Monday, November 29, 2010

Eat Basel - Where to Eat for Art Basel

It's that time of year, when culturati from all over the world, like the swallows of Capistrano, descend upon Miami for Art Basel. There will be plenty of sources for information on art installations, events and parties: New Times has a comprehensive list of Art Basel events as well as a guide to the satellite art fairs, and the New York Times just published a more curated list. And though we've danced around the food as art question here occasionally, right now let me address the issue in a more pedestrisn fashion: where should you eat?

South Beach / North Beach

The Art Basel exhibition itself is in the Miami Beach Convention Center on South Beach. The good news is that from the Convention Center, you'll be in easy walking distance of the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall. The bad news is that there's hardly anyplace good to eat on Lincoln Road any more. If you must, consider Meat Market for a contemporary take on the steakhouse genre, or for smaller budgets, the new Shake Shack (my Shake Shack review here) in the Herzog & de Meuron designed building at 1111 Lincoln Road. Otherwise, keep in mind that any place with saran-wrapped food and the hostess' bodacious cleavage on display out front generally is not worth eating at.

But all hope is not lost. South Beach has several promising new additions within about a mile of the Convention Center. The recently opened Pubbelly is an "Asian-inspired" (read "Momofuku-inspired") gastropub which brings the contemporary casual Asian meme to South Beach. Eden, in the late (and missed) Talula space, features a menu designed by New York chef Christopher Lee and a gorgeous outdoor patio space.[*]

For the high rollers of the art world, the Wolfsonian Collection is hosting a special event dinner on December 1 in conjunction with a site-specific installation, "Seduce Me," by actress/filmmaker Isabella Rossellini. While "Seduce Me" explores the mating rituals of various animals, big name chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will be doing the cooking, Robert Mondavi Winery will be pouring the wines, and Bulgari will be providing a special Rossellini-designed handbag and a watch for a post-dinner auction. Tickets are $1,000 (!); more information can be had from Michael Hughes at 305.535.2602 or

If it's some local flavor you want, try one of Chef Douglas Rodriguez's venues, each of which takes a slightly different spin on contemporizing Latin American cuisines: Ola at the Sanctuary Hotel, the most pan-Latin of his restaurants (and also the closest to the Convention Center); De Rodriguez Cuba (my De Rodriguez review), in the Astor Hotel, for updated versions of Cuban classics; or the newly opened and seafood-focused De Rodriguez Ocean, on the south end of Ocean Drive. Or for something more casual and funky, there's Tap Tap, South Beach's only Haitian restaurant.

But if you want to really want to do South Beach like a local, consider a few more options: Altamare (my Altamare review), on the quiet western end of Lincoln Road (across Alton Road), is a local seafood specialist, and the menu has gotten more interesting and diverse since Michael's Genuine alum Simon Stojanovic took over the kitchen. Indomania (my Indomania review) is a hidden gem of a place, just a little bit north of South Beach proper on 26th Street, but worth the trek for their fun, flavorful Dutch-Indonesian food (the rijsttafels come with more than a dozen different dishes). And if you're up late and hungry, you'll be better off ignoring Anthony Bourdain's recommendation of T-Mex Cantina (f/k/a San Loco); it's not his fault, I'm sure he just had one too many at Club Deuce and his judgment was impaired. Instead, head over to the The Alibi, tucked away in Lost Weekend, a divey bar on Española Way, for their Philly Cheese Steak (on an authentic Amoroso roll) or a shrimp po'boy, with a side of hand-cut fries with Ranch Dust (open till 5am).

(continued ...)

If you happen to wander your way north, perhaps to the NADA Art Fair at the Deauville Beach Resort at 67th Street and Collins Avenue, you'll just happen to be in one of my favorite neighborhoods for sampling some of the diversity of Miami's dining options. You can have a heart-stopping Uruguayan chivito sandwich at El Rey de Chivito (my El Rey de Chivito review), ceviche and anticuchos at El Rincon de Chabuca (my Rincon de Chabuca review), good Cuban food at Sazon, parrillada at Las Vacas Gordas, a Colombian hot dog at La Perrada de Edgar, excellent churros and Argentine empanadas at Buenos Aires Bakery, or Venezuelan empanadas, tequeños and cachitos at Moises Bakery up the street.

Wynwood / Midtown / Design District

There are actually more art exhibits, galleries and events happening on the mainland side of Miami, primarily in the Wynwood Arts District and Design District areas, than there are on South Beach during Art Basel (yes, visitors, it's true: "Miami" is not "South Beach," there's actually a whole big city over there on the other side of the causeways). Lucky for you, some of South Florida's best restaurants have congregated in this area too.

One of the newest additions to the neighborhood is Gigi (my Gigi review), another in the nuevo-Momofukian genre of contemporary Asian restaurants. Though it may not be the most original concept, it does what it sets out to do well, as the teeming crowds will attest, and it gets bonus points for late hours (3am weekdays, 5am weekends, plus lunch service M-F). Not new enough? How about Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, opening just in time for Art Basel. WK&B combines artwork installations from Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, Kenny Scharf and others with a modern comfort foods menu from chef Marco Ferraro, most recently at Wish. Another newcomer that is bringing some creativity to Italian cuisine is Vino e Olio in the Design District, which will be starting lunch service during Art Basel week. [UPDATED] Also opening just in time for the Baselites to get their drink on is Blue Piano, a wine bar with a small plates menu at 46th St. and NE 2nd Ave.

