Trust these taste buds.
It’s hard enough deciding where to eat in Miami’s blossoming dining scene before being faced with the 236 restaurants offering brunch, lunch and dinner deals as part of the annual Miami Spice promotion by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
So we brought in some ringers you can trust to help you decide.
We asked five of Miami’s literal taste makers to scour the menus at iLoveMiamiSpice.com to tell us at where they’re eating and what they’re having during Spice, which runs Aug. 1 through Sept. 30. We didn’t want any out-of-towners telling you what’s good. These are locals — native born or adopted after incluencing our local food scene over the years — looking to spend their money at restaurants that make their mouths water.
Their choices show Miami’s range, from fine Peruvian to innovative Thai, from Nashville-style hot chicken to molecular gastronomy. Take notes and thank us later.
Eileen Andrade, chef/owner at Finka Table & Tap
Kendall rejoiced when Andrade built on her grandparents’ fame at Islas Canarias Cuban restaurant to create Finka, a restaurant unlike anything else in the western suburbs where she fuses Cuban, Peruvian and Asian flavors. She has also given east Miami a reason to make reservations and drive west for expertly crafted cuisine.
500 Brickell Key Dr, Miami
“La Mar is one of my favorite restaurants. Chef Diego Oka knows how to really highlight and elevate authentic Peruvian flavors in his dishes.”
What I’m having: Paiche Charapa, Picante de Mariscos and La Piña for dessert.
1 18th St, Miami Beach
“Sarsaparilla Club has a sexy ambiance that is romantic but also fun. It’s great for groups but also nice for a date night.”
What I’m having: crispy mushroom steamed buns and short rib meatloaf.
1854 Bay Rd, Miami Beach
“Naiyara is one of those places that you can close your eyes and just point at an item on the menu, and you won’t be disappointed. I have yet to try something I do not enjoy, and I have gone through a lot of that menu.
What I’m having: Thai street dumplings, green curry shrimp and milk chocolate pots de crème for dessert.
Andrew Gonzalez, founder of Night Owl Cookies
Forbes named Gonzalez one of its 30 Under 30 after he innovated a late-night, fresh baked cookie delivery company in Westchester. He may love his cookies, but he’s also a lover of finely crafted food, often traveling to events such as the New York Wine & Food Festival to try the newest cuisine.
Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar
11510 SW 147th Ave, Miami
“Seriously, if you haven’t been to Chef Adrianne’s then you can’t call yourself a real foodie. Although it’s deep into West Kendall, the trek is worth it! Every thing Chef A sends out literally blows my mind. When you go, make sure to try the brown-sugar-crusted salmon with zesty potatoes. I’ll be waiting for your thank you!”
What I’m having: brown sugar crusted salmon
801 Brickell Ave, Miami
“So there’s a lot that makes Komodo special. First off, the ambiance. Dave Grutman killed it when he designed this space. It’s sexy, sleek and very Miami. But most importantly he killed it with the cocktails. I love a good drink, and luckily for me, there’s more than plenty of them here. Try the wagyu skirt steak when you go, and keep a look out for celebs while you’re there. You’re almost guaranteed to spot one any given night.”
What I’m having: wagyu skirt steak
Bird & Bone
4041 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
“Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge burger fan. And I’m not exaggerating when I say Bird and Bone has one of the best burgers in Miami right now. Richard Hales [owner of Sakaya Kitchen and Blackbrick Chinese in Midtown] has some serious skills, and he’s showing them off on the Miami Spice menu. Everyone’s been talking about his Chef Hales’ Hot Chicken Sandwich, and now that it’s on this special menu I may have to skip out on the burger to try it… Who am I kidding, I’m ordering both!”
What I’m having: Chef Hales’ hot chicken sandwich
Ana Quincoces, cookbook author, television personality
Quincoces first made a name for herself on “The Real Housewives of Miami,” but it wasn’t until the former lawyer reached the finals of last year’s “The Next Food Network Star” that she became a household name in the kitchen. This “Skinny Latina” has published a three cookbooks, including “Sabor! A passion for Cuban cuisine,” and “Cuban Chicks Can Cook.” She knows her way around Miami’s evolving food scene.
