We tried the Miami Spice menus at all these local restaurants. Here’s what we loved

·31 min read

Much like shopping at the grocery store and literally everything else besides breathing, dining out has gotten more expensive in 2022 — which means Miami Spice is starting at the perfect time.

The annual promotion from the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau runs through August and September and offers diners a chance to try local restaurants at a reduced price before the hordes of tourists arrive in the fall. This year, 17 restaurants offering Spice menus have been highlighted by the 2022 Michelin guide.

This year’s Spice offers several three-course meal choices with an appetizer, entree and dessert: Lunch or brunch for $28 and two dinner options at $45 and $60.

You say $60 a person for dinner isn’t cheap? Well, no, it’s not, especially when you factor in the price of a drink and parking. But it’s less expensive than it will be if you try to eat at the same spot in October.

Not every restaurant offers all three meals, and Spice menus are likely to change over the course of the promotion. Here are the restaurants we visited during Miami Spice previews and what it was like to eat at them. For a full list of participating restaurants visit www.miamiandbeaches.com.

Abbale Telavivian Kitchen

The dining room inside Abbale Telavivian Kitchen in South Beach
The dining room inside Abbale Telavivian Kitchen in South Beach

What we had: Abbale is doing something different in South Florida, what you might call pan-Middle Eastern. For a lunch preview, we had a choice of incredibly flavorful tahini dips for an appetizer, styled by chef/owner Sam Gorenstein, founder of My Ceviche and longtime Zuuk chef. The bright yellow caramelized onion tahini and baba ganoush with charcoal tahini were among the best we’ve had, but the treat is the muhamarra, a dip made from walnuts and brightened with pomegranates. Perfect pitas — cold fermented for three days — are pillowy doilies from pastry queen Hedy Goldsmith, the James Beard Award nominee who makes every baked good in house. Falafel pitas are overstuffed, bursting with shredded cabbage and shuk salad (marinated tomatoes, cucumbers) and sprouts. You will struggle to finish both halves. A lamb kefte or sumac chicken plate are an $8 upcharge and come with a side of Israeli couscous. A peek at the dinner menu features desserts from Goldsmith — including a date caramel cake served warm with caramel sauce and Bulgarian feta cream, which is reason enough to come back for dinner.

Who should go: This is a restaurant that makes the best use of Miami Spice, offering a hearty meal that’s so good it makes you want to come back for the full menu. And you should.

Where and when: 864 Commerce St., Miami Beach. Lunch $28 Tuesday-Saturday; dinner $45 Tuesday-Thursday, $60 Friday-Saturday.

Reservations: 305-902-3477; or Abbatlvkitchen.com.

Parking: South Beach parking can be hell. There are a handful of metered spots out front and within the surrounding northern side streets. Valet costs $15 for lunch, $20 at dinnertime.

— Carlos Frías

Bakan

What we had: If you want to expand your Mexican food palate beyond tacos and burritos, Bakan is the spot to try next. (Warning: The waiter puts two salsas on your table. Avoid the green one if you can’t handle the heat.) The appetizers include a unique take on a quesadilla. It’s stuffed with huitlacoche, or blue corn “truffle,” that’s funky in a good way. The chorizo quesadilla is meaty and rich enough to share. Both are small and come with guacamole, black beans and pico de gallo. The star of the menu are the two mole entrees. The sea bass in green mole comes out piping hot with a crispy exterior and fluffy interior. The short rib with red mole is so tender you don’t need a fork. But the dessert, though? It’s a cheesecake served in a small bowl and blanketed in dulce de leche. They give you a tiny spoon to eat it, so be sure to dig in.

Who should go: Mezcal lovers, friends who want to catch up, anyone who wants a hearty meal before bar hopping in Wynwood

Where and when: 2801 NW Second Ave., Miami; Lunch $28 daily; dinner $45 all week

Reservations: www.bakanwynwood.com; 305-396-7080

Parking: Street parking available

— Amanda Rosa

Bourbon Steak Miami

The main dining room of Bourbon Steak Miami.
The main dining room of Bourbon Steak Miami.

What we had: This place starts you off with a trio of seasoned duck fat fries instead of bread, so it’s clear from the beginning that a meal at Bourbon Steak is all about flavor. Go with the buoyant, garden-fresh golden tomato gazpacho (or the anchovy-forward classic Caesar) to save room for the steak, which is poached in clarified butter and herbs, grilled over a wood fire and served with a dollop of roasted sweet corn chimichurri on top. Each entree comes with a classic steakhouse side: whipped potatoes, creamed spinach, or (our favorite) truffle mac n cheese. The key lime pie is unreal, with a quenelle of mango sorbet fresher than a ripe fruit stolen from your neighbor’s yard.

Who should go: Impress a date (or your parents) at this classic steakhouse. You might find yourself next to a table of tourists and their kids from the Marriott, too.

Where and when: 19999 W Country Club Drive, Aventura; Dinner $60 Sunday-Thursday

Reservations: Open Table; 786-279-6600

Parking: Valet at the Marriott for $10 (plus tip) with a restaurant validation

— Alex Harris

Byblos

The interior of Byblos on Miami Beach.
The interior of Byblos on Miami Beach.

What we had: Byblos is always a good Miami Spice choice, because the food and service are stellar, and two people can try so many different items. Each diner chooses two appetizers, and it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. If pressed, we’ll recommend the roasted beets with labneh, creamed spinach pide (a Turkish flatbread that may be our favorite thing on the menu) and the duck kibbeh (which comes in two pieces, perfect for sharing). Of the entrees, the Middle Eastern fried chicken with tahini, za’atar and hot sauce is the standout — if everyone at the table ordered this, we’d understand. For dessert, try the strawberry cheesecake qatayef, little empanada-like pastries stuffed with goodness.

Who should go: Diners who like to share small plates; fans of Mediterranean cuisine

Where and when: 1545 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; Dinner $45 Sunday-Thursday; $60 Friday and Saturday

Reservations: byblosmiami.com; 786-864-2990

Parking: 16th Street Garage across the street ($6 for three hours)

— Connie Ogle

Casa D’Angelo

Casa D’Angelo in Aventura serves delicious homemade pasta (and more).
Casa D’Angelo in Aventura serves delicious homemade pasta (and more).

What we had: If trendy clubstaurants make you wary, you can revel in the old-school charm of this classic Italian restaurant in Aventura, and you don’t have to brave mall traffic to visit. Casa D’Angelo isn’t at all stuffy, though; it’s a comfortable space with indoor and outdoor seating, attentive service and pasta that will make you toss that diet right out the window. An absolute must is the swordfish carpaccio appetizer, cured and smoked in house, and don’t sleep on the zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and proscuitto, served with garlic aioli. For entrees, we went hard for the house-made pasta and were rewarded with two more winners: the tender, mind-blowing gemelli al ragu d’agnello (lamb ragout braised in red wine and San Marzano) and the popular pappardelle with porcini mushrooms, fresh tomato and truffle sauce. The tiramisu is next level delicious, and the orange creme brulee is bursting with fresh tropical flavor.

Who should go: Perfect for date nights, all celebratory occasions and diving headfirst into an orgy of pasta

Where and when: Aventura Parksquare, 2906 NE 207th St., Aventura; Dinner $60 Sunday-Thursday

Reservations: www.casa-d-angelo.com or 305-699-5500

Parking: The restaurant will validate parking in the nearby garage.

— Connie Ogle

Casa Isola

The interior at Casa Isola in Sunset Harbour, Miami Beach
The interior at Casa Isola in Sunset Harbour, Miami Beach

What we had: Somehow the coziness of Pubbelly wasn’t lost after chef José Mendín and partner Santo Agnello bathed the new restaurant in white, with blue accents to echo the Mediterranean. They filled the menu with fun, generous Italian-American dishes with Mendin’s flare for crossing cultures. Even the $45 mid-week Spice dinner menu is magnanimous. The polenta with mushroom is bowlful of comfort, creamy and rich. And the pair of aranchini in a bright, fresh tomato sauce are an Italian take on mozzarella sticks. The mains are substantial, from a massive chicken parm covered in mozzarella di bufala to short rib-filled ravioli in truffle oil. Desserts include a decadent take on a tiramisu with coffee cream or a delicate panna cotta with shaved rings of fresh coconut and diced pineapple.

Who should go: Those who appreciate a fun take on Italian-American cuisine in posh Sunset Harbour

Where and when: 1418 20th St., Miami Beach; Dinner $45 Tuesday-Thursday; Dinner $60 Friday-Saturday

Reservations: 786-558-5787; OpenTable.com

Parking: Next door city parking garage, $4 an hour

— Carlos Frías

Cote

The interior at Cote Korean steakhouse in the Design District, Miami
The interior at Cote Korean steakhouse in the Design District, Miami

What we had: Perhaps the most high-end restaurant on Miami Spice, the only Michelin star winner on the list offers Spice only at lunch to level your expectations. It’s a wonderful first-bite entry into one of Miami’s most unique restaurants, an upscale take on Korean barbecue. Their Waldof salad, with slices of calabaza and Asian pear, is a full and nuanced dish, but to truly experience the devotion to meat, start with the grass-fed steak tartare with rice puffs. Entrees feature a Korean fried chicken absolutely worth your Spice dollars, crispy with a side of sweet and tangy sauce. The only beef option without upgrading is an 8-ounce prime rib sandwich on Sullivan Street Bakery bread. The $12 option gives you steak two ways, two ounces each of prime hangar steak and 45-day aged ribeye grilled tableside. It amounts to eight bites they suggest eating as a lettuce wrap with a ssamjang chili sauce and nest of tangy, dressed shredded cabbage. They surround you with all manner of pickled dishes, from okra and cauliflower to kimchi cabbage worth licking your chopsticks over.

