We're halfway through Miami Spice, giving us about 30 more days to sample 200-plus eateries. If your evenings are packed, squeeze in a midday grub session — many of Spice's restaurants offer rich lunches for a mere $23. Even better, book a lunch meeting with a client or a briefing with a co-worker, and work while you play (or in this case, eat). This next month marks a lot of work to be done and many meals to be had from South Miami and Brickell to Wynwood and South Beach. Don't waste time — the clock is ticking, and your stomach is growling.
When Cindy Hutson's Zest opened in March, it brought vibrance to Miami's otherwise gray downtown. Now the chef's signature "Cuisine of the Sun"-inspired restaurant offers an alluring Spice lunch. The ethnically diverse and seasonally driven menu features beloved items such as the 50/50 meatball, which blends 50 percent Niman ground lamb and 50 percent Angus chuck beef to create one colossal ball of meat; the coffee-and-cocoa-crusted salmon, showered in a chipotle-agave glaze and served with creamy corn polenta; and a handful of red velvet whoopie pies served with a light chocolate sauce. Most of Hutson's heartier menu items range from $15 to $30, making the restaurant's lunch deal not only satisfying but also affordable.
4. Los Fuegos
When weeks begin to blend together, it's time to add some spice — literally. Los Fuegos, the Argentine eatery inside the Faena Hotel Miami Beach, does just that. Trade stacks of papers and back-to-back meetings with seemingly endless food courses. The eatery's Spice lunch menu is hearty, offering everything from empanadas, which boast a soft center and crisp shell while stuffed with hand-cut prime filet and served with a touch of tangy llajua sauce, to a lomito sandwich packed with tomato, mustard, and arugula, along with three to four slices of thick-cut prime beef. If that weren't enough, there's a puck-size dulce de leche flan for dessert too. Food aside, the restaurant's opulent decor, accented in red and gold, is enough to evaporate life's daily stresses for an afternoon of taste and luxury.
Coral Gables and Doral
With locations in Coral Gables and Doral, Bulla is easily accessible to South Miami-Dade professionals. Pronounced boo-ya, the Spanish gastropub features tapas and small plates such as pan con tomate — crisp bread brushed with tomato, manchego, and serrano ham — and huevos cabreados, made with jumbo eggs, shoestring potatoes, garlic shrimp, and brava sauce. For entrées, find a skirt steak, a rice-based dish, and coca margarita — homemade flatbread, tomate frito, burrata, chorizo, and basil. For dessert, snag some coffee and splurge on some flan served with passionfruit sorbet. Lunch menus vary at both locations.
The only way to indulge in Miami Spice at Alter is during lunch, because the restaurant forgoes discounted dinner service. New Times, which was invited for a taste of the Wynwood eatery's 2016 Spice menu, noted that with each of the three courses, there's a variety of vibrant dishes to choose from instead of tired plates like salmon or chicken. Chef Bradley Kilgore describes his Spice menu as "cuisine with no boundaries." Among the plethora of plates, consider ordering Italian ricotta cavatelli with tonkatsu broth and raw Bay of Mexico scallops with aguachile and shiso.
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Zuma has become a mainstay on Miami's dining scene since its opening in 2010. Though it's one of the area's more expensive eateries, Spice makes Zuma affordable to all. Its $23 lunch menu is one for the books, blending the restaurant's best into one meal. Menu highlights include white miso soup with tofu, wakame, and scallion; pork katsu with with citrus salad and nori mayo; and roasted mahi-mahi with shiso ponzu butter. Theres's also a sashimi selection with avocado, cucumber, asparagus, and salmon roe.