15 Reservations To Make Before The Tourists Come Back To Miami
Because they will be back with a vengeance.
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 brief lull in Miami dining to book one that is great, like any of these spots.
photo credit: Courtesy Sushi By Scratch
Sushi by Scratch Restaurants: Miami
Sushi by Scratch opened in summer and already filled up a month's worth of reservations fast. So one can imagine what getting a table at this omakase is going to be like come winter. Set your alarm for the first of the month at 1pm, when they release 30 days worth of reservations. And try to come sooner rather than later. Because right now, Sushi by Scratch is temporarily running service from Stirrup House, a historic Coconut Grove home, while their permanent dining room is being built. It’s a really unique space that feels like a group of rogue sushi chefs broke into a house and started serving nigiri from the slightly-too-small living room of a stranger. The 17-course, $165-per person meal is really good and really interesting.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro
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 most beautiful outdoor dining options in Miami, which is probably why it’s so alluring to people fleeing winter. Plus, the food is excellent. And even though it’s starting to get hot as hell right now, Mandolin is pretty well shaded and has lots of fans, so eating here in summer is a lot more comfortable than it has a right to be.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
Klaw is a very new restaurant that we have a feeling is going to become a very popular restaurant once folks start to realize what a special place it is. This Edgewater spot feels particularly exciting for a couple reasons: it’s inside a historic Edgewater building with gorgeous waterfront views, and they also serve great special-occasion steaks and seafood. Naturally, this might become a very tough table to get when tourist season hits and the city is flooded with people looking for a stellar dry-aged porterhouse with an aerial view of Biscayne Bay. So beat those snowbirds to it.
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. Naturally, it fills up fast. If Boia De ever was a secret, it’s certainly not anymore. So tables have become a tough get here. Still, their reservations page is currently looking a lot less bleak than it did in January. Also, Boia De is good about holding some bar seating (the best seats in the house) for walk-ins. Although you’ve got to come super early or very late for the best chance at that. However you end up getting seated here, your patience will be rewarded with one of the best dinners in Miami, which might include things like fluffy gnocchi covered in black truffle and the best chopped salad in the universe.
Why is KYU always 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 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, because (at the time of this writing) there's actually a decent amount of availability for both lunch and dinner service. So grab that table before the tourists return and this palace gets booked until 2024.
L’atelier De Joël Robuchon
L’Atelier is a great restaurant if you’re looking for a really memorable, unique French fine-dining spot. And not only did they just win a particular award that tends to bloat reservation books, but the restaurant is located in the Design District, which absolutely swells with the Art Basel crowd during winter. Everything about this place screams special occasion, especially the meticulously-plated, delicious food. Here, you will encounter unbelievably good foie gras, slices of raw fish that'll bring a tear to your eye, and excellent cocktails in glassware so thin you're afraid to pick it up.
27 is located within a Miami Beach hostel, so when the tourists come, it fills up fast with people in wide-brimmed hats talking loudly about their recent trip to Tulum. And while 27 usually isn't that tough of a table to snag, there's something special about dining here when it's a little quieter. It truly feels like you're eating inside someone's very cool house. This place still delivers—from the cocktails to the 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.
Cote, a great Korean steakhouse in the Design District, has become quite a difficult reservation—unless you are cool with eating at 11pm. If you want to eat at a slightly more reasonable hour, you need to book about a month 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 costs $64 per person.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
Cafe La Trova
Cafe La Trova is one of the best Miami restaurants for folks looking for a night of Cuban Miami culture, AKA a good 70 percent of the people coming out of Miami International from December through March. So, before they have a chance to steal your table, pay a visit to this Calle Ocho spot, which is never not an absolute blast. The food is good, there’s a live band (a rare sight in Miami these days), and a team of spiffy bartenders who not only make the world’s best daiquiri but also occasionally start dancing and playing instruments.
Luca Osteria is one of our favorite places to eat in Coral Gables, and also one of Miami's best Italian restaurants. They make a dish called the patate fritte—crispy potato balls covered in parmigiano fonduta, black truffle, and an egg yolk—that we have seriously considered proposing to. The pasta is also fantastic, as are the cocktails and, honestly, the entire freaking menu. Luca is thankfully still a manageable reservation—although weekend tables can disappear fast. But you know what? They'll disappear even faster in about five months, so book now and if you don't order the patate fritte we are no longer friends.
Uchi is a really excellent Japanese restaurant in Wynwood that 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. Since it opened at the beginning of 2021, Uchi has steadily picked up steam and now finding an open table on the weekend is quite a challenge. So plan to book two or three weeks out if you want to eat on a Saturday and be home before midnight. It's worth the effort. Uchi is serving some of Miami's absolute best sushi and will almost certainly fill up during winter—especially after we rent one of those banner planes to fly over Miami with a sign that says: “ORDER THE HALIBUT.”
Right now, as long as you book about a week in advance, Zitz Sum is a pretty easy reservation. But we have a feeling that’s going to change. This place opened in 2021, but it’s already one of Miami’s best restaurants. Once more people realize this, there’s a possibility it might become one of those spots you’ve got to book a month out. We know—this makes us sad too. And it’s all the more reason to get that table now and order everything on the menu, a unanimously excellent blend of dumplings and more dishes influenced by Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Laotian, and other Asian cuisines.
Macchialina fills up during tourist season, 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.
For the first time in a while, Miami's hottest dining neighborhood might just be (checks notes) Coconut Grove? The Grove is getting flooded with new openings, but Ariete is still the neighborhood reservation we look forward to the most. Typically, we haven't had much trouble finding a table here. But that's starting to change lately—even in the heart of summer, which means that come winter, who the hell knows how hard it'll be to eat at Ariete. So take no risks and go now, especially if you're trying to celebrate something. The menu is full of awesome special occasion options, including the duck press dinner, a monkfish wellington, and one of the best tasting menus in town.
We love Itamae with every molecule of our being and it's honestly never been that difficult to book. Still, we’re taking no chances here. This place is sure to continue to rack up awards and much-deserved hype thanks to their absolutely perfect ceviches, tiraditos, and downright lovely patio seating smack in the center of the Design District. So book now and book often. You won’t regret it, especially if there ever comes a day when getting into Itamae requires frantically refreshing a reservations page.