We visited all these restaurants to try their Miami Spice menus. Here’s what we loved

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Miami Spice

If you don’t mind paying for a terrible meal, feel free to skip right past this story. Oh, you’re still here? It must mean you’d like to know which Miami Spice meals are the best deals this year

 

We did, too. Just because more than 240 restaurants have agreed to offer fixed-price lunch and dinner menus ($23 or $39, respectively) from August through Sept. 30 doesn’t mean every place put its best foot forward.

So we asked several of our writers to attend some of the preview events in July to see what different restaurants have in store. Here are some of our favorites.

Amara at Paraiso

What we had: When a Michael Schwartz restaurant rolls out a Miami Spice Menu, you run to make a reservation. We started our meal with a refreshing charred carrot and avocado salad (made with both orange and purple carrots), goat cheese, cilantro and toasted pumpkin seeds for that extra crunch. One of Amara’s signature dishes, the Arroz Verde, is offered during Miami Spice. Cilantro rice with romesco, mushroom escabeche, avocado, cucumber and a poached egg are all mixed together for ultimate flavor. We finished our meal with the Buttermilk Dark Chocolate Cake drizzled with a chipotle chile chocolate sauce.

Who should go to this venue: Miamians who want to hit the hottest new spot would absolutely love the breathtaking Biscayne Bay views and the Latin American flavors of each creative dish that comes out of Schwartz’s kitchen.

— Kathy Buccio

Azabu

Robata wagyu sirloin steakDeep Sleep Studio

What we had:  Like its Michelin-starred sister restaurant in New York City, Azabu Miami Beach highlights upscale authentic Japanese dishes in a warm and intimate setting.  To start, we had seared A5 grade Wagyu served with truffle ponzu that managed to be the perfect richness. It was a decadent precursor to the main event, Azabu’s robata-grilled Sakura Pork. Pre-marinated in shio-koji—a simple seasoning blended to enhance the umami, the richness, of the meat—the Sakura Pork is a butter-soft plate of perfection. Azabu’s Spice menu also offers a Chirashi sushi bowl that includes a fresh assortment of mixed sashimi served over sushi rice. For dessert, we went with a yuzu key lime pie and a matcha cheesecake, both Asian-inspired riffs on the classics.  

Who should go: The restaurant’s cozy layout, chic soundtrack, and stellar bar program make it the perfect spot for couples on dates.

— Amanda Mesa

Bourbon Steak

Bourbon Steak offerings

What we had: We attended a preview dinner that gave an overview of both the Bourbon Steak and Corsair Kitchen dinner menus (both of which are offered seven nights a week). The lobster salad from the Corsair starters is a big-ticket item and a nice way to begin while Bourbon’s beef carpaccio is festooned with shaved summer truffles – lovely to see on a Spice menu. Corsair’s campanelle pasta comes with fava beans and kale pesto and Bourbon’s Yemenite-spiced NY strip will satisfy any carnivore. The hazelnut panna cotta on Bourbon’s menu was a crowd pleaser while Corsair’s key lime tart was an interesting take on a classic Florida dessert.

Who should go to this venue: Both spots are polished and chic, and perfect for an upscale night out. But while Bourbon has an adults-only atmosphere, Corsair is a bit more family-friendly.

— Sara Liss

Byblos

Shakshouka at Byblos is always a hit.

What we had: Every year that they’ve participated Byblos has put on an impressive show for Spicers and this year proves no different: each diner gets to choose from dozens of options with each person getting two small plates to start, a main course, a side and a dessert – an impressive spread worthy of a Sultan. Standouts on the appetizers include the shakshouka (baked tomato-egg dish), the beets with labneh cheese, pide bread with spinach and feta, lamb ribs and duck kibbeh. On the mains they’ve added the decadent Byblos burger from this year’s SOBEWFF Burger Bash competition along with crowd pleasers like the Middle Eastern fried chicken, yogurt-baked cod and shortrib kebab. Sides of sweet jeweled couscous and Persian kale rice will keep everyone happy while desserts of honey-soaked loukoumades and pistachio ice cream pizzelle are a fitting ending to the crazy feast. Bonus: the Spice dinner is offered all seven nights a week – a generous touch.

Who should go to this venue: This place is perfect for a big group of friends – there are so many options that you’ll have dozens of plates crowding the table making it a gorgeous family-style meal.

— Sara Liss

Chotto Matte

handout

What We Had: We started with an order of edamame for the table, which quickly followed with the Chotto Ceviche made with branzino sashimi and a citrus sauce that gave it a salty kick. The Ebi Harumaki, shrimp spring rolls made with shiitake, yuzu, shiso and ponzu salsa, were crisped to perfection. An unlikely hit was the Nasu Miso- a miso-glazed eggplant dish with apricot, puffed soba and sesame seeds. A traditional spicy tuna roll is also included and dessert changes daily. We had the brûlée de la passion, an almond cake with ahi amarillo and guava sorbet.

