Guides

The Best Miami Spice 2016 Menus

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NaiYaRa
Chef Bee’s Miami Spice lineup is like a greatest-hits from his menu that has kept lines stretching out the door since he opened his long-awaited NaiYaRa late last year. His beef jerky is a meaty, spicy, chewy, strangely pleasing affair served with fragrant sticky rice. An order should be on your table. The same goes for brown sugar cake, stacked with caramelized bananas, coconut mousse, and guava granita. Otherwise, have at it. The khao soi, with ginger-infused yellow curry sauce and crispy noodles, is a favorite.

Talavera Cocina Mexicana
This long-standing Gables Mexican spot has one of the singularly most enticing dishes of a restaurant participating this year: a 16-ounce rib eye lathered in a huitlacoche-and-leek sauce, topped with oyster mushrooms and fried leeks, and served with guajillo-garlic potatoes. That sounds worth $39 by itself, no?
La Mar by Gaston Acurio
Executive chef Diego Oka wants you to come back to La Mar. Hence, he and the kitchen seem eager to throw everything they have at your table. There’s no choice of appetizer. You get a mixed-seafood ceviche, a fish causa, and a quinoa caprese dressed with an ají amarillo vinaigrette. Then it’s on to pork jowl/quinoa tamales and grilled fish with seco sauce and mint chalaca, or Peruvian pasta with basil and ají amarillo pesto and beef milanesa. Pack up your maracuya cheesecake — with all of that food, you’ll have no room for dessert.

Cantina La Veinte
Apparently, Oka and Cantina La Veinte’s Santiago Gomez planned their Spice menus together. At this high-end Mexican spot nestled into the Icon, you start with a concise sampling — a baja shrimp taco, tuna ceviche, octopus tostada — before ending with another. In between, opt for the duck confit enmoladas, made by packing the slow-cooked fowl into fresh corn masa turnovers and topped simply with queso fresco.

Fifi’s Place
Whole Fish Alert. Always a rare find during Spice, this Mid-Beach seafood hideout will grill or fry your beast to order. If you’re a table for two, pair it with a 12-ounce Delmonico steak for the perfect dinner.

Perricone’s Marketplace & Café
As Brickell has changed over the years, Perricone’s has remained reliably and wonderfully the same. If you’ve been distracted by everything opening in the neighborhood, Miami Spice is an auspicious time to return. This could be the ideal Spice menu: The baked Brie, the veal skirt steak, and chocolate truffle mousse torte could cost you upward of $50. You’ll still probably spend that, but hey, at least you’ll get a glass of wine in the deal.

Redlander Restaurant at Schnebly Redland's Winery
Schlep to Schnebly’s on the weekend to taste the result of a chef having fun. Remember Dewey LoSasso? The Forge’s former kitchen master has been down in the Redland spending time on the winery’s growing farm while also quietly running its Redlander Restaurant. Dinner is Friday and Saturday nights, but for your efforts, you’ll be rewarded with lobster-and-rock-shrimp empanadas, filet mignon with green mango slaw and sorrel slaw, and seared wahoo crusted with tomme from Central Florida. Don’t skip the spent-grain bread (from the brewery) layered with chocolate, sprinkled with sea salt, and served with hot pepper dulce de leche ice cream. It’s a long ride back, so you'll need the sugar to stay awake.

Mignonette
Miami Spice is that time of year when the crew at this downtown seafood spot rolls out its butcher knives and dishes out huge blood-red slabs of prime rib that could fetch $39 alone. Of course that isn’t enough to fill you up. So decide between snow crab claws and oysters Frank. The latter are named for chef de cuisine Robert Frank and come loaded with manchego, smoked bacon, sherry, and butter. For dessert, opt for the restaurant's beloved Heath bar bread pudding with spicy whipped cream. If it ain’t broke...

Toscana Divino
The offerings here are both lengthy and creative. That’s just what makes a place stand out in this all-out rush to fill tables during the slower summer months. The "mole Italiana," which the menu says includes 59 ingredients cooked over four days, could go very well or very wrong, but it seems worth a shot. So too does the carbonara di mare, featuring fish roe, sea urchin, and bottarga. Or keep it simple with handmade pasta spears called pici served with duck ragu, or branzino simply prepared with capers and parsley.
Palme d’Or
Truth be told, you ought to visit Palme d’Or — whose kitchen in recent years has been helmed by Gregory Pugin — ready to spend. If you’re still not convinced, consider this: Pugin came to the Biltmore from Joël Robuchon’s special forces who jetted around the world opening the famed French chef’s latest soon-to-be-starred spots. Your meal might begin with octopus, snails, and wild mushrooms all in a spring onion emulsion. Or you may opt for the rich, sturdy tart from France’s Basque region crowned with marinated tuna and a quail egg. Then you’re off with butter-roasted scallops alongside a tasting of corn, or a roasted duck breast with kumquats, turnip, and orange sauce. Of course, the classic option of a perfectly cooked piece of beef tenderloin alongside potatoes roasted in duck fat will never disappoint. Whatever you do, please finish with cheese.
Pubbelly
At this Sunset Harbour spot where the Pubbelly Boys' empire began, chef Jose Mendin is evolving his cuisine into something sophisticated while maintaining its piggish fun. That's why you’re ordered to select five choices from a lengthy list of appetizers that includes veal brains, sweetbreads, Japanese amberjack, octopus, and buns filled with soft-shell crab, short rib, and buffalo sweetbreads. Whew. Not done yet. You still have to choose a quartet for your table from the pasta offerings. May we suggest the uni pasta with harissa butter and horseradish, the kimchee bolognese, the corn soup dumplings, and the short-rib gyoza?
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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson