Oh Art Basel, a.k.a Miami Art Week. How we love your world-class exhibits big and small; your hundreds of celebrities, artists, and tastemakers descending upon the city; and your myriad of parties that run from dusk till dawn. But most of all, of course, we love that every year around this time, new restaurants and pop-ups open just in time to feed the world’s artistic elite. If you’re lucky enough to be coming to the Magic City (or are already here), we’ve outlined the hottest stops and newest openings for food, drink, and more during this enchanted time, from fine dining to late night snacks.
Smack in the middle of the “non-official Basel” Basel scene (galleries, street performances, etc.) of Miami’s artsy Wynwood/Design District comes Alter, from local chef/wunderkind Brad Kilgore. Opened in June 2015, Alter’s inventive and complex dishes such as soft egg with sea scallop espuma, chive, truffle pearls, and gruyere have been greatly pleasing to the sophisticated, in-the-know foodie crowd. For the five nights of Art Week (December 1 through 5), Alter is partnering with renowned reservation service Table8 to host a series of ticketed dinners, featuring a special tasting menu from Kilgore. Expect dishes like carnaroli risotto with escargot, parsley butter, chicken skin, and Boursin; prime strip with cubeb pepper, salsify bone marrow, first growth bordelaise, and onion roots; and a dessert of chocolate and mint: dark Araguani chocolate mousse, black mint ice cream, hibiscus, and chartreuse. Two seatings per night (7:00 and 9:30 p.m.) will be offered, and guests can choose between a five or seven course menu ($80/$110 with wine). Advanced tickets are required and can be purchased.
BH Burger Bar, St. Regis Bal Harbour
A bit removed from the hustle and bustle of South Beach is the St. Regis Bal Harbour — a refined hotel directly on the white sands of Miami Beach. While the scene at the St. Regis is decidedly chic, their newest food offerings extremely un-snobby. The recently opened (and honestly adorable) Burger Bar is reminiscent of the numerous high-end, gourmet burger joints spread around Manhattan. Red leather banquettes and a bar with hanging flat screen TV’s set the scene of the relaxed space. The menu features customizable burgers (traditional or Wagyu) with a myriad of customizable options (bun, toppings, sauces, extras) as well as gourmet franks, sides (duck fat fries or tater tots), and indulgent shakes (there’s even a very impressive vegan burger made of chickpeas and oats). The drinks were well-chosen here — local craft beer and wines perfectly quenches the thirsts of hungry beefeaters.
There’s an important new opening in South Beach, as it’s the first from Jason Pomeranc’s SIXTY hotel group, Nautilus Hotel. The outpost includes a 200-seat restaurant from Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli; the Driftwood Room, which is “inspired by the casual grace and energy of European beach clubs.” The menu at the elegant indoor-outdoor dining spot features Miami-meets-Europe dishes like cobia crudo with piquillo peppers, tomatoes and basil; Florida head-on shrimp finished with a green apple chimichurri; and roasted whole cauliflower with hazelnuts, rock salt and lemon (seriously, order the cauliflower). The sophisticated yet comfortable mid-century modern design sets a pleasing scene. Operated by China Grill Management, the menu is accompanied by a well-edited wine from Master Sommelier Laura Maniec. Next door to the restaurant is the super cool Bridge Room, a cozy mini-library type of room that is perfect for private events.
While not brand new, Fooq’s —opened nine months ago — has had a serious impact on the Miami food scene, and this will be its first year serving the Basel crowd. Located in the heart of Downtown Miami’s Arts and Entertainment District, Fooq’s, from restaurateur David Foulquier (“unofficially” trained by close family friend Daniel Boulud) serves “feel good food” in an “urban, yet distinctly cozy setting.” The kitchen is a mélange of culinary backgrounds — Foulquier is Persian and French while new executive chef Bryan Rojas (who recently left Michael Schwartz’s Cypress Room) is Colombian. The fare is high-end comfort food, with an ever-changing menu that offers mainstays like deliciously light meatballs, the trio of jars (fillings change daily, but look for various tapenades and spreads), a Persian lamb shank for two, and the Bouillabaisse of seafood stew, blue mussels, clams, saffron, fennel, potatoes, and aioli. While the food has made its mark on the city, the décor is a buzzed about element as well — particularly the bathroom decorated by Grateful Dead paraphernalia.