Inspired by New York’s Restaurant Week, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau created Miami Spice (Aug. 1-Sept. 30) in 2001, in response to the slump in the restaurant scene that followed the 9/11 attacks. The delicious dining promotion sought to entice locals and out-of-towners back into restaurants with prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus at affordable prices.
From the initial 54 participating restaurants, the wallet-friendly promotion has grown over the years to about 240 eateries, from Miami Beach to as far south as Homestead and the Redlands.
This year, not only have forty new restaurants joined perennial favorites, such as DB Bistro Moderne, The Forge and Palme d'Or, in offering lunch ($23) and ($39) for dinner, but for the first time ever diners can also try out brunch at select restaurants. Pro-tip: Check out the Miami Spice website for restrictions such as dinner-only, blackout dates or weekday-only offers.
As you pour over the extensive list of places, here are a few to try this season.
A gorgeous patio awaits you at Komodo in Brickell, where the outdoor floating “birds nests” seating is as sensational as its menu of Asian fare, including the miso salmon bowl, which ordinarily goes for $20 in the lunch menu. For all things carnivorous, meat lovers can pick from petite prime rib-eye or 8 oz. angus burger at Meat Market on Lincoln Road. Add Fireman Derek’s carrot cake with white chocolate ganache and you will be ready for a siesta.
Down south in The Hammocks neighborhood, Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard and Wine Bar is the perfect combination of upscale dining and Napa Valley wine bar. The menu of flavorful dishes made with locally sourced ingredients includes blue fin tuna, free-range chicken, sea bass and filet mignon tips—also fromthe regular menu.
Join the brunch club at Fi’lia by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, the “OG” of South Florida’s brunch scene, as it makes its foray into Miami Spice, serving brunch seven days a week. The menu of simple dishes feature egg dishes, avocado toast, lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote. Bakehouse Brasserie is a neighborhood French-inspired bistro in the South of Fifth neighborhood of Miami Beach. The menu’s rich selections of French toast, country benedict or smoked salmon toast paired with Key lime pie will find a dining experience as perfect as the Champs-Élysées.
Japanese-style eats where the entrance is a working fish market befitting The Tsukiji Market, make Dragonfly Izakaya & Fish Market a can’t-miss proposition. The Spice menu features artisanal brioche French toast, creative Norwegian saba open-faced sandwich and, seafood and vegetarian okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake).
With its acclaimed restaurants always among the most popular destinations Fontainebleau Miami Beach, AAA Four Diamond winner Hakkasan is consistently rated a must-try. Here diners can enjoy family-style favorites including steamed flounder fish with black bean sauce, stir-fry baby pak choi, chicken fried rice with salted egg and mango custard.
Since the weather’s beautiful, why not enjoy an interactive dinner at Gili’s Beach Club. Its "Lava Stone Experience” every Friday and Saturday turns the tables on diners and you get to grill your choice of meats—churrasco skirt steak, jumbo shrimp, organic chicken breast—on a scorching 700-degree lava stone.
From the tropical oasis pool deck of The Restaurant at The Raleigh, Southern-bred chef Josh Elliot cooks up hearty American fare such as tuna poke, grilled yellowtail snapper with braised kale and Wagyu burger ‘Royale’ with foie gras mousse, port braised onions and truffle jus.
The be-and-be-seen spot we can get enough of: Bagatelle Miami Beach and Seaspice bring it when it comes to harmonious flavors amid stunning dining rooms. Bagatelle celebrates classic French cuisine with dishes that include daily market oysters, Mussels marinière steamed in white wine, Florida snapper and scrumptious profiteroles. Seaspice, the Miami River sensation, uses sustainably-raised items for its organic filet mignon, veal chop and wood-oven roasted casseroles.
In the hip and trendy neighborhood of Sunset Harbour you’ll find gastropub Pubbelly Noodle Bar, helmed by five-time James Beard Award nominee chef Jose Mendin. With six entrees to choose from, the tapas-style menu highlights everything from dim sum to ramen and steam-filled buns.
Editor's Note: Following Hurricane Irma, the Miami Spice promotion has been extended until October 31. For a list of participating restaurants, please visit www.ilovemiamispice.com on October 1.