MIAGuide

12 Reservations To Make Before The Tourists Come Back To Miami

Quick—you only have four months before 12,000 New Yorkers named Ben take these tables from you.
spread of dishes - tartare, chopped salad, pastas, and tiramisu on terrazzo counter

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

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 while we appreciate their loyal economic stimulation, they also make certain reservations 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.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Michael Pisarri

Peruvian

Midtown

$$$$Perfect For:Special Occasions
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Since this place just opened in May, we're going to do some speculation and declare that Itamae AO is going to be slightly impossible to book by Art Basel 2024. This exciting Nikkei omakase has all the ingredients for becoming a tough reservation: a truly unique menu, incredible food, and the exclusivity that comes with only having 10 seats. If you, like us, were a regular at the old version of Itamae, expect the sort of delicate seafood swimming in velvety puddles of ají-spiked leche de tigre this place does best.

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good CocktailsEating At The BarFirst/Early in the Game Dates

Like Katmai National Park's annual Fat Bear Week, Jaguar Sun seems to get more popular every year. This tiny, wonderful Downtown restaurant is hard enough to book right now, when it's 300 degrees and nobody wants to go outside. So go enjoy its flowing AC and cold martinis while you can. Use it for your summer date nights, pre-concert dinners, or any time you want cocktails and an agnolotti that'll make up for the spontaneous August thunderstorm you encountered on the way here (and will probably meet again on the way home).

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 great. And even though it’s starting to get hot as hell right now, Mandolin has lots of shade and fans, so eating here in summer is a lot more comfortable than it has a right to be.


photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Tâm Tâm is a restaurant we almost don’t want to talk about—or risk never finding a reservation to eat their amazing fish sauce caramel wings again. But not only did we write about this Vietnamese spot, we filmed ourselves singing in its karaoke bathroom and declared it 2023's best new restaurant. So we only have ourselves to blame for the fact that finding a reservation for a four-top on a weekend during prime time is already a little difficult. So get in now, go often, order the ribs (or wings), and tip well—maybe the staff will save you a seat at the counter come November. 


Boia De 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, to say the least. Still, their waiting list for reservations is less bleak now than it will be in January. Also, Boia De is good about holding bar seating (the best seats in the house) and outdoor tables for walk-ins. So turn on your Resy notifications and your patience will be rewarded with the best chopped salad in the universe. Reservations go live on Resy at noon 30 days in advance.


It’s no surprise Boia De’s very good sister restaurant (and next-door neighbor) is also a hard reservation—but it's much easier than Boia De. On any given winter night, you’ll see more Yankees caps at Walrus Rodeo than inside Jay Z’s closet. Luckily Miami is a town of fair-weather fans (sports teams not excluded), which means all those hats and their northeastern owners are off in Nantucket or the Hamptons for the summer. This is your chance to try Walrus Rodeo’s delicious carrot tartare and our favorite lasagna in the city (it's not on the menu so ask for it). 

This Gables Italian spot is past its days of being considered "hot" and "new." But recently, it has been hard to find a table here on a Saturday night. We get it. Luca still serves outstanding fresh pasta, little fluffy fried potato balls covered in parmigiano fonduta, and has outdoor seating you'll want absolutely nothing to do with for the next four months. So plan ahead and make that reservation for an indoor table in the small dining room. You can also try to walk in for a seat at the bar. It's a great place to have a solo meal with a negroni and some cacio e pepe.


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 there's something special about dining here when it's a little quieter. It feels like you're house-sitting for someone much cooler than you. The cocktails and food at this Miami Beach classic still deliver. The menu is inspired by quintessential Miami dishes like daily catch ceviche, griot, and Jamaican oxtail lasagna. It’s a good spot to reunite with, especially now that you won’t have to overhear a conversation about the transformative powers of a Tulum jungle rave.


RESERVE A TABLE

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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 $74 per person.


Cafe La Trova is one of the best restaurants for folks looking for a night of Cuban Miami culture (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 always 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 in between shaking those daiquiris.

Macchialina fills up during tourist season, because it’s 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. They've also just renovated the space with a brand new patio and additional dining room, so you'll get to enjoy all that before it's swarming with people who swear the Knicks are going to win it all next year. Wherever you end up, get no less than two pastas on the table, and absolutely order dessert. Or just do the outstanding $70 tasting menu.


We know—Miami Slice doesn’t actually take reservations. But the notorious line to eat Miami’s best pizza is significantly shorter in the summer, and locals deserve to know this. As long as you stay away on weekends—Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the best days to make the (shorter) queue for a slice of otherworldly pepperoni pizza. Just don’t forget to ask for stracciatella, basil, and hot honey with that slice.

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