Miami summers aren’t good for much. It’s hot. It rains. Your seatbelt buckle turns into a deadly weapon. But the summer does have one small perk: low tourist activity. And no disrespect to tourists. We appreciate your loyal economic stimulation. That said, they can also make reservations - especially at certain “buzzy” restaurants - nearly impossible to get. Of course, not all wildly popular restaurants are worth your time. But some actually are, which is why you should take advantage of this lull in Miami dining to to book one that is great, like any of these eight spots.
It is so rare for a fairly large restaurant to be this hard to book in the humid belly button of summer. And yet, at the time of this writing, dinner service at KYU is booked for the next three and a half weeks, unless you want to eat at 5:15pm. Why is KYU so slammed? Well, it’s a really good restaurant with great cocktails, and a menu full of things most people agree are delicious, like fried chicken, a beautiful whole roasted cauliflower, a huge and delicious beef short rib, and various other smoked and grilled meats. It’s also right in the heart of Wynwood, so there’s that. Nonetheless, it’s worth making a reservation now before the winter months arrive and this palace gets booked until 2023.
27 is located within a Miami Beach hostel, so when tourist season comes, it fills up fast with people in wide-brimmed hats talking loudly about their recent trip to Tulum. However, it’s pretty quiet over there now, which is refreshing. We recently stopped by to check in on the Miami classic, and can confirm that this restaurant is still wonderful - from the cocktails to their food, which is a greatest hits of quintessential Miami dishes like ceviche, whole fried fish, and jerk chicken. It’s a good spot to reunite with if you haven’t been in over a year, especially now that you won’t have to overhear a conversation about the transformative powers of a Tulum jungle rave.
There are some things that tourists just love. Like renting a sketchy yacht for the day, taking a photo with the Ocean Drive lemur, and eating at Mandolin. And while we think lemurs belong in the wild and don’t recommend renting a yacht on Craigslist, we certainly get Mandolin’s appeal. The Greek restaurant is one of the more beautiful outdoor dining options in Miami, which is probably why it’s so alluring to people fleeing winter. And even though it’s hot as hell right now, Mandolin is pretty well shaded and has lots of fans, so eating here in August is a lot more comfortable than it has a right to be.
Boia De, an Italian spot on the border of Little Haiti and Buena Vista, is one of our favorite restaurants in Miami. It’s also the size of a green bean. So, naturally, it fills up fast. Thankfully, this is not an impossible table to reserve. You just have to plan a week or so in advance (though a bit longer if you’re determined to dine on the weekend). Your patience will be rewarded with one of the best dinners in Miami, which will include things like rabbit roulade, fluffy gnocchi covered in black truffle, and the best chopped salad in the universe. Also, wine. Lots of that too. So go reserve a table before an army of people named Brad from New York beat you to it.
Another Wynwood spot that’s harder to get into than the VIP section of the Met Gala? Hiden. This speakeasy omakase is located behind a “secret” door in the back of The Taco Stand, only seats about six, is incredibly good, and very popular. It’s a perfect recipe for a hectic reservations page, which will only get more hectic when the Art Basel crowd comes to town. It’s still tough to reserve a seat here (which costs $200 per person, by the way), and the only open seats we can find are for weekday evenings. Still, if this place has been on your bucket list for a while, pull the trigger now or risk waiting until 2022.
Cote, a great Korean steakhouse in the Design District (and NYC import), isn’t as hard to book as it should be. Maybe that’s because it’s new, and folks don’t yet realize it’s the best steakhouse in Miami. Or, maybe they’re a little skeptical about all these new New York restaurants. Either way, there are tables available here this weekend - though they’re at 5pm and 11pm. If you want to eat at a slightly more reasonable hour, you just need to book about two weeks in advance. That will almost certainly change though, when the temperature dips below 80 and we’re flooded with tourists looking to drop $500 at a restaurant where they have an above-average chance of sitting next to a famous Peloton instructor. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend that much money at Cote. Just get the Butcher’s Feast, their phenomenal tasting menu that just costs $58 per person.
Uchi is another great out-of-town restaurant that recently moved to Miami. This Japanese restaurant has a huge menu full of delicious things, like amazing sushi, excellent karaage chicken, and halibut with a coconut beurre blanc foam that made us want to eat the plate. It’s also quite easy to book. We just checked, and there’s literally a table available tonight. Take advantage, because Uchi will almost certainly fill up during winter - especially after we rent one of those banner planes to fly over Miami with the sign: “ORDER THE HALIBUT.”
Macchialina fills up during the winter months, because it’s well known for being one of the best Italian restaurants in Miami and it’s also in the center of the known tourist universe: South Beach. So, it’s worth getting in here now while it’s a little more chill. And you can enjoy the new outdoor seating they added during the pandemic, which is quite lovely and has also made this place very easy to book. There are literally nothing but open reservation slots at the moment, so make a reservation, get no less than two pastas on the table, and absolutely order dessert.