The weeklong, orgiastic mashup of artistic intellectual elitism is upon us. On December 5, Art Basel Miami Beach will begin with a VIP preview, also known as a vernissage. It's a quiet affair where only those with buying power are invited to inspect what's on exhibit and make their purchases before us riffraff can use our day passes.
Don't be confused by all the trendy parties, free liquor, and over-the-top fashion. Miami Art Week -- or Art Basel or whatever umbrella name assigned to this first full week in December -- is all about the deal. So remember that as you affix that fake mustache to your fat upper lip while praying you'll get into the Le Baron party, none of it is really for you. It's for the Russian oil magnate looking for something to hang above his dining room table. It's for the Argentine cattle baron who's saddened by the bare walls at his chalet at the base of the Andes.
Still, the rest of us want to take in the sights, and we have to eat. So in between pretending to know about contemporary art's latest trends, peruse this rundown of the best places in Wynwood and the Design District to eat, make friends with an art dealer, and perhaps land yourself a sugar daddy (or mommy).
5. Oak Tavern David Bracha's Oak Tavern may have just sprouted along Northeast 40th Street, but he and his team long ago earned their bona fides with River Oyster Bar in Brickell. Stop in for smoked oysters and crudos. The team is also turning out some impressive sounding charcuteries, including Tuscan fennel salami, spicy soppressata and country rabbit pate. 4. Mandolin Aegean Bistro Gallery lights can be harsh on the eyes and cast all kinds of awkward shadows. Do yourself a favor, get out of those labyrinthine tents and show rooms and get yourself a seat on the patio at Mandolin. The blue-and-white oasis on Northeast Second Avenue offers and endless selection of house made mezes to nosh on and cool crisp wines. If you're looking for more substantive and feeling flush, order the whole fish, simply grilled and seasoned with lemon and olive oil. Let your server fillet it for your, you wouldn't want a pin bone derailing your art affairs, would you? 3. Enriqueta's Since Art Basel Miami Beach launched in 2002 it spawned countless satellite fairs. Most of them took root in Wynwood leading to a revival/gentrification of the blighted commercial district. Enriqueta's stands proudly on the corner of 29th Street and North Miami Avenue in a still-dilapidated looking part of the neighborhood. Once you've wowed you out-town-friends with your encyclopedic knowledge of Fernando Botero's landscapes, take them for a pan con bistec and a cortadito, and really solidify that Bohemian image you've been cultivating. 2. Gigi As surely as time passes, visitors from cities like New York or London will insist on the superiority of their home towns. To show them they are wrong, hit a few post-fair parties, throw back a few free flutes of champagne and head for this distinctly urban late night eatery for rice and noodle dishes and stuffed steamed buns. If they're still stubborn, take them next to door to Bardot for some good music. It's up to you whether to ditch them. 1. Brunch at Michael's Genuine By Sunday you may or may have run your trust fund down to zero. You'll have a hangover from all the toasting and late night drinking. Many would argue that Michael's Genuine Food & Drink is the best restaurant in the Design District. I would argue brunch is where Schwartz and his team shine brightest. It doesn't really matter what you get here. The crispy rice cake topped with a poached egg will chase that hangover just as well as some of Hedy Goldsmith's childhood treats, or another cocktail. Just one piece of advice: Make a reservation.
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