Miami Spice 2016: The Ten Best New Restaurants to Try

As sure as the summer brings scorching temperatures and afternoon thunderstorms to Miami, so does the season bring Miami Spice. The annual two-month promotion runs from August 1 through September 30, offering three-course prix-fixe lunches and dinners at the city's most beloved establishments.

This year, more than 240 restaurants will participate. While standard-bearers such as Hakkasan, Alter, and Red the Steakhouse are returning, there are dozens of worthy first-timers: Some are new eateries, and others have joined Spice for the first time.  

Either way, these ten restaurants are the most interesting to check out — some for ambiance, some for generous portions, and some simply for a great meal. Note that Spice dinners cost $39 and lunch is $23. Unless stated, beverages and gratuities are not included. 
10. River Yacht Club
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful setting for your Miami Spice meal than the River Yacht Club. This restaurant is, as its name suggests, a working yacht club complete with a boat marina and yacht showroom. Yes, you can come by boat, but an Uber will do just fine. Allow yourself to be swept away by the Miami River's breezes and the ambiance during your meal. The Spice deal is especially nice with a side of ambiance. The RYC features a rotating guest chef program, with Alex Chang (formerly of the Vagabond) taking his place behind the burner. 

Miami Spice is offered for lunch Tuesday through Saturday; dinner is served Tuesday through Friday and Sunday.

9. Prime Italian
Myles Chefetz's ode to classic Italian cuisine joins Spice for the first time. If you're looking for a hearty meal filled with favorites, you can't go wrong. To start, choose from tried-and-true offerings such as frito misto, bufala mozzarella with beefsteak tomatoes, and prosciutto di Parma with artisan cheese. Entrées include upscale renditions of soulful dishes like chicken parm, spaghetti with a Kobe meatball, and braised short rib. There are several desserts, including fried Oreos and mixed fruit, but go for the assortment of mini cannoli to keep the Little Italy-in-SoBe vibe going. 

Miami Spice is offered for dinner Sunday through Thursday.

8. Zest
For years, Cindy Hutson has held court at her venerable Coral Gables mainstay Ortanique on the Mile. Now the chef has expanded to downtown Miami, where Zest serves her "Cuisine of the Sun" — dishes filled with the flavors of the Caribbean mashed with influences from Asia, India, and Latin America. Hutson is known for changing up her Spice menus at Ortanique, but if her braised octopus is on the menu, snatch it up without hesitation. Slow-braised, it's the most tender octopus you'll likely ever encounter. 

Miami Spice is offered for lunch Monday through Friday; dinner is served Monday through Saturday.

7. Kyu
Wynwood's latest sensation, Kyu prepares most of its dishes on a wood-fired grill. This Asian/American barbecue hybrid is the work of Michael Lewis and Steven Haigh, who worked together at Zuma London years ago. Carnivores will delight in anything on the menu, be it the Wagyu brisket burger or pork buns. The only downside is the difficulty of snagging a reservation, but Miami Spice is two months long, so you can plan ahead. 

Miami Spice is offered for lunch Tuesday through Saturday.
6. Los Fuegos by Francis Mallmann
One of South America's most revered chefs, Francis Mallmann likes to play with fire. Inside the Faena Hotel Miami Beach's ultra-plush expanse lies Mallmann's deceptively simple fare. Spice options include a wood-oven empanada, a lomito sandwich, roast chicken salad, and dulce de leche flan for lunch. Dinner options include almond soup, skirt steak a la parrilla, and wild mushroom-and-spinach cannelloni. 

Miami Spice is offered for lunch Monday through Friday; dinner is served Sunday through Thursday.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss