and a conversation—which it is. But the really remarkable thing about the Little River nano-brewery is the food. They have a small menu with recognizable things like a burger, Cuban sandwich, hot dog, wings, and fried chicken sandwich. It seems like normal bar food, but each dish is outrageously good and among the best versions of these very popular foods you’ll find anywhere in Miami. Plus, the beer is great and they’re located on a relatively chill block of Little River, in case you need somewhere quiet after being dragged to Wynwood.
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Las Olas Cafe
Las Olas Cafe is always a quick, filling, affordably, and reliably good meal in South Beach. The Cuban spot serves juice, coffee, platters, and lots of sandwiches, including one of our favorite Cuban sandwiches in town. There are a few tables inside the cafeteria, but we usually just order from the ventanita and eat while people-watching on the sidewalk. It's great for a quick lunch if you happen to be running late and don't have time to wait 20 minutes for a table.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
The Gibson Room is a bar and restaurant on Coral Way. This spot comes from the Ariete team, which explains why the menu is a lot more creative (and delicious) than what’s at your average bar. They serve an impressively crispy chicken schnitzel, strozzapreti with diced ham, foie gras flan, and more dishes that range from an outstanding tamal en cazuela to oxtail and shrimp ramen. Coming here hungry is certainly a good idea, but it’s a great place to hang out regardless. Sit at the perfectly dim bar with a martini, think of names for each of the animal heads lining the wall, and enjoy the live music and vinyl DJs they host every night.
Motek, a very good Israeli restaurant in Downtown, isn’t visible from the street. It’s located inside an office building, and you really have to know where to look to find it. That means you (hopefully) will not have to compete for a table with the wandering Art Basel crowd. Once inside, order with confidence, because everything—shakshuka, schnitzel, hummus—is really good. They're also BYOB with no corking fee.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
Over Under is a cocktail bar and restaurant in Downtown that’s always fun and also has a neon sign of a mosquito drinking a martini, which honestly sums this place up better than we can. Over Under makes great bar food, like an excellent cheeseburger and fried alligator. The cocktails are wonderful too, especially the oyster shell-infused martini. It's a narrow spot that can fill up, but it’s walk-in only and there’s also a long bar where you can sit and inhale a fried chicken sandwich.
Bali Café is another Downtown restaurant that’s easy to miss from the street. The little cash-only Indonesian spot is a great casual option. They serve very generous portions of dishes you won’t find done this well anywhere else in the area. The big menu has everything from dumplings to sushi rolls—but you should focus on their signature Indonesian dishes, like the nasi goreng special. It comes on a little cafeteria-style tray with separated portions of fried rice, coconut chicken curry, and a tender pile of rendang.
Tacombi Design District
The Design District feels like an ant hill that’s been poked with a stick during Basel, and most restaurants will be packed. But Tacombi, a casual Mexican spot with solid tacos and margaritas, is probably your best bet for a good walk-in dinner. The baja crispy fish tacos are beautifully crispy, and the very good norteña quesadilla comes with strips of charred beef and lots of crumbled queso blanco. Keep it in mind for quick drinks and food after an event or before heading out for the night.
One of the benefits of being a restaurant inside a warehouse is that there’s no shortage of seating options, and that’s what makes Hometown such a great walk-in restaurant. Even when it’s crowded, you can still (probably) find a table outside or snag a bar seat. But honestly, we’d eat this food while riding a unicycle on the shoulder of I-95. It’s that good. The smoked turkey BLT, ribs, brisket—it’s all phenomenal. There are also cocktails and occasional live music on the weekends, and it’s walking distance from the great Rubell Museum.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
Low Key Miami
Low Key is, in fact, a low key experience. There's no dress code or reservation needed at the outdoor bar and restaurant in Little River, which is populated with picnic benches, shaded tables, and one heck of a tree. There is, however, great seafood dishes alongside frozen drinks and bottles of wine served in little coolers that'll make you feel like you're at the beach. This is the kind of place where you can camp out for hours with some friends, listen to live music or a DJ, eat fish dip, and just generally emulate the spirit of Jimmy Buffett.
Lemoni is a Buena Vista spot within walking distance from the Design District. The tiny restaurant is walk-in friendly, low stress, and serves really consistent food in portions that’ll fill you up. The menu leans Mediterranean, but they have everything from paninis to salads and even a cheesesteak. There are also a lot of vegetarian options, and good smoothies if you want to keep things kind of healthy. The dining room is about the size of a studio apartment, but there are some sidewalk tables as well.