Who should go: Bargain hunters looking to try this high-end Michelin-starred spot

Where and when: 3900 NE Second Ave., Miami; Lunch $28 Monday-Thursday.

Reservations: 305-434-4668 or OpenTable.com.

Parking: $3 at nearby underground parking.

— Carlos Frías

Fiola

The dining room at Fiola in Coral Gables
The dining room at Fiola in Coral Gables

What we had: The offerings during a preview dinner showcased the best bang for your buck, including their steak, fish and homemade pasta. All three portions of mains were hearty, but the favorite appeared to be the Delmonico 7-ounce steak in truffle sauce. The branzino had a delicate crispy skin in puttanesca broth. For the appetizers, the burrata is a healthy sized portion, and a treat with Iberico ham and so much crusty bread. A more subtle option is the Hamachi crudo with Florida peach slices. A mascarpone tart is a delicate finish, but who wants delicate when the coffee mousse is available, an espresso granita topping the rich cream. Note: There’s only a $60 dinner option. Short pours of wine by the glass are offered in the $7-$10 range, with three for mid-$20 during lunch, we were told.

Who should go: The restaurant’s refined, elegant air make it just right for date night.

Where and when: 1500 San Ignacio Ave., Coral Gables. Lunch $28 Tuesday-Friday; Dinner $60 Sunday-Thursday.

Reservations: 305-912-2639; or OpenTable.com

Parking: Ample street parking surrounding the restaurant, but valet is available.

— Carlos Frías

Glass and Vine

Built around a public building in Peacock Park, it features mostly outdoor seating with a nice breeze that comes in from Biscayne Bay, just a tee shot away to the south. The menu plays spicy against sweet, and the watermelon salad with Greek yogurt lemon sauce, red onions, cotija cheese, onions and corn nuts gets a startling jolt from slivers of pickled jalapeno. Three lush croquettes brim with bits of chorizo and manchego cheese. Our steak frites featured a 10-ounce churrasco, juicy and succulent, with homemade chimichurri and fries. The charred cauliflower, al dente but just right and tossed with tahini and a lemon sauce, chickpeas, fried capers and lemon zest, is a classic. A mahi sandwich, part of the Spice lunch menu, had half a pound of fresh fish, arugula, pickled onions and tomato with the chipotle aioli. The mile-high chocolate cake was enough for four.

Who should go: Fans of outdoor dining with creative, whimsical food.

Where and when: 2820 McFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove; Lunch $28 weekdays; dinner $45 Sunday-Thursday.

Reservations: 305-200-5268

Parking: Metered street parking is hard to get. Garage directly across the street is $3/half-hour weekdays; $5/half-hour weekends.

— Kendall Hamersly

Hutong

What we had: Hutong’s beautiful, airy dining room with a nearly panoramic view of Brickell Avenue is decorated with elements shipped from China, including pieces of the Great Wall. The Miami Spice menu has soups, entrees, optional $9 side dishes and one petite but delicious dessert, ginger chocolate mousse. . You can get an array of small and large plates for your $60 dinner, or you can upgrade to a $50 half Peking duck or a $125 flaming whole duck that brings a tableside show and enough to feed four. Lobster and crab broth is deeply flavored, with many bits of seafood in an egg-drop style. Peking duck salad is refreshing and zesty, with plenty of pieces of meat. Kung Po chicken is a classic done well., as is the spicy Ma Po tofu. Prime tenderloin is pan seared with a brown sauce and beautifully tender and beefy. This is not a light meal, so take decadence to the next level with chef’s fried rice on the side. Vegetarian fried noodles are a worthy add-on.

Who should go: Lovers of upscale Asian food

When and where: 600 Brickell Ave., Suite 125, Miami; Lunch $28 Monday-Friday; dinner $60 Monday-Friday

Reservations: 786-388-0805

Parking: Metered street parking.

— Kendall Hamersly

Kaori

Kaori Miami
Kaori Miami

What we had: Watch the well-heeled Brickell crowds below (sit on the upper level for prime viewing) as you tuck into Chef Raymond Li’s yummy eclectic mix of Asian fusion fun. Slurp up perfectly spicy udon noodles first, but be sure to leave room for the Australian wagyu skirt steak or, for seafood lovers, the grilled octopus with cannellini fabada tarted up with a citrusy coulis. Dessert? The Koji key lime tart is has an unexpected yet fully appreciated dollop of coconut espuma.

