Miami Spice, much like the wet and sticky summer months, has almost run its course. For those who still have room in their stomachs and — more important, perhaps — money in their wallets for another stab at the 181 restaurants offering $23 lunch and $39 dinner menus, here are five of the must-try restaurants.
The promotion ends September 30, after which the Miami Spice menus will disappear till next August. With T-minus 12 days to take advantage of the restaurant binge, it’s time to get eating.
The Miami Beach staple under the Pubbelly Boys’ umbrella has always personalized Miami Spice. The Spanish tapas spot with a Miami disposition offers the promotional menu for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner daily and takes the “tapas” option seriously. Unlike most other Spice menus, where diners can select one item from each of three courses, Barceloneta offers a choice of up to six items from the restaurant's expansive bistro, salads, and rice menu, and one dessert. Pair the classic croquetas de ibérico — creamy ibérico ham fritters with a piquant piquillo aioli — with fragrant escargots scented with parsley garlic butter and rabbit sausage.
4. DB Bistro Moderne
Take advantage of Miami Spice and try the dishes offered at DB Bistro Moderne, the Miami outpost of French star chef Daniel Boulud’s collection. Lunch is offered Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday. For dinner, sample the classic salade Lyonnaise, with crisped bacon lardons, spicy frisée, and a soft egg, which ties the entire plate together in a creamy, unctuous flow. A venison osso buco for an extra $10 is the adventurous option for an entrée course, but chicken tagine with preserved lemon and couscous promises to be a flavorful alternative. For dessert, the in-vogue corn-and-blueberry combination pops up in a sundae topped with toffee popcorn, although the dark-chocolate mousse topped with a rich chocolate foam leans tropical with crushed macadamia nuts.
It’s not quite the champagne-and-caviar brunch, but the Spice items at Zuma offer a chance to eat at the posh Brickell spot without the hundred-dollar price tag. Go big (and all steak) at dinner and start with the sliced seared beef with umami-rich shaved truffle and acidic pickled daikon, and although it seems weird, follow it with grilled skirt steak topped with the classic sushi herb shiso. To finish, the goma waffle with miso caramel ice cream is the cherry on top of a sweet meal.
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SHOW ME HOW
Use the last days of Miami Spice as an opportunity to check out one of the most innovative new restaurants on Miami’s scene — Alter, headed by chef Brad Kilgore. The special menu is offered at the Wynwood eatery for lunch Tuesday through Saturday and includes some of the most playful plates around. Try blue-crab shumai — a take on the dim sum classic — and the inventive eggplant “pastrami,” which sits atop acorn-squash purée. The earthy, sweet scent originates from soy brown butter, and the surprising richness of the dish comes from the pickled pear.
1. Estiatorio Milos
Estiatorio Milos by Costas Spiliadis, for many reasons, tops the list of Spice restaurants to try. Yes, a visit to the South Beach outpost is always a treat. Yes, the freshness of the fish and quality of the ingredients are astounding. Yes, it’s entirely possible to include a celebrity sighting along with a meal in the luxe, expansive space. But Milos’ special menu is a true deal, because dinner for two at this restaurant regularly sets diners back a couple hundred bucks. During Spice, the bill could stay below a Benjamin. Lunch and dinner are offered every day of the week. At lunchtime, opt for the classic Greek mezze plate or Greek salad to start, or for an extra $10, try the impeccable charcoal-grilled octopus. The Mediterranean sea bream entrée is a must-try for lunch and dinner.