The Very Best of Miami Spice 2015

Contributor
The program, which runs through the end of September, is now something both locals and visitors look forward to every summer

Byblos

The dining room of Byblos.

Back in 2002, the city of Miami launched a special restaurant promotion entitled Miami Spice as a way to boost post-9/11 tourism.  The program, which runs through the end of September, is now something both locals and visitors look forward to every summer. This year, over 150 restaurants are participating in the price-fixe menu offerings: $39 per person for dinner and $23 for lunch, with all meals comprising an appetizer, entrée, and dessert (at least). 

We’ve researched and tried many of the numerous offerings (life is hard), and have paired down the list to highlight the best of the best for you. Read on to discover the chefs who are rolling out their A dishes, the restaurants offering the best bang for your buck, and which newbies you should check out now while you can utilize their discounted menu. Additional details and menu updates can all be found here.

NOTE: Be sure to double-check the restaurant’s Spice schedule making a reservation, some locations exclude Friday/Saturday.

Atrio Restaurant
The Conrad (a Hilton property) is one of those downtown hotels that you know is great, you would recommend to a friend, and you’ve probably grabbed a drink there, but their restaurant Atrio can get overlooked amidst the trendy competition. Well, ever since executive chef Virgile Brandel unveiled a new menu in July (and a show-stopping Miami Spice line-up), this 25th floor eatery with spectacular views, European influences, and warm service will never be overlooked again. This chef and his food are the real-deal. Spice offerings include starters like the popular Waldorf Salad with blue cheese, candied pecans, and apple soup; or the romaine with Parmigiano-Reggiano panna cotta, truffle aged Parmigiano-Reggiano béchamel, and Parmigiano-Reggiano crisp (both excellent), while entrées such as the pan roasted Monkfish with red wine reduction and the slow cooked braised spice lamb shank with mascarpone polenta are both solid choices. For dessert, go with the chocolate coulant cake with salted caramel ice cream. And if you work in the area, the Spice lunch is a fabulous and well-discounted break from the day (it’s the same menu as dinner, so plan to leave nice and full).

BLT Prime
Golf-course-meets-steakhouse is the oldest love story in the book. Now, Miami-Spice-meets-solid-steak-menu-on-the-golf-course is the newest amorous tale. BLT Prime features comfortable lounge seating, a dramatic circular bar, and views of the legendary Blue Monster golf course. The Spice menu for September is simple and to the point — the exact things you’d want to eat. Appetizers include the fennel and arugula salad with balsamic roasted figs and chevre, and the octopus carpachio with passion fruit sambal and tangerine oil.  For entrées — you guessed it — a steak option, of course.  There’s the 1855 grand island angus flat iron in fact, with foie gras crumb and red wine jus, or go with the almond crusted skate with caperberries, pearl red onions, and pea tendrils. BLT Prime also includes a side dish in their spice offering: roasted baby carrots with orange blossom and sage or spaghetti squash with brown butter and candied pecans. As for dessert, the options are mango Napoleon with caramel and coconut cream or spiced chocolate pave with malt ice cream and honeycomb.

Bulla Gastrobar
Maintaining a popular and critically acclaimed Spanish restaurant in Miami is no easy feat, but Bulla (“boo-ya”) in Coral Gables has pulled it off. One taste of the food and it’s easy to see why the hip tapas bar with slam-dunk dishes, friendly service, and a trendy happy hour receives rave reviews week after week. The only challenge with their Spice menu is deciding which delicious dishes to select. For appetizers, they’re offering some of their greatest hits like gambas al ajillo (sautéed shrimp in garlic sauce), montados de chistorra (spicy Spanish sausage), and albondigas de cordero (lamb meatballs with potatoes). Entrées include Spanish classics like arroz caldoso (rice with clams, shrimp, chicken and saffron), rabo de toro (braised oxtail with shisito peppers), pulpo a la plancha (grilled octopus with corn purée and mojo), and even a New York strip steak with bell peppers and wrinkled potatoes.  As a small add-on, delving into some of their cheese and cured meats is strongly suggested (the Spanish “Leonora” goat milk is unforgettable).  For dessert, the arroz con leche (rice pudding with cinnamon) is a must. As an added bonus for Spice, Bulla is offering two glasses of sangria (they have many to choose from, including an inventive beer sangria) for only $10. 

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