Ahh. Miami Spice. True, it's a great value but like everything in life, the two month-long promotion comes with a few catches -- like the fact that many restaurants don't offer the three-course prix-fixe Spice menu on weekends.
That sucks, because a lot of us simply have too many things "on our plate" to dine out during the week. So where does that leave you?
Thankfully, the Miami Spice website is user-friendly and allows you to search for restaurants that offer the dining deal on weekends. You can do that...or you can let us do the work for you. We've perused just about every restaurant and compiled a list of what we consider to be the ones that offer the best values for the weekend.
Our criteria? They have to serve Spice Friday, Saturday and Sunday (unless, of course, the restaurant is closed) evenings and the menu has to be an exceptional value, filled with a variety of delicious offerings.
Since there are two price levels for Spice, we've listed the top five in each category -- fine dining ($33 per person) and luxury dining ($39 per person). Enjoy!
Luxury Top Five (Dinner $39 per person)
With a host of choices (including a five ounce petite Certified Angus Beef filet), this SoBe steak house doesn't skimp with their Spice menu. The menu changes frequently, but expect classic appetizers like a Caesar salad or Italian stuffed peppers. Don't feel like steak? Atlantic salmon, Ashley Farms chicken breast, broiled pork chops, or bucatini with red sauce and meatball are options. Desserts include a drunken peach cobbler, made with Southern peaches macerated in Southern Comfort.
4. J&G Grill
Bradley Kilgore is the chef de cuisine at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's gorgeous spot at the St. Regis Bal Harbour resort. Yes, we know Miamians like to dine late, but for once try to make it to dinner before sunset to catch a glimpse of the Atlantic change colors before she's enveloped in darkness. As for the fare? We'd suggest starting with the fresh calamari filled with lamb sausage with smoked tomato-caper emulsion and squid ink before moving on to the poussin with pine nut-foie gras jus, served with truffle fava bean succotash, chanterelles, and housemade raisins. Try the chocolate, bread, and olive oil dessert to finish off the evening.
3. The Dutch
Andrew Carmellini's Miami restaurant combines a bistro feel with some wonderful hearty dishes made with local ingredients. Spice starters include chicken liver pate with clarified bone marrow, homemade pickles, and grilled country bread and chilled corn soup with fire-roasted corn, piquillo pepper, crispy tortilla, and ancho chili. Main courses include smoked ricotta agnolotti, Key West pink shrimp, or BBQ smoked ribs. There are other desserts, too, but have the warm pecan pie. Because...pecan pie!
Michelle Bernstein's restaurant consistently serves up wonderful, soulful meals. Her Spice menu includes carpaccio of beef or grilled octopus for starters, followed by roasted wild salmon, chimi marinated skirt steak, or curried butternut tagliatelle. All the desserts sound wonderful, but the maple peach parfait with cinnamon chiffon, bacon oat crumble, and spiced caramel chantilly sounds like perfection.
1. PB Steak
How hungry are you? Hungry enough to eat steak tartare sliders and a classic wedge and pork cheek ravioli? That's right! You choose three items...for your appetizer! Moving on to the main course, you'll choose two from items like braised shortribs, dry aged skirt steak, and pancetta wrapped pork tenderloin. It's chef's choice for dessert, if you can squeeze it in somewhere after all that food.
Fine Dining Top Five (Dinner $33 per person)
Feel like some down home vittles for Spice? The Federal's got your back. Choose two starters from favorites like Buffalo pig wings, a jumbo "biskit", Southwest mac & cheese, or BBQ'd deviled eggs. The main meal offers your choice of crawfish and grits, smoky fried chicken, St. Louis-style ribs, or seafood stew. Finish off with a chef's choice for dessert.
Who says you have to drive to the baech to get a good meal? Stay close to home and dine at Barley & Swine, next to Dadeland. Since "swine" is in the name of the restaurant, we'll suggest the crispy chimichurri pig tails, Niman ranch pork with sambal chimichurri sauce for starters. Choose two from the entree section which includes pork belly, pork rib tips, lamb belly, and octopus. For dessert, there's a swine ball, made with cookie crisp beer porridge. Note: Barley & Swine is closed Sunday.
3. Blue Collar
Where else are you getting a Latke "Club" for Miami Spice? The only place we can think of is Danny Serfer's Blue Collar. That's what you'll want for starters, before choosing between the chef's daily braise selection with Yukon gold mashed potatoes or a half of a braised long island duck with lo mein, cherries, and green curry. Butterscotch Heath Bar bread pudding with spicy whipped cream for dessert? Hell, yeah! It's sort of like the meal your mom wishes she made. Only thing missing from this dinner is for Serfer to tuck you into bed and read you a story. That's not included.
Trivia fact number one: Tongue & Cheek's Jamie DeRosa actually cooked for Julia Child's 80th birthday party. Trivia fact number two: Although Julia's birthday is officially August 15 (happy birthday, Julia), the lady had so many friends, she would stretch the celebration out through the end of summer! DeRosa is honoring Child by offering a special weekly Julia Child dish in addition to his regular Spice menu (which, by the way, changes every Thursday). This week's Julia offering is Coq au Vin with pomme puree. As the lady herself would say, "Bon Appetit!"
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Each year when Miami Spice rolls around we are stunned that Edge Steak & Bar, located at the Four Seasons, falls under the "fine dining" category. Then, we're shocked when chef Aaron Brooks offers Spice on weekends. Who does that man think he is -- a culinary Santa Claus? With offerings like a Creekstone Farms butchers filet and fresh Mahi Mahi on the menu and whimsical desserts like the Cherry Bomb, there's no Grinch-like stinginess here.