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Miami Spice 2016: The Ten Best New Restaurants to Try

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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.

5. The Sarsaparilla Club
Chefs Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth return to Miami, this time with an American dim sum restaurant at the Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach. The homey restaurant welcomes you to dine as servers roll around dim sum carts offering both sweet and savory selections. Menu items are based on seasonality, but combine American comfort favorites such as fried chicken with Asian flavors like kaffir lime, toasted coconut, fresh lime, and cilantro.

Miami Spice is offered for dinner nightly.

4. Izzy's Fish & Oyster
Named for chef/owner Jamie DeRosa's daughter, Izzy's is a tribute to summers spent on New England's beaches, where sunburned families chow down on clam bellies and lobster rolls. This casual eatery, named New Times' Best Seafood Restaurant and helmed by chef de cuisine William Crandall, offers the same experience in South Beach. Lobster rolls, clam bellies, and chowders are satisfying options. For Spice, start with complimentary Parker House rolls before choosing from Black Angus beef tartare, charred baby romaine salad, or Bangor Maine scallops for an appetizer. "Maine" courses (pun intended) include thyme-scented chicken thigh and a Florida Keys local catch, but opt for the lobster roll, served hot or cold. For dessert, there's a true taste of the Northeast — a glass of Del's frozen lemonade. Sub out a glass of house wine, beer, or specialty cocktail for dessert. 

Miami Spice is offered for lunch and dinner daily.

3. Blue Collar
Danny Serfer's flagship MiMo District restaurant is a favorite for those seeking comfort in their meal. Many items on the Spice menu are new to the restaurant, including crispy goat cheese and cantaloupe with aged balsamic; old-school salad with ranch croutons, chopped egg, carrots, and bacon; fried pork chops with black-eyed peas and red-eye gravy; pork tenderloin with creamed kale and chutney; lamb chops with harissa-stewed chickpeas; curried goat; and whole fish. For dessert, Serfer is making a cobbler from his neighbor's mangoes. 

Miami Spice is offered for dinner nightly.

2. NaiYaRa
Named New Times' Best Restaurant in South Beach, NaiYaRa, helmed by Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, better known as Chef Bee, turns out beautiful versions of traditional Thai street food such as beef jerky and curries. The Spice menu is filled with favorites such as popcorn shrimp, kimchee fried rice topped with a sunny-side-up egg, and Chiang Rai curry with skirt steak. As a bonus, Spice diners will receive a glass of wine with dinner.

Miami Spice is offered for dinner nightly.

1. Ariete
New Times' 2016 pick for Best Restaurant in Coconut Grove, Ariete is led by chef/partner Michael Beltran, who has elevated Coconut Grove dining with a perfectly roasted chicken and pastrami-cured short rib. The Spice menu will rotate every ten days, but expect hits such as the chef's tuna conserva, local fish, gnocchi with hunter sausage, and the Chug burger. Leave room for a slice of seasonal pie or house-made doughnuts for dessert. 

Miami Spice is offered for dinner nightly. 

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