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.
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.
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.
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.