The Great of Miami Spice 2014, Part Two

Miami Spice's can't miss menus have two things in common: value and creativity. They offer interesting ingredients in combinations that make you eager to learn more and share them with friends. They're also a steal.

You're looking for good range of selections at restaurants where a single course can run the same as an entire spice menu. The more the restaurant can stretch $23 at lunch and $39 at dinner, the more they deserve your attention and support.

See also: The Good of Miami Spice 2014, Part One

There are also the occasional gems that take the menu beyond three courses, and offer as many as four, five, or six for the entire table to share. If you can find a menu that includes a complimentary cocktail or glass of wine -- a rare creature this year -- you've hit the mother lode.


During both dinner and weekend dim sum lunch, Hakkasan proffers a torrent of refined Chinese fare. The menu features "and" where most spice menus offer "or," like braised beef with spicy sesame sauce and crispy snapper with sweet and sour sauce. Lunch is also a steal with a flurry of dim sum that includes dumplings, noodles and grilled meats. Available for lunch Saturday and Sunday; dinner Sunday through Thursday.


Only one entrée on the regular menu at the Mandarin Oriental's temple of fine dining is less than $40. During Miami Spice you can get three courses for the cost of the "Loup de Mer" and choices include "steak and eggs" tartare, beet root vichyssoise with lobster, and Key West pink shrimp risotto. Available for dinner Tuesday through Saturday.


The birthplace of Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro's small empire is always one of the liveliest Spice spots. With almost the entire menu up for grabs, you'll have your selection of small plates like their beloved dates avec chorizo and Korean sweetbreads, as well as dumplings. There's pastrami and sauerkraut tucked inside little pasta purses. Then it's on to two entrées, one vegetables (to make Mom happy) and a dessert. Feast away. Available for dinner Tuesday through Sunday.

Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante

One of Miami's most reliable Italian spots, this Sunset Harbour standby has been turning out flavorful, toothsome pastas and an array of fresh seafood well before the neighborhood became hip. The entrées, which include gnocchi with a rustic lamb sauce called sugo and slow-cooked pork ossobucco also features a daily changing cartoccio: the fish steamed slowly in paper that costs $30 the rest of the year. Available for lunch daily; dinner Sunday through Thursday.

Essensia Restaurant and Lounge

Add this healthful Miami Beach spot to the list of real deals. Julie Frans's menu, studded with quinoa and kale, usually offers no protein for less than $30. During Spice, you'll have your choice of Proper Sausage lamb sliders, tandoori chicken skewers, and corvina with a coconut saffron sauce and black forbidden rice. Available for lunch Monday through Saturday; dinner daily.

J&G Grill

Duck confit and Hamachi to start. Wagyu tri-tip and roasted poussin with house-made charcuterie to follow. Finish with the sweet stylings of Antonio Bachour. Miami Spice is a rare opportunity to eat at a Jean-Georges restaurant for the price of coat check at one of his Manhattan outposts. Check back often, as chef de cuisine Brad Kilgore isn't happy cooking the same thing for too long. Available daily for dinner.

City Hall

Plenty of options at this downtown spot decorated in a style reminiscent of Bruce Wayne's menacingly gothic Gotham City. Choose from steak tartare with a deviled egg to littleneck clams to start. Get your deal on with either the 14-oz veal chop or the strip steak. Available daily for lunch and dinner.

The Cypress Room

If you get your usual Schwartz fix at Harry's or brunch at the flagship, Miami Spice is a chance to switch over to his most refined restaurant at fraction of the price. Lunch is likely the best deal, where the usual cost of the juicy Cypress Burger brings a three-course meal with choices of stone fruit salad and smoked fish, as well as salt cod or roasted poussin. At dinner things change a bit with the addition of an oxtail terrine appetizer in addition to rabbit and porchetta as the main event. Available for lunch Monday through Friday; dinner Monday through Thursday.


Dinner at this equal parts trendy and romantic Italian restaurant on the ground floor of the Soho House begins with the cicchetti -- a Venetian tapa -- of your choice. Choose from simple bites like eggplant caponata and crostini with fava beans and burrata. Heading into appetizers you can stay light with a grouper crudo or a tomato, watermelon and goat cheese salad, or start moving toward stuffed and satisfied with gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce or veal tonnato. If you're looking for value, go for the branzino, usually $30. Otherwise, no one will criticize your choice of agnolotti cooked in butter and sage or pappardelle with a duck ragu. Available for lunch Monday through Friday; dinner Sunday through Thursday.

DB Bistro Moderne

When life presents duck ballotine, you order the duck ballotine. The deboned, stuffed, rolled, and poached duck leg is paired with peaches, almond, and celery and is not to be missed. With porchetta, French ham, Gruyère cheese, and a sunnyside up egg, the lunchtime croque madame will likely be the most decadent iteration of this humble sandwich you'll ever have. It would be hard to go wrong at dinner with choices like coq au vin and Thai mussels with sausage and coconut milk. Last but not least: French pastry. 'Nuff said. Available for lunch Monday through Friday; dinner Monday through Saturday.

L'Echon Brasserie

The Pubbelly family's latest offspring takes the award for best upcharge of Spice: $20 wine pairing that offers a white with app, a red with mains, and a port with dessert. On their own each would cost about $10, consider it a buy two, get one free. Can you tell we're excited by a three drink for $20 meal? As far as the food is concerned, you'll want the moules frites or the "Raie a la Grenobloise." It's a buttery skate wing paired with pistachios, celery-root puree and a nutty, tart beurre noisette. Available for lunch daily; dinner daily.

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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