I’ve scoured the menus and details, and here are my dozen picks for top Miami Spice spots to check out this year:
There are a bunch of — 53! — Spice first-timers, mostly new restaurants that are trying to put their best foot forward in their debut.
Cena by Michy: 6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Michelle Bernstein’s new flagship has melon-mint gazpacho, sweet corn gnudi and fennel-rhubarb panna cotta, among other options on its Spice menu.
Coya: 999 Brickell Ave., Miami. This see-and-be-seen Brickell spot serving high-end Peruvian fare is a Spice steal. Don’t miss the ensalada de maiz (pictured above), a harmonious blend of fresh and roasted corn, chiles and herbs.
Klima: 210 23rd St., Miami Beach. Three of the restaurant’s top dishes — shaved fennel and burrata, black cod with cabbage and chickpeas, and passion fruit slush — are featured prominently on the Spice menu.
Several restaurants in town have newly appointed head chefs behind the stoves. Spice is a good opportunity to get a glimpse of what changes they’re bringing to their menus.
Azul: 500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami. Benjamin Murray is the newly appointed chef de cuisine, after the departure of William Crandall, who is now at Izzy’s in Miami Beach. Murray’s Spice menu is full of possible choices.
Essensia: 3025 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Venoy Rogers is in, stepping into the executive chef position recently vacated by Julie Frans. His Spice menu is one of the few (possibly the only one) that’s vegan-friendly.
Piripi: 320 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables. Angelina Bastidas is the new chef in charge, replacing the controversial Najat Kaanache, and her Spanish-influenced Spice menu is available daily for lunch and dinner.
I say Spice is the time to shoot for the stars. Go places where you’d otherwise be lucky to get a packet of Sweet’N Low for $39, let alone a three-course dinner.
Estiatorio Milos: 730 First St., Miami Beach. Octopus. Lamb. Real Greek yogurt.
Hakkasan: 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. High-end Chinese done right. The Sichuan fried beef will make you sweat.
Il Mulino: 840 First St., Miami Beach, and 17875 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach. Lots of options, from antipasto to dessert.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
South Beach, South Beach, South Beach. Three good bets from the north, south and central.
Sea Grill: 3913 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach. Greek-influenced fish, chops and more on the Intracoastal.
Redlander: 30205 SW 217th Ave., Homestead. Chef Dewey Losasso goes hyper-local with his farm-to-farm menu.
Old Lisbon: 5837 Sunset Dr., South Miami. A true taste of Portugal; don’t miss the caldo verde soup with potato, sausage and collard greens.