Miami Spice is both wonderful and overwhelming. With 199 restaurants to choose from and only 60 days to indulge, selecting your next bargain-priced, three-course meal can prove daunting.
So it's time to uphold an age-old Short Order tradition: a three-part series on the good, the best, and the misses -- a closer look at this year's Miami Spice ranking offerings from the restaurants that put out the best menus to the deals that don't quite add up.
We begin with the good.
Fine Dining - Lunch $19, Dinner $33
This midtown restaurant offers a choice of two appetizers (salumi or goat cheese and farro salad), three entrées (cavatelli with tomato sauce, grilled baby cuttlefish, or braised Florida rabbit), and a dessert sampler. The rabbit usually costs $22, the farro salad $11, and desserts $7. At $33, Salumeria's Miami Spice menu not only represents its standard offerings but it's also a good deal. Available Monday through Friday, dinner only.
Sure, Mercadito's Miami Spice menu is generous. And yes, its built to share. (The midtown joint proffers two types of guacamole, one choice of ceviche or botanas, three tacos, and one side.) But the most important news is this: it includes a drink. Pick from wine, beer, or the hard stuff. Get your money's worth. Order the latter. Available for dinner daily.
A good Miami Spice menu functions like a microcosm of the whole. Bloom does exactly that. Through the months of August and September, guests can order Bloom's version of ceviche -- called "white fish shaken" -- short rib bibimbap (usually $17), and tres leches (usually $9). Available for dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
Jean Paul's House offers a balanced dinner bill of fare, featuring two corvina dishes, lomo saltado (usually $24), and black shrimp risotto. Lunch includes shrimp causa, a fried corvina sandwich, and, yes, even an alfajor. Available for lunch Monday through Friday; dinner Monday through Saturday.
The Federal Food, Drink & Provisions
On Saturdays, the Federal goes where few Miami Spice participants have gone before. The restaurant offers weekend brunch for $19. The menu lists pig wings, crawfish n' grits, chorizo frittata, and brown butter-poached apples. Its dinner options are meant to be shared between couples. It includes two appetizers, one large plate, and one side. Available for brunch on Saturday; dinner Tuesday through Sunday.
Luxury Dining - Lunch $23, Dinner $39
Paula DaSilva may not be at this Miami Beach restaurant anymore, but the place still offers a solid Spice menu. The bill of fare lists the inevitable trifecta: chicken, fish, and skirt steak. But it's still a good deal. The whole fried Florida snapper usually costs $33 and the charbroiled skirt steak $28. My only complaint? 1500 Degrees offers a three course prix-fixe menu year-round for $37. (Their Spice menu is more diverse though.) Available Sunday through Thursday, dinner only.
Michelle Bernstein's Miami Spice menu lists three options per course: appetizers (grilled romaine salad, beef carpaccio, and grilled octopus), entrées (wild salmon, skirt steak, and curried butternut squash tagliatelle), and desserts (maple peach parfait, vanilla cream-filled beignets, and the chef's famous bread pudding). Indeed, Michy's could do better than the famous Spice trio: pasta (or chicken), churrasco, and salmon. But this is one of the top restaurants in town. If anyone can make this triumvirate worthy, it's Michy's. Available Tuesday through Friday and Sunday, dinner only.
Have you been to Tosca? The restaurant usually peddles $60 black truffle fettuccine and $120 ribeye steaks. So Miami Spice is a good opportunity to dine at this pricey South Beach spot. Tosca's Spice dinner offerings include a selection of three appetizers, four entrées, and three desserts. Available for lunch on Sunday; dinner Monday through Saturday.
Sushi Samba offers a solid weekday lunch option, which includes three choices from each course. The menu features shrimp gyozas, salmon with soba noodles, and mochi. Dinner also includes a sushi assortment. Available for lunch Monday through Friday; dinner Sunday through Thursday.
Sugarcane has farm-picked lettuce! This is exciting. No matter the bargain prices, Sugarcane will NEVER offer pavement-picked greens. The midtown restaurant offers three choices per course, including pork terrine, pan-roasted cod, and sea salt dulce de leche. Available for lunch Monday through Friday; dinner Sunday through Thursday.
Makoto's Miami Spice menu has something for everyone. The Bal Harbour restaurant lists a vegan maki roll, grouper tempura, and pork chop robata. Though the dessert course only lists a parfait, Short Order also tasted mochi during its Spice preview. Available lunch for Monday through Friday; dinner Sunday through Thursday.
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South Beach's Khong River House lists a bounty of noodles. Dinner includes braised beef boat noodles and rice noodle sitr-fry with ground pork and dried shrimp. Nighttime brings a red curry chicken and lunch features a rotisserie bird. (It would have been nice to see Thai crispy duck or prawns on there too.) Available for lunch Monday through Friday; dinner Sunday through Thursday.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.