Miami Spice 2017: The Ten Best New Restaurants to Try

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Miami Spice is back with nearly 250 of the area's best restaurants participating in three-course dining deals for less than $40 a person.

The program, which runs through September 30, offers lunch or brunch for $23 and dinner for $39, plus tax and tip.

Though standard-bearers such as Scarpetta and Edge Steak & Bar continue to offer exceptional values, Miami Spice is the best time of year to try all the new restaurants you've been eyeing.

A good number of these eateries feature beautiful ambiance, top-tier chefs, and extras. Some establishments list whole fish or oysters on their Spice menus, while others offer a welcoming glass of bubbly or a bonus dish.

New Times researched the list of newcomers to Miami Spice and handpicked the ten best restaurants to try. It's good to note that some of them are new, while others are merely new to Spice this year. As always, menus are subject to change with availability and seasonality, and reservations are suggested.

Miami Spice 2017: The Ten Best New Restaurants to Try
Courtesy of Lobster Bar Sea Grille

1. Lobster Bar Sea Grille. This South Beach spot shows others how Miami Spice is done. A newcomer to the program, Lobster Bar Sea Grille certainly doesn't skimp on the portions or choices. Plus, the Spice offerings are what diners would want to eat at a seafood establishment: You won't find pasta or chicken here, only whole fish and lobsters. For starters, enjoy a creamy lobster bisque au cognac, jumbo blue Gulf shrimp, or Rhode Island baby calamari. Entrées include a whole European fish of the day with steamed baby Tuscan kale, Faroe Islands salmon over asparagus with lump crab "Oskar," a whole Nova Scotia lobster-stuffed lobster, and twin beef tenderloin medallions. For $5 extra, a USDA Prime New York strip is offered. For dessert, choose from profiteroles, Greek yogurt, or tropical cremeux. 404 Washington Ave, Miami Beach; 305-377-2675; buckheadrestaurants.com. Miami Spice is offered for dinner nightly.
2. Mignonette Uptown. It's rare that a half-dozen oysters are offered as a Miami Spice appetizer without an up-charge, but Mignonette Uptown has the good grace to do just that for dinner. Greek salad and lamb meatballs are two other choices before moving on to entrée options for every picky eater in the party. Seafood lovers can choose between branzino or Faroe Island salmon, while carnivores will opt for lamb chops. Vegetarians can make their own veggie plate from any four sides, and there are vegan choices as well. Bread pudding or Valrhona chocolate cake with ice-cold milk ends the meal on a sweet note. For lunch, alas, no oysters, but you can have a Greek salad, snow crab claws, or smoked fish dip before moving on to a conch po'boy, crab Louis salad, or lamb gyro. Desserts for lunch are the same as dinner. 3951 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-705-2159; mignonettemiami.com. Miami Spice is offered for lunch Monday through Friday and for dinner nightly.

Miami Spice 2017: The Ten Best New Restaurants to TryEXPAND
Courtesy of Phuc Yea

3. Phuc Yea. This Spice menu is all about extras. In addition to an appetizer (a choice of country fried oysters, daily crudo, veggie summer roll, or crispy imperial roll), each diner will also receive two items from the dinner menu. In a nod to old-school Chinese restaurants, you'll choose one from the first section (cola confit duck, veggie fried rice, or chili mangoes and cukes) and one from the second section (chilled spicy beef noodles or broccoli with pineapple, chilies, coconut, hoisin, oyster sauce, and sesame oil). Plus, each guest receives an order of P.Y. noodles with garlic butter, oyster sauce, and Parmesan cheese. It's chef's choice for dessert. 7100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-602-3710; phucyea.com. Miami Spice is offered for dinner nightly except Tuesday.

