Miami is full of romantic restaurants where you can wine and dine your sweetheart. But the way your bank account is set up...
But thanks to Miami Spice, you can give your bae Valentine’s Day treatment every weekend (through the end of September).
The annual promotion includes more than 200 restaurants offering up three-course, fixed-price menus for brunch and lunch ($23) and dinner ($39) and the roster includes some of Miami’s most romantic spots.
Here are some of our top picks for a table for two.
What we had: The Miami Spice menu at this tropical Wynwood gem is small, but it is mighty. In fact we’d say Three is one of the musts of Spice. Also a must: if you love wine, pay the extra $25 for the three-course wine pairing. The sommelier is a genius at finding the perfect match for everything, even beet toast with burrata, pickled cherry and pistachio. Do not leave Three without trying the snapper with jalapeños and avocado. Meat lovers should dive into the smoked and grilled lamb shoulder with cilantro and black vinegar chimichurri, but the gulf shrimp with rice grits and linguica does not disappoint (there’s a vegetarian option of cauliflower, too). Skip the tempting black sesame layer cake and finish the evening off with a passionfruit sundae.
Who should go: Diners who appreciate the romance between good wine and great food.
— Connie Ogle
Three, 50 NW 24th St #101, Miami,
THE BAZAAR BY JOSÉ ANDRÉS
What we had: The regular menu at Bazaar by José Andrés is an epic 60-dishes-and-counting pageant of small plates so don’t be surprised when you get the Miami Spice menu and see over a dozen choices to create what amounts to a five-course tasting odyssey. Each diner gets to choose one dish from the snacks, verduros tradicional, fruits and vegetables, carnes y mariscos and dessert of course. Plates start out small with bites of “bagels and lox” - a singular cone of creme fraiche and salmon roe - and get progressively bigger as you go down the list. Mix classics like patatas bravas with their take on a caprese salad that includes orbs of liquid mozzarella. Don’t miss the Cuban coffee-rubbed rib eye with passion fruit sauce and the classic chicken and bechamel croquetas. Desserts of deconstructed key lime pie and S’mores chocolate cake keep the innovative culinary shenanigans going for a sweet finish.
Who should go: Adventurous eaters looking to have a taste of award-winning chef Jose Andres’s whimsical take on Spanish tapas.
— Sara Liss
The Bazaar by José Andrés, 1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
What we had: Chef Thanawat Bates’ take on Spanish comfort food is more than comforting. It’s so good it can change your mind about things you’re wary of, like kale. Hard to believe but true. The truffle kale salad - with black kale, truffle pecorino, candied ginger pecans and pickled lemon vinaigrette - is the perfect appetizer for sharing. Urge your better half to order the outstanding Spanish octopus appetizer, served with marble potatoes, piquillo, activated charcoal and labneh, and share that, too. The best choice for dinner is the pan seared Ora King Salmon from New Zealand with herbs and chimichurri. Liven the evening up with one of the specialty cocktails named after famous Miami figures, like The D Wade (Brockman’s gin, Giffard PampleMousse, lemon juice, cucumber, basil, ginger beer and Peychaud’s.). The cocktail lives up to its namesake.
Who should go: Couples, friends and large family groups have room to spread throughout the dining room, which is calmer and more relaxed than the banging rooftop bar upstairs.
— Connie Ogle
Habitat at 1 Hotel South Beach, 2341 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
What we had: We started with their signature Mandrake Maki made with salmon, crab, hamachi, tuna, and creamy jalapeño. The Butter Lettuce Salad is also a must if only for the yuzu, truffle and wasabi dressing. The Grilled Black Angus Tenderloin with Kabocha puree was exceptionally tender and juicy in every bite. Finish with the mochi dessert for ultimate refreshment.
Who Should Go: For the foodie that loves a trendy scene and exceptional sushi, this is the spot to go with a crew of girlfriends (or boyfriends).
— Kathy Buccio
Mandrake, 210 23rd St., Miami Beach
What We Had: Chef Diego Oca delivers on innovative Peruvian favorites that will have diners coming back from more. Start at the sea, with a Cebiche Negro composed of octopus and fish in a smoked leche de tigre sauce, olive oil, and cucumber. For the entree, the Recoto Relleno cannot be be missed. The Peruvian pepper from arequipa, filled with juicy beef stew, grilled cheese and pastel de papa is Instagram-worthy. Dessert, a warm Peruvian Chocolate purse, was rich and creamy and almost too pretty to eat.
Who Should Go: Lovers of elevated Peruvian cuisine.
— Kathy Buccio
La Mar by Gaston Acurio, 500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami
FORTE DEI MARMI
What we had: Walking into this cream-colored building in posh SoFi feels like stepping into an elegant Tuscan villa. From the wait staff who banter in Italian to the fresh herbs cut tableside that get sprinkled into a dish of olive oil for the complimentary focaccia bread service, everything here feels like dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Italy. We dove into the Spice menu ordering the zucchini blossoms stuffed with red prawns and the grilled octopus with warm potato and celery salad, both lovely starters. For mains there’s a choice of Spaghetti Alla Vongole with Bottarga, a linguine with zucchini, branzino filet, lamb chop and veal loin. We loved the spaghetti with clams, hitting all the right notes with the perfect amount of garlic, olive oil and briny bottarga. The veal loin was a generous portion and came with delicious porcini mushrooms and roasted potatoes. For dessert we could not pass up the restaurant’s famous Honey Onyx pistachio gelato, a heaping mountain of creamy pistachio soft serve (normally a hefty $26 dessert on the menu, so a steal for Spice) and the coconut panna cotta served with berries sauteed tableside.
Who should go: Couples looking for a romantic date spot and Italian food purists craving an authentic-yet-upscale take on regional Italian cuisine.
— Sara Liss
Forte dei Marmi, 150 Ocean Dr. South Beach.
Leynia at Delano
What we had: Chef Jose Icardi has brought the joys of the Argentine grill to the Delano Hotel, and what joys they are. Sit outside on the covered patio with a view of the famous Delano pool and order a glass of crisp, perfect Albariño or slightly chilled Malbec. Leynia generously offers seven appetizers on its Miami Spice menu, so you have some decisions to make. Trust me and choose the following: oysters ceviche (which is just what you think it is, oysters served ceviche-style) or the homemade empanadas (beef and chicken; both meaty and delicious). Meat lovers will love the perfectly cooked churrasco, but do yourself a favor and make someone at the table order the chef’s deconstructed eggplant parmesan. It’s so good your Italian grandmother would be proud.
Who should go: Fans of great Argentine cuisine and anybody who wants a reason to return to the Delano.
Leynia, 1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach