Miami Spice begins August 1. Like New York's Restaurant Week, it lets diners indulge in prix-fixe menus at the city's best restaurants at deeply discounted prices. We Miamians are actually even luckier than our friends up north, because our opportunity to "Spice" up our diets on a budget lasts not just a week, but the entire months of August and September.
That's lucky for most of us, anyway. Vegans' and even vegetarians' options for Spice are definitely more limited than the average diner's. That's why fellow Short Order writer Hannah Sentenac and I teamed up to investigate which restaurants vegetarians and vegans should bother visiting during this month of adventures in Foodie Land. Here are some of the top vegetarian and vegan dinner menu options we discovered amid the hundreds of participating restaurants in this year's Miami Spice lineup.
Top Vegetarian Picks
Atrio Restaurant and Wine Room
This 36-story luxe eatery atop the Conrad has undergone multiple incarnations, but currently stands as a nod to global cuisine featuring locally sourced products.
To pique their palate, vegetarian visitors can choose from the spicy pineapple, cucumber and jalapeno gazpacho, or the burrata and heirloom tomato crostini topped with brassica leaves and aged balsamic. As an entrée, eaters can enjoy an orecchiette pasta primavera loaded with asparagus, artichoke, tomato, zucchini and basil oil. Dessert options include a warm doughnut bread pudding, a chocolate cheesecake and a medley of exotic fruits. Dinner costs $39, not including tax or gratuity.
Canyon Ranch Grill
This surfside sophisticate is known for an array of healthier eats that pairs well with their namesake spa's "wellness" influence.
To kick off a meatless meal, diners can indulge in a creamy melon gazpacho made with coconut milk, crème fraiche, spicy candied macadamia nuts and toasted coconut. As a second course, options include heirloom tomatoes with olive oil, Maldon salt and black pepper, or a mixed green salad with apple vinaigrette. The main dish is a red curry vegetable dish starring coconut, pistachios and an assortment of veggies. Dessert options are a crema catalina with kahlua ice cream or a lucuma cheesecake mousse. Dinner costs $33, not including tax or gratuity.
Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
A popular dining destination for artists and art admirers alike, this Wynwood Walls-adjacent eatery offers an appropriately eclectic menu.
To kick off a four course adventure, options include a gazpacho with spicy crouton, or a black bean soup with cilantro crema. Course two is a saucy bok choy salteado with carrots, peanuts and a Vietnamese nauc cham sauce. An an entrée, diners can dig into a vegetarian plate du jour featuring vegetable quinoa, parmesan cheese and roasted mushroom. And to close, a white chocolate bread pudding or seasonal sorbet. Dinner costs $33, not including tax or gratuity.
Top Vegan Picks
West Avenue Café
Located in the middle of a small strip of low-key restaurants and cafes on the bay side of South Beach, West Avenue Café is a fully kosher restaurant that caters specifically to vegans and gluten-sensitive diners. They're maintaining their commitment to sensitive eaters during Miami Spice month as well.
As part of the cafe's Spice dinner menu, vegans can partake of the restaurant's vegan soup du jour, which is usually lentil. The vegan-friendly second course is the Chinese fried quinoa, which consists of chopped and sautéed vegetables, corn and pecans mixed with organic quinoa and sautéed in a light ginger sauce. Their standard Spice desserts all contain eggs, unfortunately, but managers at the café say they'd be happy to offer vegan diners a dairy-free smoothie instead. If you decide to try their Miami Spice lunch, you can start with either the soup or the hummus plate. For your main lunch course, the stir fried tofu with organic quinoa or brown rice is the vegan, gluten-free way to go. Dinner costs $33; lunch $19, not including tax or gratuity.
Michy's is the baby of James Beard award-winning celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein. It's located on 69th Street, in the "MiMo" district of Biscayne Boulevard, also known as the up-and-coming Upper Eastside.
The restaurant's Spice menu is not listed on the event website. Instead, there's a note assuring us that the menu will rotate every week. But we made a phone call to the managers at Michy's, and they assured us that Bernstein's eatery would be happy to whip up a special Spice dinner menu for vegans any day. Just to be safe, you may want to call ahead. And if you're disappointed, you can always traipse over to Metro Organic Bistro about a block north for some organic vegan chick pea cakes. Michy's Miami Spice dinner menu costs a flat $39, not including tax or gratuity. Dinner costs $39, not including tax or tip.
Makoto is located in the posh open-air mall at the Bal Harbour Shops. Venture in and you'll be dining on dishes shaped by the knife of Makoto Okuwa, a twenty-year veteran of Japanese cuisine, trained by masters in the homeland. Of course, if you're a vegan, many of his specialties are off-limits. But since Makoto's Spice menu featured some promising "almost-vegan" options, we gave the restaurant a call to see whether they could make the standard menu work for vegan visitors. They didn't hesitate to say yes.
For the first course, vegans should order the shishito peppers, and specify that they should be made vegan-style, without the bonito flakes (that's a fish). The Makoto house salad is also an option - again, just remind your server that you don't want any animal products tossed on... which will mean it will be mostly all watercress with a wasabi dressing. Next, vegan diners can ask for the chef's sushi plate. They'll just have to specify that the sushi should be all-vegetable. (Bonus: All Makoto's sushi dishes are made with brown sticky rice.) Finally, vegans can ask either for a fruit plate or a dish of the house-made mango sorbet to top off their meals. Makoto's Miami Spice menu is priced at a flat $39.
Top Picks for Both Vegans and Vegetarians
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SHOW ME HOW
To be honest, some of these "can be made vegan" Miami Spice choices have left us less than impressed. But Area 31's menu has the potential to go beyond simply complying with basic vegan or vegetarian standards to actually tasting exotic and fabulous.
The restaurant is located on the 16th floor of the Epic Hotel, and its menu is under executive chef E. Michael Reidt's command. For your "Spicy" vegan dinner, you can choose either the "Summer Luvage," a combination of fresh-from-the-the farmer veggies including Florida corn, parsley root, asparagus and crispy eggplant, or the smoked-grape infused watermelon gazpacho - just ask them to skip the goat cheese if you're vegan. For your main course, you'll want to go with the summer squash, made with eggplant, fennel, smoked tomato and pea sprouts. The listed desserts aren't suitable for vegans, but the friendly staff there assured us the chefs would be happy to throw together an inspired vegan dessert on request. For lacto-ovo vegetarians, sweet finales include a chocolate "Crunch Bar" with salted caramel and crème fraiche ice cream, caramelized white chocolate with lemon basil panna cotta or frozen coconut. Dinner costs $39, not including tax or gratuity.
Additional reporting by Hannah Sentenac.