Ortanique on the Mile
278 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables
“For 20 years Ortanique has been a staple in Coral Gables and never disappoints. It’s worth going for the scallion bread alone. Their Miami Spice menu changes daily, but you can’t go wrong with any of it. The options are varied with something for everyone.”
I’m having: the soup of the night, roasted corn chowder with cilantro; coffee and cocoa-encrusted Faroe Island salmon with creamy slow-cooked polenta, sauteed arugula and orange-chipotle agave glaze. For dessert, passion fruit sabayon with fresh fruit.
270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami
“I love that Zuma is participating in Miami Spice. Zuma can be pricey, so going during Miami Spice affords many an opportunity to savor the delicacies at one of Miami’s best eateries.”
I’m having: roasted beet salad with goma ponzu dressing; roasted sea bass with umami butter and avocado salad; chocolate caramel cremeux with cacao nib croquant
251 NW 25th St, Miami
“I absolutely love that Kyu has all my favorites on their Miami Spice lunch menu. Oftentimes our favorite items at a specific restaurant don’t end up on the Miami Spice menu. But in the case of Kyu, the cauliflower, Korean fried chicken, and their heavenly coconut cake all made the cut. Don’t miss it!”
I’m having: roasted cauliflower and goat cheese with shisito-herb vinaigrette; Korean friend chicken bao buns with Napa cabbage slaw; Mom’s Kyu Coconut Cake
Steve Santana, Taquiza founder/chef
Santana is a locally sourced success story. Born and raised in Miami, Santana was a former web developer who became an artisan in Miami’s emerging food scene. He started making corn tortillas at the late gastroPod food truck, Eating House and the Freehand Miami hotel before opening his Miami Beach taco shop, Taquiza, where he makes some of the best tortillas in Miami. (Even other taco shops and Mexican restaurants covertly buy their tortillas from him.)
27 Restaurant & Bar
2727 Indian Creek Dr, Miami Beach
“Chef Jimmy Lebron is constantly redefining what local and fresh really means in South Florida, from the immaculate tending of his on-site garden to the thoughtfulness placed into the Latin- and Carribean-derivied flavors that make up his menu. Deceptively simple-sounding dishes always shine through, and reimagined classics never fall short.”
What I’m having: summer salad; pappardelle; tres leches
Edge Steak & Bar
1435 Brickell Ave, Miami, at the Four Seasons Miami
“Chef Aaron Brooks is the preeminent Meat Guy in South Florida. Grilled, cured, smoked or roasted — no one does it better, period. Definitely grab some charcuterie [foie] alongside the Spice offerings.”
What I’m having: grilled wagyu beef tongue; roast duck; white peach semifredo
Beaker & Gray
2637 N Miami Ave, Miami
“The sheer range of flavors, techniques and global inspiration chef Brian Nasajon serves up in his Wynwood eatery is enough to be a regular. Once you add Mr. Ben Potts, bar manager, to the mix [hah!] you can expect the same level of pizazz with your beverages.”
What I’m having: Roasted roots; grass-fed short ribs; Key lime panna cotta
Michael Schwartz, chef/restaurateur at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, Filia, Harry’s Pizzeria
After living and cooking in Miami for more than 25 years, Schwartz has earned honorary local’s status. His Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, where he was named Best Chef in America by the James Beard Foundation in 2010, helped revive the Design District more than 10 years ago. He has three Miami restaurants to his name (not counting two other extensions of his Harry’s Pizzeria), with a fourth unnamed spot in Coconut Grove on its way.
4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach at the Fontainebleu Miami Beach
Schwartz says Spice is a perfect opportunity to hit a restaurant that might otherwise be a budget buster. “Too expensive since I'm a cheap ass! Eat some dumplings. Dim sum Spice is the call!
What I’m having: Dim sum
Edge Steak & Bar
1435 Brickell Ave, Miami, at the Four Seasons Miami
“Chef Aaron [Brooks] always nails it when it comes to value and doing it right, which is refreshing. Of course Spice is no exception. Steak, duck, squash blossoms.... need I say more?”
I’m having: roasted carrot and citrus salad with carrot yogurt, watercress, black pepper and caraway honey; roast duck
49 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
“Give a Spice newbie a test — but one you sort of know isn't going to screw it up.”
What I’m having: Bucatini cacio e pepe with Pecorino Romano and black pepper