Who should go: This highly atmospheric, darkwood spot is ideal for the power lunch crowd or anyone who wants to meet up for a late night rendezvous.

Where and when: 871 S. Miami Ave., Miami; Lunch $28 Wednesday-Sunday; dinner $45 Wednesday-Sunday.

Reservations: resy.com; 786-878-4493

Parking: Mary Brickell Village garage.

— Madeleine Marr

Komodo

Komodo
Komodo

What we had: Soak in the jungle-ish vibes of this Brickell favorite inside with a cocktail at the sleek red and black bar or outside in their nest-inspired patio for a delightful pan-Asian experience. Start with the Chilean sea bass dim sum, tender fish tucked into steamed rice wrappers and dipped into a delicious Vietnamese fish sauce, although the plate of chilled tuna and watermelon sprinkled with Marcona almonds is well worth the upgrade. Continue the seafood train with the soy sake salmon over citrus-dressed bok choi, or for the vegetarians, try the mouthwatering wild mushroom lo mein, showered in black truffle and Parmesan. Finish with the miso chocolate cake, a sweet-savory concoction paired perfectly with a scoop of buckwheat ice cream.

Who should go: This swanky and stylish spot is perfect for an elevated dinner with friends, a hip date night or lovers of interesting architecture

Where and when: 801 Brickell Ave., Miami; Dinner $45 Sunday-Thursday.

Reservations: komodomiami.com; 305-534-2211

Parking: The 801 garage for $9 an hour

— Alex Harris

Le Zoo

The interior at Bal Harbour’s Le Zoo
The interior at Bal Harbour’s Le Zoo

What we had: Le Zoo is a luxurious French bistro in the heart of Bal Harbour with impossibly stylish cuisine. To start your Miami Spice adventure, try the chilled cucumber soup with almonds and green apple — a delicate yet refreshing dish. Or go for the seared scallop vadouvan over saffron rice. We’re still thinking about the bold sauce (which takes an entire day to make) packed with rich curry spices. For mains, don’t be intimidated by the petit calmar facie, which is essentially calamari stuffed with eggplant and olives atop a tomato sauce dotted with a gorgeous squid ink vinaigrette. For the less adventurous, go for the spaghetti aux crabe. Use the dainty forks (provided) to pull luscious crab meat from its shell, and mix with basil and tomatoes for a simple yet delicious pasta dish. For dessert, the Tahitian vanilla crème brulee was tasty, but the stand out for us was the pistachio ice cream with olive oil and sea salt.

Who should go: Friends looking for a fancy meal, couples celebrating something special, anyone with a taste for French cuisine

Where and when: 9700 Collins Ave. #135, Bal Harbour. Lunch $28 Monday-Friday, Dinner $60 Sunday-Thursday

Reservations: 305-602-9663; www.opentable.com/le-zoo

Parking: Garage parking in Bal Harbour Shops ($4 for 2 hours)

— Lauren Costantino

LPM Restaurant & Bar

Dine in what feels like a French salon at LPM restaurant in Brickell.
Dine in what feels like a French salon at LPM restaurant in Brickell.

What we had: This elegant restaurant in Brickell channels the spirit of the 18th century French salons, with an upscale but unpretentious atmosphere. We can’t promise your conversations will become intellectual, but your palate will be satisfied in the best possible way. Start with that tomato and lemon on the table. Insiders know they’re not decorative: You slice the tomato, drizzle with olive oil and lemon, add salt and pepper. A server will offer you a crunchy slice of bread as accompaniment (take two). The ratatouille appetizer with feta is a must, and cheese fiends should not shy away from the $7.5 upcharge for the insanely creamy burrata. Of the entrees, the eight-ounce bavette with chimichurri is perfectly done, and you can’t go wrong with the classic marinated baby chicken, but don’t fear the pasta. The arrabbiata (rigatoni with tomatoes and chiles) is surprisingly well done, and there’s a version that involves beef bolognese with chorizo that regulars rave about. Dessert calls for the cassata with raspberries, although the vanilla cheesecake is delicate, smooth and delicious.

Who should go: Anyone looking to seal a deal (romantic or otherwise), couples or friends celebrating the joys of breaking bread together, movers and shakers looking to impress

Where and when: 1300 Brickell Bay Drive, Miami; Dinner $60 Sunday-Thursday

Reservations: lpmrestaurants.com/miami or 305-403-9133

Parking: Use a ride share, pray for the street parking gods to smile on you or bite the bullet and pay for the valet ($18).

