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. 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.
Where To Eat, Drink, And Party During Art Basel In Miami
There aren’t a ton of places in South Beach where you can 1) walk in without a reservation, and 2) expect to have an amazing 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 fantastic tacos and margaritas – but the best things to eat here are the totopos and squash blossom quesadilla.
Las Olas Cafe is always a quick, filling, 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.
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.
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.
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. You order at the counter and then the seating is first come, first served. 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.
It’s hard to find a good restaurant in Brickell that’s not fully booked until 2023. But Boss Cow is one of the best walk-in options in the neighborhood. The little seafood spot certainly gets crowded, but there’s bar seating and more tables than it looks like from the outside. It’s mostly a raw bar spot, but there are also some good cooked dishes on the menu, like lobster ramen and seafood omelettes over rice, which you can pair with a bottle of rosé.
Lemoni is a Buena Vista spot within walking distance from the Design District. This 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.
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 a Señor Frog’s, this place is pretty peaceful and quiet enough to have a conversation.
You really need a reservation for about 99.99% of the mind-blowing omakase options in Miami – except one: Sushi Yasu Tanaka. This vendor inside the Design District’s MIA Market doesn’t even take reservations. Just walk in, and order one of the nigiri platters, hand rolls, or the $59 11-piece omakase. And if, for some reason, you come here and suddenly stop craving sushi, check out the vendor right next to Yasu Tanaka, Aita, for some great Spanish food. Just know that this is more of a lunch option, since MIA Market closes at 8pm during the week, and 9pm on weekends.
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’s 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. Our current favorite is the pppp4u, which is topped with potato, pesto, pickled pepper, and lots of ricotta salata.
Brunch is not known for being a low-stress meal. It not only requires frantically texting friends at 10:30am to make sure they wake up, but usually a reservation as well. Except at Rosie’s in Allapattah. They don’t take reservations, and every time we’ve come here we’ve gotten a table immediately. The food not only comes out quick, but it’s phenomenal – all of it. Any form of fried chicken is going to be great, but also keep an ear out for specials, like their excellent pastrami hash, which is a dish worth sending 17 wake-up-texts to a friend.
All Harry’s locations are relatively walk-in friendly. The Design District location is not only our favorite, though, but also the most Basel-appropriate thanks to its proximity to Wynwood and the Design District. The Neapolitan pizza here is consistently good – with soft dough and bubbly crust – and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. But it’s also a good idea to get the roasted wings and polenta fries on the table too. The space itself is cozy, and quiet enough to decompress in case you spent the last hour stuck in miserable traffic.
When walking around South Beach reservation-less and hungry, consider Benh Mi. It’s mostly a takeout spot, though there are some stools inside and a few outdoor tables for parties of two. But more than the atmosphere, the real reason to come here is for one of the best bánh mì in Miami. There are five bánh mì options on the menu, including a cheesy egg omelette, char siu mushroom, fried chicken, roasted pork, and short rib. And they’re all just absolutely perfect.
The Citadel is a food hall in Little Haiti 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 an excellent new seafood spot called The Shores, who make a fried oyster sandwich that now lives in our subconscious. They also have a rooftop, which is the only thing you might need reservations for.
Hoja Taqueria is the low-key taco/margarita spot we’ve been trying to manifest more of in this city. It’s a small restaurant inside a building in Downtown, where you can sit down and enjoy crispy shrimp and potato flautas, a koji sweet potato burrito, and some excellent tacos – all while sipping an equally great smoky pineapple margarita. And the best part? None of this requires a $50 deposit on Tock.
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. But, as long as there’s not a special 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.
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 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 to wait.
Coconut Grove isn’t a big Art Basel destination, but it’s still worth having Chug’s on your list because it’s just a great all-purpose restaurant. The Cuban diner is perfect for a refuelling breakfast with coffee and pastelitos, but it also works just as great for a fun dinner with masitas de puerco and a guava gimlet. It’s some of the most exciting Cuban food you’ll find in the city, and there’s also lots of spacious outdoor seating in their lush courtyard.
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 nigiri omakase for $100, as well as two other omakase options ranging from $75 to $41. And the best part: you can enjoy all of the above in Wabi Sabi’s quiet, low-key dining room.