If you don't need to try the newest and shinest of places, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink (my MGF&D review) and Sra. Martinez (my Sra. M review), both in the Design District, are among my favorite restaurants in South Florida. A couple blocks over in Midtown, Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill (my Sugarcane review) is doing just about everything right, with a menu that covers tapas, crudos, sushi and robata-grilled items with near equal aplomb.

There are many options more attuned to starving artists' budgets too. Sakaya Kitchen (my Sakaya review) was the first of the Miami Momofukians. In a simple space where you order at the counter fast-food style, Chef Richard Hales puts out contemporary, Korean-influenced food with house-made fresh ingredients that are usually local and organic, with most items under $10. Sakaya's still got the best pork buns in town, plus other great twists like the Bulgogi Burger or occasional specials like the "covered 'n' chunked" tater tots with cheddar cheese, kochuchang and chopped kalbi beef. [UPDATED: You can also get Sakaya on the run from the Dim Ssam a Gogo truck (my Dim Ssam a Gogo review); schedule is in the footnote below][**]

To do breakfast local-style, get a cafecito and pan con mantequilla at Enriquetas (my Enriquetas review) on 29th Street, or a full breakfast for under $5 (or if you're too late for breakfast, the pan con lechon is a great sandwich). At PizzaVolante (my PizzaVolante review) in the Design District, you can get a wood-fired Margherita pizza for under $10 (though I'd recommend splurging on the Cacciatorini with guanciale and pepperoni for $15), and choose from among 18 wines priced at $18 a bottle to pair with it.

A really easy way to get your eats and your arts is with the gastroPod (my gastroPod review), one of the first - and best - of Miami's food trucks. Try the Chinito Cubano, the Short Rib Slider, or the Old Dirty Dawg (with Stupid Slaw), and you'll be very happy. Chef Jeremiah is unveiling a second shiny Airstream trailer just in time for Art Basel, and it seems as if they'll be everywhere. The schedule I've seen says [UPDATED SCHEDULE AS OF 11/30 12/1]:
Thursday, Dec 2nd
AM: Bayfront Park (301 N. Biscayne Blvd.)
PM: Art Basel Oceanfront Nights at Collins Park, between 21st and 22nd Streets 6pm-12am
Friday, Dec 3rd
AM: Pulse Art Fair (1400 NE 14th St.)
PM: Private
Saturday, Dec 4th
AM: Miami’s Indepedent Thinkers 2135 NW 1st Court
PM: Art Basel Oceanfront Nights at Collins Park, between 21st and 22nd Streets 6pm-12am
Sunday, Dec 5th
AM: BRUNCH at Miami’s Independent Thinkers 2135 NW 1st Court
PM: Friends with You 140 NE 39th Street 4pm-11pm

Finally, combining art and food from the other side of the table is Jennifer Rubell, with her "Just Right" installation at the Rubell Family Collection. Opening December 2, the installation (accessed through a hole in the wall of the Collection's courtyard), features a house filled with thousands of bowls of porridge, brown sugar, raisins and milk. Rubell's works often feature food as part of large-scale interactive installations, but I'm not sure that you should eat all of baby bear's porridge while you're there.

Contact Info:

Meat Market
915 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach

Shake Shack
1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach

1418 20th Street, Miami Beach

210 23rd Street, Miami Beach

Wolfsonian Collection
1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach
305.535.2602 (for "Seduce Me" dinner tickets)

1745 James Avenue, Miami Beach

De Rodriguez Cuba
956 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach

De Rodriguez Ocean
101 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach

Tap Tap
819 5th Street, Miami Beach

1233 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach

131 26th Street, Miami Beach

The Alibi
218 Española Way, Miami Beach

El Rey de Chivito
6987 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach

El Rincon de Chabuca
7118 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach

Sazon Cuban Cuisine
7305 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach

Las Vacas Gordas
933 Normandy Drive, Miami Beach

La Perrada de Edgar
6976 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach

Buenos Aires Bakery
7134 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach

Moises Bakery
7310 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach

3470 N. Miami Avenue, Miami

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
2550 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami

Vino e Olio
139 NE 39th Street, Miami

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
130 NE 40th Street, Miami

Sra. Martinez
4000 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
3250 NE 1st Avenue, Miami

Sakaya Kitchen
3500~ Buena Vista Avenue, Miami

186 NE 29th Street, Miami

3918 N. Miami Avenue, Miami

Follow on twitter @gastropodmiami

Rubell Family Collection
95 NW 29th Street, Miami

[*]Note: both are so new that I've not yet been to either myself.

[**]Here's the Dim Ssam a Gogo schedule [updated as of 12/1]:
Dec 3: Art Midtown (NE 31st St & Midtown Blvd.) 12noon – 3pm; Friends With You Rainbow City (140 NE 39th St) 6pm – 10pm
Dec 4: Art Midtown (NE 31st St & Midtown Blvd) 12noon – 6pm; Friends With You Rainbow City (140 NE 39th St.) 7pm – 11pm
Dec 5: Art Midtown (NE 31st St & Midtown Blvd) 12noon – 8pm

1 comment:

  1. Tiramisu on Lincoln doesnt have plastic covered food nor anyone beckoning you to come inside and I have to say I've enjoyed my last 2 meals there, both in flavor and price. Also, Spris is still hands down the best pizza in Miami/Miami Beach if you ask me. Just off Lincoln is also Ice Box Cafe which has an awesome brunch and nice daily specials. I also like the food at Doraku a lot. Just ate there last week and had a fantastic shrimp dish as well as a nice scallop sashimi app.