— Connie Ogle

Mareva 1939

The outdoor terrace at Mareva 1939 overlooks the National Hotel’s famous infinity pool.
The outdoor terrace at Mareva 1939 overlooks the National Hotel’s famous infinity pool.

What we had: For starters, we tried the endive and boquerones salad, which was a nice mix of salty meets bitter. We were blown away by the perfectly tender artichokes paired with top-quality Iberico ham and truffle cream. The pan-seared branzino is a can’t miss, sitting atop a buttery potato cream, topped with salsa verde and chock full of shrimp and clams. Definitely try the pork rib eye with wild mushrooms if you’re into decadently balanced dishes paired with a rich wine sauce. Santiago tart for dessert, with berries and Cointreau compote, is a sweet, light finish to balance out the hearty meal. Whatever you do, don’t miss the manchego cheese flan with red bell pepper compote. But beware, you’ll never be able to eat traditional flan again. Be sure to walk all it off at the property’s famed infinity-edge pool, or dance the night away while listening to some lovely live flamenco music (Thursdays only).

Who should go: Locals trying to impress out of towners; new arrivals; first dates; celebration dinners

Where and when: National Hotel, 1677 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; Dinner $60 Sunday-Saturday

Reservations: www.nationalhotel.com, 305-532-2311

Parking: $25 valet or nearby garages

— Madeleine Marr & Lauren Costantino

Mayami Mexicantina & Bar

The interior of Mayami Mexicantina in Wynwood.
The interior of Mayami Mexicantina in Wynwood.

What we had: Miami Spice is the perfect opportunity to sample one of the hottest clubstaurants in Wynwood at a fraction of the cost. The drinks were huge and tasty, especially the mezcal mule, and the service was fast and friendly. But be warned, this is not the place for the hard of hearing. The Mayami DJ’s speakers dueled with the DJ from 1-800-Lucky next door, and birthdays are celebrated with sparklers and a parade of cheering waiters hoisting light-up signs and inflatable cakes. The elote appetizer was drowning in cheese, the perfect way to start off the 3-course Miami Spice menu. For the main, the filete negro — a filet mignon with black lime and grasshopper jus over mashed potatoes — was a standout. The grouper ala veracruzana was served with a tangle of sauteed onions, capers and olives for a savory blast to the firm fish. For dessert, there’s a layered chocolate cake dusted in edible gold, with crunchy cacao nibs as a textural treat.

Who should go: Diners looking for a launch point for a rowdy night out in Wynwood, mezcal fans, steak aficionados

Where and when: 127 NW 23rd St., Wynwood; Dinner $60 Sunday-Thursday

Reservations: mayamiwynwood.com; 786-660-1341

Parking: Street parking ($3.25 an hour)

— Alex Harris

Michael’s Genuine

The courtyard at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami’s Design District.
The courtyard at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami’s Design District.

What we had: Miami Spice is a great excuse to revisit Michael Schwartz’s recently renovated Design District spot. For starters try the fried Italian classic arancini, three balls of joy with detectable chunks of rock shrimp and rich chorizo paired with risotto and a smoked paprika aioli. The mushroom tostada is served with avocado slices and cabbage slaw with a charred habanero crema. Schwartz’s menus are always veggie forward, and here a wood roasted whole cauliflower slices like a steak, served with Meyer lemon yogurt, harissa and an unexpected treat, crunchy fried lentils. Wood roasted grouper has a fruity curry sauce, the chunks of fish paired with sun shrimp and pickled mixed vegetables with jasmine rice. For a supplemental charge of $34, you can add a raw bar platter for two, featuring four petite but perfect oysters, five sun shrimp and an outstandingly creative kimchi ceviche with mixed seafood. For dessert, try the wood-roasted sweet peach served with an almond crumble and honey alongside almond ice cream. Or dulce de leche flan is perfect, nicely textured and sweet, with toasted hazelnuts and whipped cream.

Who should go: Foodies who appreciate the chef’s craft

Where and when: 130 NE 40th St., Miami Design District; Dinner $45 Sunday-Thursday

Reservations: 305-573-5550

Parking: Metered street parking, or Museum Garage a couple of blocks away; $3 for four hours

— Kendall Hamersly

Mi’talia Kitchen & Bar

Mi’talia Kitchen & Bar
Mi’talia Kitchen & Bar

What we had: This cheerful cozy tavern-like spot from culinary power couple Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis offers a number of signature-, made-from-scratch Italian faves (four appetizers and six entrees). Though we could have opted for a healthier Caesar salad, complete with soft boiled egg, a starter that really hit the spot was the perfectly flaky whipped ricotta sourdough toast drizzled with local honey, chili flakes and herbs. One of the pasta selections (spicy rigatoni vodka with Calabrian pork sausage) looked tempting across the table and was consumed quickly by the teen daughter in our party. The pan roasted snapper was well worth the additional $10, served with an eggplant caponata (loaded with olives, onions and herbs), roasted tomatoes and summer squash. For dessert, try the lusciously life-altering tiramisu and thank us later.

