It's only the first week of Miami Spice, and — if you're a foodie — chances are you've already read a year's worth of tips and guides to the two-month eating bonanza during which more than 180 restaurants offer quality meals for $23 for lunch and $39 for dinner.
But there's one problem. A majority of participating restaurants are in central or southern areas of the county, like Miami Beach, downtown Miami, and Coral Gables. What about the folks up north? Only 17 of the 180-plus eateries are in northern reaches Miami-Dade. The good news: Those 17 offer some tasty dishes without the hassles of traffic and unruly tourists. Here are our favorite five.
Bourbon Steak Miami
Nestled inside the Turnberry Isle Resort & Club in Aventura, Bourbon Steak is one of Spice's hidden gems. Created by Michael Mina, the contemporary steakhouse blends sleek and chic with good ol' steak and fries. For $39, you can get black mission figs and Humboldt Fog goat cheese with grilled radicchio, walnuts, and aged balsamic; barbecue glazed Angus rib eye with jalapeño corn bread, and warm whole-grain potato salad; and the signature Valrhona chocolate cake with navel orange jam. The meal is as decadent as it sounds.
Chef Rolf's Tuna's Seafood Restaurant
Oysters Moscow, mussels Chardonnay, and grouper Brittany. Fresh fish from local waters is executive chef Rolf Fellhauer forte at this seafood joint in North Miami. The dinner menu is on the larger side for Spice, which is a good thing for diners looking for options. From the catch of the day to lobster bisque and oysters in every form, if you're a seafood lover searching for a deal without the hassle, look no further. Plus, landlubbers can get their fill of steak and lamb. Tuna's is open every night for dinner except Monday.
Timo Restaurant & Bar
At Tim Andriola and Rodrigo Martinez's upscale Timo, Chef Andriola's Italian-Mediterranean-inspired cuisine is complemented by a casually upscale dining environment that gives guests a chance to grab a quick bite or indulge in a more intimate meal. Open nightly during Spice, the restaurant offers menu staples such as tagliolini frutti ti di mare with sea urchin pasta, prawns, clams, scallops, prosecco, and butter; braised short ribs in barolo with summer truffle polenta and a young artichoke salad; and goat cheese tortelloni with heirloom tomato confit, fava beans, mint pesto, and pine nut oil.
AQ by Acqualina
If you're looking to unwind after a long workday at a place where you can also nosh on specialty dishes, AQ is the spot. It's open only weekdays for dinner, but the fare, with a strong Mediterranean influence, offers a bit of variety. Start with dragon fruit Greek salad and then choose from flat-iron steak, wok-charred salmon, or pasta alfresco with hummus. Don't skip the chocolate icebox pie for dessert.
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Corsair by Scott Conant
Open for lunch and dinner daily, Scott Conant's Corsair is going all out this Miami Spice. Eggplant parmigiano and raviolini ricotta for lunch, or beef carpaccio and roasted diver scallops for dinner? The combinations are myriad during both meal services. At lunchtime, choose from four appetizers, four entrées, and three desserts. For dinner, the selections are even greater — five appetizers, five entrées, and three desserts, including brown sugar cake. Or maybe order the milk chocolate budino instead. You'll want to try the whole menu, featuring fresh, farm-to-table ingredients transformed into culinary art pieces almost too pretty to eat.
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