We are deep in the annual restaurant-extravaganza known as Miami Spice which has returned for its 20th year to lavish us with wallet-friendly menus at some of the best restaurants in town. Some of you handle this the alpha way: by creating a spreadsheet of places to check out and cross-referencing menu items, others just wait for us to tell you where to go. From celebrity chefs to neighborhood spots, there’s plenty to keep even the most discerning foodie happy. Here are our top picks.
This “Middleterranean” spot is offering Miami Spice for dinner seven nights a week and it’s one of the most generous menus we’ve seen. Diners can choose up to five dishes – two mezzes, one main, one side and one dessert – from an extensive menu that includes new and classic dishes off the menu. From the mezzes we loved the duck kibbe and the pide flatbread topped with creamed spinach. We were already full by the time our main dish of Middle Eastern fried chicken and our side of Persian kale rice arrived but we soldiered on, mostly because everything was so delicious. The dessert of strawberry cheesecake qatayef was a beautiful dish of sumac-spiced strawberries flanking phyllo-wrapped cheesecake fritters in a honey syrup. The restaurant’s swanky decor is great for dates but also works really well for a group – although the upstairs dining room tends to get loud when packed.
Executive Chef Peter Vauthy always pampers his guests with his gluttonous Miami Spice menus and this year is no exception. Offered all seven nights a week the spice menu will change each week presenting new and creative options to keep things interesting. Expect things like shrimp cocktail and Bigeye tuna crudo to start things off and main courses of Certified Angus petite filet mignon or flounder stuffed with crab. Desserts of white chocolate walnut blondie keep the decadence going. And now that Red South Beach has found a new home in the same South of Fifth neighborhood it’s a perfect opportunity to check out their spacious outdoor patio.
Treat yourself to an Asian Spice lunch at any of the four Pubbelly Sushi locations, all of which feature outdoor seating and innovative Japanese and Latin fusion dishes created by Chef Jose Mendin. This year’s menu features a selection of Bento Boxes: guests can choose either a Robata, Sushi Bar or Vegetarian Bento Box with multiple dish selections to create different variations. From the Robata Bento Box, guests can select from items such as the Filet Mignon Skewer – Yuzu truffle, charred spring onion, or the Truffle Corn – Cotija, truffle crema, yuzu. From the Sushi Bar Bento Box, indulge in dishes such as the Rockshrimp Tempura Roll – Avocado, mango, spicy tuna, spicy mango, or the Nigiri – three black shichimi aburi, wasabi, ginger. From the Vegetarian Bento Box enjoy items such as the Crispy Avocado Roll – Arroz pegao, smashed avocado, ahimi, spicy mayo, truffle oil, sea salt, or Wakamole – Smashed avocado, seaweed, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and nori chips. For dessert, select from either the Mochi – Seasonal flavors or Soft Serve – Coconut, goma; dessert options. For an additional $16, enjoy the Miami Spice limited edition Passion Fruit Sangria – Sauvignon blanc, passion fruit foam, fresh lime juice, club soda, seasonal fruits mixed with Boba (Japanese Candy).
Adventurous diners looking to have a taste of award-winning chef Jose Andres’s whimsical take on Spanish tapas will be happy here. And the more people the better, since the menu includes a long list of choices so multiple dishes can be sampled. The “Blanca,” dining room is an inner sanctum adorned with a seashell-clad chandelier and a lemon-colored mural. The regular menu at Bazaar by Jose Andres is an epic 60-dishes-and-counting pageant of small plates so don’t be surprised when you get the Miami Spice menu and see over a dozen choices to create what amounts to a five-course tasting odyssey. Each diner gets to choose one dish from the “snacks,” “verduros tradicional,” fruits and vegetables, “carnes y mariscos” and dessert of course. Plates start out small with bites of “bagels and lox” – a singular cone of creme fraiche and salmon roe – and get progressively bigger as you go down the list. We got to mix classics like patatas bravas with their take on a caprese salad that included orbs of liquid mozzarella. Don’t miss the Cuban coffee-rubbed rib eye with passion fruit sauce and the classic chicken and bechamel croquetas, still served in a clear plastic sneaker. Desserts of deconstructed key lime pie and classic flan keep the innovative culinary shenanigans going for a sweet finish.
This hangar of high-end sushi from the Juvia folks – Jonas and Alexandra Millan and Partner Chef Sunny Oh – was a great Miami Spice choice last year and didn’t disappoint this year either. The dinner is offered all seven nights a week – a major plus in our book. App choices include tempura shrimp bites and avocado crispy rice. Entrees each come with miso soup and veggie fried rice for the table – another nice touch. Go for the roll combo or the beef tacosl. Desserts keep things light with mochi ice cream.
Aside from the spice menu, guests can also dine during happy hour and try favorites such as the Korean beef leaf taco ($5), fried tofu ($7) and chili shrimp dumplings ($7), or take advantage of the drink specials with beers starting at $3, wines starting at $4.50, and specialty cocktails starting at $5.