Who should go: Romantic couples; “Top Chef” celebrity gawkers, diehard pasta fans.

Where: 5958 S. Dixie Hwy., Miami; Lunch $28 Monday-Friday; dinner $45 Sunday-Thursday

Reservations: www.italiakitchen.com; 305-526-4402.

Parking: Plenty of street meters in front.

— Madeleine Marr

Planta

The Habibi bowl at Planta
The Habibi bowl at Planta

What we had: The minute you walk in Planta, which has a plant-based menu, the smell tells you how tasty the food is going to be. The items on the lunch and dinner menus — except for the mushroom croquetas and brownies — are all brand new and exclusively for Miami Spice. The chopped salad and harissa carrots are perfectly crisp and spicy. The Korean-style BBQ lettuce wraps are filled with jackfruit tossed in spicy gochujang. It’ll make you blush, in a good way. The lumaconi pasta with basil pesto and peas was so satisfying an Italian nonna would approve. And the “sushi” hand roll is a fascinating example of what plants can do: “salmon” made out of carrots and watermelon disguised as tuna. For dessert, we had the summer peaches served with ice cream and an oat crumble. Who needs dairy?

Who should go: Friend groups with varying dietary restrictions, anyone in need of fiber

Where and when: 850 Commerce St., Miami Beach; Lunch $28 all week; dinner $45 all week

Reservations: resy.com/cities/mia/planta-south-beach; 305-397-8513

Parking: There is street parking and public parking lots nearby. Look for a city garage, which is cheaper.

— Amanda Rosa

Red Rooster

Red Rooster in Overtown was modeled after the original Marcus Samuelsson restaurant in Harlem.
Red Rooster in Overtown was modeled after the original Marcus Samuelsson restaurant in Harlem.

Marcus Samuelsson’s juggernaut shines at its loud, lively Overtown setting. Each bite is a mind-bending delight of Southern and Caribbean flavors. We opted for dinner, an excellent bargain. The amuse-bouche of deviled eggs with chicharron bear little resemblance to the flabby, unmemorable snacks you expect. Appetizers will make you believe in a higher power (or at least in executive chef Anthony Jones, who skillfully executes Samuelsson’s menu). The smoky fried green tomatoes, the restaurant’s most popular dish, will surprise you with a deep well of flavor. Do not hesitate to pay the $5 upcharge for the amberjack tiradito, a miracle of fish, uni-corn leche de tigre, young corn and cilantro, with a few crunchy corn nuts. For an entree, choose the double-fried dark meat chicken drizzled in sour orange spicy honey, a huge portion with a thigh and three legs or the red snapper with charred gooseberry salsa, avocado, coconut tea and scattered herbs. Dessert is an intriguing deconstructed cheesecake. Expect happy, borderline erotic dreams after this meal.

Who should go: This is a must for everyone except vegetarians and vegans.

Where and when: 920 NW Second Ave., Miami; lunch $28 Monday-Friday; dinner $45 Sunday-Thursday

Reservations: redroosterovertown.com or 305-640-9880

Parking: The restaurant has its own lot, and you can pay via phone or credit card. Beware chickens sprinting between the cars.

— Connie Ogle

Root & Bone

What we had: Root & Bone aims to offer “soul nurturing” comfort dishes that honor traditions of rural America. At the start of dinner, you’ll be greeted with drunken deviled eggs which were perhaps the best bite of the night. For appetizers, we opted for the refreshing watermelon and farmer’s cheese salad and a hearty biscuit with pour-over honey brown and chicken jus. The shrimp and grits are super flavorful with bits of smokey andouille sausage. Try the barbecue bruleed spare ribs for a sweet, tangy and tender dish. For dessert, you really can’t go wrong with a warm, maple syrup-y pecan pie. The espresso martini, though not included in Miami Spice, was one of the better ones we’ve tried in Miami. Come for the good vibes and kitschy yet chic decor (think spaghetti strainers turned into ceiling art), and stay for the Southern fried hospitality.

Who should go: Lovers of Southern comfort food, co-workers looking for a meetup after work, date night for mom and dad.

Where and when: 5958 S Dixie Hwy., South Miami; Lunch $28 Monday-Friday; dinner $45 Sunday-Thursday.

