Art Basel Miami is back for its 21st birthday, and this year’s deluge of artsy events is bigger than ever.
With the main art fair and satellite art fairs, comes a torrent of fashion and lifestyle events across the Magic City. Plan accordingly: the art gawking, people watching and party hopping can work up an appetite.
Need a bite? These are some of Miami’s hottest restaurants right now – curated by local lifestyle journalist, Erica Corsano, and listed by neighbourhood.
THE DESIGN DISTRICT
This is the one time of year you’re likely to see this luxe shopping area packed with people. In between hopping from one high-end boutique to another (Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Fendi), and checking out the Institute of Contemporary Art or the LVMH Culture House at the Moore Building, find time to recharge and people watch at one of the zone’s many see-and-be-seen eateries.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro is the O.G. restaurant in this area, celebrating almost 15 years in the haute hood – it’s been here long before the neighbourhood became this posh. The open-air spot serves up Greek food with Turkish influence, and has long been a favourite of low-key creative types. Nosh on classics like kofte, chicken kebabs, roasted cauliflower, and baked feta.
Nightlife king David Grutman and musician Pharrell Williams’ playful eatery Swan may no longer be brand new, but it’s still on the “hot” list. Enjoy lighter fare with highly-shareable appeal including hamachi sashimi, chips, caviar and lemon garlic chicken. Wash it down with the beyond refreshing cocktail, The Swan, a mix of Santa Teresa rum, pineapple, apricot, and ginger.
After a one-night exclusive installation for Art Miami’s VIP preview day, Michelin-starred restaurant Le Jardinier will house retired MLB player Micah Johnson’s newest canvas art presentations of Aku. Get a first-hand look at the retired sportsman’s custom works between 7 – 10 December, while dining on visually-stunning dishes including foie gras and port mousse, mushroom velouté or Wagyu bavette au jus.
Wynwood is a long-time artists’ haven that has emerged into a bustling, vibrant neighbourhood with public art around every corner. After you’ve perused the street art or maybe checked out the Museum of Graffiti, you’ll need to refuel. Wynwood’s Arlo Hotel plays home to beloved chef and restaurateur Brad Kilgore’s latest dining concept MaryGold’s. The food and wine menus are as unique as the atmosphere. Must-try dishes include devilled eggs, oxtail beignets, a brioche with orange-blossom honey butter, and the tuna tartare served with shallot ponzu and puffed wild rice.
Also in Wynwood is perhaps one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year, Pastis. The New York transplant has similarities to the New York outpost, which basically established the Meatpacking district in the late 90s and early 2000s. Feast on the signature dishes that made the spot famous, we recommend the moules frites or the chicken paillard.
DOWNTOWN: EDGEWATER AND ALLAPATAH
Downtown Miami and the adjacent Allapatah not only play home to the incredible Rubell Collection, experiential art centre, Superblue, Perez Art Museum and satellite art fairs, Art Miami and CONTEXT, it’s also filled with fabulous dining spots.
Located in a renovated industrial space in Allapattah, Rubell Museum is one of the largest private contemporary art collections in North America, and boasts more than 35 galleries featuring local and international works including by key artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Yayoi Kusama, Purvis Young, Tschabalala Self and Kehinde Wiley. Top off your visit with lunch or dinner at Leku, an upscale Basque restaurant adjacent to the museum. Expect fresh hams and cheeses, carefully-curated seasonal ingredients, wood-fired grilled meats, fresh seafood and hearty traditional soups and stews —all served in a dreamy indoor and outdoor setting. The authentic Basque asador (coal and wood-fire grilled) is the only one of its kind in the area.
About eight minutes drive north of Downtown (unless Art Basel Miami traffic proves otherwise) is Edgewater, along the ocean’s edge. Once a rough and tumble location, now the area is filled with residential high rises and luxe dining options. Among them is Klaw, a pricey multilevel eatery specialising in high-end surf and turf. Don’t miss the giant Norwegian king crab sold by the pound or the various dry-aged meats. This stunning venue is set inside a beautiful renaissance revival-themed building from 1925, The Miami Woman’s Club. Swanky decor pays homage to the structure’s history in subtle ways making for a truly divine experience all around.
Around the corner from the fairs, you’ll find Chotto Matte, the chicest eatery on the famous pedestrian-only Lincoln Road. This colourful spot serves some of the most culturally dynamic food around; experience the delightful flavours of Nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian) while sipping on a cocktail. The yellowtail jalapeno crispy rice is a must-try, as is the branzino filet tempura.
Pre-or-post dinner, take a stroll down Lincoln Road and check out interactive installations, mixed-media presentations and one-of-a-kind performances celebrating the future of art – all part of the Satellite Art Fair.
Jaya at the Setai is great at any time of day and may be one of the most consistent restaurants in the entire city, but their Saturday Rosé Brunch is the perfect way to toast your Basel experience. Enjoy Parisian electro-lounge beats spun by a live DJ while sipping on limitless Louis Roederer Champagne. The brunch is offered weekly from 11:15AM to 3PM and is priced at $105 per person.
This micro-city within a city is always busy and bustling. Lined with skyscrapers, the dozens of bars and restaurants here are part of the major appeal.
British transplant Sexy Fish is always lively. With dazzling behemoth sculptures of sea creatures created by Damien Hirst and other works by Frank Gehry and Michael Roberts, the vibe exudes mid-century glamour and opulence. Dishes are light and made of Japanese-inspired sushi, sashimi, seafood, fish, and meat cooked on a Robata grill. Not to miss, are the corn “ribs,” and the caramelised miso black cod.
During the evenings of Miami Art Week, beginning at 10PM on 6 December, Sexy Fish will feature an After Dark DJ Line-up featuring sounds by Zakes Bantwini, Hugel, and Claptone, making it your perfect late-night dining destination.
You can’t really enter any area of Miami without encountering restaurants by David Grutman and Brickell is no exception. While Komodo has been serving up Japanese eats to celebrities and influencers for years, Grutman’s latest collab with Bad Bunny is the new “it” scene. Gekko offers up dinner and a party scene with upscale sushi dishes and chophouse staples. Head to the opulent and colourful Gekko Lounge, located in the same venue, post-dinner for crafted cocktails and table service.
A historic neighbourhood, once home to a vibrant Miami art scene and host of its own arts festival, Coconut Grove’s roots have always been deeply planted in the local arts scene. Should you be near the verdant area for Pinta Miami, the Fridge Art Fair – or for any other reason for that matter – book a table at The Key Club, a refined Boho spot from nightlife and restaurant king, David Grutman. Not to miss are the pastrami spiced ribeye, veal chop Milanese, the Club burger or the crab and artichoke dip.
Nearby Amal specialises in shareable Lebanese dishes – think black cod harra, various skewers of meats and veggies – and modern takes on classic appetisers such as baba ganoush and stuffed grape leaves. Cocktails are as unique as they are refreshing, made with ingredients like citrus, cardamom, jab syrup, saffron, mint, rosewater, and orange blossom water. It’s a fabulous escape from the city’s grand chaos.
Lead Image Credit: MaryGold’s, Wynwood, Miami
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