La Leggenda Pizzeria
Here’s another solid South Beach walk-in option. We can’t guarantee you won’t have to wait for a table at La Leggenda, but we’ve always been seated immediately at this secluded (and very good) pizzeria just across from the always-slammed Española Way. Pizza is what you should be eating here. They have indoor and outdoor seating, wine, and serve a really great Neapolitan pie. And even though it’s only a baseball toss away from some very touristy restaurants, this place is pretty peaceful and quiet enough to have a conversation.
Sushi Yasu Tanaka By Masumura
You really need a reservation for about 99.99% of the excellent omakase options in Miami—except one: Sushi Yasu Tanaka. This vendor inside the Design District’s MIA Market doesn’t even take reservations. The quality of fish here is much more impressive than what you might expect from a shiny, casual food hall. The $59 omakase platter consists of ten pieces of nigiri, plus a handroll. The nigiri is pretty straightforward—beautiful cuts of salmon, tuna, scallop, and more rotating fish draped over a warm bed of rice.
Paradis Books & Bread
Paradis is just a tad north of where all the Basel stuff is going on, but the outstanding bakery and wine bar is really worth the detour. It’s tiny inside, but there are lots of outdoor tables where we’ve never had trouble finding a seat. They have a small menu of dishes that utilize the wonderful bread they bake here. What you really want to focus on is the pizza. They serve big, square sourdough slices that change often, but are always delicious and also only $3 per slice.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
The Basel madness doesn’t quite extend all the way to Coral Gables, so if you’re willing to make the drive down there, keep QP Tapas in mind for a great weekend dinner. The menu here is an izakaya/Spanish tapas mashup. That may sound a little busy, but this place pulls it off. QP isn’t technically its own restaurant. The team takes over the casual Coral Gables lunch spot MKT Kitchen Fridays and Saturdays for dinner service. Order the uni risotto, which is exactly what it sounds like (and exactly as good as it sounds), and the excellent okonomiyaki made with your choice of mushroom escabeche or chorizo. Alcohol options include wine and sake by the glass or bottle as well as a lovely frozen sangria.
photo credit: Andrea Lorena
The Citadel is a food hall in Little River and it can get crowded, but you’ll never be turned away at the door. Plus, even when it’s packed, finding a table in the huge space is easy enough. It’ll be worth it too, because some of our favorite food in the city is here: United States Burger Service, Lil Laos, Frice ice cream, and the best bowl of rigatoni carbonara in town from Borti. They also have a rooftop, which is the only thing you might need reservations for.
Another walk-in friendly food hall to know about: 1-800-Lucky. Keep in mind that this is Wynwood, so things can get very, very crowded (and they sometimes close during Basel for special events, so check their Instagram before you go). But, as long as there’s not an event going on, you might have some luck getting a table here. If and when you do, order some drinks and prioritize two vendors: Jeepney and B-Side. Jeepney is a great Filipino stand serving delicious sisig and one of the best burgers in town. And B-Side is a sushi counter run by the Itamae team, who are to raw fish what A24 is to movies.
Mi Rinconcito Mexicano
Certain parts of Calle Ocho can get slammed, but Mi Rinconcito Mexicano is just a tad west of the street’s busiest part. And this casual, colorful Little Havana spot is one of the best Mexican restaurants in Miami. It’s very hard to not have a great meal, especially if you’re in the mood for tacos, sopes, and margaritas. Reservations are not a thing here, though we can easily see a world where there is a wait for a table—so try to come at slightly off hours if you truly don’t have the time.
Wabi Sabi is an excellent Japanese restaurant in the Upper East Side. They do donburi bowls and the kind of delicious sushi that normally requires a reservation and a very thick credit card. But you don’t need to spend a ton (or have a reservation) to have a good meal here. If you do want to go big though, they have a few omakase platter options for around $100. And the best part: you can enjoy all of the above in Wabi Sabi’s peaceful little dining room.
photo credit: Tasty Planet
Kush is an essential Wynwood spot thanks mostly to its burgers, which are some of the best in the city. But this very tiny restaurant also makes fantastic fried gator, has a great beer selection, and somehow fits it all into a space the size of a dentist's waiting room. For that reason, there will most likely be a wait here. But if you come during the weekend, you can spend that wait time at Kush’s next door bar/waiting room. After a beer or two in there, your table will probably be ready. Squeeze in and order the frita burger.