Reservations: rootnbonemia.com/reservations/ 786-802-0152

Parking: Plenty of street parking

— Lauren Costantino

Serena at the Moxy

Serena at the Moxy hotel in South Beach
Serena at the Moxy hotel in South Beach

What we had: Serena is a rooftop Mexican restaurant and bar with friendly staff and beautiful decor just trendy enough to spice up your Instagram feed. The addicting guacamole comes with homemade salsas. The Caesar salad dressing (a Mexican invention!) is made in house with anchovies, as God intended. We had the baked clams topped with chorizo and ancho chile garlic butter. It’s smokey with a nice crunch, but too rich to have all by yourself. The entrees include mild baja fish tacos and a hearty short rib guisado. The chicken enchiladas were mild in spice, filling and cheesy. For dessert we had the chocolate tamal, a small cake served with a scoop of crema ice cream, which was our favorite. Cocktails aren’t included, but try their unique twist on the pina colada served in a cute glass. (Don’t expect breathtaking beach views on this rooftop, though. It’s on the second floor of the Moxy next to the pool, which overlooks the Bank of America across the street.)

Who should go: Co-workers unwinding after a long day, cute first dates and anyone looking to get a glowing selfie during golden hour.

Where and when: 915 Collins Ct., Miami Beach; Lunch $28 Monday-Friday; dinner $45 Sunday-Thursday

Reservations: www.sevenrooms.com/reservations/serena; 305-306-0776

Parking: The street parking spaces were either full of tourists unloading suitcases or blocked off by traffic cones. The safest bet is to valet your car at the Moxy.

— Amanda Rosa

Sexy Fish

Half the fun of the London-based Sexy Fish in Brickell is the over-the-top design, but there are plenty of tasty bites on the menu, too.
Half the fun of the London-based Sexy Fish in Brickell is the over-the-top design, but there are plenty of tasty bites on the menu, too.

What we had: We admit it. The main reason we went to Sexy Fish was to immerse ourselves in the over-the-top atmosphere, from the Frank Gehry fish sculpture over the bar to the Damien Hirst bas-relief on the wall to the bathrooms that need to be seen to be believed. Imagine our happiness to discover that many of the dishes at this Brickell hot spot were actually delicious. Start with a detox shot of juice and then choose three items from the menu. One should be the kimchi fried rice and pork to share (other recommendations: crispy tofu and salad greens, prawn gyoza and salmon tataki). The Japanese wagyu with a garlic miso dipping sauce is out of this world, but be aware it’s $42 extra; it may be wiser to try one of the craft cocktails (like Strawberry & Bergamot for $19, made with gin and three unique flavors painted on the glass, offering you different tastes while you sip). Dessert is warm cinnamon donuts or fruit. Do you really need us to tell you which to order?

Who should go: Anyone intimidated by the clubby night-time atmosphere or Instagrammers longing to upgrade their social media status (you can take a photo with a Daniel Craig replica or an onyx octopus in the men’s room)

Where and when: 1001 S Miami Ave., Miami; Lunch $28 Monday-Friday

Reservations: sexyfishmiami.com; 305-889-7888

Parking: There is a valet station across the street, street parking is iffy. Try the Mary Brickell Village garage at Southwest 10th Street ($15 for two-three hours) or the Brickell City Centre garage ($10 for two hours) at 701 S. Miami Ave.

— Connie Ogle

Stiltsville Fish Bar

Stillsville Fish Bar Dining Room (Handout)
Stillsville Fish Bar Dining Room (Handout)

What we had: Tucked in the middle of Miami Beach’s picturesque Sunset Harbour neighborhood, Stiltsville Fish Bar looks and feels like an elevated Florida Keys’ seafood shack. After you take in the fun aquatic ambiance (including a literal bathtub full of fresh fish and booze), be sure to order the smoked fish dip, a classic done right served with crisp kettle chips and saltines. To balance all the salt and butter, get the fresh mango salad with a tangy sesame dressing. We tried the crab cake, a small but tasty portion served with tons of coleslaw. For dinner, don’t skip the shrimp and grits. Theirs is a fun take on a classic, the shrimp complemented with creole sausage, roasted tomatoes, peas and a robust beer demi glace. For a sweet finish, definitely get the coconut key lime pie and raspberry sorbet topped with a smokey mezcal syrup.

Who should go: Seafood lovers, out-of-towners, date night, anyone who appreciates a sunset and a good tropical drink

Where and when: 1787 Purdy Ave., South Beach. Lunch, Monday-Friday; dinner $45 Sunday-Thursday

Reservations: (786) 353-0477; Open Table

Parking: Limited street parking, choose the parking garage next to Lucali; pay by app about $4 per hour

— Lauren Costantino

The Strand at the Carillon

The King Salmon wrap at The Strand at Carillon Miami Wellness Resort.
The King Salmon wrap at The Strand at Carillon Miami Wellness Resort.

