Coral Gables has only 30 restaurants participating in Miami Spice, but an outsize share of those places is doing the two-month special the right way. Maybe they don’t have the novelty or the glitz of South Beach or Brickell spots, but unlike those unknown quantities, the quality of the meal won’t be a crap shoot. So as you use Spice to knock off some of the 121 restaurants spread across downtown and the Beach, don’t forget about Coral Gables.
The best of the Gables are mostly tried-and-true contenders. Moreover, each year, they reliably put out Spice menus that offer the creativity and value that make the promotion's $23 lunches and $39 dinners worthwhile.
5. MesaMar Seafood Table
Lilia “Fifi” Molina, the chef behind the understated yet beloved Fifi’s Place, opened this quiet gem about a year ago. It concentrates on well-executed seafood dishes drawing on the cuisines of Latin America. Most important, however, is that during Miami Spice, MesaMar is offering a whole fish, fried or grilled, simply served with a few dabs of olive oil and garlic butter. What more do you need?
If you’ve been craving a good steak, Miami Spice at Christy’s is the place to do it. The rest of the year, the iconic restaurant's eight-ounce filet mignon costs $42 alone, three bucks more than the entirety of the Spice meal. Bookend it with a caesar salad and a slice of key lime pie for a classic steakhouse experience.
3. Pascal’s on Ponce
For nearly two decades, Pascal Oudin’s Ponce de Leon namesake has dished out classic French cuisine with spot-on execution and service. It functions equally well as a place for a date, a celebration, a business meeting, or just because. And it's especially fitting during Miami Spice, when dishes such as his crispy duck confit, which usually retails for $39 alone, can be had alongside lobster bisque and decadent opera cake, layered with coffee crème anglaise and chocolate ganache. So go ahead. Go see your old friend Pascal.
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2. Talavera Cocina Mexicana
This long-standing Mexican spot is offering one of the most enticing dishes of any Spice restaurant this year: a 16-ounce rib eye draped in a huitlacoche-and-leek sauce, crowned with oyster mushrooms and fried leeks, and served with guajillo-garlic potatoes. The shrimp ceviche and mamey cheesecake are just bonuses. That steak sounds worth $39 by itself, no?
1. Palme d’Or
At this glittering bastion of elegance and sophistication, begin your meal with octopus, snails, and wild mushrooms in a spring onion emulsion. Then it’s on to either butter-roasted scallops alongside a tasting of corn, or roast duck breast with kumquats, turnip, and orange sauce. Finish with the cheese plate, because Palme d’Or is run by Gregory Pugin, an acolyte of French culinary icon Joël Robuchon. Don’t miss this one, considering Pugin spent years flying around the world to open Robuchon’s latest soon-to-be-Michelin-starred spots. Now he’s cooking for you, for a steal.