Best of Miami

Miami Spice 2015: Five Best Coral Gables Restaurants

With so many restaurants and so little time (T-minus 56 days and counting, folks), Miami Spice can be overwhelming, which is why sound strategy is of the utmost importance. Instead of causing a self-induced migraine by figuring out how to traverse the full list of 180 participating restaurants, how about maximizing your eating efforts by tackling one neighborhood at a time?

That's why New Times has taken on the duty to bring you the best (as well as the good and disappointing) Miami Spice menus being offered not just throughout the entire 305, but the top five to hit up within each vicinity. We've already tackled Miami Beach and North Miami, and now it's on to Coral Gables. Here's where to get your discounted three courses on in the City Beautiful.

Palme' d'Or
Veteran of Michelin-starred eateries Phillipe Ruiz might no longer be heating things up in the kitchen of Palme d'Or, but the French fine dining restaurant inside the Biltmore remains a Miami landmark regardless and during Miami Spice you can find out why. Options from the sea are plentiful, from four appetizers and entrees ranging from house-made squid ink capellini with sautéed calamari, artichoke, and chorizo to grilled octopus with piquillo peppers and romesco sauce to Chilean sea bass with fennel puree and vegetable gnocchi to scallops with a corn degustation and beets. Do as the French do and finish your meal off with an éclair or an assortment of cheese for a $7 supplement. Bon appetit.

SushiSamba might not offer Miami Spice on Friday and Saturday evenings, but it's the $23 Monday through Friday lunch you want to take full advantage of. Particularly the Japanese chicken meatballs with charred scallion and tare sauce followed by either steamed bun baru – wagyu beef short rib and crispy pork together with cucumber and red onion slaw, Campari tomatoes, and melted mozarella – or chefs nigiri, sashimi, and sushi roll assortment platter. End your meal on a Japanese note with some mochi.

Miami Spice or not, Bulla is always a good choice. For starters, you've got their signature huevos rotos (a mountain of homemade potato chips capped with jumbo organic fried eggs, serrano ham, potato foam, and truffle oil), as well as a short rib alternative for some beefy variety. But there's also slow roasted ribs with fig barbecue sauce and shishito peppers or sautéed garlic shrimp bathed in a curry cream sauce and coupled with artichoke confit, and that's just the beginning. The Spanish party continues with your choice of entrée, from a seafood stew that combines branzino, mussels, shrimp, and calamari into sizzling revelry to egg noodles with clams and porchetta, you'll be transported to seafood heaven. For a sweet finish, the torrija with turron ice cream and local honey is where it's at, though there's also decadent rice pudding. 

Pascal's on Ponce
Akin to Cindy Hutson, Pascal Oudin is another chef celebrating 15 years in Coral Gables. But unlike Ortanique on the Mile, his ode to French fine dining isn't the kind of place common folk can frequent every night, except of course during Miami Spice when a whole meal is proffered for basically the price of an entrée. Though there's no wrong way to go here. Do right by New Times critic Zachary Fagenson with the Maine lobster bisque, crispy duck confit with duck fat potatoes, and coffee and chocolate ganache opera cake.

Ortanique on the Mile
There's a reason Cindy Hutson's shrine to cuisine of the sun has been around 15 years, and it's because her food is divine. Haven't tried it? Miami Spice is the perfect time to do so. Sure, there's a Caesar salad on the menu, but Hutson's staple is chockfull of roasted garlic and crowned with lemon-sizzled wontons. Other appetizers include a ceviche of the night and tender crispy-spiced calamari, but that was for yesterday. Call tonight (or check the website) and all appetizers, entrees and desserts will be totally different. From menu staples and neighborhood favorites (think coffee and cocoa-encrusted wild salmon with creamy corn polenta or West Indian-style bouillabaisse) to on-a-whim chef specials (i.e. pan seared local boat caught wahoo with toasted almond coconut rice), Hutson is keeping things interesting every day during the entire duration of Miami Spice. For dessert, you simply can't go wrong with the bread pudding of the night but be sure to cross your fingers for mango tres leches. 

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Carla Torres found her inner gourmand voice while writing for Miami New Times in 2012. She has also worked with Travel & Leisure and Ocean Drive. She balances passions for wine, sweets, yoga, and kayaking.