Who should go to this venue: Fans of Nikkei cuisine will definitely want to make a reservation.

— Kathy Buccio

Graziano’s

What we had: Graziano’s claims to be “the home of damn fine Argentine,” and they certainly live up to the title. Although we’re not sure how Argentine this dish is, for lunch, we recommend the signature Butcher’s Burger, made with ground Angus beef short rib, Miami Smokers Heritage bacon, tomatoes, fried egg and truffle fries. If you’re vegetarian, go for the Hongos y Espinaca — grilled Asado-style veggies served on fettuccine). Dessert is a vanilla flan with housemade dulce de leche that will blow your abuela’s rendition of the water. You can even add wine pairings for an additional $15.

Who should go to this venue: Each of Graziano’s four locations offers a laid-back neighborhood-style vibe. Families are definitely welcome, and the intimate no-frills atmosphere makes it perfect for a fuss-free date night or lunch among colleagues.

— Amanda Mesa

Katsuya Brickell

Soba shitake salad

What we had: Foodies, rejoice — you no longer have to venture to South Beach to enjoy some gastronomic goodness by master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi. If you love your pork belly, start with the Kakuni Tonkatsu as your appetizer. The kurabuta pork belly is butter-soft and served with carrot puree and heirloom carrot salad. For lighter fare, go with the Kampachi Kalamansi, a refreshing dish of compressed watermelon, kampachi sashimi, kalamansi and rare white shoyu. For the main dish, we tried Katsuya’s Miso Black Cod, served with creamed daikon, chewy sea beans, asparagus and (ready for this?) edible sand. For an additional $12, you can take your dinner to the next level with the Lobster Robata, grilled to perfection and served with sriracha butter, potato puree, garlic root and frothy bisque air. For dessert there were two options: a tropical confection of coconut mousse, key lime curd, macaroon and mango mochi called Winter In Osaka and the Salty Samurai, salted caramel ice cream with warm caramel foam, candied popcorn, and shoyu gelee. 

Who should go to this venue: The dim lighting and a bass-driven soundtrack create a posh and sultry dining atmosphere that’s perfect for date nights and power dinners. Maybe leave the kids at home with a babysitter for this one.

— Amanda Mesa

Los Fuegos by Francis Mallmann

What we had: We started with a chilled beet soup served with feta cheese, charred leek, breadcrumbs and mint before moving onto the heartier fare: Mallmann’s famous Hi-Rise Thin Sliced NY Strip. Piled over crispy thin potato crust and brushed with chimichurri, it’s like a layer cake for meat lovers. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, you can opt for the local catch of the day, served with tapenade crust, or a roasted eggplant milanesa. Desert is a choice between grilled pineapple and coconut ice cream, and a dulce de leche flan prepared with mascarpone cream (we went with the flan, because, Miami).

Who should go to this venue: Los Fuegos is located inside the Faena hotel, so you’ll definitely see families with some very well-dressed kiddos, but after sundown the space takes on a more grown-up vibe. It’s a great place for a date night — all that dim golden light does wonders for any complexion (no filter needed).

— Amanda Mesa

Mr. Chow

Zebra Dumplings

What we had: Guests can choose from four appetizers, four entrees, two sides and two desserts. Our favorites were the water dumplings (which are said to bring prosperity) and the Beijing Chicken, a sweet-and-sour classic served with fermented yellow bean sauce and candied walnuts. For dessert, we went with a creamy house-made fruit sorbet to combat Miami’s summer heat.

Who should go to this venue: While this is a hotel, MR CHOW’s audience skews toward suited execs, champagne-sipping socialites, and young glammed-up parties sitting down to dinner before hitting Wall Lounge, the hotel’s nightclub, later in the evening.

— Amanda Mesa

Palat

What we had:  Our dinner started with an order of the mussels in a white wine sauce, with ‘nduja and creme fraiche. It set the tone and flavor for our main dish, the Octopus Pasta with with a perfectly braised octopus, juicy tomatoes that blended well with the squid ink chitarra. To finishe, we tried the Ice Cream Sandwich- simple but flavorful made with chocolate cookies and creme fraiche.

Who should go to this venue: If you love Mediterranean inspired tapas, in a lively setting that’s inviting, cozy, and eclectic, this is your spot.

— Kathy Buccio

Root and Bone

What we had: We kicked it off with the Drunken Deviled Eggs flavored with pickled onion, dill, and spicy potato chips. We couldn’t say no to the signature fried chicken, Jeff McKinnis’ specialty. It comes with two pieces of Springer Mountain free range chicken brined in sweet tea and dusted with Tabasco lemon honey, with a side of squash and grits. We finished off the meal with a slice of Key lime pie. A $9 glass of Lyric by Etude pinot noir and Russian River Valley Chardonnay are available for the Spice Menu.

Who should go to this venue:  Locals and tourists who are down for some fine Southern cuisine and want a good perch for people watching on South Beach.

— Kathy Buccio

 

by miami.com

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