Bagel and lox
Bagel and lox

4. Bazaar Mar. José Andrés' ode to seafood has too many Miami Spice options to list. Basically, the entire regular menu is offered, including the chef's famous California funnel cake, liquid olives (billed as "life changing"), and smoked hamachi cone — and that's just for starters. Entrées feature just about anything that lives under the sea, including abalone, grilled oysters, branzino, and New Zealand cockles. Landlubbers can feast on roasted cauliflower, jidori chicken, maitake mushrooms, and secreto Ibérico Fermin — skirt steak from the legendary black-footed Ibérico pigs of Spain ($15 upcharge). Bring a group of friends (maximum party size of eight) to explore the expansive menu. 1300 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-615-5859; sbe.com. Miami Spice is offered for dinner Monday through Friday.
5. Upland. When restaurateur Stephen Starr and chef Justin Smillie opened Upland last fall, diners fell in love with its warm atmosphere and no-nonsense approach to serving a well-thought-out meal. The Spice menu offers some of the restaurant's best plates, including a little gem salad, drunken snapper, and crispy duck wings for appetizers. For dinner, choose a soulful pappardelle ragu with spicy sausage or a Creekstone Farms skirt steak. A lighter option that still offers flavor is coal-roasted salmon with Florida grapefruit and pickled beets. The restaurant's signature carrot cake and California dreamsicle — watermelon frozen yogurt with cocoa crumbs and white chocolate pearls — are dessert options. 49 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-602-9998; uplandmiami.com. Miami Spice is offered for dinner Sunday through Thursday.

6. Dashi. Inside the River Yacht Club, find chef Shuji Hiyakawa's 80-seat gem of a restaurant. The Spice menu is simple and straightforward: a tomato salad or cha-soba salad starts the evening, followed by beef, seafood, or vegetable udon. The chef's sashimi platter is also available, and it's the best choice. For dessert, have coconut panna cotta or green tea ice cream. The menu is the same for lunch and dinner, making a waterside weekend lunch an exceptional value. 401 SW Third Ave., Miami; 786-870-5304; dashirestaurant.com. Miami Spice is offered for lunch Saturday and Sunday; dinner Wednesday through Sunday.

Mushroom buns
Mushroom buns

7. Paon Eatery. This intimate Bay Harbor Islands bistro gives Spice patrons a warm welcome with a glass of sparkling wine and appetizer for dinner. For your first course, choose from grilled octopus, warm Brie, salmon tiradito, or burrata. Entrées include pork ribs; red snapper; pappardelle with mushrooms, asparagus, and a soft egg; and short rib. Finish with dulce de leche flan or humid chocolate cake with ice cream and nuts. For lunch, skip the bubbles and choose from warm Brie, corn or meat empanadas, or mushroom or shrimp steamed buns. Pork ribs, red snapper, and pappardelle are the options for your main, and dessert is the same as dinner. 1076 Kane Concourse, Bay Harbor Islands; 786-348-0672; paoneatery.com. Miami Spice is offered for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner nightly except Sunday.

8. The Seven Dials. Attention, English expats in Miami: This Spice menu is for you. The Seven Dials serves authentic pub grub with hints of Indian flavors. Start with seafood chowder, beet borana, samosa salad, or a ham and egg. Then it's on to kheema shepherd's pie with lamb and garam masasla; fish and chips via Lima with crushed new potatoes in mussel jus; wild mushroom lasagna; or chicken Parisian stuffed with béarnaise butter. For dessert, there's chocolate ale cake, bread pudding, and English tea creme brûlée, but opt for the sticky toffee pudding for a true treat from across the pond. 2030 S. Douglas Rd., Coral Gables; 786-542-1603; sevendialsmiami.com. Miami Spice is offered for dinner Monday through Saturday.

Miami Spice 2017: The Ten Best New Restaurants to TryEXPAND
Courtesy of Atlantikos

9. Atlantikos. This gorgeous modern dining room at the St. Regis Bal Harbour serves light Mediterranean fare such as royal dorade tartare of marinated octopus for appetizers. For entrées, choose from slow-braised short rib, pasta with octopus, or a royal dorade fillet with brioche crust and cauliflower cream. Bougatsa — phyllo crust stuffed with semolina cream, cinnamon, orange gel, and Greek yogurt sorbet — or real Greek yogurt with thyme honey are dessert options. 9703 Bal Harbour Blvd., Bal Harbour; 305-993-3300; stregisbalharbour.com. Miami Spice is offered for dinner nightly.

Grilled octopus.
Grilled octopus.
Photo by Valeria Nekhim Lease

10. Kiki on the River. If you can't get to the Mediterranean this summer, Miami Spice at Kiki on the River comes close. For starters, choose from refreshing options like grilled octopus, shrimp saganaki, watermelon salad, and a grilled halloumi cheese platter. Entrées include zesty organic chicken with lemon and jalapeño, lamb T-bone, hanger steak, and angel-hair pasta with English peas, served with a lemon butter sauce and topped with shaved avgotaraho. For dessert, choose baklava, a fruit platter, or gelato. 450 NW North River Dr., Miami, 786-502-3243; kikiontheriver.com. Miami Spice is offered for dinner Monday through Friday.

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