Since it ended last year, I have waited 11 long months for Miami Spice to return. Restaurant owners and employees and foodies like me are so excited that the big day has almost arrived.
Miami Spice, which kicks off tomorrow, August 1, is arguably the best thing that happens in the city during the long, hot summer and is a win, win for both restaurants and their customers. It gives food lovers a chance to dine at some of the city’s finest restaurants to enjoy deeply discounted, three-course, pre-fixe lunch and dinner menus for the months of August and September. In turn, it gives restaurants the opportunity to fill empty seats during their slowest months of the year and make some money.
Due to the culinary celebration’s popularity and success it is now in its 11th year and continues to grow. Last year a total of more than 158,000 Miami Spice meals were served and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, which organizes the event, expects that number to be greater this year due to an expanded format, a still-growing list of participating restaurants, media and marketing partnerships and other special city-wide summer promotions that overlap Miami Spice.
A record-breaking 166 participating restaurants are on the line-up this year, with over 50 of them being new to the list. Part of the reason for so many new restaurants is that a second, more affordable pricing option has been added to Miami Spice. In addition to some of Miami’s fanciest fine dining restaurants featuring $23 lunch menus and $39 dinner menus, there is now more casual, but still great, restaurants offering $19 lunch menus and $33 dinner menus (these prices don’t include tax and gratuities).
No matter where you choose to dine, a Miami Spice meal consists of a choice of an appetizer, entrée and dessert, offering a discount of 30-60 percent off the regular value. In addition to discounted food menus, the Miami Spice website features some special offers on happy hour, wine and hotel packages. It’s a great opportunity to experience the city and try out all those restaurants that you’ve been tempted to try.
Last year during Spice I checked out Red The Steakhouse, Hakkasan, Ortanique On The Mile, City Hall, Mercadito, Smith & Wollensky and Phillipe Chow. All of them are back on the list of participating restaurants this year, and with the exception of Philippe Chow I recommend them all.
The reason I cannot recommend Philippe Chow has nothing to do with the Miami Spice menu specifically. I have eaten there four times and never been thrilled about anything I have tried there. Everything is overly salty and greasy, yet still blah, and even with a discounted menu I don’t find the food to be worth the price.
My personal favorite was Red The Steakhouse, who switches up their menu each week in an effort to attract newcomers and reward regulars. Last year they had a week of the “classic” menu favorites, followed by a seafood, pasta and Wagyu beef week.
Not all of the participating restaurants are open during the day, but Ortanique and City Hall are great lunch spots.
The places that I am most excited to check out this year are Zuma, Scarpetta and newcomers Egg & Dart, The Dining Room and The Dutch.
Where do you plan on eating during Miami Spice?