What we had: If you feel you’re overeating on your Miami Spice journey, visit The Strand at Carillon, where you can get a healthy meal that doesn’t leave you feeling deprived. The Strand has lunch and dinner options for Spice, but we chose lunch, and you might want to, too, especially if you want to take advantage of the hotel’s award-winning spa. Start with the artful watermelon and feta salad with Kalamata olives or the quinoa bowl with chickpeas and cauliflower, which is just enough to keep you hungry for the main event. The King Salmon wrap is the menu winner, slightly messy with its avocado and spicy mayo but so worth those sticky fingers. The crispy seared tofu, perfectly cooked and served with rice and vegetables, could convert anyone wary of the dish. For dessert, head straight for the vegan Pineapple in the Tropics, so good it manages to outshine the solid chocolate and espresso mousse.

Who should go: Healthy eaters, friends meeting for lunch, vegetarians and vegans, anybody who wants to hit the spa first

Where and when: Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, 6801 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; Lunch $28 weekdays; dinner $45 Wednesday-Sunday

Reservations: www.strandcarillonmiami.com; 305-514-7474

Parking: Valet $20 or park in nearby city lots

— Connie Ogle

Strawberry Moon

The Strawberry Moon pool, on the third floor deck of the Goodtime Hotel in Miami Beach
The Strawberry Moon pool, on the third floor deck of the Goodtime Hotel in Miami Beach

What we had: Strawberry Moon delivers style and substance in spades. Located on the third floor of Pharell’s Goodtime Hotel, the restaurant and bar are aesthetically beautiful and boast a delicious Mediterranean menu. The chefs curated two menus for Miami Spice this year, one for August and one for September. Lucky for us, we tried items from both. You can’t go wrong with any of the appetizers. Each one – from the Greek salad to the charred octopus – was perfectly balanced. Our personal favorite was the yellowtail crudo, which is basically the stuff of dreams. For the entrees, the steak came perfectly medium rare on top of a killer sauce. Next month, be sure to come just for the roast chicken with orzo – a dish so succulent we’re hungry just writing about it. The desserts go just as hard. Do yourself a favor and get the panna cotta.

Who should go: Anyone who want to treat themselves after a long week, first dates, brunch with friends before hitting the beach

Where and when: 601 Washington Ave, Miami Beach; Brunch $28 weekends; dinner $45 daily

Reservations: Open Table; 785-745-8050

Parking: Street parking and a nearby public garage

— Amanda Rosa

True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen

What we had: We found one of the healthier options for Miami Spice. Co-founded in Arizona in 2008 by Oprah pal Dr. Andrew Weil the green focused eatery’s menu is based on the good doctor’s anti inflammatory food pyramid. You’d be wise to tuck into the wild caught tuna tostada appetizer, with perfectly ripe avocado, crunchy jalapeno and citrus ponzu. Delicious entree alert: the teriyaki quinoa bowl with bok choy, snap peas and rainbow carrots (we picked the grass-fed steak for the protein and had zero regrets). Prefer eating outside? Grab the chopped salad with mejdool dates, dried cranberries and jicama, drenched in a champagne vinaigrette, and watch the shoppers go by. Finish with the flourless chocolate cake, you deserve it.

Who should go: Anyone on a diet or who is watching their cholesterol.

Where and when: 8888 SW 136th St., Miami. Lunch $28 daily; dinner $45 daily

Reservations: 954-585-9933, www.truefoodkitchen.com

Parking: Huge lot.

Villa Azur Miami

What we had: Start with the branzino ceviche the pickled onions and a perfect touch of tajin takes this classic starter to the next level. Absolutely do not miss the burrata with a tangy peach and mustard compote. For mains, you need to get the lobster ravioli, served with a delicate cream sauce that wasn’t too heavy. The dish is garnished with caviar for an interesting pop of salt in between chunks of sweet lobster meat. The pork chop was tender with a flavor packed sauce, eaten alongside a bouquet of green beans wrapped in prosciutto. For dessert, the poached pear served over a duet of cream and fuschia wine sauce was a delicious finish to a nearly flawless meal. Grab yourself a bottle of rosé, dine on their vibe-y patio and you’ll be immediately transported to the South of France.

Who should go: Couples looking for a romantic dinner, friends who want to treat themselves, anyone who wants a taste of luxury

Where and when: 309 23rd St. Miami Beach; Dinner $60 Wednesday, Friday-Sunday

Reservations: 305-763-8688; www.villaazurmiamibeach.com

Parking: Ample street parking in the area

— Lauren Costantino & Amanda Rosa